As some of you may recall, I had a 14+ hour delay on Etihad Airways between Seoul Incheon and Abu Dhabi last month. The delay was announced at check-in, and chaos followed. That being said, I get that big delays happen. It’s certainly not the ground staff’s fault, so I’d never take it out on them. It’s a crappy situation for everyone.
Etihad flight delay poster
Nobody likes a 14 hour delay, and to some degree it’s inevitable. Safety is always the top priority, though at the same time as passengers we book a specific airline and not a specific aircraft (at least usually), so I do think the airline has some obligation to make things right for passengers that are severely inconvenienced when flying with them. It’s a cost of doing business.
Beyond the actual delay, there were a couple of things entirely within Etihad’s control that ticked me off:
- There was a flight around the same time on Emirates which I should have been rebooked on, but they told me they couldn’t since the ticket was on a different airline’s ticket stock (an agent confirmed after the fact that per their policy they should have rebooked me)
- Someone reached out to me after the flight to get “feedback” on the delay, and explained that I’d receive an email/letter from Etihad soon with an “apology” — that never happened
So I decided to write customer relations a note to express my frustration not just by the delay, but by the way it was handled. Mainly I just wanted to see how they’d respond after the abysmal customer service response I received from them the last time around.
Here’s their response:
Dear Mr Schlappig,
Thank you for writing to us.
I regret that your flight from Seoul was disrupted.
Whilst I can assure you we do everything we can to maintain good performance, sometimes, unforeseen circumstances prevent us from operating our flights on schedule. We would never compromise the safety of our Guests or crew irrespective of any consequential disruption or service difficulty.
I do appreciate that your experience on this occasion was not as you, or indeed we would have liked. Disruptions are indeed unpleasant and I am sorry that you were caught up in this situation and that your travel plans were inevitably affected.
It is never our intention to leave our Guests feeling unhappy with the services provided. As a gesture of goodwill, I would like to offer you 10,000 Etihad Guest miles. These miles can be utilised towards future Etihad flights, upgrade and/or any of the thousands of rewards available on the Etihad Guest Reward Shop. If they have not already joined the Etihad Guest programme, they can enroll at www.etihad.com and then let us know their membership number by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also choose to convert the miles to points or virtual credit with PointsPay which can be used anywhere that accepts VISA card, both online and in stores; over 30 million different options. This is available exclusively to Etihad Guests and can be accessed via the website at http://www.etihadairways.com/sites/Etihad/global/en/guestrecognition/visitor/Pages/pointspay-pay-with-etihadguestmiles.aspx
Your support is appreciated, and I sincerely hope that you can put this experience to one side and that you will continue to travel with Etihad Airways in the future
First of all, it would be lovely if they could at least copy and paste a single form letter. “If they have not already joined the Etihad Guest programme.” Perhaps they’re mixing up their internal instructions with the form letters they copy and paste?
But 10,000 miles for a delay that got me to my final destination over 14 hours late as a first class passenger, without even acknowledging the mistake they made which was entirely within their control (not rebooking me on another carrier)?
Interestingly 10,000 miles is the same “gesture of goodwill” I was offered (though didn’t accept) after Etihad ran out of food on my Abu Dhabi to New York flight in first class for the second flight in a row.
On the other hand, 10,000 miles might just be the most practical gesture of goodwill they could give. I’m trying to look at it from their perspective, and I think I figured it out. As the email points out, I can redeem those 10,000 miles through the Reward Shop. 10,000 miles is more than enough for a $50 Morton’s gift card, which might not be a bad catering supplement for my next Etihad flight. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
Anyway, give me a crappy form letter response or give me a crappy “gesture of goodwill” if you must, but both?!
What do you think? Is 10,000 miles a fair “gesture of goodwill” for a 14 hour delay, along with the stuff they screwed up along the way?