Heathrow has warned that its 100,000 a day limit on passengers travelling through the airport might be extended. This is due to the unprecedented disruption it is still facing. New data reveals that the top UK airlines are failing to respond to basic customer enquiries in a fast or effective manner. 

The study, which was conducted in the first week of the summer holidays, found that 35% of enquiries made to customer service channels offered by airlines were not responded to within ten minutes. Just over a quarter were partially answered, or answered within five to ten minutes. Only 39% were responded to with complete answers in under five minutes. 

The research, analysed the performance of the UK’s top ten airlines’ customer service. It posed the following commonly asked questions to each available communication channel (Telephone, Email, Chatbot, Facebook Messenger etc.): 

  1. How do I make a complaint?
  2. What’s your cancellation policy?
  3. How can I get a refund for a cancelled flight?
  4. If my flight time is changed but I can’t make it, what are my options?
  5. How can I find a lost bag?

It found that nearly three quarters (70%) of the UK’s top 10 airlines have a customer service phone number through which enquiries can be made. Of those airlines, however, only a quarter of calls were answered by a human agent within ten minutes. Nearly three quarters (73%) led to lengthy hold queues, such that no answers were given.

Despite this, none of the airlines analysed have a call back function allowing consumers to book in slots for enquiry calls – avoiding time spent on hold. What’s more, just three out of the ten airlines have 24-hour customer service channels available for direct enquiries.  

What can be done to resolve this?

AI chatbots were combined with live human agents and used by half of the UK airlines examined. This method proved to be both more effective and faster at answering the common customer service questions. Of those airlines with chatbots, over 77% provided fast and complete answered to all questions posed. Four out of the ten leading UK airlines were also contactable via both Twitter and Facebook Messenger – complete answers given just under a third of the time. 

“The delays, plane cancellations and staff shortages facing the aviation industry present as much of a reputation crisis as they do a travel crisis.” The UK and Ireland Country Manager at CM.com, James Matthews, has commented. “Now more than ever, greater care and attention should be placed on customer service. Yet, too many airlines are currently failing in this, exacerbating customer worries.

This time we finally have out of strict Covid restrictions should be spent doing everything we couldn’t do before. That includes jetting out on holiday. However, it has been predicted that air travel will not see recovery until 2024. The industry has lost 2.3 million jobs globally since the pandemic started. We may have to adjust to these disruptions for a little while longer, despite the frustrations this can cause.

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