The recent United Airlines fiasco unveiled what the flying passengers from all over the world already know. The thriving airline industry doesn't dwell much when it comes to customer relations.
While innovators from other industries managed to push the limits and even enhance the services offered in taxis, hotels and cable TV, the airline industry lag way behind of innovation. Worse, they have little regard to customer service. "The airline industry has been on a steady downward trajectory when it comes to customer service for nearly 40 years," Henry H. Harteveldt of the Atmosphere Research Group told The New York Times.
The showrunners of the airline industry "don't view themselves as being service companies," said Harteveldt, while flight passengers "have shown that they're willing to put up with an awful lot" in exchange for cheap fares. Customers look up flights based on flight schedules and fare prices just as online portals don't include customer service when they rank airlines. As a result, the airline industry thrives on a transactional basis where airlines compete based on prices.
Devin Liddell of design firm Teague, which works with transportation companies like Boeing, believes that a subscription airline could drastically improve the industry's customer service and keep their focus off the competition of "offering the lowest fares." He believes that the thriving airline industry can face tough competition with other types of transportation in the long run if it fails to shape up. TripAdvisor has also inaugurated its 2017 Travelers' Choice Awards for Airlines to "recognize the carriers offering the very best experiences and value to the traveling public" and "to help travelers make the most well-informed air travel decisions, based on the experiences of the global TripAdvisor community."
The United Airlines could learn something from its latest controversy. According to Reuters, United's CEO Oscar Munoz was already under pressure to boost its customer service. The airline announced Friday a policy revamp on its own flight crews in a bid to win back the trust of the flying public.