My dad was flying from New Delhi to New York a few days ago with a stopover of about 20 hours at Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. He had then booked a separate ticket on SpiceJet from Bangalore to New Delhi. The flight from DEL to IST departed at 0615 and the BLR to DEL flight departed at 0020 and arrived at 0305. A 3 hour connection would ideally be enough to pick up the checked bag, go to the international terminal and check in again. Maybe even have some time for the lounge. Its a good plan.
The night before, my dad got a notification that the flight to DEL had been delayed by 30 minutes due to ATC congestion at Kolkata. That meant a 2.5 hour connection which was doable. But, if the flight got even more delayed, it could be catastrophic. Turkish had only 1 daily flight from New Delhi and flying the next day would mean missing the next flight from New York to Buffalo in Delta. (Also a different ticket.) It would be a very bad situation.
So, my dad called up SpiceJet. They said the flight will depart at 0050 and arrive at 0335 and since the next flight is on a different ticket, they couldn’t do anything. It was too late to take the previous flight and so this had to do.
Next, he called up Turkish Airlines and explained his situation. The agent was amazing. Ideally, Turkish is also not liable if the flight is missed and so any other airline would repeat that and end the call. Not this one! First, the agent went over the issue and informed us very kindly about the liability factor. He then suggested rebooking on another flight and proactively offered to search for it! He found a possible ticket and quoted a very reasonable amount. Then my dad asked him to check from Bangalore as it didn’t make sense going to New Delhi if he was being rebooked anyway. The agent did that as well and found another very reasonable fare. Both were about $130-180 including all fees. He then advised us to go ahead with the current itinerary and he would put a remark on my dads ticket about the same. He also suggested checking in online and removing the checked bag. Even better, he even offered to have a Turkish Airways representative meet my dad at the Domestic Arrivals and escort him to the International check in, for free! Finally he told us to immediately call back if he does miss the flight.
This is one of the best examples of customer care I have ever seen in a very long time. It may be just one person. But he has changed the perception of the whole airline in our eyes and made it a pleasure to fly.
In comparison, a few years ago, my dad was sick and he had to postpone his Etihad ticket to San Francisco by a week. The agent was mediocre and did as told. But, paying the $450 change fee didn’t make the airline any better in our eyes. In fact, it was the last time my dad ever flew Etihad.
So finally, everything was okay! But I wonder, what would Delta have done? 😜