CUSTOMER SERVICE

Delta partners with Uber-inspired package delivery platform Roadie to deliver delayed luggage to passengers

Delta in 2011 became the first airline to make the baggage process more transparent for passengers with its ‘Track Checked Bags’ service. Delta passengers on domestic flights can track their checked bag(s) in real-time via the Delta app, even when up in the air.

Plus, Delta’s ‘Bags On Time’ guarantee means that passengers on domestic routes will have their checked luggage at the bag caroussel within 20 minutes, or receive 2500 SkyMiles when this takes longer.

Delta in 2016 also invested USD 50 million in RFID technology to further expand is bag tracking service to international stations. RFID scanners, RFID bag tag printer, and RFID pier and claim readers have been installed in 344 stations worldwide, which has resulted in baggage tracking that is 99.9 percent accurate.

With sharing real-time bag tracking with passengers still being a novelty in the industry, Delta has further innovated its baggage service to include delayed luggage.

Delayed baggage claim via Delta app
Earlier this year, Delta expanded its Fly Delta app functionality to allow passengers to skip the bag service office visit when luggage is missing.

The mobile bag service feature allows passengers to file a bag claim at their final destination through the Fly Delta app, instead of having to visit the local Delta baggage service office, when Delta sees the bag has missed a checkpoint. The airline proactively notifies passengers if their bag will be delayed, and provides a link to complete a delayed bag file with the app.

“This is one more way we’re putting the power for a customer to control their experience in the palm of their hand,” commented Delta’s Chief Operating Officer, Gil West. “The last thing a customer wants to do when their bag is delayed is to go in person to do something that can be done with a few taps on their phone, knowing that we’ll deliver their bag directly to them when it arrives.” Read full article »

Ryanair lets passengers rate their flight via its mobile app

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In the past two and a half years, Ryanair has been busy upgrading its products and services, stepping up its digital innovation activities, as well as opening routes to main airport hubs in an effort – called ‘Always Getting Better’ – to appeal more to business travellers.

“This is not a PR stunt,” said CEO Michael O’Leary at the launch of the initiative, describing the Always Getting Better programme as a “transformative” evolution and a “fundamental change” in the way both he and Ryanair do business. ‘”If I’d known being nice to customers would have been so good for business, I would have done it years ago.”

Rate My Flight
As part of the third phase of the program – which focuses on digital innovation – Ryanair earlier this year added a ‘Rate My Flight’ feature to its app. Passengers who want to rate their flight have to download the regular Ryanair app, allow for push notifications, and are send the survey through the app upon landing.

The Rate My Flight survey asks passengers to evaluate each element of their flight, from boarding through food and drink provision to crew helpfulness and overall service standards. Ryanair says it uses the feedback to tweet and improve its offerings as much in real time as possible.

Feedback results
The ‘Rate My Flight’ intiative was trialled in March and went live in May of this year. Ryanar has just published the first feedback results, based on more than 8,800 passengers who used the ‘Rate My Flight’ function during June and July.

More than half of respondents (53 percent) rated their overall experience as ‘very good’, 36 percent rated their experience as ‘OK’ and 11 percent rated it as ‘poor’. Crew friendliness received the highest positive rating, with 63 percent scoring this ‘very good’.

At the other end of the scale, boarding received the highest number of ‘poor’ responses, with 14 percent saying they were unhappy with the boarding process.

SriLankan captures real-time passenger feedback data throughout the journey

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As part of a trend that sees airlines and airports welcome real-time feedback from passengers via digital channels other than social media, Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines has launched a comprehensive customer satisfaction platform which captures feedback from passengers throughout the journey, from booking to overall satisfaction measures after the return home.

The airline has set up various ways for customers to share their impressions of service quality at its Colombo Ticket Office service counters, on its website, at the check-in counters at Colombo Airport, inside its lounge at the airport – as well as on-board through a dedicated application on iPads issued to cabin service managers.

