Spirit Airlines brand model is screw you

Spirit Airlines, known as a traveler’s worst friend, is considering going all out and charging customers if they want to talk to a person at the airport. This would be in keeping with Spirit’s long and distinguished history of viewing its customers as chattel. Just last week the airline began charging for carry on bags.

nospirit Customer screwage like this starts at the top, and in this case the top is CEO Ben Baldanza, who has never had much time for the people who make it possible for him to get a paycheck. This was documented a few years ago in Baldanza’s response to a customer email. The customers had written what has been characterized as a “long but polite” letter asking for a $376.84 refund to cover a trip ruined by a three-hour delay to their Spirit Airlines flight. In an email meant instructing a staffer how to respond Baldanza wrote: “Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny. “

The icing on this particular pile of crap was the “spin” the company’s head of communications tried to put on things: “No, we really don’t believe we have anything to apologize for regarding Ben’s e-mail. I can tell you that Ben cares enormously about our customers and our customer service. Ben said what is exactly true: that we don’t owe the customer anything. People can and do post whatever they would like on the Internet. But it cannot alter your adherence to your company policy or your procedures.”

Why aren’t these guys working for BP?

Air New Zealand is early leader for worst marketing of 2010

It’s only January 25th but Air New Zealand has already launched and crashed a major marketing campaign.

The campaign was based around the “mating habits” of Kiwi cougars (older women seeking younger men, for those of you lucky enough not to know).

I really, really can’t top the News of Australia’s description:

In the Discovery Channel-style documentary clip complete with David Attenborough-esque voiceover, a so-called cougar is shown "starving itself on sparse vegetation during the day then hunting large slabs of meat at night" by stalking a young man at a bar. Despite the man’s attempts to ward off the woman’s advances, the cougar has "not tasted fresh meat for days" and drags her prey to an inner-city apartment. In the ad, the women, aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s, routinely prey on men in their 20s, many who "pretend to be gay" to avoid them, says the voiceover. The promotion encourages women 35-plus to send in photographs of themselves out on the town with their "cougar mates" to go in the draw for a deal including a flight and ticket to a sporting event.

The campaign was pulled last week after taking heavy fire from rape prevention groups who said it belittled the experience of male rape survivors while at the same time managing to be offensive to women. Now that’s the kind of twofer you don’t see every day!

While these are very good and valid criticisms, there is one question no one is asking: What the BLEEP does this have to do with getting people to buy tickets on your airline?

Air New Zealand claimed it ended the campaign because it had been “overwhelmed” by the number of entries. Right. You’re stopping it because it’s successful. Right. I hope they fly better than they lie.

Via Adfreak

When ads become reality: JetBlue charging for pillows

The U.S. No. 7 carrier said it will no longer provide pillows, but passengers on flights longer than two hours can buy a pillow and blanket kit for $7, which the airline is touting as healthy and eco-friendly.

And by eco-friendly they mean it gets them something green.

JetBlue, official airline of the Penguins of Irony.

Airline CEO crashes and burns his marketing as private email goes public

Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza “inadvertently sent an e-mail intended as an internal memo to a Spirit Airlines staff member to a couple who had e-mailed Baldanza a complaint about bad service on his airline.

The customers had written what has been characterized as a “long but polite” letter asking for a $376.84 refund to cover a trip ruined by a three-hour delay to their Spirit Airlines flight. In an email meant instructing a staffer how to respond Baldanza wrote: “Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny. ”

He then hit “reply all.”

BTW, Aviation.com (from whence I got this story) said that the customers “were more angry over the rudeness and bad service they felt they had experienced at the hands of Spirit Airlines staff during the three-hour delay than at the fact of the delay itself.”

(I am late to the story, it broke a couple of weeks ago when one of the customers in question posted the story to another blog and then it went into WIDE circulation.)

Aviation.com also quotes the Orlando Sentinal who got the following amazing quotes from one Alison Russell, Spirit Airlines’ director of corporate communications in North America:

  • “No, we really don’t believe we have anything to apologize for regarding Ben’s e-mail.”
  • “I can tell you that Ben cares enormously about our customers and our customer service. Ben said what is exactly true: that we don’t owe the customer anything. People can and do post whatever they would like on the Internet. But it cannot alter your adherence to your company policy or your procedures.”
  • “Truthfully, I’m genuinely not concerned,” she said. “People are going to have a blog for good things or bad things. We are very pleased with our customer service, we are very pleased with what we do.”

It’s always been my understanding that when it comes to customer service, it’s the customer who should determine whether or not a company is pleased with what it does.

Repeat after me, Mr. Baldanza & Ms. Russell, “I’m sorry. We screwed up. This is not how we want to operate. This kind of attitude starts with the top leadership and I clearly need to take full responsibility.” Then you list the concrete actions you are taking to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

There’s a simple lesson that spies and journalists learn early on: Don’t write anything down unless you’re comfortable with it appearing on the front page of the New York Times. Fortunately for spies and journalists, very few people learn that lesson.

Hmmm, seems to be airline theme week …

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Competition increasing among deity-related air carriers: Nepal Airlines sacrifices goats for repair job

YetiOfficials at Nepal‘s state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab (see below), the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday. … The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.

Yeah, that’s just a cover story. This is really all about fighting off the challenge from Vatican Airlines. This now has all the makings for a funny novel in the fantasy genre. Someone call Mr. Pratchett.

Akash

Personally, given this deity’s countenance, I think two goats is a little on the cheap side. Definitely don’t want Him/Her/It/Them mad at me.

BTW, kudos to the blog Galloping Beaver for having a better headline on this story than I do: Akash Bhairab is my co-pilot. And their lead is funnier, too: “Faith-based aircraft maintenance.” I don’t think I like this Galloping Beaver… (but they didn’t have the cool Yeti service ad for Nepal Royal. Ha & Ha.)

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