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.