|By Scott McKain||
|September 22, 2012 03:50 PM EDT||
Before I start this rant…I realize if this is the worst part of our day, it has been a pretty good day. However, it just burns me up when front line people treat loyal customers with carelessness and disrespect.
(And, really…NO customer should ever be treated that way!)
Changing planes in Atlanta on our way to Orlando, Tammy and I handed the gate agent our boarding passes. When mine went through, the receipt printer kicked out a new seat — as a Diamond Medallion (the top level of their frequent flyers), I had been upgraded. But, Tammy had not.
“Look,” I said politely, “I don’t want this upgrade. We want to sit together — and we should not have been separated, as we are on the same itinerary and ticket. Please just give me back my original seat.”
“Sir, the flight is full,” was the curt response from the gate agent. “Take the assigned seat right away.”
“But,” I said, “I want to sit with my wife — you aren’t supposed to upgrade one and not the other when we’re on the same ticket.”
“This happens all the time, sir,” was the response. (Which I knew was a lie — it’s NEVER happened to us. Just the previous flight from Grand Rapids to Atlanta, the gate agent at Ford International Airport told us he only had one seat in first…and gave us the option, which we declined.)
So, I said to Tammy that she should take the seat. She responded that I had been the one giving a speech and working since 6 AM, and I should have it. The gate agent interrupted again and said, “Sir, you are the Diamond flyer — and she,” pointing at my wife, “has no status. Take your assigned seats now.”
(That’s a great line, isn’t it? You…yeah, you…the customer…you have “no status” with us.)
No problem, I thought — the person with my original seat would certainly want to change and sit in First Class, right? Well…no. She was behind her three family members in the row in front, and would not change.
Then, to make matters worse, we watched as two flight attendants took seats in First Class! In other words, Delta made room for employees to travel in front, while putting a loyal customer in the back.
Frankly, I’m mad at Delta right now. I think being upset is the proper response when loyalty isn’t reciprocal. Instead of flying United or American — or even cheaper AirTran — to Orlando, I stayed loyal to Delta.
I’ll bet the competition wouldn’t have separated us.
It will be interesting to see what — if any — response I get from the airline.
But…here’s a clue. I’ve already qualified for their top tier for next year with over one-quarter of 2012 yet to go. I have a European trip for speaking coming up that will cost many thousands of dollars in plane tickets I was going to spend on Delta.
My loyalty is now in play. (Even worse than being rude to me…they were rude to my wife.)
Here’s the critical issue for YOUR business: How are your front line people treating your best customers?