Hello, Asia Miles, Are You There?

Asia MilesIF you must call an airline (or an affiliated company) for assistance, I wish you good luck. This is one aspect of customer service that airlines and their associates have long been found wanting, and it is clear where the priority lies after a sale has been made, particularly in an environment when it has become an industry norm. Chances are that the call is likely to be a complaint or a request to fix a problem.

The first hurdle is getting through to someone who can help you. And, oh gosh, you wish you had to do it only once. I have learnt to accept the long wait as a necessary pain since I do not have a choice, so it was when I last called Asia Miles to change a date of travel on Cathay Pacific (because it was a reward ticket, which was not the issue but getting across was). I didn’t have the choice since I was constantly on the move in New York, and I had to abort a couple of attempts after hanging on the line for an inordinately long time of 20 to 30 minutes, wondering if I had been forgotten.

What upset me most was the futility of the effort even after you managed to get to speak with someone. The first time it happened, I was told that the computer system was undergoing an upgrade and I could call back in an hour. What? After half an hour of waiting? Why wasn’t there an automated message at the onset? Desperate as I was, I did call back but only after more than two hours. The same long wait, and the same response. Ah, well, airlines are so used to what is known as a creeping delay.

A day after I called again. The same frustration of holding on for what seemed like an eternity.  We plodded in vain from date to date. In the end, the staffer told me the situation could change so I could call again to check. And I did. The same frustrating routine, and this time the staffer was not as patient, and would only check three days after my desired date. I decided I might try my luck making my request online. Some days later came the response: “Our records show that you subsequently managed to get through to our hotline service and so we now hope that your query has been answered.”

I was flabbergasted; while they did not respond to my specific request, they actually bothered to check that I had called and were quite satisfied to let the matter, unsettled as it was, rest. I replied to express my frustration, and, sure, I did receive a politely worded response. First, an acknowledgment of probably a very common complaint: “We do appreciate that it can be rather frustrating to wait for hours on end just to get in touch with one of our Member Service Executives.” What then? More specifically, I was advised to check seat availability online and then call in to make the change. I never did follow up as suggested, as I decided that life was too short to be kept hanging on the line!

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About Dingzi
Writer by passion, with professional expertise in aviation, customer service and creative writing. Aviation veteran, author, editor and management consultant. Besides commentary on business issues and life-interest topics, travel stories and book reviews, genres include fiction, poetry and plays. Nature lover who abhors cruelty of any form to animals, and a tireless traveler. Above all, a dreamer.

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