At the end of my last blog, we were stranded at the Ethiopian Airlines check-in, with the flight having closed and our long saved-for holiday vanishing before my eyes.
What follows is a true case study of customer service; at its worst and at its height.
When the ‘gate keeper’ in charge eventually saw fit to engage me, Madam Gatekeeper steely commanded me to go to the ticket office and book a flight for the next day. Meanwhile my poor husband, having urged his second uber driver to break every road rule in the book, arrived only to be faced with an hysterical wife and 2 lost looking boys.
As I explained our predicament to the astonished teller, she was somewhat puzzled as to why our photographed certificates had not been accommodated, but proceeded to inform me that changing our tickets to the next day would incur an additional cost of R12k – almost as much as the tickets themselves!
I managed to get my own faculties to function enough to ask to whom we could speak above this ‘gate keeper’s’ pay grade, back at the check in area. Enter the Area Manager for Ethiopian Airlines and saviour of the day, who on telephonically hearing our story, said that there would be no additional costs for travelling the next day. Furthermore, on hearing that we indeed had copies of the birth certificates, he ordered the flight reopened….!
Well not a moment too soon at 14h40, we made a mad escourted dash through Cape Town International, bypassing queues and security at various points with pitifully apologetic looks on our faces!
The elusive birth certificates were not requested on any further leg of our 6 flight round journey, even on re-entering SA. It really is quite a preposterous request of which we were not reminded at any point of our ticket purchases.
We boarded that plane dishevelled and perplexed, having lost our seating allocation and associated dietary requirements. As I sat grateful for the miraculous intervention that had landed me in my seat,
I mulled over the power of just one employee, to ruin the experience for a family and tarnish the brand of an airline, purely through her attitude and her actions.