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Hong Kong Wait Long

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I’m delighted to welcome the excellent Rob Jones as today’s guest blogger. When he’s not kicking up a racket over here, you can check Rob out over at the excellent Masters or Bust. As the late great Joe Strummer would have said, take it away Jonesy…

“In my experience you don’t have to look far to see either the good or the bad in customer experience. The best businesses have it systemised – it’s part of their DNA, everything they do is with the customer in mind (Apple stores come to mind) and the worst rely on individuals to bring their personal standards to work and trade off the back of them.

Airlines have had a torrid couple of years. With the advent of technology making global communication easier and cheaper along with the global economic situation making business travel far less attractive, the airlines have been facing an awesome challenge to remain profitable and in facing that challenge some cost engineering has clearly gone on…. with a few employee relations issues, the ghosts of a bygone era still challenging some!

I have had the (mis)fortune to fly a lot over the past few years (I think I did around 45 work flights last year) and it’s amazing how the service standards on the Asian airlines are very different to those elsewhere. I’m not sure whether it’s cultural but the attention to customers and the care taken in the service (irrespective of flight class) is just a notch above.

Last night I flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong on Dragon Air. Dragon Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific and operates regionally in Asia, winning quite a few awards. Despite being ‘down the back’ I still received great service. A menu for dinner, my choice of Haagen Daazs ice cream and even the landing card was delivered with a smile and the proactive offer of a pen. For not a large sum of money it was a great experience which had me landing in Hong Kong on time and in a great mood….

Which is when the wheels came off the wagon and all of Dragon Air’s good work was flushed!

We arrived at a satellite terminal and rather than a train or walkway to get to the main terminal we needed to get a bus. No big deal. Apart from the fact that 3 flights had arrived at the same time and there was only one bus and NO communication. After waiting 25 minutes (at around 11pm) to finally get on the bus we arrived at the main terminal to see queues for immigration that resembled the opening of a Star Wars movie.

Staff were promptly mobilised and the rate increased when two things happened that got me ranting and given I was travelling on my own I had to rant by email…

1. More immigration officers opened more desks and they split the queue across more desks. All good so far… Apart from they took the back of the queue to the new desks so people who were behind in the queue were processed first. My exhausted righteous gland was twitching

2. A video was looped to TV sets showing to the queue. The topic of the video was the proposed third runway at Hong Kong airport. The video featured Hong Kong business people and celebrities talking about the need to expand the airport and WAIT FOR IT – what an amazing airport it was. How it is a model of efficiency to airports all over the world and how easy and effective they find the airport. At this point I nearly ruptured something!

I understand that every operation has challenges. I recognise that the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley etc etc but DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, play a video bragging about how brilliant your airport is to a queue of people who are experiencing first hand that it isn’t always brilliant!

I landed at 2242. I picked up my bag at 2356. I will not for fear of distress discuss the taxi queue…

Dragon Air – we doff to you

Hong Kong International Airport – epic FAIL!”

In other news, our recent BA flight from Nice to London was delayed for over 90 minutes with no explanation. At least we had a seat to sit on, a game of Yahtzee and a small bottle of wine purchased from the café just before closing to help pass the time. Has anyone else found themselves hanging around at the airport lately?

photo c/o Giacomo P

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