It Can Be the Little Things

We should try to eliminate things that
unnecessarily piss people off.
— Michael O’Leary, Ryanair, in an apparent change
to their customer service philosophy.
AGM, Dublin, 20 Sep 2013

Recently American Airlines polled some of its frequent flyers about what factors make or break their airline travel days. The summary of poll results made for interesting reading, with lots of nods of agreement on my part. I would have loved to offer the same quiz to you all but I do not have that level of internet expertise. Instead I will summarize the notable trends I saw and encourage you to reply with further observations about things I have overlooked.

The poll invited people to fill in the blanks: “Sometimes I worry about ______ right before I leave for my trip.” Several people responded that traffic is a concern for getting to the airport. Long lines and delays at the airport came up here and in later questions. Did I pack my travel documents? My chargers and electronics? What have I forgotten? Will “Peaches the cat” be all right?

Do you prefer a "good" companion or an empty seat next to you? Photo by Kelvintt

Do you prefer a “good” companion or an empty seat next to you?
Photo by Kelvintt

“If I could have a crystal ball and know ______ before my trip, I would feel so much more relaxed.” Again delays were big here, and the variation on that theme, missing connections, looms large. Mix in the weather variability and the length of security lines, and you have most of the pinch points which people worry about beforehand.

“Sometimes I really look forward to ______ on the day of travel.” Lots of people appreciate the time they are unplugged and essentially alone (even in a crowd). Having quiet time, not cleaning house, reading, and getting out of town were all mentioned. Other people enjoy the people-watching opportunities a terminal offers. More than a few people look forward to one or more glasses of wine on the plane. Someone besides me likes a good meal in a connecting airport restaurant. (I have a short list of worthy places if you would like it.)

People wataching at the airport can be a bright spot in your travel day.  Photo by Aleksandra Durdyn

People wataching at the airport can be a bright spot in your travel day.
Photo by Aleksandra Durdyn

“When ______ happens it really makes the day of travel enjoyable.” Clearly the best thing that can happen is getting an upgrade to business or first class. Some people are happy to have an interesting traveler seated next to them; others prefer an empty seat. I expect several people can appreciate one traveler’s comment that what makes the day enjoyable is “everything works the way it is supposed to – security, boarding, flying, baggage claim, etc.” Is it so much to ask just to have things work smoothly? All things, all the time? That’s the problem!

The last question was “The thing that tends to make or break my day of travel is usually ______.” There were repeats here citing turbulence, delays, long lines, and cancellations. But there were two very insightful comments which stood out from the others. What makes or breaks my day? One person replied “whether I get a good night’s sleep the night before.” Another person answered “my attitude.”

I would love to hear what comments you would add to this survey. Send me a reply with your additions.

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

24 April 2014

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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6 Responses to It Can Be the Little Things

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