The rebirth of customer service

I am a fairly frequent traveller. As such, I have seen the worst of airline industry - an industry that has all but lost the notion of customer service. (Those of you currently hating on United - flown American lately?). For months, I have considered blogging a lengthy rant about just how atrocious the employees of the major North American airlines are to their customers. However, I'd like to try something different: A glowingly positive, upbeat blog post:

I recently (at last!) took my first flight on Toronto-based Porter Airlines. Porter operates on Toronto's Island Airport - which is already a big win (saving me a trip out to the western suburbs). Their motto, which has intrigued me since their launch, is "flying refined" : they deliver.

My trip started with frustration: due to a hectic morning (setting kids up with gramma for the week, attending a meeting, packing, etc), I was running late and decided to call a car. Said taxi service (who get no points for customer service) showed up 25 minutes late. I began dreading the potential hassle I faced by arriving last minute at the airport.

Enter Porter.

I made it to the check-in counter 35 minutes to flight time (a full 10 minutes after the 45 minute check-in cut-off for US flights). Expecting the usual condescending lecture about leaving more time before my flight, I approached the counter. I was greeted with a pleasant smile and, after showing my passport, I was asked if I preferred a window or an aisle seat. No lecture. No condescending "sorry, there's nothing I can do". No re-booking charges. In less than 5 minutes, I was all checked in for my flight to Newark.

After breezing through security, I entered Porter's piece de resistance: their Toronto waiting area. This place is everything I'd heard it to be: ample seating for everyone, comfortable leather chairs for reading, desks for those who need to get some work done, chairs with tables for eating, and power outlets everywhere (hear that, LAX?!).

I looked around in awe for a moment, before heading to the cafe which offers complementary espresso drinks, juice, water and snacks. With capucino in hand, I grabbed a seat at one of the desks and plugged my laptop in to send a few quick emails on the free wifi.

Next came the on-time boarding (you reading, ORD?), via another smiling Porter employee. In-flight, I enjoyed a complimentary Stella and meal (when was the last time you got free food on a North American flight?) and swooned.

I believe in small companies with great service. Making customers happy simply makes people happy. Porter, you made me happy. Thank you.

James Walker

James Walker (a.k.a. walkah) is an independent developer and hacker. He is a long time Drupal developer, but these days spends more time in Python, Ruby and Javascript.

You can follow him on twitter or github.

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