I’ve travelled on Etihad lately, and with enough frequent flyer points to go to Abu Dhabi and back, or one-way to Malaysia, I’ve no doubt I will again soon. Having started operations only a few years ago, they represent pretty much the only possibility to fly from Ireland to Asia or Australia with only one stopover along the way, routing through their homeland of Abu Dhabi and onwards ‘to the world’ as they’d probably say. And the service last time was excellent, almost on par with Emirates, which I presume is who they’re trying to seriously compete with in the first place. I am, by my own admission, probably not their target market since I look for airline tickets predominantly based on price, then on comfort, but I was a little taken aback by an e-mail I received from them today, which included a survey (with no area where you could voice your own opinion, which is what I had been hoping to do) to be filled out, regarding some ‘problematic areas’.
Now, I’ve no major issue with overweight luggage – I always know when mine is, and I always hope regardless that it just gets waved through, and more often than not, it does. In fact, the only time I’ve ever paid overweight luggage was to Etihad in Dublin, which wasn’t really so much ‘problematic’ in itself, except that the woman we had dealing with us was the rudest, most impolite check-in agent of them all. Her specialties included general insults and an abrupt tone that really did nothing as a first impression of the airline. It was truly customer service at its worst, and I left feeling pretty confident that any other airline in the whole airport would’ve had better service. In fact, rather than post about the experience at the time, I wrote to the airline to give them a chance to make amends and when they wrote back, which was a month later, they did, and I was awarded a stack of free frequent flyer points. So, apology accepted and we were back on a level playing field.
Since then, I’m pleased to say, service on-board and on the ground has been very good and I’d be happy to recommend them since. From their e-mail, I also know how they want to provide a ‘superior service’ every time we fly with them. So, you can imagine my disbelief when I read through the survey and saw some of the insane ‘price points’ they suggest in their survey. I had hoped, as I say, that there’d be an opportunity for me to express disgust somewhere in the survey, but there wasn’t, so I’ll have to do it here instead. You’ll see from the attached screenshots (which you can click on to make larger) how crazy these prices are, and as an airline looking to provide the so-called superior service, I plead with them not to go ahead with this plan – surely the ‘minimum’ option for seat selection of $75 isn’t supposed to be real? But when I was asked what I thought of charging a MINIMUM $175 for an extra 5kg piece of luggage I knew this couldn’t be let go!
And the other thing I want to know is, why are the pricing options for long-haul flights of 4 – 8 hours more expensive than for ultra-long haul flights of 8 hours and above? Something tells me they know that the majority of customers fly one long-haul segment to Abu Dhabi, and then another to their final destination – so essentially, they could charge the fee twice for a one-way ticket.
I say, leave everything as it, let whoever gets to check-in first or has the highest frequent flyer status have the longer leg room seats, and just allow people to ‘pre-book’ a second bag for say, $50 or so – but whatever you do, don’t charge $175 (at least) for an extra piece of luggage, or I’m afraid our relationship will almost certainly have to come to an end.