Very recently I read in a newspaper that almost all low cost airlines operating in India are suffering from huge losses. Although, I fail to recall their specific reasons for flying in red, I can venture a guess for one of India’s first low cost airline – Air Deccan. The short answer is that their reservation systems, both the web-based and telephonic, are horribly broken. They make it very difficult for someone to get online, purchase tickets and make a payment.
Here is the long version:
- I always have trouble finding their airline ticketing website. Maybe it is just me, but I get confused between their airdeccan.net and deccanair.com websites. One of them is their corporate site and the other one is their online reservation site. I almost always have to do a google query to get to their site.
- When I recently tried to book my tickets online, my credit card got declined (no reason was given). Later when I called up the customer rep, I was told that Air Deccan has stopped accepting international credit cards due to security reasons. As far as I know, all other airlines still accept national and international credit cards.
- While talking to a customer rep, I got transferred twice without being given any reason. I had to give them all the trip details all over again.
- Their call center issued PNR numbers cannot be used on their website. This is pathetically lame. So if the customer rep issues me a PNR for my reservation, I cannot use that PNR to get online and make a payment for the tickets. I need to call back the customer rep and hand them over my credit card details.
- On their site, they have about a dozen different customer service phone numbers depending upon where you are calling from.
- Make one mistake on the site and you need to fill out the entire form again. If you filled out the cellphone number in the contact details as 98xxxxxxxx instead of 9198xxxxxxxx, then you got to fill out the entire form including the name of the people traveling, the address etc all over again. Not fun if you ask me.
- Untrained customer reps, make you repeat the names of passengers 2-3 times before getting the spelling right.
Here is how I would fix their reservation process:
- A simple easy to remember website address for their online air reservation site.
- One toll-free number for people to make, cancel, change reservations or even to check flight status. If a customer wants to give you business, you can atleast absorb the cost of a phone call.
- A website that takes no more than 5 clicks for someone to make a reservation. Go checkout SpiceJet’s website for inspiration.
- While making the reservation, if something on the form needs to be corrected, only that part needs to be highlighted, all other information on the form stays filled in.
- Knowledgeable customer reps that help you out without any reservation, flight status or any ticketing related issues you might have.
- If for some reason the airline cannot accept credit cards, then they need to send someone out to collect the money from the person who booked the tickets. If a multiplex can hand-deliver movie ticket for free, an airline can surely send someone to collect payment. Labor is cheap in India, use it to your advantage. Don’t ask people to goto the airport and make the payment. No one has time for that. They will just use a competitor whose online payment system is not broken.
- Make the reservation process the easiest process possible. It should be really easy for someone to give you money. Seems like a no-brainer to me.