Virgin Atlantic’s communications problem over its A332’s is typical airline ignorance

Photo: Virgin Atlantic

The one thing you can rely on from an airline and their PR/marketing people is that they regard you the customer as an ignoramus. You know nothing, and they make no effort to assume that you do.

Virgin Atlantic’s attitude is symptomatic of airlines everywhere, they simply cannot bring themselves to explain the truth, even when they are in effect the victims of circumstances themselves, and any reasonable passenger if they knew what it was, would appreciate it.

But no, let’s glam up a bunch of old seats with stupid names and try to con everyone that we did it on purpose, it was all by design, and hope you’ll just accept it and move on. If you’re in economy you probably won’t even notice.

Virgin Atlantic’s current A332 layout

It’s not been a day, and already my agglomeratation system is picking up whining and complaining from people who don’t know why, that they’re being moved into A332’s, that they’re not the seats they thought they would get, in the plane they thought they were flying in. Customers booked in Premium Economy are especially ticked off because, well, there isn’t one. Just some extra leg room seats.

If you’ve ever flown Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic, I can tell you now, the old AirBerlin seats aren’t going to cut the mustard despite the fancy name they’ve labelled them with. The Love Seat, The Solo Freedom Suite, and the Solo Corner Suite. For heavens sake their just a basic AirBerlin business class!

I’ve seen people shrieking on-line already that they’d rather fly British Airways than these second-rate seats and they can’t understand what Virgin Atlantic are doing.

The answer of course is to apologise to those customers, tell them Rolls Royce have caused a problem that requires attention on other aircraft, there’s been no time to update the interiors but it will happen in the winter. In the meantime, the seat prices are slightly cheaper, or here, have voucher for some duty-free shopping….We value your custom and we’re doing everything we can to get things as we want them and you expect them, as soon as possible.

It’s not hard, but they’ll never do it, it’s easier, simpler, to just pretend nothing is happening, never admit what they see as weakness, never look anything other than deliberate, never look human, but most of all never offer to be straightforward and honest.

Yes I agree 90% won’t care, but the 10% that do can contaminate the message and as stories leak around airline forums like Business Traveller as an example – which is full of vicious gossips, you can be sure reputations are being quietly damaged – and the airline won’t even notice.