Companies with Different Cultures

September 7, 2015

in Airport Stories

On Sunday, August 23rd, I was traveling from Cuenca in Southern Ecuador with LAN Airlines Ecuador to connect with the American Airlines service to Miami.

On arrival at the airport in Cuenca I was informed by LAN that the flight was canceled, effectively meaning that I would miss my connection with AA to Miami and onwards to New York. The LAN employees were completely overwhelmed by the situation and by the number of people they had to assist, but they did their best under difficult circumstances.

After a long and stressful time on the phone with American in Quito, it was clear that they were not going to show any flexibility on their part to change my ticket to another day or help in any way, even though the situation was entirely outside my control. They were happy to offer fares at $1100.00, so there were clearly seats available.

This is where the culture of the two companies is obviously so different – one company wants to assist its customers in a time of difficulty, and the other company cannot see beyond the rules that they are delighted to enforce at every opportunity as my American Ecuador experience shows.

After further efforts on the part of the employees at LAN in Cuenca, I eventually was re-ticketed by LAN for departure the next day from Quito with American – no thanks to American I may add.

To add insult to injury, when I arrived at the airport with my pre-printed boarding passes, I was told by the American check in agent who had consulted with the Check In Lead Agent that the ticket I had was ticketed by LAN, and that I needed to go to the LAN counter (I had already queued for 25 minutes and had my boarding passes); for what she did not explain. I then asked to speak directly with the Check In Lead Agent as she clearly did not want to speak directly to the customer. She made no effort to assist; in fact the opposite. She displayed absolutely NO type of customer service skills whatsoever.

After further remonstrations on my part she eventually agreed to check me in, but then informed me that the ticket LAN issued me did not include bags!! After further discussions she eventually agreed to proceed with checking me in. This employee as “Check In Lead Agent” is, I imagine, supposed to be the supervisor and should have the ability to deal successfully with these simple situations. But no, she wanted to shift the responsibility and effort back to the customer, and instead resume standing around looking important.

The last and final insult to my customer service experience with American in Ecuador was that she was happy to tell me that as my bag was 1.5kg overweight, I needed to pay an excess fee. She then proceeded to charge me $112.00 for the excess baggage charge – “These are the rules,” I was informed. The same full bag traveled from New York to Ecuador with no problem, as well as from Cuenca to Quito with no problem whatsoever.

My e-mail paints a picture of the culture of an airline (American) with no ability to assist a customer – employees at Quito in Ecuador are only capable of following “the rules,” and through my difficulties NEVER displayed any empathy or effort to aid in any way. This is in stark contrast to the team at LAN Ecuador in Cuenca who went out of the way even though they were swamped by customers.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth September 8, 2015 at 8:25 am

Just a note on the overweight bag – different flights have different limits. Local flights you can usually pack more, but flights going from one continent to another usually have less. Also, sometimes agents look the other way if it's a few kilos above, while others are instructed to be more strict.


Ilovefyling February 3, 2016 at 12:34 am

For one person I doubt it was too overweight but its possible.


Andrew Beagle January 8, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Your comments are vague.


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