How to make a customer really angry

Thanks to the perspective I’ve gained over the past couple years, I promise that whenever I’m able to travel again, I won’t complain about stuff like this that is actually rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

<<Narrator>>: He’s lying. Of course he’s lying. I know he’s lying. He knows he’s lying. We all know he’s lying. But he would like to travel again sometime soon.

Originally posted June 18, 2017.

Porter Airlines, the airline my wife and I flew from Boston to Montreal yesterday, did plenty of things right.

The flights from Boston to Toronto and Toronto to Montreal were pretty pleasant, minus a tough landing in Toronto that the pilot dealt with quickly.

As planes go, the setting was comfortable, with 76 seats in 19 rows, two on each side of the aisle.

And they served drinks in actual glasses, not plastic cups. It seems like a silly thing, but it’s a small thing that makes the airline look like it cares about its customers.

So why was I so angry when I got to Montreal yesterday?

Since all the flights come through Bishop, several flights leaving in close succession means the terminal is crowded to the point where people had to find places to stand, and the people were likes fallen leaves in my yard — no matter how many left, there never seemed to be fewer of them.

Porter is a regional airline with Toronto as its hub. Although there are other options, so you wouldn’t have to, you literally could not fly from Boston to New York without going through Toronto.

But when my wife and I decided we didn’t want to drive to Montreal, it was the best option.

With 29 small planes, Porter may be too small to operate out of a major airport, but it’s probably too big for a single terminal at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Since all the flights come through Bishop, several flights leaving in close succession means the terminal is crowded to the point where people had to find places to stand, and the people were likes fallen leaves in my yard — no matter how many left, there never seemed to be fewer of them.

But that, while an inconvenience, isn’t even what made me so mad.

* * * * *

Whenever a plane lands — whether the flight was 90 minutes from Massachusetts to Canada, across an ocean or halfway around the world — there’s that moment where the passengers want to unhook their seat belts and get going (and also turn on their cellphones).

But they always have to wait, so naturally it was frustrating when our pilot coming into Toronto said we had to wait 3 or 4 minutes for the plane in front of us to clear our gate.

Except it wasn’t 3 or 4 minutes. It was more like 15, and then we had to wait for the would-be carry-on bags that wound up being checked to be unloaded.

That wasn’t pleasant, but it was worse leaving Toronto.

After everyone got on and the time to go was approaching, it appeared we were on the airline equivalent of a unicorn — a flight that wasn’t full.

And then the pilot came on over the intercom to tell us we were going to wait for some passengers from Newark and Boston, and so there would be a delay of about 15 to 20 minutes.

The most-charitable way to describe this was that the pilot had no idea how to do math or how airports worked. The one I chose in my anger was that he was lying.

Having just come from Boston, I could have easily told the pilot that getting off the plane, going through Immigration, claiming luggage, checking luggage back in for the domestic flight, going through Customs, getting to the Porter terminal and getting on the plane was going to take a hell of a lot longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

After about 20 minutes, he came back on to say it would be longer … which anyone with a clue could have said at the beginning.

It wound up taking roughly an hour, as we all sat on the plane.

Like I said, as planes go, it was fairly comfortable; it was not so comfortable that I wanted to sit there for an hour with no prospect of going anywhere.

Porter violated a cardinal rule of business. It over-promised and under-delivered.

And that’s why I was so angry.

3 thoughts on “How to make a customer really angry

  1. Pingback: The week gone by — Oct. 10 – A Silly Place

  2. Sorry that was such a negative experience (I live in Toronto btw, nice having you stop by 😀)! I can relate to the frustration for sure. I find the hardest part about a situation like this is not getting a proper update of how long we expect the wait to be. I would be much more calm if they told me how long they were expected to be and continue to update us if the ETA was changing…

    Liked by 1 person

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