There is also a survey app incorporated into the airline’s IFE system, plus a feedback module incorporated in SriLankan’s mobile app. Once the journey has ended, customers also receive an email request to evaluate their journey. All surveys are available in five languages: English, Sinhala, Tamil, Chinese and Japanese.

The passenger feedback which was initially gathered through a paper-based system has evolved gradually and the airline has now developed a full-fledged system where they could amass the treasured thoughts of passengers via digital media. Feedback data combines a full set of passenger profiles such as name, gender, ethnicity, travel preferences and their service aspirations with flight information into a data warehouse which further enables SriLankan to create a rich set of analytics, identify trends and strengthen customer relationships.

“Today we are serving an informed, tech savvy, demanding customer. We understand the service expectation can be delivered by working smart. We recognise that technology can bring the speed and sophistication to serve today’s customer,” says Mr Chanaka Olagama, Head of Cabin Services, SriLankan Airlines.

Real-time alerts
To ensure prompt responsiveness to service interruptions and critical issues which affect passenger satisfaction, real time alerts for immediate service recovery or negative feedback from passengers are sent to the supervisor of each customer touch point via text messages.

Additionally, live dashboards display the overall mood of customers through color-coded cards which reflect passenger satisfaction ratings, based on feedback received. Read full article »

Delta lets passengers on domestic routes track checked bags in real-time and guarantees a 20-minute delivery

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Back in 1973, Domino’s Pizza introduced a guarantee that customers would receive their pizzas within 30 minutes of placing an order or they would receive the pizzas free. Over the years, Domino’s reduced this service guarantee to the slogan “You Got 30 Minutes,” alluding to the earlier pledge but stopping short of promising delivery in half an hour. Instead, the company introduced the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, an app and Web-based widget that lets customers check on the pizza they have ordered at every stage, providing real-time information that relieves anxiety.

Delta ‘Track My Bags’
Taking a cue from the pizza delivery business, Delta in 2011 became the first airline to make the baggage process more transparent for passengers by launching its ‘Track Checked Bags’ service.

Since bag tags are scanned during each part of the journey by airlines, Delta’s service lets passengers track their baggage in real-time as it makes its way through the Delta system, providing them with some peace of mind when they learn their luggage has been loaded onto their flight.

Available for domestic flights, Delta passengers can go online to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number they received at the time of baggage check-in. Passengers can use the ‘Track My Bag’ functionality on the Delta mobile app to scan their baggage tag with their smartphone camera.

And, as Delta has equipped its entire domestic fleet with GoGo’s in-flight Internet, passengers can even check up in the air whether their bag has made it on their flight using the free access to delta.com and the mobile app.

Surprisingly, Delta’s ‘Track My Bags’ service hasn’t been introduced by any other airline so far, who are clearly less willing to share this kind of data with passengers. The fast developments in digital luggage tags (a.k.a. ‘The Connected Bag’) will no doubt change this status quo though. Read full article »

Turkish Airlines asks passengers for instant feedback at check-in counter

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Social media has provide passengers a powerful platform to voice their opinion on their travel experience. In a response, the airline industry is among the most pro-active sectors that monitor the online conversation.

Furthermore, instead of just waiting for passengers to share their experiences (both good and bad) online, several airlines have also started to encourage passengers to provide their feedback about the service they encounter in real-time.

KLM, Singapore Changi
For example, KLM has launched a mobile app that allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived their experience at the airport. After downloading the KLM Feedback app, passengers first choose the airport they are currently at and then choose the area (check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival) and sub-area they want to rate. The rating consists of simply tapping a ‘thumps up’ or ‘thumbs down’ button, but passengers can also specify their rating with a comment.

Singapore’s Changi Airport has installed an instant feedback system at selected check-in desks, immigration counters, retail stores, dining outlets and washrooms. Passengers can rate frontline service staff or the level of cleanliness on a five-point scale using interactive touchscreens. They can also indicate what they like or dislike.

