When you’re a kid, hopping on an airplane and traveling to some exotic place is exciting and fun enough that you don’t notice some of the hassles of traveling. Of course, as an adult, those hassles are enough to make you want to stay home in bed with your good friend Netflix for all eternity. So what can the airline industry do to make customer service better and travel more enjoyable? Here are some ideas that will make traveling fun again.
1. Airlines need to implement minimum seat width and legroom standards.
There is nothing worse than being crammed onto a full flight and being stuck in a middle seat with people squeezing you from either side and no room to stretch out your legs. Of course, airlines want to make money by fitting as many seats onto the plane as possible. But this practice makes for cranky and uncomfortable travelers, especially on flights that last more than a couple of hours.
2. Allow customers to bundle their flights.
Currently, there are several airlines that are re-bundling their fares to include checked baggage or priority boarding. While this makes selecting a flight with the fare you want more convenient, it would be even better if customers could bundle their own flights. Having several options for add-ons to the standard fare that customers can choose would make traveling easier and more enjoyable. Customers can pick the extras they want and can afford.
3. Include customer commitments in the airline contract.
Airlines are required to follow a contract of carriage that is the legal agreement between the traveler and the airline. Though the Transportation Department requires this contract, it does not tell airlines what to include. Airlines should list their customer commitments in this contract. This means the airline should plainly state how passengers will be treated if there is a delay or service interruption.
4. Make sure airline contracts are understood by everyone.
Legal documents are notoriously difficult to read for anyone who is not a lawyer. Navigating the difficult language to figure out what the airline is saying is a frustrating endeavor at the best of times. It is worse when a traveler is upset, cranky, and trying to figure out what the customer commitments are. Customers should be able to read and easily understand this contract. Therefore, airlines should adopt a “plain speech” policy that eliminates ambiguous phrases such as “Force Majeure” and use more understandable words such as “an event beyond our control.”
5. Follow the law.
Airlines are notorious for using loopholes or completely ignoring transportation laws. Often they do not notify passengers of delays, keep customers on the plane during a ground delay, display an airfare that includes all mandatory taxes and fees, and more. Simply following these laws instead of trying to get around them would significantly improve customer service and would eliminate many of the complaints travelers have.
Traveling should be fun, but with all of the hassles that come with flying on an airplane, it is usually not a picnic. If airlines follow the steps listed above, it will go a long way to improve customer service and make travel an enjoyable experience.
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