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MouthShut Score

55%
3.27 

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Disappointed
May 17, 2001 07:49 AM 10154 Views

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I flew SwissAir last month from US to India and back.


THE GOOD:


There were four sectors on my travel: (a) DC-Zurich, (b) Zurich-Mumbai (c) Mumbai-Zurich and (d) Zurich-DC.


On three out of four sectors the flight departed and arrived on time. The one time it missed it was due to unexpected snow in Zurich. In-flight ambience was very good. Given I was flying economy, we were packed like sardines, but that was expected and is the norm for any carrier.


I was delighted to note the diversity of cuisine. The food was good and served generously.


The highlight was the presence of NT machines with high-speed internet connections near the departure gates at Zurich airport. I caught up on all my emails ;-).


THE BAD:


On every one of the four sectors, I found that the ear phone connection with the in-flight audio system was poor. These must have simply become old. But I was disappointed to note that all my fellow passengers were having similar problems. Maintenance department was obviously not doing a good job of checking to see if things were working. It wasn't the rare exception of a seat that had a malfunctioning audio plug, they were all pretty bad. On my last flight I brought it to the chief steward’s attention. My reward was an apology and a bag full of Swiss chocolate with Avis Car Rental ads painted all over the wrapper. But I am amazed that the problem seems to be so prevalent in all their flights on majority of the seats and they’re doing nothing about it. And not being good at lip-reading, I couldn't enjoy the in-flight movies.


I also didn’t like spending 6 hours at Zurich airport which isi under renovation, with noisy construction all around.


THE UGLY:


As if poor audio systems weren’t bad enough, on my Mumbai-Zurich flight my reading light seemed to have a mind of its own and would turn on and off at its own will. The switch didn’t work. I summoned the chief steward because I could neither read nor sleep peacefully. And it’s a LONG flight (over 8 hours) to put up with an annoying light.


The chief steward tinkered with the switch and the light and determined that the problem would be fixed when we landed in Zurich. I asked to be reseated and he rudely declined my request since economy was full and there was not an empty seat. Now, I wasn’t necessarily looking for an upgrade, but I asked I be put elsewhere if he had seats there. He rudely rejected the request and suggested I simply accept his apology and a large bottle of some alcohol. I was hardly impressed. When I make changes to my schedule, they demand $125 change fees - they don't accept apologies, I though. I requested the captain be informed of my misery. But he said he was the final authority in all such matters and that there was nothing more he could do.


Well, I asked him to bend low and get my words (I am a MouthShut inspired consumer, mind you ;-)). I whispered in his ears that if my eyes were injured due to fluctuating light as I tried to sleep or read, I would sue the Airline, the captain and the head steward personally for damage. His first reaction was disbelief – “This isn’t America” he muttered, trying to invoke stereotype of Americans. “This is Swiss territory, since it’s a Swiss plane, and you can’t go suing anyone you want.” I responded saying I didn’t care if it was the moon – I would sue whoever injured my eyesight.


Well folks, I was promptly upgraded and pampered more than I have ever been the rest of that trip. But the bottom-line is, it wasn’t outstanding customer service attitude, but the fear of lawsuit from a freak American that brought out the best in him. The big irony is, that the CEO of SwissAir wrote an editorial in their in-flight magazine touting their extraordinary “human factor” of their in-flight staff.


Also, remember the unexpected snow in Zurich? Well, unexpected because it's normally fairly warm that time of the year. So a lot of us were caught unprepared for cold weather. Whoever was in-charge of flight preparation and boarding was obviously a Bozo. They transferred passengers in those buses from the terminals to the plane. But loading those buses took time and you had people shivering in them as the heat was turned off and the doors left open. My particular bus stood there for over 15 minutes waiting for more passengers - all the while people fearing they might die of hypothermia. Human Factor, I thought - What a Joke!


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