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Airline Customer Service: When It’s Good, You’ve Won Me Over

It’s no secret that flying today often ranks somewhere between getting a root canal and slamming your finger in the car door, but a few months ago, I posted about the surprisingly excellent customer service I received—apparently apropos of nothing—on Alaska Airlines. The entire incident, in fact, served to restore my faith in current-day air travel and reminded me of how little we passengers actually need to feel understood and taken care of.

And then, of course, it was back to the usual delays and—hurrah!—a whole new host of fees.

Last week, however, I flew with Air Berlin, and was absolutely bowled over by the superior customer service, the calm and pre-emptive professionalism, and the (utterly novel!) way each passenger was treated like a human being rather than a warm body in a seat.

Leaving for Dusseldorf from JFK, we sat on the runway for three hours. Yes, three hours. It wasn’t Air Berlin’s fault, of course, it was merely a result of the traffic jams for which JFK is so famous. Since I had a connecting flight from Dusseldorf to Berlin, however, I started to worry about whether I was going to make it. And then I stopped worrying about whether I was going to make it, and realized resolutely that I absolutely wasn’t going to make it, and no amount of willful finger-crossing could help it happen while I was mid-air.

But this is where Air Berlin won me over: not only had they already rebooked every single passenger on a later connecting flight, which they announced to us via loudspeaker before we even landed—bonus: none of us had to wait more than ninety minutes in Dusseldorf airpor—but they also gave every single person on the plane a voucher for 8 Euros (about $12) so we could buy a "refreshment" at the airport between flights.

Is that classy or what? Because I think that’s pretty classy. Listen up, competing airlines: that’s the way it should be done. While I could hardly believe it—being helped! without having to make a fuss!—I did make a mental note to fly Air Berlin whenever I could in the future.

I really think that the airlines—or airline personnel—who go the extra mile deserve a proverbial pat on the back, particularly in the current climes, as we’re being nickeled and dimed five ways to Friday. So spill: any similar stories of great customer service from your recent travels? (Or more likely, perhaps: any awful ones?)




Too many awful ones recently to recount, but when a recent flight to Chicago got canceled, I went to another airlines ticket counter and explained what had happened. The employees were understanding and got me on their next flight without an issue. It’s a little sad that I was impressed by this, but the fact is, they got me exactly what I needed without seeming irritated and without tacking on any extra fees.

Flying could be so painless…

Anne & May

Huh? Don’t mind me. Just marking Air Berlin down in my Big Book of Excellent Travel Providers.

I’m trying to keep track after a hideous AirTran flight nearly did me in.

Here’s hoping others follow Air Berlin’s lead.


Wow, I’m going to have to remember this the next time I need to fly to Germany. I’d pretty much given up on all airlines ever giving the customer the benefit of the doubt, but Air Berlin sounds like they’ve got their head screwed on right. How refreshing!

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