Yesterday I had a chance to experience Austrian Airlines’ crisis management first hand, a very unfortunate occurrence for me and for other passengers of the canceled flight from Vilnius to Vienna. We were informed about the cancellation at the time of the flight (almost exactly on the dot, after waiting over an hour at the gate), then were ushered to the Star Alliance office where two ladies had to re-book us all to other flights, in order to guarantee us somehow that we get to wherever we were going.
One of the ladies was re-booking us, the other was not doing anything useful (at least to me) for about an hour, when she decided to help the first lady. In the mean time, some other worker came in and printed out number of pages for himself, of course using the same printer which both ladies were using to print out our new routes. That only unnecessarily added to our waiting time. I was maybe 6th in line and I had to wait for an hour for my turn – 10 minutes per person on the average. There were maybe 60 people there – easy to count how long the last one had to wait. I don’t know – I made it onto the flight to Frankfurt (a Lufthansa flight, also delayed) and then to Vienna. I was home at 20:30, six hours later than intended. Who knows where were those poor souls from the end of the line.
I am going to use passenger rights as introduced by the EU and I will try to log a complaint and get compensation for this. Not because I need their money, but because I need them to notice that I, as a passenger, don’t like to be treated like a nuisance. If we will exercise our rights ten maybe this Mickey Mouse airline will go finally bust and save us all future trouble. Any business is a survival game – if you don’t have it what it takes, you die. Lufthansa would do very well to let Austrian go belly up or teach them that customer service especially during crisis shows true prowess of any airline.
Of course the other side of the story is the fact that most, if not all, businesses are well prepared for daily work. Today most of them save costs wherever possible, limiting number of employees on duty. But when something out of the ordinary happens, there is no one available to handle the situation well and efficient. But that, exactly like technical problems, is no longer an excuse.