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Take the long way home

By now, we are all accustomed to hearing ridiculous stories about bad customer service from airlines, ranging from problems transporting animals to even more jaw-dropping incidents such as the passenger who was forcibly removed from United flight 3411, which are subsequently shared on social media around the world. It seems like each day there’s a new and more egregious story, and the latest example of airline brilliance comes to us from Sun Country Airlines.

The airline faced a difficult decision created by late-season snow in Minneapolis, which forced the airline to cancel the last of its seasonal flights to Mexico as it switches its schedule to accommodate passengers for other destinations. The only problem was that there were still passengers waiting for flights back home from Mexico – flights that would never come because Sun Country elected to stick to its new schedule and cancel the return flights altogether, believing that canceling flights on the new schedule would have been even more disruptive to those passengers. Sun Country’s Mexico travelers apparently learned of this situation via email when Sun Country offered refunds to impacted passengers and said they had to find another way home.

Not unlike the United 3411 situation, where United needed to transport a crew so the airline’s schedule was not disrupted for the next day, Sun Country made a decision based on corporate convenience, not on good customer service – never a good recipe. Now, they are in full defense mode on media nationwide. Here’s an idea: Do the right thing and call some of your friends at the other airlines serving this destination so you can do everything you can to get these folks home.

Sometimes all it takes is a little planning for some likely what-if scenarios (perhaps a late season snowstorm in Minnesota that grounds your last flights to Mexico for the season, for example) to think about what you’d do to advocate for your customers and, ultimately, your bottom line, if that situation came to pass. If they had done that planning, we may be talking about a really interesting, go-the-extra-mile-for-your-customers story in an industry not really known for great customer service.

If you’d like to talk about possible risks your organization faces and how to plan ahead for them, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

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