Fly Adria Airlines – a step back in time! 41


As is often the case with the smaller national airlines, the staff are disaffected and do their job according to the rules and take great pleasure in being able to use the rules to show they have power. Such has been my experience with Adria Airlines in eastern Europe.

On my first flight with them out of Munich, there had been a mix up with my seating. Although they had given me a boarding card with a seat number, when I boarded the aircraft the seating plan they had on board had me assigned to a different seat. The Stewardess took delight in telling me I had the wrong seat and when I produced my boarding card marched off annoyed, only to return moments later to show me her manifesto and insist I move. Of course I did without issue.

On the flight I went to the toilet and spoke to her. It was obvious by her reply that she saw her job to conform to the airlines rules. It was certainly not her job to make my flight a positive experience and the thought that she represents her country to me, was beyond her thinking.

Today I have to once again to fly Adria to Frankfurt. I arrive at check-in and explain that I am trying to catch the earlier flight out of Frankfurt and so would like to sit as near to the front as I can and can my two small bags be hand luggage so that I can make the flight. What happened next was something out of the Soviet Union in the 1960’s. As first the check in lady and then another man at another desk did everything they could to be difficult with me. I got quoted the rules and told that I am asking them to break airline rules…..and so it went on.

Keeping calm I explained I didn’t want to break any rules, I wanted his help to find a way of getting me and my luggage to Frankfurt in a manner that enabled me a chance of connecting my earlier flight. Both in physical appearance and his manner, I felt I was dealing with an Kremlin Guard who was determined to use his little bit of power without thought for my experience.

I find it outstanding that at a time when airlines are desperate for customers and countries are desperate for tourists and airlines and countries spend huge amounts of money on advertising and marketing, that they shoot themselves in the foot by their front line staff not having the necessary training to deliver a service that makes customers want to buy from them!

Unfortunately I will not fly Adria Airlines again, even though they are part of the Star Alliance Group which is my favoured group to fly with. The man behind the counter may have the power and hide behind rules (even though both him and I know he has the authority to make alternative arrangements) but I have the ultimate sanction because I can deprive his airline of my money in future….the same money that pays his wages.

I will say what I have said many times in the past:

The experience I have with your staff tells me what sort of leader you are. What experience am I having today?

Come on Adria, you are the first experience people will have of your country….and in many cases the last as well. Get your customer orientation right, you can’t get the best from your people if they see their job as enforcing rules and not understanding they are there to manage my perceptions of your airline and the country you represent in a safe and effective way.


41 thoughts on “Fly Adria Airlines – a step back in time!

  • Reply
    Davey007

    Adria is truly far from an airline that is prepared to make you feel like a customer, but can I guess that you are a kind of person that can’t take no for an answer?

  • Reply
    Slovenian

    On behalf of the staff of Adria Airways I would like to apologize. I am aware how unpleasant it might have been, believe me you could find some even worse examples of customer service in Slovenia, and of course also some so much better, or even great!

    In Slovenia we have problems with work legislation and by default a lot of workers are student workers – working for quite low wages and also with minimum training. Adria Airways is also dealing with financial and ownership issues, and the situation reflects on corporate culture.

    I’m not a representative of AA or any Slovenian tourist or marketing agencies, just a passer-by leaving a comment, as I found your blog interesting to read and your experience – well, worrying.

    Hope you caught that connecting flight never-the-less, and hope you’ll give Slovenia another chance a few years from now!

    Regards from Ljubljana,
    a Slovenian

  • Reply
    Sebastian

    I agree wholeheartedly with your commentary about rules. I have seen it with a lot of companies, and it has a predictable effect of making me less likely to use them in the future.

    But I am a bit concerned that you attribute that to the communist past of this particular country. I would have to disagree there. I have seen such behaviour reproduced in a wide variety of countries, from USA, Ireland, UK, Italy, France… It is the company that is to blame here, not communist past.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thank you for your reply. Please understand that I DO NOT attribute the actions to the communist past. I am simply saying that the person behaved like someone from that time and I also find people that behave like that all over the world. You are completely correct, it is the company to blame.
      Thanks again and best wishes
      Paul

  • Reply
    Johannes von Feldes

    Funny!
    Compare only Adria and easyJet !
    Ask my neighbours, Ann&John in Radovljica where is better for normal people to live, in SA or UK or Slovenia!
    They enjoy, and many other UKs in Slovenia 3rd part of life… And they use so cheap fliers and Adria too!