Turkish Airlines
Another recent example comes from Turkish Airlines, which last month implemented a customer satisfaction measurement system at its İstanbul hub in order to measure passenger perception of the check-in process at staffed desks in real-time.

The airline has placed survey devices – red and black-cased models to distinguish respectively Economy and Business Class service areas– on its check-in counters.

How it works
When the airport agent starts the check-in process, the survey device is activated and greets passengers by their surname. The welcome screen also shows the name of the serving agent and asks passengers to rate the service. Passengers can start the survey themselves by touching the sceen or alternatively a rating screen appears automatically when the check-in process is finished. Read full article »

KLM takes ‘social service’ to a new level with #HappyToHelp campaign

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

KLM, known for its savvy social service and innovative marketing campaigns, took both to new levels last week with a bold #HappyToHelp campaign.

Starting with the premise that the best promotion for customer service is great customer service, a dedicated team scanned social media during five days for passengers facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with a creative and relevant #HappytoHelp answer produced and personalised for single passengers in real-time – even when those passengers were not travelling with KLM.

On- and offline
Selected problems would then be solved in a variety of ways, ranging from actual physical intervention, such as helping someone retrieve a forgotten passport and still make their flight, to providing one-to-one advice or information through social media.

During the week, KLM’s social media team could rely on the back-up from a team of fast-producing creative people from KLM’s creative agency Tribal DDB with different skills to produce content. Answers ranged from a simple text message to an Instagram picture, a Vine, or YouTube video.

For example, KLM staff made a wake up call over the phone and offered breakfast at the airport (video here) to a traveller who had to get up early to catch her flight, provided a tailored weather report to a traveller who was unsure what to pack for that last minute trip to Ibiza, and recorded a video with personalized Spanish language lessons to a traveller flying to Mexico.

The airline even hired a speed boat on the Hudson River (video) to help out passengers who risked missing a flight–any flight–due to being stuck in traffic on their way to JFK. “Imagine the impact if you are not flying with KLM but it is KLM that gets to the airport,” says Pol Hoenderboom, creative director at Tribal DDB Amsterdam. Read full article »

KLM’s ‘Lost & Found Team’ aims to return lost items to passengers on the spot

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With nearly 7 million Facebook fans and 1.3 million followers on Twitter, and a wide range of social media initiatives, the KLM brand has become synonymous with social media innovation. The latest initiative by the airline is utilizing social media for an instant ‘lost & found’ service.

Instant lost & found
Every week, KLM receives 40,000 questions via social media. One of the most asked questions is about getting lost items back. This inspired KLM to set up a dedicated ‘Lost & Found’ team at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport which aims to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. From a teddy bear found by the cabin crew to a laptop left in the lounge.

The team uses all available information like seat number, phone numbers and public social media details to reunite passengers with their belongings. Very often the Lost & Found team is able to surprise passengers by returning their personal belongings before they have even missed them. Despite the challenge of locating the owner, first results show that over 80 percent of the found items can now be reunited with their owners.

How it works
Air France-KLM SVP eBusiness Martijn van der Zee earlier this year explained to Dutch publication Marketingfacts how the new service works.

“The current situation is that if a passenger forgets his or her iPad on board and walks through customs, all we can do is to refer to the airport. This is very frustrating, especially when passengers realize shortly after they have left the aircraft that they have forgotten something, contact KLM and we can do nothing for them. The lost and found process can take a few weeks instead, which gives an enormous bureaucratic feeling. We know this is a weakness and we mostly know that through social media.”

“We have now appointed two people at the airport who constantly look for things that are lost. They walk past the gates to collect items and then try to find the owners on the spot by approaching them, often via social media. In many cases passengers have not even realized yet they have forgotten something and really go out of their minds when they receive their lost item back.” Read full article »

Airlines encourage passengers to provide service feedback via apps and cards

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This article earlier appeared in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.
Download as pdf »

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Social media has provided passengers with a powerful platform to voice their opinion on the experience they have with airlines. In response, airlines have become one of the most active organizations that actively monitor the online conversation in order to pro-actively take actions to correct issues if needed.

