Submit Press release  · eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

Air France Missing Customer Service

Hello, Air France, are you listening?

David Tarsh  Aug 18, 2009

I fully accept that 45 minutes is tight and tight connections are risky and a travel agent would strongly advise against booking this and but that's not the real point.

The real point is that Air France could have said the connection timing was risky but it didn't.

It could have said the connection involved a change of terminal buildings but it didn't.

Its system could be programmed not to sell overly tight connections or to print warnings when the connections are dangerously close but it doesn't.

Despite the time being tight, we were not actually late for it; AF closed the flight before its own published deadline, with us in the departure lounge and checked in. In that situation, it knows full well it will upset us but it didn't seem to care. AF could have been much more sympathetic and could have proactively volunteered to look after us but it didn't.

These things don't require anything more than thoughtfulness - an essential quality in any service business. Thoughtfulness doesn't cost anything but it makes all the difference to one's reputation and ultimately one's profitability.

When senior management focuses its attention on playing with financial derivatives (as is apparent in its financial results press release) rather than being thoughtful about its customers' experience, it truly deserves to make a loss.

What do I want to achieve with this article? ( Look at all the comments and hardly anyone defends Air France.

I would like to see Air France focus on customers, improve its communications and manage expectations honestly.

Good communications means telling the truth so customers are properly informed and then complaints will be minimized. Bad communications hide the truth and the business has to spend disproportionately on fixing the problems caused.

I am an advocate for the travel industry and I am very concerned to see poor service and the general loss of glamour. Those are things that will put customers off and will damage all our businesses.

With this article, I want Air France's top management to realize that if they put their attention into customer service and good communication (rather than playing with financial derivatives) they will not only do the whole industry a huge service; they will also be more profitable.

I would even be willing to help them if they have the courage to call.

David Tarsh provides high-level strategy and communications advice to several companies in the travel industry. He may be reached via the email address:

Hello, Air France, are you listening?
Image via

Premium Partners