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thanks for your email. I don’t quite understand your point but please let me be clear…..I made my comments about Adria Airlines because I want to see them improve and reflect the wonderful country of Slovenia in a good way. The people of Slovenia deserve a good airline that compliments them. I loved the people I met in Ljubljana and I love the history and culture I experienced. I put on Facebook, ‘everyone should visit Slovenia at least once in their life time’.
      I am not sure what you mean by ‘normal’ people, but given the choice between SA, UK and Slovenia, I would love in Slovenia at the moment.
      Thank you again for taking the time to write and best wishes
      Paul

  • Reply
    Amused

    I have flown Adria many times, and I think you are quite accurate in your assessment of the problem. However, I do not think you have very good examples here. I had similar situations e.g. with British Airways where the staff were much more pleasant, but the results even less pleasing. They know how to pleasantly channel customer requests into dead end streets, giving you the run-around, at the expense of considerable labour and chat. The Adria staff does not even attempt to do this, due to the bureaucratic mentality prevalent in the country. This is what you have correctly identified and it is a big problem for Slovenia as a tourist destination.

    There is also a language problem. Slovenians communicate very directly without much niceties, understatements, delicacy or diplomacy … when this is translated directly into English, the end result sounds extremely gruff, as you put it “Kremlin Guard” style. In Slovene, it would probably sound just a little bit inflexible. I am sure the stewardess found your requests to be completely unreasonable and did not even understand why she upset you.

    I was present when they ran out of veggie meals, because they did not check it on their manifest. The stewardess offered no apology, made no attempt to scrape together anything … she just shrugged and turned her back. Makes you want to throw her out of the plane … but she probably just thought “what can I do, there isn’t any, he will survive”.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thank you for your email and you make a very good point indeed. I do understand what you are saying and you are probably right that the stewardess was thinking that. I appreciate you explaining that and sharing your comments.

      Of course, this is even more of a reason to give them the necessary training so that they can learn and develop as people…and so that the airline can compete with other airlines. I also totally agree with the comments about British Airways as well. Very true.

      Many thanks for your perspective and best wishes

      Paul

  • Reply
    Gregor

    Dear Paul,

    I am a Slovenian too, as it is someone who commented here before. I must say that I don’t see where is Adria Airways to blame in your case. You had the problems in both MUC and FRA airports. So the real people to blame are airport employees. They are not Adria staff as you mistakenly thought. And if you travel a lot (as you say you do) you should know about some restristicons that all airlines have.

    Second of all, Slovenia is not an eastern Europe country, as the UK is not in Americas. We are positioned in Central Europe. Someone who decides to write a blog and influence people this way should know that too. Comparison to former Soviet union is not in order here. We are not comparing your emigration officers on Heathrow, Gatwick… to SS officers when coming to UK, althoug we sometime could.
    As a Slovene citizen I feel very offended by your post, but I give you every right to write something “stupid” like that.

    Regards,
    Gregor

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thanks Gregor for your email. It was AA staff that I was dealing with and it was on a AA plane the first time and in Slovenia airport the second time. I do know the restrictions airlines have very well and that is why I was wanting to check my bags at plane side and collect them when I disembark in Frankfurt. This is quite acceptable and normal and within the remit of the people I was doing to suggest and allow this to happen in my circumstances.

      You are quite right, I should have said central europe. Comparison to the former Soviet Union was in order because that is exactly what it was like. I could also have compared it to what it was like under apartheid in South Africa or a number of other comparisons. Making a comparison is a way of describing and not an accusation. If you have trouble with Gatwick immigration officers being like SS officers, then it is quite acceptable to refer to them as such.

