Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Popular airline trends in customer service and marketing and why Copa Airlines does not meet those standards

I returned from The Dominican Republic a little over a week ago, and I was less than satisfied with the customer service, public relations and marketing policies exhibited by Copa Airlines.

With JetBlue and Virgin America airlines offering individual video screens for each customer as well as spacious, leather seats for the cabin class, expectations are high, especially for international flights. Based on my experience with these and Copa Airlines, I decided to put together a list of what I expect from a good airline when it comes to customer comfort and service.

Comfortable seats: Not necessarily leather seats, but roomy and comfortable, nonetheless. Copa's seats were comfortable enough, but were nothing compared to other airlines - even domestic airlines.

Free video for each person: Copa had video, but there was only one screen for every couple of rows, and the videos played were preselected. Grant you, it was free to watch them, but considering that British airlines had individual screens for every person back in 2002, I think Copa has had plenty of time to improve. JetBlue and Virgin America offer a cool map feature that lets you see where your plane is, as well as free TV channels and movie options that are on a constant loop.

Pillows, blankets and headphones: On this count, Copa passes. They made these items freely available and easy to access.

Friendly flight attendants: For the most part, Copa passes, but when I asked for an extension seat belt, the flight attended gave me an unfriendly look that made me feel very inferior and stupid.

Not over overbooking flights: On my return flight from Panama, Copa overbooked the flight by 36 people. I understand overbooking by a few people to guarantee a full flight, but 36 people! That's just ridiculous, poor business dealing.

Not making the customer feel guilty/Not forcing the customer to give up seats: Copa tried to convince my group of 15 people to give up our seats due to the overbooking. They pretty much made it look like they had already taken our seats away, even though we had confirmed seats. They wanted to pressure us into volunteering our seats by making it look like we didn't have seats in the first place. Bad public relations, Copa. Try to make a better impression next time.

Reasonable offers for giving up seats: Copa offered to pay for hotel and food, as well as to give each of us $300 in flight credit for Copa. None of us ever planned on flying Copa again - we don't go to Latin America very often. Plus, $300 isn't even enough to pay for a one way flight with Copa, which only offers expensive international flights. Airlines used to offer free flight credit in exchange for giving up your seat. What happened to those days? And if you're going to overbook by 36 people, you really should be willing to deal with the consequences.

So what's on your list of positive airline relations?

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