However, instead of just waiting for passengers to share their experiences (both good and bad) online, several airlines have also started to encourage passengers to provide their feedback about the service they encounter in real-time.

KLM ‘Feedback App’
We have reported before on KLM’s mobile ‘Feedback’ app that allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived the experience at a specific area (check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival) at one of 13 participating airports the airline’s network. The rating consists of simply tapping a ‘thumps up’ or ‘thumbs down’ button, but passengers can also specify their rating with a comment. Meanwhile, KLM team leads and station management at participating airports have been equipped with iPads that enables them to monitor the feedback in real-time, so they can react on passenger feedback immediately if needed and possible.

United ‘Outperform Recognition’
Following its merger with Continental, United Airlines launched a a service recognition program, called ‘Outperform Recognition’ in mid-2012, that invites United MileagePlus members to submit up to five nominations every four months through a variety of channels, including United’s mobile app, mobile website and Facebook page. Each period the airline selects 101 eligible employees randomly from the pool of eligible submissions, who receive a financial bonus of between USD 2,500 and 50,000. The first edition of the program (second half of 2012) received over 9,000 nominations.

The option to recognize excellent service through the mobile app [screenshot] is the most innovative part of the initiative as it provides passengers an easy way to express their satisfaction on the spot and in real-time – especially since United has equipped the majority of its domestic fleet with inflight.
Read full article »

Philippine Air lets customers without a credit card book online and pay at a nearby 7 Eleven store

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported earlier how airlines in emerging economies have been introducing innovative services aimed at the rapidly growing middle class in the BRIC and Next-11 countries. Many of these consumers, often novice fliers, do not own credit cards or even have a bank account.

In Brazil, TAM sells tickets via low-end retail chain Casas Bahia and at high-traffic locations such as subway stations and bus stations. The airline also provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time fliers at its sales kiosks. TAM, Gol and Azul also allow customers to pay for their ticket in multiple installments.

In East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have teamed up with mobile payment services M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via sms. Qatar Airways, meanwhile, offers passengers in twelve countries across Africa the option to book their ticket online and pay for it using cash within 48 hours at a Qatar Airways reservation or airport office.

Philippine Airlines ‘Reserve and Hold’
In the Philippines, passengers who book a ticket online for a domestic flight with Philippine Airlines (PAL), and its low-cost subsidiary AirPhil Express, can now pay for their ticket using cash at over 750 7-Eleven retail outlets nationwide which are open 24/7.

The new scheme is designed for the large number of consumers in the Philippines who do not own a credit card and PAL says it wants to offer them the convenience to do their bookings online at home, office, internet cafe or via their mobile phone and then go the nearest 7-Eleven outlet in their neighborhood to make the payment.
Read full article »

Aeroflot lets passengers book a taxi while up in the air

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported earlier how Latvian-based airBaltic in 2010 established its own taxi company – BalticTAXI – in order to provide passengers with a hassle-free journey to and from Riga Airport. As taxi drivers in Riga often charge foreign visitors too much for the ride, airBaltic felt this was harming the image of its hub and decided to launch a fleet of Toyota Corolla taxis, staffed by uniformed drivers, and charge a fixed price for the journey between the airport and any location in Riga.

In-flight taxi reservation
Another airline that is making an effort to provide passengers with a safe and hassle-free onward journey is Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot, which offers passengers on domestic flights out of Moscow the option to reserve a taxi while up in the air. Launched in 2008 on flights from Moscow to two airports in Siberia (Novosibirsk, Yekatarinburg), Aeroflot’s so-called ‘in-flight taxi reservation service’ is available today on flights arriving at 12 domestic airports in Russia, including St.Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Sochi and Samara.

The taxi reservation service is offerered free of charge by Aeroflot and passengers pay for the onward trip at the end of their journey. Aeroflot passengers also receive a discount that ranges from 5 to 15 percent depending on the participating taxi operator.

