Published in Aviation

A Moment of Truth in 47b

Recently, I was traveling from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington DC on a major airline. As I boarded the plane and took my seat (47B), the flight attendant was broadcasting a welcome message and bragging that this was a “new” state of the art passenger jet, the most advanced aircraft on the planet. Every seat provided access to movie channels, music selections and even a tutorial on learning different languages.

As I waited for the 8 hour flight to begin, I felt something cold and wet hitting my arm. I noticed that the little vent above my window was blowing small white pellets of ice all over me. At first, I thought that it was just something brief, but it persisted, soaking my shoulder and arm.

I signaled the flight attendant and she walked over and told me “Oh, yes we know about that problem… sorry sir” and she handed me a blanket to cover my arm. I sat there thinking “8 hours?” I persisted and told the flight attendant that it would be really hard to sit through an 8 hour flight while being snowed on. She smiled and handed me another blanket.

The plane began to accelerate and the snow now turned to water, it was now raining on me. You guessed it, more blankets. She shouted from her dry jumpseat, “we hope it will get better.”

Let’s pause there for a moment. My unfortunate experience created a moment of truth for this flight attendant (and her associates who were hurling dry blankets at me). Let’s review what we know:

  1. It was a new airplane.
  2. They knew that there was a precipitation problem in 47B.
  3. They “hoped” that it would get better.

What an opportunity to rescue a customer experience! But all they could do was throw blankets at me.

Eventually, the storm front over 47B ceased and I dried off for the remaining 7 hours (and now I can speak basic Portuguese!) As we landed, the flight attendant told me that there was an engineer on board who was from the aircraft manufacturing company. She said that he wanted to learn more about what I was experiencing (8 hours later). I waited, but the engineer never came to talk to me. I pointed at the pile of wet blankets and told the flight attendant to tell him the story.

Unfortunately (for them), I work in the Customer Experience industry and blog about customer experience. Unfortunately, I was in 47B that very wet day.

What is the value of one detractor? Can you afford to allow the one customer to endure this type of mishandling? Could they have found me another seat?

Hopefully, you will not miss your moments of truth when your passenger in 47B comes along. Don’t let the opportunity to rescue the customer experience pass you by.