Northworst Tries Again

March 4, 2002

March 4, 2002 8:09 PM

Let's face it. Air travel has changed, and not for the better. Here in Detroit we are subject to the tyranny of Northwest (AKA Northworst Airlines) because they control the gates for almost all of the flights in and out of this town.

Following is an example how not to handle customer service.

Today I tried to take a quick trip to Chicago. I needed to meet with a couple of clients and several weeks ago we arranged to meet at Ohare and spend an hour or two there. The flights were booked with a four hour window of time so I felt pretty comfortable with the scheduling.

I guess it was just not meant to be, since Northworst Airlines had other plans. It seems that for most who travel out of Metro Detroit Northworst has other plans, since they have the monopoly on flights in and out of the Motor City.

Busted airplane they said and canceled the flight.

After spending billions on their new "midfield" terminal I can say that I think Northworst wasted their money. Ongoing disputes with their janitorial staff has left the bathrooms a complete and total disaster.

The building is cold.

The tram that takes you from one end of the terminal to the other is broken 20% of the time. It broke down while I was attempting to ride it today.

Northworst does not have a ticket counter inside of their new Midfield Terminal. If you have problems or such, you have to find an agent at a gate where there is an airplane about to depart. That's just plain foolish.

Today a supervisor told me that I could just call and reschedule my flight over the phone. Not wanting to try and get to the far end of the terminal, I took him at his word and headed back to my office.

Phone conversation goes something like this:

"I'd like to reschedule the canceled flight."

"For what day, Sir?"

"A week from today, since that's the next time all 3 of us can meet."

"I'm sorry sir, we can process a refund of this ticket, but cannot issue another unless it is for the next day."

'What are you talking about? The trip was for one day in and out of Chicago and that's the next time we can meet."

"I'm sorry sir, that's the rules. You can call another number at customer Service if you like."

"I'll tell you what I like. As a taxpayer, I'm one of the people who threw millions at the airlines after September 11th, so you would not go out of business. They should have let you go bankrupt."

She hung up on me.

Go figure.