      I am sorry you are offended and please let me be clear…..I said what I said because I want Adria Airways to know there is a problem and improve and be an airline Slovenia can be proud of. I get no personal gain from telling my story. I feel for the wonderful people I met in Slovenia that are being let down by their airline. So no offense meant and sorry if you think it is ‘stupid’ to want the best for your country.
      Best wishes
      Paul

  • Reply
    Gogson

    Well I would also like to oppologize in behalf of anyone reponsible. I am also not part of AA or turist organization.

    I noticed your post while it is posted on front page of our biggest buisness daily as an exaple how small bad practices can have major implocations…

    So you can see we are majorly not like that and value each single individual customer…

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thank you for your email and I posted the comments in a desire for AA to improve and not for personal gain. I love Slovenia and the people I met there
      Thanks and best wishes
      Paul

  • Reply
    anonimni12

    I fly Adria as rarely as it is possible, because I never have a good feeling when dealing with their services. The staff could definitely do better at least in showing the understanding face to a customer and maybe make them feel like a person and not just a number they fly from A to B. However I do not understand how following the rules either company rules (e.i.: baggage weight, seize …) or legislative ones for that matter (no drinks on board …) can be attributed to a bureaucratic approach. In my experience with many airlines I used, I sometimes got into situation where I would prefer a different outcome, however I had to abide by the rules whether I liked them or not. Sometimes these rules were enforced by the EU and even USA where I felt the least comfortable boarding the airplane as due to the circumstances the world is facing almost all passengers are thoroughly searched and where I also felt like I was just a number and no a person. Further I would stress that similar if not worse are so called low fare airlines that can honestly make your travel or experience a living nightmare. However as I noticed it all comes down to how much one is willing to pay.

    Lastly I also think that deep down you might be attributing the mentioned characteristics to the communist past of this particular country. I do not want to come out guns blazing however western media and observers often still divide the EU to west and east block even though such a division has been lost or stopped to exist in the 90 or the latest as these formally eastern countries joined the EU. If not from before at least since then Slovenia is recognised as a country in Central Europe (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovenia) and by some definitions a part of Southern Europe (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Europe)

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thank you for your email and I totally agree with your comments. It is sad that you also fly Adria as little as possible. With regard to my comment about the behaviors being similar to Kremlin Guard, there is no way any comparison of the country to communism. I could have said, similar to a war time SS Guard, or a South African policeman in the 1960′s or any of a number of examples. I was trying to describe what it looked like and not accusing any one of being communist and certainly NOT the country and the lovely people I met.
      I hope that helps and thanks again for writing
      Best wishes
      Paul

  • Reply
    Stephen

    Are you being fair? Adria uses Canada Regional jets for most flights, which have very limited onboard luggage space. If that was the case here, you should make allowance for that. Also, Adria will usually let you drop off luggage at the plane for collection as you disembark for a quick turnaround, so I wonder why they didn’t offer you the same facility. Adria has its flaws, mostly related to its abysmal financial situation, but your characterisation of its staff does not tally with my experience at all. Slovenians are rather sensitive about how they are perceived by non-Slovenians, so if anything try hard to please foreigners, perhaps less so their own countrymen.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thank you for your comment and that is exactly what I was wanting. I was asking that my bags could be checked at plane side so I could collect them at disembarkation. I have tried hard to put this over as an opportunity for the airline to improve….not because I want anything from this. Slovenia is a great country and deserves better from its airline.

      I am not a awkward customer and have a great relationship with many airlines. I know what can be done and can’t be done and I also could not understand why he was not offering me the facility you mentioned. Thanks for your comment and best wishes

      Paul

  • Reply
    Johannes von Feldes

    Adria make competition with big fliers co., flies for Lufthansa.
    So a small co. with 10 planes cant be better is near perfect in EU. If you have influence, bring a bigger co., they should buy Adria and everything will change.

