Last week I recounted an exchange I had with a vigilante Korean Air lounge attendant that attempted to downgrade me from paid business class to coach on her own accord despite substantial evidence I bought the correct ticket. Many commenters weighed in on what I should do, but what should Korean Air do to resolve this customer service matter?
Upon checking in to the Korean Air lounge at New York’s JFK International airport, I was told that my family had not paid enough for our tickets and that we should actually be in coach, not business class. We were not interested in a downgrade and were not treated respectfully. To recap, here is the evidence supplied over a 120-minute period while the lounge agent degraded us and our intelligence.
- Printed boarding cards for the journey JFK-ICN in business class
- KoreanAir.com correctly showed our tickets with no issues in the fare class we demonstrated
- Hotwire.com correctly showed the itinerary as well
- Receipt from Korean Air following a schedule adjustment and subsequent route change
- Original receipt from June 2018 from Hotwire.com
- Korean Air phone agent confirming the information
- The lounge agent’s own computer system which showed no issue with the ticket
- Delta’s ticketing agent (primary domestic feed flight) which showed the itinerary as we claimed
- Hotwire.com phone support confirming the same
- Korean Air phone agent via transfer from Hotwire.com phone agent
- Korean Air phone agent called independently from Hotwire
It was only at the last point that the agent finally printed our onward ticket from ICN-DPS with a non-apology and general avoidance.
Korean Air Has Been In Touch… Sort Of
Before I even considered writing a post, I tried to reach out to Korean Air outside of the JFK office to explain the events and determine if there as something else that caused the events for which I (and all of the other systems and agents) were unaware. I wanted to give the ultimate benefit of the doubt before bringing the issue to my readers to ensure I had all of the information, as accurately told as within my control.
I first tried Korean Air’s Twitter account. Then Twitter again after a few days. Then their facebook account. Then an email to customer support before the post went live (this was about 5-6 days in total). Despite all of this, I had heard nothing at all from Korean Air. Not a peep. I finally called into reservations and just complained there. I find it appalling that Korean Air couldn’t rummage up a response via ANY of those methods over nearly a week.
I was asked to write another email, this time to firstname.lastname@example.org (English reservations call center supervisor) where I outlined everything. As the post was live, I included a tracked link.
I finally received a response to my email back, only to say that they would pass it on because it was not their department. Then another from the same (as they had found my original email) reiterating the same message but adding that it was because the fare was an error (IT WASN’T) causing confusion for the agent (IT DIDN’T). I reject these half-apologies.
I did get a partial genuine apology from the station manager of JFK stating that they would further investigate and conduct recurrent training. In my mind, recurrent training for this event should have consisted of scanning a boarding pass and permitting access to the lounge, but who knows what that means.
They all stated that they would continue an investigation into the matter for 3-4 weeks.
What Is A Fair Remedy?
The half-apologies do more harm than good in my opinion. It’s like someone saying, “That’s really good for a person like you” and has the opposite effect of its intended goal. I gave them plenty of opportunities to simply respond back with something more genuine and their garbage social media teams and even customer service email response is evident that customer service is not terribly important to them.
Some have suggested that I am entitled to something for my mistreatment at the lounge. I am not sure that’s the case. In the end, I flew my flight in the cabin I purchased as intended. And while I might have been treated like trash and had to prove with nearly a dozen pieces of evidence that the truth I stated (and they saw on their screen) was the truth, what’s a fair remedy for this?
- Do they owe me miles for my trouble?
- A voucher for being treated like a thief when I’d done nothing wrong?
- A full apology instead of a half apology?
- Nothing – that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
I’m not looking for a handout from Korean Air. As one commenter mentioned last week, other customers (in her case an older black single female) have to prove they are in the cabin they have booked more often than not. But it’s just not settled with me. It feels like whether I am proactively making a route change due to their schedule change, proving my ticket is valid, or following up with them regarding their own service incident – it’s always my burden to make the situation right.
I’m not happy leaving it as it is, but I ask you – what is fair? What would make it right for you?