Private airlines: A show of poor customer care

It seems all that flies is excuses when it comes to the customer service of private airlines in Pakistan.

Tooba Akhtar November 25, 2010
What’s worse than having a flight repeatedly delayed?

Is it that you might be delayed by up to twenty four hours?


Is it the annoyance at the added wait with a dash of inconvenience at having to locate the next possible flight?

No, not even close.

Perhaps its the irritation you feel at having to hold the line, while the delayed airlines’ operators finish laughing at your misery.



The worst thing about a delayed flight is customer service.

There is nothing worse than when you’ve been clutching the phone receiver to your ear, breathlessly waiting for a voice on the other end to shine a glimmer of hope on your hopelessly desperate situation, and the computerised voice on the other end says:
Thank you for your patience; your call and business are valuable to us.

The “value” of my call was made abundantly clear to me by a privately owned airline’s centralized operator, whose tone made me wish for that friendly computerised voice again. After persisting that a solution to my problem be found, I was put on hold again to wait for a “supervisor”, in a mistaken attempt to get rid of me.

But this airline’s blues were far from over. After 45 minutes (yes, I was stubborn and angry enough to not hang up) the supervisor picked up.

Kudos to him for his politeness. But after a twenty minutes long conversation in which I demanded the company pay for a substitute ticket with another airline (as opposed to merely refund the original ticket price of the delayed flight, which was approximately Rs10,000 less, and would not have enabled me to purchase a new ticket with another airline on such short notice), he resorted to the helplessly pathetic, age old “There’s disturbance in this line; I can’t hear what you’re saying” tactic. So, I decided to give up.

Are we to blame for poor service?

The sad part is that this kind of behavior has become almost routine for private airlines. Our helpless acceptance and the consequent ‘it happens’ attitude has almost shadowed our exploitation at the hands of airlines. Consumers continue to pay the cost and be dissatisfied.It’s high time that airlines get penalised for their concurrent shortcomings.

It’s not an outrageous demand for an airline to reimburse the passenger the current price of the ticket, for example, so that if they choose to, they could purchase a substitute ticket with another airline. And it’s not outrageous to demand that these “customer care” centers actually do more than act as a punching bag for enraged customers like myself.

If all that is flying are their excuses instead of the actual planes, then maybe it’s time for us to demand their exit from the airways for other potential competitors.

Isn’t this the ideology behind having private airlines anyway?
Tooba Akhtar The author is a final year student of Economics and Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.