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Apr 8 / Amy

Purchase Airfare, check!

I appreciate good customer service.

Having worked directly with customers of various types since I was 15, I have high standards for how others should treat me as a customer. Be friendly, be polite, be respectful, be helpful, be truthful.  It’s really pretty simple.

That being said, I like to recognize when I feel someone does a great job.  Often times people complain, but never give praise.  I know I complain here and there, so here’s my praise!

This Wednesday evening I decided I needed to go ahead and buy our plane tickets to Australia. I called two months ago for an inquiry, and the guy told me it was far too early to buy our tickets. I wasn’t quite sure I agreed, so I wrote the quote down, and didn’t make the booking. It’s nagged at me since.

As gas prices have started to rise, I kept looking online at the prices slightly increasing – I didn’t want to wait.  So I sat down and I called VAustralia’s Guest Contact Centre to make our multi-city booking, since you can’t book them online.  A young lady picked up on the other end, got my travel dates and details, and then put me on hold while she started looking at my options.

Minutes later, she returned and asked me if my travel dates were flexible. I got nervous, really nervous. Why didn’t I follow my instinct to book in February when I originally called?! Panic set in.  I told her they weren’t (I’ve been planning on these dates for over a year now!) and asked why she asked such a question.  “Well, you see, many of the cheaper flights for these dates have sold out and it’s significantly more expensive due to the time of year it is.”  Knowing we’ll be there during peak season, I already had a number in mind for what our flights would cost, not cheap by any means, and asked her what the lowest available rate was.  Her response, “The cheapest we have available is $3701 per person.” I quickly did the math, “That’s $7402 total.” *Gulp* That’s also much more than we anticipated paying, and much more than what was appearing online.

She takes a minute to listen to what I found online, and put me on hold to see what she can tweak in their system to help me make my booking.  While she was looking at rates on her end, I started at looking at domestic flights on VirginBlue.com.au (I really just love saying that outloud – it rhymes!)  I found a one-way flight from SYD to ADL, at a reasonable price.  When the booking agent returned, she stated that she wasn’t able to access the same rates that were available online.  She recommended that I make my bookings online, rather than through the call centre since they were lower.  It was in that moment that I decided to book tickets from home to SYD through their website, and then book a domestic flight separately via another transaction.  In doing so, it would save us $700 from the quoted price. $700!  It was a no brainer.

I ran my plan by her, and she agreed that it was definitely the best route for me to take and wished she could have helped me further.  She answered a few more questions that I had regarding customs on our return flight and thanked me for using VAustralia.

While we weren’t able to use the booking agent for our purchase, she was extremely helpful, polite, and eager to help me out. I really appreciate her assistance and assurance that we would be better off booking online.  Honesty and customer service at its finest.

I immediately (and excitedly) booked our round-trip tickets to Sydney, and we are now set for our departure! I was bouncing up and down on the sofa with joy. It’s official, we are going to Australia in December!!!

Things I learned from the booking experience:

  • Follow your instincts, if you want to book your airfare, don’t wait – especially if you’re going somewhere during peak season.
  • Research your options! I looked at Delta, Qantas, and VAustralia for our flights. While they were close in price, VAustralia still comes out as the cheapest option for our flight path – thank goodness.
  • Be polite to those in customer service and they’ll go an extra mile for you.  Thank them when they do, you can definitely hear a smile on the other end of the line.
  • It causes anxiety when you think you made the wrong choice for your air carrier and start looking at other options after you’ve bitten the bullet an purchased your tickets.  Don’t do it.
  • I rarely listen to my own advice and looked at the flights on competitor sites tonight.  Or VAustralia booking is still the cheaper option AND when I looked at VAustralia again, our exact flights went up $300 from Wednesday evening. Glad I booked when I did.

All for now!

Well meet again some sunny day

Looks like Virgin Blue was right! Taken on return flight from Whitsundays trip in 2003.

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