Open letter to the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines

19 November 2015

Attention: Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam
Chief Executive Officer
Ethiopian Airlines

Per Internet

Dear Mr. Gebremariam,

Loyalty awards

Having flown extensively with Ethiopian Airlines over the past 18 months, my current status as a ShebaMiles member is silver, but should be gold.

The miles flown recently on Thai Airlines have not been credited to my account. The fault for that may lie with Thai Airlines, but that the Ethiopian Airlines website fails to reflect the numerous attempts at entering the details in the Retrospective Mileage Credit Requests, is not. Nor is the futility of trying to notify the IT department of these issues through the Contact Us page. Entering the simplest details receives an “invalid characters” error message.

A visit to the Executive Profile page of the Ethiopian Airlines website has you as the Cheif Executive Officer, rather than the Chief Executive Officer.

It is fortunate that the service of the flight staff on the Ethiopian Airlines is vastly superior to that being provided to the company by its IT department.

As a frequent customer with Ethiopian Airlines, the level of frustration experienced using the website detracts from the overall experience that the flight staff work so hard to achieve.

Hopefully that is being remedied.


Roy R Dalle Vedove

More at:
Let Africans fly
Departure delayed

Travel travail

When a flight is delayed by seven hours, no-one is pleased. How the airline treats its clients can save the day, or make them vow never to use the carrier again.

In a country where tourism reached 21.4% of export earnings before the violence marred elections in 2007, Kenya’s national carrier has a special obligation to keep travelers happy, now that tourism is suffering again as the the harsh effects of El Shebab’s revenge attacks start to bite.

The experience with flight KQ221 on July 14 showed little evidence that the Kenya Airways ground staff in New Delhi know that. With one desk clerk handling all the complaints, and no special treatment for premier class passengers, it was time for the supervisor to take charge. Instead he sought refuge on his cell phone, while frustrated customers stalked his retreat.

Kenya airways 02

Without acknowledging their needs, he kept talking. When one of the clients ended the call for him by seizing the phone, he defended his lack of attention, saying that he was trying to arrange hotels. The passengers explained that they had other needs, like resolving the conflicting information from the different sources about when the flight was expected to leave. The boards showing that the flight was delayed until 7AM. The check-in clerk was saying the flight would leave at 8AM, and the airline’s website displaying a 2:55AM departure.

And then there is the fact that the Indira Gandhi airport is a prison for passengers whose flight is delayed. Military officers armed with semi-automatic weapons physically bar exit. Release requires official confirmation that the flight has been delayed from the same airline ground staff, who being otherwise engaged, clearly do not care about the plight of their passengers.

The absence of any signage that exit through departures is also not allowed, as is normal in any other country exacerbates the frustration. Yet another armed officer blocks that way out.

When the offending supervisor was eventually confronted about helping stranded passengers to get out of the airport, his response: “you should have waited!”

The passengers were clearly at fault. Perhaps not so much for the impatience, as for having elected to fly with Kenya Airways. Never again.

More at:
Flags of inconvenience
Let Africans fly
Departure delayed

America sells America

America is trying to get back the tourist trade it lost since 9/11.

In reminds one of the Barclays marketing case study in South Africa. Barclays had been losing its market dominance. The market research revealed that people don’t like being treated like dirt, and that the arrogant Barclays staff were driving them away.

The Barclays ad campaign told its customers that things had changed. But Barclays forgot to tell their staff. Customers found that nothing had changed, and the decline in market share accelerated.

In America, it’s not the beautiful vistas, the people, or the diversity that’s changed since 9/11. It’s the duress of travel, particularly when going through security. Often business travellers make sure that all the critical components for the trip are in their hand baggage. One lost item can determine the success or failure of the trip. And all those critical and often expensive items have to be unpacked making them susceptible to loss or theft while passing through security. It’s a little stressful, and signs of stress are what the security officers are looking for.

Travelling from different European destinations to America provide good examples of how it can be handled, and how it shouldn’t. In Switzerland, ready compliance with the requirement to unpack evokes reassurance that one’s goods will be taken care of and are secure. In France the same understanding is nowhere in evidence.

Perhaps the French are just trying to protect France’s status as the most-visited-country in the world.

America, in second position, will just have to try harder.

More at:
Brand of dreams
Why Airport Security Is Broken—And How To Fix It