Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Corporate Culture

My trip to Vancouver over the weekend caused me to ponder corporate culture. No wait, don’t leave, I promise it won’t sound like some boring lecture you might get in a business class.

The corporate culture I was pondering was that of the two airlines we have to choose from here in our home and native land. One, which has received more than it’s fair share of government assistance and even Celine Dion endorsements has a mission statement that by my estimations reads like this:

“We strive to make ensure the customer provides the best service possible.”

That’s right, I said the customer will provide the service.

Here are two examples to demonstrate that this company, has indeed, met its mission.

About 4 years ago Jay, Jack and I (pre-Kamo) headed to the Cayman Islands to visit our very good friends, Rena and Wade. We left her in the midst of a huge snowstorm (it was the beginning of April). We were a bit concerned that we may not get out but no problem, we left here right on schedule to overnight in TO (to get anywhere from using this airline you must first go to TO – the self professed center of our dear country). We arrived late at night and waited FOREVER to get to the hotel with our 20 month old little guy. It was about 2am when we finally arrived because apparently an inch of snow pretty much shuts the place down.

Sorry this isn’t about that. Back on topic.

We get back to the airport in time for our morning flight to Grand Cayman. We board right on schedule. We no sooner move seats because some self centered lady that I could call a few other names as well announces that “she doesn’t sit beside children because she always gets spilled or puked on”. Hmmm, lady, maybe there’s a reason that happens?


Back on topic again.

We move seats and the captain comes on informing is that the airport may or may not have enough de-icing fluid to allow us to take off. 5 min later, he announces that no, they do not.

We are told to head back into the airport and call the 1-800 number to reschedule our own flights.

That’s right folks. The 1-800 number. The customer service desk was blocked off.

And given that they cancelled several flights the Caribbean within an hour’s time frame getting through on the 1-800 number was IMPOSSIBLE. Let me tell you, angry Jamaicans are not something you want to encounter!

When we finally did get through we were told that the next flight, two days later, was full. That’s it. It was full. Sucks to be you basically.

The aforementioned lady has the gall to walk by as I received this news and ask if there was another flight, I told her no, the next flight was full. Her response, and I am not embellishing in the least here, was “oh I am already on that one, I want a flight that’s sooner.”

Um okay, I may or may not have puked on her a little at that point.

Anyway suffice it to say that after several calls to the 1-800 and a trip back to the airport the next day from the hotel we secured once I called my dad in tears and he three way called to set us up (NOT even kidding!) we finally had tickets on the next flight. Amazing how the next day the flight suddenly wasn’t full anymore.

This is the coles notes version of that story. Believe me, there is much, much more. I had typed up an email when we got home detailing every last event that occurred but that was way before the days of this blog and it’s lost in cyberspace.

Example number two is much shorter. I promise!

On Sunday, I arrived at the airport in Vancouver not having printed off a boarding pass from the internet. I arrived at the check in point and asked an employee if I could still check in at this point without one. She assured me I could. The guy at the desk must have missed that memo. He asked me for it, I told him I didn’t have one. He asked for my flight number. Um, sorry don’t know that off the top of my head either so I quickly retrieved my iternary from my bag and passed it to him.

“See this confirmation number here? You take that and punch it into those self check in computers over there, then come here next time.”


I do realize that you might break a nail pushing print on the boarding pass but seriously? You are telling me that next time you won’t be so nice as to do it for me?

Right. Let me tell you this. That won’t be necessary. There won’t be a next time.

Now the other airline here in our fair land costs almost to the penny the exact same for an equivalent fair. There mission statement would read something like this:

“To provide the best service to our customers possible.”

Here’s an example.

On route to Vancouver on this airline #2, a lady kitty corner to me asked the flight attendant if the bathrooms might have some hand lotion in them.
Her reply was:

“Oh, I don’t think so but just give me a minute and I’ll check my bag. I am pretty sure I have some.”

Not five minutes later she was back, with her own personal tube of hand lotion.

Now that’s going above and beyond.

You may think that one example of goodness doesn’t quite prove my point, however, I leave you with this. Which airline would you chose?


Anonymous said...

The beauty of stock options. If you believe your airline could become the next google and you could potentially retire a young person you would hand over your hand lotion also.

Better to fly the good airline as the airmiles are more valuable then the points the other airline gives.

We are just happy to have you home.

The boys.

Hannah said...

Which is which?? I flew Air Canada when I visited last year ... I won't say anymore until I know if they were airline #1 or #2 ... I don't want to put them in the wrong boat!!

candace said...

I totally agree with you! Too bad we dont really have much of a choice when it comes to airlines.

teeni said...

See? This is why part of my fear of flying has to do with the fact that I'm going to get so frustrated and stressed out that I'll be tempted to strangle someone. Not good.

The Foulds said...

I think I know which is which but...

Anonymous said...

They are like Black and White!! Yeh for #2, and most of the time their staff are not only extremely helpful but fun to fly with!

Angella said...

WestJet. Rocks the casbah!