Open letter to AirAsia X


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Dear AirAsia X,

Someone should go to the Service Desk next to the check-in counters at Melbourne Airport, grab Michael “I refuse to give out my surname because it’s a privacy issue” the Service Desk guys’s ego, and kick the fucking shit out of it.

===== INTERLUDE =====

As Kelly and I packed to come home to KL, we realised we would be over our pre-paid 15kg each allotment of luggage. So, we jumped onto AirAsia.com.au to upgrade our total to 40kg from 30kg. We went through the motions entering our booking number and flight details until we came to the upgrade your luggage and/or seat page. We were able to upgrade for $6 each, $12 total. Awesome.

But instead of a confirmation email, smiles, and bed, we received a vague error that the transaction did not go through. Being the optimists we are[1. I’m not an optimist.] we assumed an error on our part and tried again.

Error. Maybe we fall into one of the seven or eight reasons we can’t upgrade displayed on the error page, such as travelling to Australia or New Zealand, or being less than four hours away from boarding.

Nope. Hmmm, let’s switch from Safari to Chrome ‘cos we all know browsers are not created equal.

Error. FireFox?

Error. Well, maybe we should just call Customer Service to put it through on the phone.

We are currently experiencing a high number of calls, please try again later. Hmmm, well, we need to get up early in the morning, so let’s just print out the page showing we tried to upgrade and do it at the counter.

The check-in girl understood our problem and asked us to see the Service Desk and get our luggage upgraded. Luckily, there was barely a queue so we hadn’t wasted any time.

Enter Michael.

“The error occurred because you were trying to upgrade within 48 hours of your flight. You need to do it earlier than 48 hours before your flight. You’ll need to pay $17 per kilo of excess baggage”.

Of course we flat out refused with a simple and straight “no”. I think tall, skinny, bald[2. I mentally noted his appearance as Michael refused to tell us his surname, and I needed something to identify him by in case we had to persue the matter further.] Michael was taken aback at our refusal. After being told by a co-worker that the window of online upgradabilty for luggage was indeed 4 hours (and not 48) he told us he was going to get “Dave[3. Also only first-named for privacy reasons.]” the Station Manager on walkie-talkie to do something about out situation as he was the “only person that could do so”. Michael told us Dave might be 15–20 minutes as he was all the way at the gate. So we waited.

But Dave never came. Michael announced he was closing the check-in for our flight in two minutes so we’d need to either pay $17 for each of our 10kgs excess luggage, or miss our flight. It was at this point we asked for his and Dave’s full names and titles, because we would take this up from KL. And as you now know, we received no surnames “for privacy reasons”. Instead, we were told we had to go back and check-in, so the lady could tell us how much we were over in luggage. We didn’t want to miss our flight so we followed those orders, and eventually got on our flight.

On the flight Kelly was fired up to write to AirAsia and tell them her thoughts (the vibe of which is conveyed at the top of this post). And I was supportive. Feedback is rarely unhelpful. But it occurred to me: What if Michael’s attitude was different? What if instead of trying to make us pay, and refusing — somewhat nervously — to give his and the Station Manager’s surnames for identification purposes, Michael said:

“I understand your frustration, but there’s nothing I can do for you right now as I need to close the check-in. You’ll need to pay the excess now, and call this number (insert customer service or relevant department) when you land at your destination to work out a refund. Here are my and my Station Manager’s names for reference.”

Can you imagine what a difference that would’ve made? Not jumping on the defensive and refusing to acknowledge the issue would be an action worthy of the title “Service Desk”.

Kelly’s future fiery email was put out with that thought, and from the ashes arose this open letter to AirAsia X…

===== END INTERLUDE =====

Also, fix your goddamned website.

Sincerely
Bart Kowalski (former AirAsia traveller and advocate)

  • Michelle
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    Author
    Michelle Michelle

    Arg how annoying. Good customer service is only about two degrees away from terrible customer experience. Great post btw. And in related news, why are airline websites so shit in general – especially when taking payments. I mean what am I supposed to think with those unhelpful error messages. When I’m entering my credit card details and then I get an error, it would be so comforting to know that the transaction didn’t go through – why can’t the error message say that, or say it may have gone through to check your statement or god, give me a phone number so I can speak to someone. And they wonder why people don’t trust their brands! PUT THE CUSTOMER AT THE CENTRE OF YOUR DECISION MAKING YOU CHIMPOS.

    that didn’t make sense because I got a lot of stuff in my head. but. you know. stuff. or not. <= about as useful as a poorly written error message.

  • Barto
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    Author
    Barto Barto

    You are my favourite best vague error message :)