Friday, August 03, 2007

Poor Functionality Part 2 (I think) - or "How to check in Online with Alitalia airline"

I was on a business trip to Milan recently and it was a very early start - 6.00am, so naturally anything that would help speed things up in the morning would be welcome, such as Online check in.

For anybody who is not a regular traveller, online check in allows you (with a good airline) to check in up to 24 hours before you fly, print out your own boarding pass and just go straight through security when you get to the airport.

So on the day before, I went to the Alitalia site to check in for my very early flight. Most airline sites will allow you to check in based on your airline locator code - a 6 to 8 character code unique to your reference and your surname or airline loyalty card number.

On Alitalia, I tried several time to get into online check in suing this code and my other details but it would not recognise me - then I realised they were actually asking for the e-ticket number which is something much longer atleast 13 characters and not usually used by any passenger - first mistake.

So I tried again with this much more difficult number and still couldn't get in. Now as my flight was so early in the morning, I decided not to give up and go to the airport even earlier and rang Alitalia customer services.

I explained my problem and a very bored sounding person told me that she knew exactly what the problem was. She asked me to try and login again using the e-ticket number, but when typing in my name she asked me to add MR to the end of my first name, e.g. DaveMR.

This I did and wonder of wonders I was in and could select my seat. In fact, I could select any seat - I could see clearly that almost nobody must use this system as every seat was available for me to select and after my experience I am not surprised!

Sky Customer Service Complaint Update

It had been nearly a week since I wrote my letter of complaint and I had no response. So I rang up Sky Corporate offices again and asked to speak to Mark Andersen. Once they knew I had written a letter of complaint, I was shunted straight through to somebody in the escalation department. Unfortunately she couldn't find any record of my letter being received, but on looking at the account was happy to resolve things there and then and wipe clean the outstanding debt.

No real apology mind you and no explanation as to why this couldn't have been done much earlier, so either:

  • The fact that I had written a letter to complain bumps you higher up the priority and gives them more reason to act, or
  • Their customer service is so inconsistent that its pot luck as to who you get through too and if they feel like helping.

Personally I think its a bit of both and the moral of this story is don't be afraid to stand up for your rights and complain - it takes a bit of effort but is worth it in the end.