|Image courtesy of digit studio|
The competition for airlines in the US is getting smaller and smaller. Last Wednesday, the merger between American Airlines and US Airways was approved, making it the world's biggest airline. In 2010, a merger between United and Continental Airlines happened, further narrowing the playing field after a Delta-Northwest merger in 2008.
While these mergers were decided for financial reasons, there is no question that customer service is always affected when a merger occurs. Many of the airlines want customers to believe that these mergers provide more choices and better service, but the past has shown this is not entirely true. Historically, complaints have gone up significantly after a merger. According to a recent CNN Money report, when United and Continental merged in 2012, complaints went up 60%. The Delta-Northwest merger showed similar statistics, along with a decline in on-time performance during 2009 and 2010.
Some credit the rise in complaints after mergers to the difficult transition airlines face. Not only are they combining their operating systems, but the cultures are combined as well. The new hybrid culture provides for more opportunity to miss the mark on customer service. Who do passengers call? And whose guidelines are followed in the event of a complaint? Many questions need to be answered during a merger in order to maintain quality customer service.
Aside from mergers, airlines have been a huge source of customer complaints lately due to "unbundling" services. If you've flown recently, you've probably experienced this first-hand. Gone are the days where you can check as many bags as you'd like for free. Now if you want to check a bag at all, you're probably going to incur a fee. Consumers are not happy with the additional fees piling up on top of the already higher flight costs. There are a lot of such complaints on the Nevahold customer service platform.
Maybe the American-US Airways merger will set a new standard for customer service during a merger; after all, they aren't United, which now accounts for one in three airline complaints.
US Airways and American Airlines have already begun letting customers know about the upcoming transition. After the announcement on Wednesday, both airlines changed their Facebook cover pages to a uniting message.
|Images courtesy of respective Facebook accounts|
Good luck to them. And to us!