As I sit here waiting on yet another delayed flight, I imagine this is similar to what purgatory must feel like. Endless waiting. No answers to your questions. A room filled with crying babies and self-important businessmen. Mostly bad, overpriced food. And a crappy Wi-Fi connection. Yep, this may just be purgatory.
Our flight is delayed due to mechanical issues- the plane hasn’t even made its first flight of the day yet (its late-afternoon now). Needless to say, we’re going to be waiting for quite some time considering the backup from this morning. And when I start to think about who could solve this problem, I’m at a loss. The poor counter agent doesn’t have much power- he may be able to rebook people on different flights, but if other flights are sold out, there isn’t much he can do to help. Special services can’t offer much help- they can’t fix the plane…or the weather or a late flight attendant or about 99% of the reasons why a flight may be late. Airport officials can’t change the weather or predict when a plane will break down—shoot, even pilots themselves don’t have control over most delayed planes. So like I said, airport waiting must be purgatory- endless waiting with little answers and little hope for help.
What to do? In the majority of incidents, the airline/airport can’t really do that much about a delayed flight- and passengers just have to begrudgingly wait it out… or are these instances largely missed opportunities for the airline, airport, or brands in the airport to make that wait time a more enjoyable experience? Seems to me like a perfect opportunity to convert the waiting, often unpleasant customers into brand advocates: by providing waiting customers with something to make their wait time more enjoyable than if they were waiting with any other airline or at any other airport. I think there is always the chance for a brand to gain/retain loyal customers and create brand advocates- even during a not so pleasant time.