How it works
On medium and long-haul domestic routes (for example to Russia’s Far East) cabin crew make an announcement about the in-flight taxi reservation service via the PA system and then hand out ‘taxi order’ vouchers to interested passengers. After collecting and sorting the filled-out vouchers, cabin crew passes the taxi reservations list to the captain, who forwards the information via Aeroflot’s Operations Control Center to the taxi operator located at the arrival airport. Upon arrival, passengers collect their baggage and head for the taxi reservation counter (located in the arrival hall of the airport) to present their voucher to the dispatcher, who provides them with the registration number of the reserved taxi waiting near the airport entrance.
Read full article »

Delta lets passengers track their checked luggage in real-time

Online tracking and tracing of packages shipped via parcel delivery companies such as FedEx and DHL has been possible for years, and has even spread to services like pizza delivery. For example, Domino’s Pizza ‘Pizza Tracker’ lets customers track their pizza from the moment they place the order until it leaves the kichen en route to them. Examples from the airline industry include Yapta, which offers alerts when fares drop for specific flights or hotels, and FlightStats, which notifies passengers on flight delays and cancellations. Says consumer trends agency trendwatching.com: “Tracking and alerting is the new searching, as it saves consumers time, makes it impossible to forget or miss out, and thus ultimately gives them yet another level of control.” 

Delta checked bags tracking
In a move to make the baggage process more transparent for customers, Delta Air Lines is now bringing ‘tracking and alerting’ to checked luggage. The airline has just launched a new ‘Track Checked Bags’ service in order to give passengers a sense of confidence that their luggage has made it to the same aircraft. As Delta scans the bag tags during each part of the journey, passengers can track their baggage in real-time as it makes its way through the Delta system. Available for domestic flights, Delta passengers can go online – for example via their smartphone – to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number that they received at the time of baggage check-in. 

Furthermore, as Delta has equipped all its 549 mainline domestic aircraft with GoGo’s in-flight Internet – and is currently installing the service on 223 Delta Connection jets as well – passengers may even check up in the air whether their bag has made it on their flight. 
Read full article »

San Francisco International Airport installs water bottle refill stations after security

Since security rules were tightened several years ago, passengers are not allowed to take more than a tiny drop of water (3 fl oz / 90ml in the U.S. and 100 ml in Europe) through security. This has been a nuisance for the travelling public, as many people have to purchase a bottle of water again beyond security to replace the one left behind.

Alternatively, passengers can bring an empty bottle through security and fill it up from a tap on the other side. However, as the Economist last year blogged, surprisingly few airports have made water fountains available or have hidden them in hard to find corners (by the way Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s new ‘Ambient Gate’ is a welcome exception). Furthermore, bathroom sinks and public drinking fountains are often not in a very hygienic state, and many aren’t designed to allow for a easy fill of a bottle.

Global Tap hydration stations
San Francisco International Airport (SFO), already one of the most environmentally active airports in the U.S., has come up with an innovative solution to solve this situation and to reduce plastic waste. The airport has installed two tap water ‘hydration stations’ in the ‘airside’ part of the terminal and encourages passengers to carry their emptied plastic containers through security.

The water bottle refill stations were designed by IDEO and developed by a company called Global Tap. Users place  their bottle under a spigot, press a button and tap water flows vertically into the container. The blue slender question mark-shaped hydration stations are also easy to be recognized by travellers and have been installed near the food court in SFO’s Terminal 3 (used by United Airlines) and at the airport’s International Terminal. More pictures of the Global Tap stations at SFO are available here and here. Read full article »

Airlines take care of passengers’ winter coats until their return

In our recent “Innovative Airlines” report we identified airlines that are putting an effort to differentiate themselves with inventive and relevant services. On the 11th spot of our ranking was South Korea-based Asiana Airlines, which has been covered several times on airlinetrends.com because of thoughtful services such as ‘PreMom’ and ‘Happy Mom’.