  • Reply
    Mafalda

    I flew on Adria Airways several times and I was very satisfied with all. I like Adria Airways very much!!!! The’re so kind with all the passengers.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thank you Mafalda. I am very pleased to hear that. If everyone was having a similar experience, then that would be wonderful for the passengers and for the wonderful country of Slovenia
      Many thanks and best wishes
      Paul

  • Reply
    ernest

    I agree AA does not offer the best service. But they have an excuse (communist past). What is the excuse for bad service in ALITALIA? Or IBERIA? Have you ever tried flying with them?? Did you get a brick biscuit for lunch.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Hi Ernest and thanks for your reply. I made my comments because I want AA to be a good airline and I want the people of Slovenia to be proud of their airline. I get no benefit by what I said. I simply want AA to know that they have a problem and they need to deal with it. There is no excuse for bad service, and we can’t blame the staff if they do not get the training and support to do their job well.
      Yes I have flown Alitalia and Iberia and many other airlines as well that need to improve. But it is not an excuse for AA to give bad service just because others do! That is a reason to give really good service and I hope that my comments make AA realize they have a problem and do something about supporting their staff be better at their job and make AA a good airline.
      Thank you for your comments and very best wishes
      Paul

  • Reply
    Amused

    Slovenians now feel it is their “duty” to defend the good name of the nation by blasting Paul. This is a little bit silly.
    I must tell you that what constitutes acceptable service behaviour in Slovenia can be considering below standard in many other countries. Slovenians are unable to tell the difference, they just do not have these expectations and tend to put themselves, so to speak, in the shoes of the service staff. The idea that the customer is always right is completely unknown, all that is expected is not being outright rude.
    It is true that people tend to be attentive towards English speaking foreigners, but not in the airline industry, where this is just the usual customer.

  • Reply
    Peter

    Paul,

    Although Slovenian, I read your musings with a great degree of understanding and even greater degree of concern. As a frequent flier (with Senator Status of Star Alliance for the last 10 years), I have the opportunity to experience what difference it makes when staff on a flight can actually relate to the passenger experience. Unfortunately, the Adria staff: a) is convinced that abiding by the rules is enough, b) has no real experience with travelling on other airlines due to a monopoly status on flights in and out of Slovenia (even to their holiday destinations), c) has a strict policy of “climbing the ladder” by years in service, not by other criteria and thus leaving in position unambitious well payed workers who are unqualified to find a job elsewhere, d) has training limited to rules and procedures but not service excellence. As always, there are shining exceptions, but sadly frowned upon by other staff members, who make it a point to reflect that the extra effort will not bring extra money or recognition, thereby making it nonsense. I am sure the same attitude could be found in any country of any origin with any similar organization.
    However, I would not like to give up. Therefore, please Paul, make it an effort and write what you have experienced (or just copy and paste) to not only Adria, but also to the people you do business with in Slovenia. I understand that your article was picked up and is making its rounds with some in the hospitality and tourism industry: if you can make an effort, this will help the rest of us to make a case for change with government appointed officials who now run Adria.
    I doubt your next trip to Slovenia will have much choice when it comes to air travel, but I hope your experience will be worth a new blog outlining the improvement.

  • Reply
    Uncas

    Sorry for your experience, though I never had such with AA (even though I used to be frequent – frequent flier). I had exactly such and worse with Air France – including staff @ Paris airport unable (probably better say unwilling) to speak english (until I demanded a person in charge). Perhaps try flying UA (or, as many americans call it – U scarelines). I for instance experienced loads of rudeness on Lufthansa flights (especially on long flights to and from US). But then again I had some good experience with them etc.
    All are run by people – really worth of writing a whole dissertation on it?

    In fact whenever I’m returning from my travels I can’t wait to get into AA plane as I can relax. I never, ever encountered any of above mentioned problems, Even more; my good experience include them bending the rules for me.

    Everything is possible if you’re kind from a get-go.

  • Reply
    Zmago

    I come from Slovenia and I fly mostly with cheap providers Ryanair, Easyjet, sometimes Adria or Lufthansa. There is no big difference,..Try taking 2 bags on Ryanair flight or try to change flight date, try to persuade Lufthansa stuff to brealk the rules?..mission impossible!

  • Reply
    Danijel

    Having flown Air Quatar once, I will never again border a Star allanice plane, lufhansa being the worse. THeir service is POOR and BOOOOOOOORING.
    Just go to the middle east to learn what a premium service is.
    Not to mention Quatar is 30% cheaper than the Luftwaffe.

