On January 1, my college golfer daughter, Kelly, and I flew to Palm Springs. Every winter her top gun swing coach goes there for a few weeks and almost all his players - high schoolers, college, and tour pros - fly in for a few days of intense lessons and practice.
Our Alaska Airlines flight went through San Francisco. We didn't connect, so we didn't have to get off. At least we weren't supposed to get off.
After our first leg deplaned all the SF passengers, it boarded those on their way to Palm Springs. Everything was hunky-dory when they closed the door and said we were ready to leave. The jetbridge pulled and we the engines revved up.
Then they revved down. The jetbridge came came. The door opened and a mechanic walked on. He spoke with the captain briefly and left.
No more details are needed. You know what happened. They asked us all to get off, taking our bags and wait. After about 90 minutes, the flight was cancelled, and all the passengers got in line to get rebooked. Of course, I'd already spoken with an Alaska Airlines rep on the phone, so Kelly and I were confirmed on the next flight...six hours later. Most of the passengers spent the night in SF. We got to our Palm Springs hotel after midnight, and the rest of the trip was uneventful.
End of story? Apparently not, and the thing that happened next completely surprised me.
One week after returning, I received an email apology from an Alaska Airlines executive. I wasn't surprised at getting the apology. It was nice, I thought, until i read the end of the email. Here is the message I received:
On behalf of Alaska Airlines, please accept my personal apology for the difficulties experienced with flight 312 in San Francisco on January 1, 2014. While passenger safety is our highest priority, we understand that your time is valuable and regret that this situation caused disruption to your travel plans.
As you are probably aware, flight 312 had a mechanical issue that required repair prior to take off. Our mechanics worked diligently to complete the repairs and get you on your way. Unfortunately, the situation became more complicated the originally anticipated and it became necessary to cancel your flight. Our operations and airport staff worked to rebook you to your destination; however, I realize that this caused a significant delay to your destination. I would like to once again extend my sincere apologies for this delay and any resulting inconvenience you experienced.
As a customer service gesture, I have issued you each an electronic Discount Code, which may be redeemed for a discount off future travel at www.alaskaair.com. Discount Codes are valid for one year from the date of issue. Please reference the appropriate code below at the time of booking on alaskaair.com. Discount Codes do not require a pin and need to be entered in the Discount Code box at the beginning of your reservation. Complete rules and restrictions can be found online at www.alaskaair.com.
Kelly Miller, Discount Code XXXXXXXXXX, in the amount of $300
Steve Miller, Discount Code XXXXXXXXXX, in the amount of $300
We value your business and hope to have the privilege of welcoming you onboard another Alaska Airlines flight in the near future.
Customer Service- Airports
WOW! A $600 credit for future use! That's close to the full cost of our round trip tickets to Palm Springs.
Kudos to Alaska Airlines for taking a bold step in customer service. They recognized our experience was diminished, but responded in a way I've rarely seen.
I often ask the question, "How far should we go in customer service?" because I'm a firm believer The Experience is the Marketing. What can we all take away from this tremendous example from Alaska Airlines?