Asiana ‘Coat Keeping Service’
Since 1999, Asiana also has been offering a ‘Coat Keeping Service’ at Seoul Incheon Airport during the winter season (December to March) so passengers can travel light to sunnier destinations. Asiana’s First and Business class passengers as well as members of its frequent flyer program (including Star Alliance members) can use the service. Passengers can check their coat with Asiana for free for 5 days, after which 100 miles will be deducted per additional day. Asiana has set up a keeping room at Incheon which can store four thousand coats simultaneously and says that in the past 12 years around 150 thousand passengers have left their coat.

Korean Air ‘Coat Storage Service’
Rival South Korean airline Korean Air has been providing a similar ‘coat storage service’ since 2008 for passengers leaving South Korea travelling to warmer destinations such as Hawaii, Australia and countries in South-East Asia. Korean Air provides the service to all passengers travelling internationally from Korea with either Korean Air or a code-sharing flight. However, after a five-day complimentary storage, a fee of KRW2,500 (USD 2.25, EUR 1,65) per day applies.

Korean Air has contracted the coat storage service to Hanjin Express (part of the same Hanjin conglomerate as Korean Air) and arranged a room to store 2,500 coats. Passengers’ coats will be hung on a sturdy plastic hanger wrapped in plastic sheet during storage. According to Korean Air, an average 250 passengers per day have used the service during the winter of 2009, up from 130 in 2008.
Read full article »

Asiana extends ‘Happy Mom’ service with ‘PreMom’ package for expectant parents

Last year, we reported on Asiana’s ‘Happy Mom’ service, which aims to make life easier for families traveling with infants by offering dedicated check-in counters at the airport, and free breast feeding nursing covers, baby slings, and car seat-like baby seats in the air. South Korea-based Asiana Airlines says the Happy Mom service has proved to be very popular so it decided to extend the service to couples who are expecting a baby. 

PreMom Service
Started at November 1st 2010, Asiana’s new ‘PreMom’ service aims to solve the inconveniences that expected mothers face at airports and inside cabins during traveling. Services of the PreMom package include an exclusive check-in counter at the airport to minimize waiting time and an electric cart service to transport expectant mothers (and companions) to the departure gates 50 minutes before takeoff. 

At the gate priority boarding is offered in order to give pregnant women the maximum amount of space to move through the aisles of the aircraft. Onboard, front row seating is also provided to minimize the walking distance and to allow for easier access to the toilet. Asiana also hands out sleeping socks to keep expecting mothers warm and to help their blood circulation. A brochure with information on cabin stretching and airline regulations for travelling when pregnant is also handed out. Finally, Asiana Airlines has developed a special priority tag so checked luggage will be delivered more quickly upon arrival. In a clever commercial move, the socks, brochure and luggage tags are sponsored by Korean baby brand PreBebe.
Read full article »

Singapore Changi Airport lets travellers rate service on the spot

As part of its ‘Changi Experience’ program Singapore’s Changi Airport, one of the world’s most-awarded airports, is aiming for even higher service standards with the launch of several initiatives. New services include Care@Changi, which provides priority queue lanes at security checkpoints and taxi stands for expectant mothers, passengers with infants in arms and reduced mobility travellers, and iChangi, which making flight and airport information available via kiosks located around the terminals and a dedicated iPhone app.

The most eye-catching ‘customer-centric initiative’ the airport has launched, however, is an ‘instant-feedback system’, which is installed at selected check-in desks, immigration counters, retail stores, dining outlets and washrooms. Passengers can rate frontline service staff or the level of cleanliness on a five-point scale using interactive touchscreens. They can also indicate what they like or dislike. 

For example, Changi Airport’s cleaning-service partner would be able to fix a problem within 15 minutes of receiving feedback, which is transmitted via personal digital assistants carried by cleaning supervisors. They would then dispatch a cleaner to perform tasks such as mopping a wet floor or replenishing toilet paper. For DFS duty-free stores and two restaurants in the airport’s Terminal 3, ratings and feedback can tell managers which employees are their top performers. Read full article »