Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Never Zest Air Again

I normally try to be positive on my blog. Even when things don't go according to plan, I try to find the best of the situation. Especially when it comes to cultural differences, I find it's of utmost importance to be sensitive or at least aware of why it may be more frustrating for me coming from an outside perspective.

This is not one of those times.

"The most refreshing airline in Asia...?" Maybe if your only other choice is walking to your destination...

I don't care that it was cheap. I wouldn't even care if it was free. You couldn't pay me to fly another flight by Zest Air. It's times like these I wish I was a more established blogger... but even if I can convince one of you to not fly them, it has been worth writing this.

I guess you can say it's cheap. But just like the old adage says, you get what you pay for.

So what exactly did they do wrong?

First, we were consistently late. Out of the 6 flights my friends and I took collectively, all 6 were late. For me, I was only an hour late the first time, and about 3 hours late the second. One of my friends? Try 6 hours. No explanation, no helping customers with connections, no apology, and no customer service in general. I understand that they can't give an entire plane-full of your customers a gift voucher for a situation that's out of your control. But to see multiple flights for the same destination as yours leave before you without being told why your flight hasn't left yet? That's frustrating for you customer and ought to be downright shameful for you.

But let's say this was an isolated incident. Because, then, even that would be forgivable. Irritating, sure, but not worthy of such a negative review. Not worth the effort of writing a scathing post like this.

Nope, here's what really set me off.

It was the day we left. I've never experienced such frustration in the face of absolute, yet entirely preventable, chaos. So they said computer system was down. I can understand this (well, no, I don't really understand how an airline's entire computer system goes out but I can forgive it).

What is not excusable is ignoring your customers. No one from Zest Air once said what was happening to all of us in line. The airport (Kalibo) has no electronic signs outside the terminal. Again, I don't understand why, but this is in itself is not necessarily a problem. But not once did an employee of Zest Air say if our flight was delayed or give any of us the status of our flight. The result? It was sheer madness.

Here we were waiting in line for over an hour and we weren't even sure if our flight had already left or not because we weren't told anything at all. People were visibly agitated and stressed out. While the rest of the airport (Kalibo's small, so you can see all the counters) was checking in its passengers with ease, the mass of people in front of the Zest Air counter never seemed to die down. Eventually, it got to the point where even a fight broke out in line.

I mean, seriously? Zest Air--if you had handled this admittedly unfortunate situation better, this would have been entirely preventable. I don't care if your computer is down. I don't care if it's the airport's fault and not yours. I don't even care if my flight is late. But at least have the sense of decency and courtesy to keep your customers informed of the situation. There was no sign, no announcement, and no Zest Air representative diffusing and taking care of the situation. A fight should never break out in line due to your lack of respect for your customers. All it would have taken is for one of your employees to give an announcement or even create a handwritten sign simply informing us what was going on (ie. your flight won't leave without you).

This is 2 times in 6 flights you could not deal with your customers with a basic sense of respect and dignity. Maybe in 10 years when you've developed into a real airline, I'd consider flying Zest Air again. However, chances are, if you continue to run your business the way my friends and I experienced in our short stay to the Philippines, I would be surprised if you made it 5 more years.

Before we left, we were worried about Zest Air's shaky reputation on safe landings... it seems we should have worried about whether or not our plane would leave at all.


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