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Employee-Customer Relationships and Airlines

I recently went to a restaurant, and received this bill for an item that cost $12.95 on the menu:

Item

Price

Food

$12.95

Food Preparation Surcharge

$3.95

Property Tax Surcharge

$0.95

Site Security Fees

$0.37

Waiting Area Use Fee

$0.46

Clean-up Fee

$0.99

Booth Usage Fees

$0.76

Imagine how this bill could damage an employee-customer relationship.

OK, I jest here, but this is a typical situation for airlines. The fare you see when you purchase on the website (to avoid yet another fee) is not likely to be the same as what you pay in the end.

Now, on top of all the current fares, Spirit Airlines announced yet another charge. They now collect fees for carry-on bags that are stowed in the overhead compartment. The article says, “Airline officials called it a ‘bring less; pay less’ policy that would ultimately benefit customers.”

Actually it sounds more like a ‘bring less, don’t pay more’ policy. Paying less isn’t an option. And it is hard to picture how this benefits the customer if costs are not passed onto those who are compliant with this (presumably) fuel-saving measure.

I can already picture the exchange, especially early in the rollout.

Ticket Agent: Will you be checking a bag?

Passenger: Yes

Ticket Agent: That will be $25.

Passenger: Maybe I’ll just carry it on.

Ticket Agent: OK, that will be $40.

I’m not positive about the prices, or the exact policy (the article says you can have a single carry-on if you stuff it under the seat in front of you), but regardless of the details, I don’t suspect the employee-customer relationship is going to flourish.

When I do Lean Consulting, I always look to remove dirty, dumb, or dangerous tasks. This certainly qualifies as a dangerous task. Of course, it is not the same as getting fingers pinched in a machine, or getting a repetetive stress injury, but it will almost certainly add chronic stress to the employee.

Now I understand that sometimes prices increase faster than costs can be reduced, and I know the airlines are struggling, but the marketing is horrible. Every time you take something away from a customer, it breeds ill will that makes the employee-customer relationship suffer, ultimately increasing costs.

Instead of taking things away, why not try adding? Make a basic meal complimentary, but sell a premium meal. I would bet that a steaming plate of lasagna next to me would inspire me to forgo my cold ham and cheese sandwich.

Or double miles if I don’t take a carry-on. Or lock the overheads and let all passengers who don’t need access get off the plane first. Do anything that doesn’t pit employees against customers. I feel for the ticket agents and flight attendants that have to actually implement Spirit Airlines’ policy.

But not as much as I do for the flight attendants on Ryanair if this headline comes to pass.

Airline considers fee for lavatory use

 

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