Published on 19th July 2022
With the summer holiday season now in full swing, lots of us are gearing up for long-awaited getaways. But with a wave of airline worker strikes taking place and more industrial action planned, many holidaymakers are facing major disruption to their journeys. Cabin crew, check-in workers, ground crew staff, baggage handlers and passenger service agents are among those going on strike, and many leading airlines are affected.
Travelling abroad can be stressful enough without having to factor in longer queues at the airport or even flight cancellations. This means it’s more important than ever for airlines and airports to provide effective customer service. Being able to speak to company representatives quickly and get answers to urgent questions is a must for passengers. But how well are these companies doing when it comes to the quality of their customer service? We attempted to contact 10 airlines and airports across various customer service channels to find out how they’re performing. Here’s what we discovered…
When it comes to answering phone calls, it’s fair to say that some companies fared much better than others. In terms of airlines, Emirates led the pack with a call response time of just two minutes. It was followed by Lufthansa at six minutes and British Airways at 11 minutes. Rounding off the top five were KLM at 12 minutes and TUI Airways at 23 minutes. At the other end of the scale, Qantas took one hour 13 minutes, Virgin Atlantic took one hour 40 minutes and Qatar Airways didn’t answer our call at all.
Response times were even more hit and miss when it came to airports. Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports took two minutes, 12 minutes and 26 minutes respectively to answer our calls, while the other airports we contacted either gave an automated response or no response at all.
Businesses that fail to answer customer calls promptly, or indeed at all, could be risking serious damage to their reputations. Figures cited by Forbes magazine suggest that consumers will tell an average of 16 people about a bad customer service experience.
We also got in touch with the companies by email. Perhaps surprisingly, only one of the airlines (KLM) had a contact email address – and its response was automated. The airports we reached out to performed slightly better on this metric. Luton responded in four minutes, while Bristol replied in 15 minutes and Belfast International in just over eight hours. However, the other airports on our list didn’t provide contact email addresses.
In the age of social media, many businesses are trying to ensure quick response times on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but how did the companies we looked at perform? Among the airlines, Qantas did the best, responding on both Facebook and Twitter in just six minutes. Meanwhile, Lufthansa replied relatively quickly on Twitter (13 minutes), but didn’t have a contact option on Facebook. Virgin Atlantic replied on Facebook in 55 minutes and Twitter in one hour three minutes. The other companies took considerably longer, gave automated responses or didn’t respond at all.
Two of the airports (Stansted and Manchester) responded in just one minute when we reached out on Facebook, but neither responded on Twitter. Similarly, Birmingham Airport responded in an impressive four minutes on Facebook but didn’t have a contact option on Twitter. Conversely, Heathrow took just five minutes to respond on Twitter but didn’t respond on Facebook. The other airports took considerably longer to reply, gave an automated response or didn’t provide contact options at all.
British Airways fared by far the best among the airlines in terms of live chat. An agent responded in just one minute. EasyJet took the second spot, responding in a somewhat more sluggish 14 minutes. The other airlines either didn’t respond, gave an automated response or didn’t offer a live chat function.
Among the airports, both Stansted and Manchester replied in just one minute. But they were alone in their responsiveness. The other transport hubs either didn’t reply or didn’t provide a live chat option.
Reputations at stake
Providing good customer service is always vital, but never more so than when businesses are struggling to meet expectations. During crises like those the airlines and airports are facing currently, companies that fail to make themselves available to customers who want information, advice or to provide feedback could see major damage to their reputations.
If consumers can’t get through to businesses quickly via their preferred contact method, they are likely to form a negative impression of them. This may make them less likely to use the airlines or airports in the future. And in many cases, it might translate into negative reviews and comments online. These people may also discourage friends, family and colleagues from using the companies in question.
Of course, especially when there are logistical and staffing problems, it can be difficult for companies to maintain a high level of customer service. However, there are ways around this. By outsourcing customer service tasks to specialists like CallCare, you can make sure you always show your business in the best light when it comes to responding to questions and feedback.
An overview of how long it took in minutes to contact the respective airlines and airports can be found in the tables below. The research was conducted between the 9th – 10th of June 2022:
|Emirates||2||No available contact email||1268||1271||“It might be best if you call us instead”|
|Lufthansa||6||No available contact email||13||No option||Automated responses|
|British Airways||11||No available contact email||No response||No Response||1|
|KLM||12||Automated response||No response||Automated response||No live chat|
|TUI Airlines||23||No available contact email||4320||4320||No live chat|
|EasyJet||27||No available contact email||No response||No response||14|
|Jet2||50||No available contact email||Automated response||Automated response||No live chat|
|Qantas||73||No available contact email||6||6||No response|
|Virgin Atlantic||100||No available contact email||63||55||Only redirects you to FAQ|
|Qatar Airways||No response||No available contact email||Automated response||Automated response||No live chat|
|Gatwick||2||No response||2||38||Automated responses|
|Stansted||12||No available contact email||No response||1||1|
|Manchester||26||No available contact email||No response||1||1|
|Heathrow||Automated response||No available contact email||5||No Response||No live chat|
|Luton||No available contact number||4||Automated response||Automated response||No response|
|Birmingham||No response||No available email||No contact available||4||No live chat|
|Bristol||No response||15||No contact available||402||No live chat|
|Edinburgh||No response||No available contact email||Automated response||Automated response||No live chat|
|Glasgow||No response||No available contact email||No contact available||127||No live chat|
|Belfast International||No response||482||No contact available||No response||No live chat|
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