James Lemmon — I'm not bitter — Shooting yourself in the foot

airBaltic lėktuvas uostas
airBaltic lėktuvas uostas
  © Alfa.lt
James Lemmon | Alfa.lt
2010-11-03 21:07

Customer service is one of the pillars of business. People find out the companies that give them terrible service and avoid them. On the other hand, consumers find great companies and devote energy to them.

Take for example a company that has good service and a great image: Apple. For all the haters, there are millions more who don't just see things like the iPhone as a product or a phone, but a gift from above. People line up outside of stores around the world waiting for the new products from Apple to come out.

Compare this to a company such as airBaltic. AirBaltic is crazy about their customers: crazy about constantly disappointing them and changing the rules behind their backs. Perhaps you recall how they were forced to modify their website by consumer authorities because it had pre-checked boxes that led customers to buy things they didn't want or need. AirBaltic on this opportunity shrugged its shoulders and gave the normal Baltic response: "Its normal. Not my problem."

Of course in the end they did change their website, but the interface is still fairly annoying compared to other airlines.

The new thing that I've discovered recently that just makes laugh about this company is their baggage policy. When checking in with an airline you are often asked to choose how many bags you want to want to take on board. In this day and age, airlines charge per bag citing weight on board, which causes higher fuel consumption.

AirBaltic has again taken a slightly different approach to this situation. On airBaltic flights, 15 euros per bag is charged (20 euros if you aren't part of their BalticMiles club). The difference here from other airlines is that when you buy extra bags with airBaltic, you don't get any extra weight limit.

What this means is that you can purchase a bag for check in for 15 euros. That is 1 x 20kg bag. If you buy two bags, it costs you 30 euros. That is 2 x 10kg bags.

The normal assumption is that when you buy one of something, you get it. The same assumption goes for if you buy two - you get double. Applying airBaltic's logic in a supermarket for example would be just as moronic. One kilogram of rice costs 5 litas for example. I pay my 5 litas and get my 1 kg of rice. However I decide that I want twice as much rice. I pay my 10 litas and suddenly I have two 500 gram bags of rice. That's airBaltic's logic.

AirBaltic probably thinks they are super clever in this approach. "Ha Ha stupid customers give us money! We win!" The rule explaining their ludicrous baggage policy is hidden away on their website and is not made clear in the booking process. Just in case you don't check their entire terms and conditions, they have a nice little rule that every kilogram of luggage over that booked online shall be charged at 15 euros.

I was actually unaware of this for a long time and I'm not completely sure how long it has been their policy, but a friend of mine alerted me to it when he was in Kiev and was asked to pay 300 euros to take his bags on board. He had bought two bags online thinking that he could actually take double the luggage. Double the money, double the luggage...or not?

Now that I have learned about this rule the booking process really makes me laugh - you can take six pieces of luggage. My bag with nothing inside it weighs about 2 kg, so if I paid the 90 euros for baggage, I would be allowed to take on six empty bags.

Cool company. If only they would go bankrupt instead of companies like Star1 Airlines, which had good service and free luggage...