Swiss International — horrible customer service!
I am the Managing Director and owner of the 170 room hotel in Bangkok. I have been in the travel and hospitality business for over the last 5 years. This is the first time I have traveled on Swiss International on a roundtrip to NYC although I am previously a Gold Star Alliance member through Thai international and am currrently a silver member On this particular day, I arrived at the airport in advance of 90 minutes, around 115 minutes prior to departure on a Swiss International flight from JFK to Zurich.
As I have a problem on my left knee that usually gets ajitated during long haul flights I had prebooked my seat for an aisle seat so that I could stretch my knee as it tends to get quite stiff due to the altitude and long hours sitting on the same seat. When I arrived, I was told by a Swiss International staff that my seat had been released and that most passengers would be assigned seating at the gate. This I found very unusual as I have traveled to NYC at least 2 times a year since 1991 and never have my seats been released and assigned at the gate. I spoke to the Swiss International Supervisor and she said the seats are release by the system if you don't arrive more than 90 minutes before departure. As I mentioned earlier, I arrived 115 minutes before departure. As I proceeded to the gate, I kindly informed the Swiss International staff who was assigning the seats of my medical condition and she said she would take care of me rudely without even asking my name. When I asked her how would she know who I was she simply said to me 'I know who you are.' Obviously she did not but I decided to keep quiet and wait. For the next 30-40 minutes there were many passengers like myself waiting for our pass. The flight was leaving in 5 minutes and even then, I did not get my seat assignment. Finally when I got it, it was not an aisle seat as I expected. I was very furstrated at this point and had to again speak to someone who finally changed it for me.
At this point I was very very upset at the service quality of your airline. (There were many other passengers who were upset as well!) After finally receiving my aisle seat boarding pass, I went into the airline and proceeded towards my seat. To my surprise there were two people already seated there and when I asked them for their boarding pass, they had the exact seat no as on my card and the seat was apparently double booked. I again had to go back to the front of the gate to have my seat changed and have this situation sorted out which took another 5 minutes to process. It was a very nervous moment on a packed flight where I thought I would not be able to board the flight. It was very obvious they were outsourcing their airport services to an outside company and it was a very poorly managed service by staff who do not care about the quality of customer care which negatively affected how passengers like myself perceived of their airline, especially on my first roundtrip experience. I must say that I was completely disappointed at how I and other passengers were treated.
When I arrived back to Bangkok, I sent an official compaint on the Swiss International website and the message was replied to me a woman named Patchanee Maneeruji saying they would get back to me within a few days. This message was also received by the following Swiss International staff including Christopher Allen, Jaaveed Ally, John Carlo Justincic, and Daniel Murray. This message was sent on July 10, 2009. After not hearing back from any of these five people for four weeks, I sent an inquiry again on August 1, 2009 asking for some feedback. After another week of waiting I finally received an email from Patchanee telling me that as a result of the problems I had, Swiss International would make this up to me by ensuring that the next time I would get my preferred seat on the plane. I found this reply insulting firstly because it took five of these people 4 weeks to come up with this reply and secondly because it was simply a cheap reply for the amount of trouble I went through. Being in the hopsitality business, I am always proactive in how I react to disappointed guests as my hotel and am always giving free room nights and upgrades to any dissatisfied guest as my guests are important to me and I believe it is in my best interest to make sure they arrive and leave my property satisfied. I am not upset that I was not given a free ticket or a free upgrade but simply it was a disrespectful gesture on the part of the airline based on the principle of good customer relationship management. I am writing this email in hope that you will read this and AVOID flying with Swiss International. The Airline is not reflective of a world class airline and I would suggest flying other airlines such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Quantas, Lufthansa, Emirates on any destination you fly if you have the option. Swiss both inflight experience and customer service is worse than a low cost airline, even Air Asia offered me a free ticket due to a delay I had on a local flight in Asia and they offered it right away without me having to ask for it.
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