Travel Leftovers

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By: Roy Berger, MedjetAssist President/CEO

I was just cleaning out some travel leftovers after the holiday season and came across these thoughts:

TSA at the airport. Pat-downs vs. full body scanners: I’m at an airport almost every week. Been through my share of full body scanners and it doesn’t bother me a bit. Heck, we are just another number passing through. I have not had the pat-down experience yet and frankly don’t relish it but if I’m chosen, then I’m chosen. I have only one question about both procedures- if they were in place on September 11, 2001 would the terrorists have been stopped and denied boarding? If the answer is, “affirmative” then please be quiet and cooperate. It’s an incredibly small price to pay for all the lives that would have been saved and the peace of mind it brings. If it wouldn’t have made a difference then we are spinning our collective wheels and need to come up with a better system and quickly! (See Peter Greenberg’s column)

I will never understand why the domestic airlines feel the need to outsource call centers to foreign lands. I don’t get it. The last thing I want to be dealing with is a bloke who changes his phone name to something “Americanized” and tries to dupe me into believing they are our neighbors. Don’t tell me it’s cheaper. I’m not certain when you compromise customer service protocols in the long run that anyone is saving money. First thing I’ll do is ask the agent where they are based. If the answer is anything other than North America I hang up and try again. And again. And again. For the first six months of 2010 the domestic airlines grossed $1.6 billion in baggage fees. Found money. Spend some of it at home please.~

Don’t you just love phoning a business and being greeted by the warm, smooth tones of an auto answer attendant? How comforting. Then you have to sit and wait for the appropriate prompt before getting another auto answer. This drives me nuts. What’s happened to customer service in this country? Rest assured every time you call MedjetAssist you will be greeted by a real, live person. Kind of the way it used to be!

And speaking of customer service… isn’t it great when you are standing at an airline counter or finally reached the check-in point of hotel reception, or that long rental car line has you at last in front of the agent and the phone rings and that call takes precedent over you? How rude. I go into a baleful stare down. It’s my turn; give me my service! Flip side: Got to love the agent that answers the phone and says, “I am currently with a customer, may I put you on hold?” They will get my business every time.

My two main domestic carriers are Delta and Southwest. I use them interchangeably depending on the route and direction I’m traveling. Each have their strong point. All I really want from an airline is reliable service and getting to my destination close to schedule. If things go wrong, and they will, communicate with us. Tell us what the problem is and a realistic idea of if and when it will be resolved. Some of us are on tight schedules and would like to make alternative plans if we can get an accurate forecast. Don’t be cute and try to camouflage. Ultimately the truth invariably unfolds. And one final thing: how come Southwest can get the aircraft door open so quickly when we reach the gate and Delta takes forever?

Have a Happy, Healthy New Year and safe travels!

Best regards,

Roy Berger