@Aerlingus I’m breaking up with you – An open letter…

A disgruntled passenger with Aer Lingus has written the following open letter to the powers that be in Aer Lingus. He/She even references the twitter banter we reported last week – check that out here.

Dear Aer Lingus,

 It is fitting that I am writing this letter of complaint to you on the same day when you gloated on Twitter that “Everyone knows we do Business better” in a feeble attempt to belittle your opponent Ryanair. I should preface the rest of this exchange by saying that by your definition, I am a business person- and travel from Dublin to Edinburgh and back every week.

This is only my second week of what is destined to be a 60+ week placement in Edinburgh. Last week I flew with Ryanair in what was a relatively pleasing experience, not withstanding the obnoxious trumpet when we landed on time.  This week however, I switched to Aer Lingus for a smoother, greener, customer experience- and after all you apparently “do business better” right?

I arrived at Edinburgh airport at 18.20 for my flight (EI3259) and was told “your flight’s not going until 10.40″ and was given a £3 voucher for food. Perhaps your customer agent was charging by the word. A few things on this aspect- firstly, the agent who gave me this information at the check in desk made Storm Rachel herself look welcoming and additionally, offered no explanation or apology. Before I am fobbed off with the fact that this was not an Aer Lingus employee, I should remind you the agent was sitting under your logo and representing your company, your values, and your commitment to “do business better. Secondly, not since the days when Charles Haughey told us we were living “way beyond our means” has £3 been able to sustain somebody at an airport.

Following a three hour wait (we are now at 21.30), the departure screen changed once more. We glanced up at the screen sign a glint in our eyes and hope in our hearts only to  see the screen say that departure would now be at 23.50. No announcement, no staff in sight, and certainly no apology. It is also worth adding that in that in this space of time,  a certain inferior airline by the name of Ryanair successfully waved off 5 flights  and significantly, one of those was to Dublin’s fair city. My experience thus far however-not so pretty!

My £3 got me a delightful 200ml of overpriced and diluted orange juice and for that I am very grateful. However you can imagine that as time elapsed, I was becoming more hungry and indeed frustrated with the communication and customer service shortcomings of your airline. But not so frustrated that I could take flight, because that wouldn’t be feasible now would it? My two hours of Free Wi-Fi had run out so and I can’t blame the supplier because who really spends more than 2 hours in Edinburgh Airport? And besides connectivity wasn’t exactly a prevailing theme of the day!

But I digress, at 22.30, the church bell rang, the wolf howled, and the last 23 disgruntled people in Edinburgh airport made their way to Gate 14 as instructed by the departure sign. The end was in sight.  Like Andy Dufrain in the last scene of The Shawshank Redemption, we trudged towards freedom with by now, more emotional baggage from our experience than Ross and Rachel after 10 Seasons of Friends.

Having arrived and waited for another 35 minutes at Gate 14, a delightful lady told us that in fact we should board at Gate 1H. From comparing the two numbers above, it does not take Carol Volderman to know that those gates are at different ends of the airport. “Are they nay havin’a laugh?”, said a tartan decked Scottish man with incredulity. Alas, no laugh, just a walk to our Mecca, Gate 1H.

At 23.50 we began boarding the plane. Time flies aye? This process took longer however because our seats had all been switched because you were concerned with, and I quote “balancing the plane out”. Perhaps you were worried that we had splashed out with those £3 you gave us and had accumulated some “excess carry on” in those 6 hours.

Alas, we boarded the plane, with not a single mention of our delay-only a small reference to “inclement weather” where the flight attendant may as well have said “Looks like rain, Ted”. I expect a pragmatic response about how you were only thinking about my safety and that I really am your priority but that’s as meaningful as the line “it’s not you it’s me” in a break up. But Aer Lingus I fear this may be our break up and that it is not me, it’s you: The fact is, you don’t do business better. What’s more, I can conclude from my experience that you don’t do business at all unless my job is as a budding anthropologist wishing to study airport behaviour.

The patriot, the optimist, and the guy who loathes yellow signage, trumpets and blue seats in me wants to believe that this is an isolated incident but I have yet to be convinced. They say it’s “An ill wind that blows some good”. Well I can safely say that pending a significant redress from your airline, that ill wind will be blowing my custom in the way of Mr O’ Leary, his band of merry scratch-card selling men, and his way of “doing business better”.

Breaking up is hard to do.

I await your reply with anticipation