Thursday, August 27, 2009

Consistency is key!

I flew on Etihad for the first time last year, on a trip to Paris. The experience was impressive to say the least. I had heard a lot of negative comments about Etihad and their planes from many people, but I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. Planes were new, service was good and so was the food.

I flew Etihad again recently on a trip to Beirut, and it felt like it was a different airline! On the way there, we were on one of those old planes that have the TV in the middle of the individual TVs. Food was OK...airplane food. But on the way back, it was even worse! There was NO TV! I honestly cannot remember the last time I was on a flight where there was not a single screen!

The flight attendants actually had to demonstrate the safety instructions manually...the way they used to do it around 15 years ago!

But then the worst part was the baggage claim. I cleared customs quickly (have I mentioned that I love e-gate?), and waited for my luggage. I saw a family friend waiting for his luggage as well, and he got his around 15 minutes later. I was still waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

A few suitcases would drop down onto the carousel, and then the belt would stop. And then a few more. And then stop again. This went on for about an hour, until I realized that the bags that started dropping down were for the next flight, not mine!

There were still quite a few people waiting for their bags, and a few of us dashed over to the lost baggage counter. I was FUMING!

Luckily, a young man told me to wait again at the carousel, because the Etihad luggage was still I went back, waited a bit longer, and FINALLY, around an hour and 20 minutes after my flight landed, I got my suitcase.

Another case in point is that my friend flew Etihad the day before I did, from Beirut. He got to Beirut airport 2 hours before his flight, only to find out that his flight was delayed 3 hours. Poor guy had to roam around Beirut airport for 5 hours before he finally got on his flight!

All this to say that if an airline is to establish itself as the "country's national airline", then it should do a better job at being consistent with its service. That is the only way a brand will survive in the long run.


BuJassem said...

This is AD's national airline :)

oh well it might have been a bad day for them.. at least they have an independent airline now.. half full.. glass half full :)

moryarti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
moryarti said...

Your inflight experience DS isn't a decline in ETIAHD'S service standards, but an experience of an operational policy implemented by most, if not all, airlines here.

You see, carriers here tend to deploy less 'equipped' planes to short haul flights to destinations like Beirut, Damascus, Cairo... etc... Same thing applies to staff - most new (and not soo lucky) attendants get these short flights over packed with short tempered passengers.

Better planes and more experienced staff are saved for long haul trips (CDG, JFK, LHR ...etc) - of course, that includes better services ..etc.

That, most probably, explains why ur flight to paris was a delight whereas the one to beirut was a relative sub-par.

As for ground service, trust me, its a disaster everywhere during summer months due to crazy air traffic.

This summer, we were flying EK, thru the relatively less congested Terminal 3 and flying business class (were luggage should gets priority handling)... still, it took us about 1hr30mins to get our bags

Anonymous said...

moryarti, you're right about the planes, possibly wrong about crew. Can't speak for Etihad (although as far as I know their system is similar to EK), but believe me, on Emirates, my roster included both long haul trips and turn-arounds. Your seniority doesn't save you from Cairos and Bahrains...

rosh said...

True Mory. The North American slave ships, live it up / mutate to better aircraft and services to foreign destinations. I've flown Delta and United to International to EU, Tokyo and Dubai. The aircraft was fantastic and the service, far better to national destinations.

Auntie, aka Coco's Mom said...

Well at least you got home safe and sound...THAT'S the most important thing. I don't mean to sound preachy...
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Anonymous said...

I always fly to Beirut on EK and they fly the latest Boing 777-300 with large LCD and spacious leg space in the Economy... not to mention the on board movies library that you can choose from.

even on my trip to Bahrain I flew on the 777.

I believe baggage issues are related to the airport more than the carrier.

@Dubai Sunshine:
I feel sorry for your friend who got stuck in Beirut airport 5hrs+ as it is one of the most boring airports ever

moryarti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
moryarti said...

@Naseem, you must've been very lucky then ...

This knowledge comes from a travel experience that sometime reaches 3 to 4 trips per month to destinations in ME, EU, APAC & US. I run into more friends in airports than i do at malls... can u imagine how sad that can be?

In the family, we also have 3 pilots and 2 pursers (2 working for EK) and you do NOT wanna know some of the stories they share with me about the industry :)

Anonymous said...

Well yeah, I dont fly often as you are :P its been 14months with no more business trips... I miss 2007 when I used to fly business atleast one every month...

but its not about luck... when I fly I just arrange my schedule depending on the airplane :P so if its a small plane I simply skip it :D

by the way... my brother and sister works for EK too and so my GF :D

Zaher said...

sometimes getting on an airplane is like buying watermelon. you never know what you get.

Ace said...

The worst Etihad plane easily beats the best any US airline has to offer.

You probably flew on an Airbus 320 to BEY and a widebody (A330 or A340) to Paris.

The widebodies are used mostly on the long haul routes so they are outfitted more lavishly with inflight amenities than the smaller A320s used on the short haul flights.

It is easy to get spoiled by perks on the big jets!

subas said...

Nice blog. explanation is excellent.The widebodies are used mostly on the long haul routes so they are outfitted more lavishly with inflight amenities than the smaller A320s used on the short haul flights.yeast infection

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Now, this is what which happens with most of the Asian airlines. You travelled to Europe and yo found excellent services and when you traveled on the same airline to Beirut, there was a big difference. If such airline companies improve their services regardless of what their services is then they can improve their service.

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