Airlines mess up sometimes. When they do, the reaction is often to shift blame and deflect criticism. But Alaska Airlines did something refreshingly different after a rough weekend in Seattle.
A trifecta hit Seattle at the end of last week. First, a staffing shortage. Second, huge crowds and full flights. Third, bad weather. The result was thousands of bags were not loaded, separating travelers from their belongings.
Alaska could have blamed the weather, something like: we are sorry if your bag was delayed due to the bad weather. Those half-hearted “apologies” are really not apologies at all.
Instead, Alaska Airlines issued a genuine apology on its blog:
First off, we sincerely apologize to our guests who endured considerable inconvenience and understandable frustration at Sea-Tac Airport over the past two days. With many different factors working against us, we dropped the ball, and by doing that, created an awful holiday travel experience just when people rely on us the most.
Put simply: a severe staffing shortage during a very heavy travel period, as well as difficult weather conditions, unleashed a cascade of problems for us, and – unfairly – for our guests.
Starting Friday morning, we did not have enough ramp workers in place to successfully handle the holiday volume of baggage. A backlog quickly took shape and that prevented many bags from being loaded on flights ultimately causing our guests to arrive at their destinations without their checked bags.
We simply did not have enough people to do all the work. This caused us not to operate our gates efficiently and kept our aircraft out on the tarmac waiting until gate space opened up. We have called in many management employees from across the company to assist with the baggage backup and recovery.
I don’t know about you, but isn’t that refreshing?
Alaska Airlines truly messed up last week. It should have planned for the worst instead of hoping for the best. But the fact that it owned up to what happens reflects well on Alaska.
I think the apology is a step in the right direction and certainly more than what you’d expect from AA or UA. Did they offer baggage fee refunds, miles, and/or travel certs (in addition to their 20-minute guarantee) to all affected customers? If so, I think it’s an appropriate response. Otherwise, well, talk is cheap.
But was is so difficult in resource planning with all the flight data at hand. This was entirely predictable and thus preventable.
Same btw for many immigrations in airports, having the booths empty when several flights arrive.
Just lack of planning.
In my company people get removed for negligence. Apparently not here.
The sick calls were because of the mandatory overtime forced by McGee. Those who found out about it stayed home. Bet you wont see that in the Seattle Times. Don’t take my word for it. There’s enough out there.
Who is McGee? You mean the original founder?
Their baggage handling contractor
In Houston, after a shuttle driver got “lost” and took almost an hour to get from vehicle to gate… the gate attendant had been sent to load baggage so … even though my granddaughter was able to get her boarding pass … there was no way to check her bag. Still 50 minutes to departure- she CALLED customer service and was told “to bad, so sad”. AE was also told that if she missed this flight – her return flight would also be canceled!!! She was not told that she could take her bag to the gate and have it gate checked. Ther was NO ONE THERE TO CHECK HER BAG. So she panicked – and bought a last minute expensive ticket on a different airline.
When she finally arrived at SeaTac- I called Alaska customer service, hubby and I have put MANY miles behind us on Alaska and have always bragged them up wonderfully. I told my granddaughters story – and added “this is no way for us to treat our young soldiers. She just got home from deployment and was trying to see her family for Christmas, and this is no way to treat them”
He did put me on hold, came back and charged $125 change fee to reinstate her ORIGINAL return flight!!! This is still no way to treat our soldiers.
She was afraid to complain about this as she HAS to be back on base an at duty – so she NEEDS this ticket!! But to charge $125 to get the original ticket back!!!! No way to treat customers. She had arrived at the airport in plenty of time but a new shuttle driver gets lost and she pays the price!!!! She has a lot of flying years ahead of her – – and we live right by Alaska’s hub. I am betting she won’t voluntarily speak kindly of them.
Why would a ramper do twice or 3x amount of work during the Holiday Season, for the same pay?
Did rampers get a Christmas bonus?
Oh yeah, a $5 starbucks gift card ?
What do you think Alaska Airlines upper mngnt bonuses were ?
Im guessing $80,000 $100,000 ?
Pay the peolpe more $$….the weakest link in the airline is its ramp pple. pay.
Apologizing is just a beautifully minced word if written or spoken.
A true apologize is how you rectify the damage incurred.
Unless, offcourse you were paid to glorify such beautiful words, then congratulations! Nice job!
Okay, that’s nice and transparent and all, but they should have to cough up some money. We need EU261-style rules.