  • Reply
    Tom

    Oh my …
    Last time I was in London it was raining when we came from jet, damn Easyjet, they didn’t provide me with umbrella as you would expect in normal civilized western country. Staff was just looking as this is not their business… I was feeling like in hard capitalist times in early 20th century England.

    Paul, sorry, but you behave as a 3 year demanding kid… annoying…

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      @Tom Sorry you see it that way Tom. I am trying to help by pointing out areas for improvement that will benefit the country…. What are you trying to do with your reply??? And you call me ‘annoying”?

      Read my blog from this morning and you will see that why I posted the blog
      Best wishes – Paul

  • Reply
    Airliner

    Paul Bridle Said:
    January 24th, 2012 at 1:15 pm
    “Thank you for your comment and that is exactly what I was wanting. I was asking that my bags could be checked at plane side so I could collect them at disembarkation. I have tried hard to put this over as an opportunity for the airline to improve….not because I want anything from this.”

    At this point i’d like get involved into conversation, as i’m an employee at Adria myself and furthermore, being in a direct corelation with the check-in supervising position whose employee you were having problems with. i have to mention your blog echoed through the company quite rapidly mainly because it was lime-lighted by the business daily. As a consequence your ground disavowment regarding your luggage has been scrutinized and determined as incorrectly exposed, since the empolyee did actually offer you an alternative procedure also called “delivery at aircraft” which you did take advantage of, even though your hand luggage was heavier than allowed i.e. 14 kgs instead of 8. I’m, very sorry to tell you that, but this blog story puts your credibility out of space, at least for those not persuaded with your convulsive rhetorics.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      @Airliner895: Actually you are not correct. I did not want to expose the level of the conversation as I DO NOT blame the individual I dealt with, he is only a product of the company. I will happily give the exact details of the conversation I had if I am assured that no action is taken against the individual.

      For the sake of replying to your comment, I asked him to please let me check it at the gate….he did not “actually offer me an alternative procedure”, I had to keep asking him for it. What he said next is not for public consumption and certainly not what I will put on the blog. I was not angry with him and at no time were voices raised. I quietly talked to him and answered his questions and encouraged him to finally accept he could and would let me check the bags at the plane.

      Please read my blog today ‘Arian Airways – please step forward’ and see my comments. I am certainly glad you looked into the situation, but I am sorry that you were seeking to defend your position instead of learn from it!

  • Reply
    Kreuzkugel

    Dear Paul,
    the airlines in general and also Adria should be glad that passangers like you will not fly with them anymore. Your requirements are simply just causing cost to them and it is not fair to the other passangers who do not complain. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PASSANGER IN THIS WORLD! Besides, I also fly a lot and British Airways for example are according to my experience also not much better. And not speaking of Ryan air! I certaily agree that the airline staff needs to be friendly and serve the passangers however there are limits for fulfilling passanger wishes.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      @Kreuzkugel Thank you for your comment. You are absolutely correct about British Airways, Ryan Air and I would also add United to that list. The best airline in the world is Air New Zealand and other good ones include, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada and amazingly Air Blue in Pakistan.

      You are correct….I am not the only passenger in this world. And for that everyone should be grateful. As for the rest of your comments, you do not know me and I am sorry that my desire to help your national airline by pointing out where they need to improve, offends you. I speak up out of a desire to improve and not a desire to knock people down.

  • Reply
    Tomi

    I don’t want to be a nag, but you should get your facts straight first. Slovenia is not an eastern European, but a Central European country. Just my five cents.

  • Reply
    ajgorrr

    I don’t want to travel with airline that bends rules, just to accommodate one spoiled person. This is dangerous in the long run. Next time they will bend some other rule and the plane will crash.

    You should simply plan your trip in advance and follow the rules.

    • Reply
      Paul Bridle Post author

      Thank you for your comment. No rules were broken, no request was made to break the rules and there was no danger at any stage. I plan my trips very well and always follow the rules.

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