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Easyjet show how not to do Customer Service

Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 14 Feb 2010

pocketgpsworld.comIn an ideal world everything would go to plan and work smoothly. In the real world things are somewhat different. Things can and will go wrong! It is a testament to the procedures and customer care of companies how things are handled when they do go wrong. I had a very sharp object lesson on how not to implement Customer Services Policies yesterday from Easyjet.

Normally an article like this would not make our pages. As not just myself, but about 2000 other people at Gatwick Airport on Easyjet flights, including 200+ heading to MWC in Barcelona it became a valid topic. This is not only an example of how important Customer Services are but also the knock on effect of a 'small' problem can ripple through the lives and livelihoods of those affected.

I arrived at Gatwick at 14:30 on Saturday afternoon. Easyjet's computer systems failed as I was dropping my bags, obviously not your everyday occurrence. I was second in the queue to drop things off and the check-in staff seemed to be taking ages to process people. When the guy at the check-in had finished the person in front of me started to move forwards, but the clerk waved him back. Then began a wait of about 30 minutes until we had a rather quiet announcement that they had a systems issue.

Shortly after all the check-in staff were called away for a 'briefing' leaving just a few Menzies staff looking confused not knowing what was happening to hold the fort. A little while later someone came round asking for people travelling to Rome and took them off only for most of them to return a short while later, wrong Rome flight. During this time all we were told was that there was a systems failure over the announcement system that was so low that the only way we could work out what was being said was to huddle together and piece together the message from fragments that we had all heard.

Having decided that the systems were not going to be restored in time to get the planes off they then started to scrap all the current online check-in and start again from scratch. Gradually desks started to open on the other side of the hall, with no announcements. We were all a little unsure what was going on, but snagging a Menzies person we were told that bag drops were shut and we had to check in on the other side of the hall. Eventually Barcelona showed up so we moved from the front of one queue to the back of another. The queues were very slowly processed and eventually I got my boarding card. It took 2.5 hours to drop my bag off and 5 minutes to clear security.

Airside at Gatwick I checked the Departure Board which said "Stay in lounge". Waiting and waiting in the lounge checking the board every few minutes then suddenly at 19:15 the status changed from "Stay in lounge" to "Go to gate 12" to "Gate Closing" in the space of 1 minute. So here we go we are off…

Got to the gate and met with yet another queue and after a patient wait we were checked off on the written list, confirming the number of checked in bags. Then finally at 19:30 I was sitting on the plane waiting for take off. At 20:00 we were still waiting after being fully boarded at 19:50.

Getting on for 20:30 we are told that 2 people decided not to fly and their bags were being identified before the bags were loaded into the hold. We were waiting for that to be completed then we would be cleared for take off and away. 21:00 comes and goes and there is still no idea what is happening. There are rumours about baggage mix up across all the flights. We have been on the plane for 90 minutes now and not offered even a drink.

Just before 9:30 the captain came on and said that there was problems with baggage and head office had decided to cancel the flight. This was the first official announcement from any Easyjet representative. We were told to return to the service desk in the departures lounge where we would be met by someone who would take us through to arrivals to pick up our cases. We would then be able to go to the Easyjet check-in area where an Easyjet person would assist us. We were also told that the next Easyjet flight to Barcelona was at 5:25 the next day.

When we got to the departures lounge we joined a long queue of Easyjet passengers from 9 flights that had been cancelled. Yes you guessed it no Easyjet rep, no officials, but there were 9 armed police with automatic weapons! Did they know what Easyjet had done???

Eventually two Menzies staff came with photocopies of an Easyjet statement. Unfortunately they only had enough copies for less than 10% of the disgruntled passengers. With no other option we followed the Menzies staff to passport control where there was just one immigrations officer for 2000 people. In arrivals we picked up our luggage. Mine was wet on the outside as were lots of others. (When I got home I found all my clothes inside were soaked and some sensitive electronics damp.)

We then proceeded through customs back into the UK again… A short walk round to the Easyjet check-in where we were met by and Easyjet Customer Services Representative? No of course not, it was yet another Menzies staff member who had more photocopies to hand out.

So it is now nearly 22:30 some 8 hours after arriving at Gatwick with not one Easyjet person having been seen, and just dumped in the airport with zero assistance from Easyjet. There were hundreds of people trying to rebook flights on laptops and iPhones. Easyjet had nothing to Barcelona until Wednesday (the day I was scheduled to return). No other direct flights were available, and only a few really strange routings with long stop overs were showing, but a lot were not available when selected. We were told by the Menzies official that Easyjet were an online company and we had to rebook online.

Seeing no other reasonable option I decided to get my car back and go home. The outcome for me was that I paid for a flight I couldn't take, a hotel I will not stay in and for a number of days car parking I wont use. Of course I will now not go to MWC so I will not interview that great new company with the super idea and they will not get the break they need to make it. Well actually that is unlikely, but still a possibility.

What I did hear though were stories of people from GSMA who are organising the event couldn't get there, people who had paid thousands of pounds to exhibit couldn't get there, people who had paid 2,500 euros for the conference couldn't get there, and of course at least 10 journalists sitting on the plane tweeting couldn't get there.

Possibly worse than that though were the scenes of people returning to Barcelona and other places not understanding what was going on, not speaking the language. There was one girl in tears because she had nowhere to stay and didn't know how to get home to Spain.

Through all of this there was no sight nor sign of anyone from Easyjet, and we all know full well that they had at least 9 senior pilots and crew there. Not that this is their job, but it would have been nice if one or more of them had tried to help, even if it was just organising between Menzies and the head office.

Now I think that the service we received was terrible. I cant criticise Easyjet's Customer Service simple because it did not exist, nor did it seem to any of us affected that they even cared. Most of us would have been able to understand that this was something exceptional and indeed we were all patient during the manual process. Tempers flared when we were told the flights were cancelled and there was nobody from Easyjet to help and no information. If we had been better informed throughout the day, particularly when the flight had been cancelled we could accept it.

What I do find particularly insulting is that Easyjet didn't even try to get someone to Gatwick with authority and knowledge to talk to us. Not only that but knowing that I amongst all the other paying clients have not been contacted by email with an apology or explanation. We are expected to sort ourselves out, and call a premium cost phone line just to talk to them.

I know for sure that in future I will not fly Easyjet unless I absolutely have to, and also that I will advise everyone I know to avoid them, including you (if you have stuck this far through my ramblings). I know that if I tried to run a company in this manner it would not last long.

So Stelios thank you very much for nothing, and goodbye. You will not be seeing me again!!!
Posted by MaFt on Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:14 pm Reply with quote

thankfully i've arrived (but 3 easyjet flights were cancelled in liverpool today!) so there'll be SOME coverage from MWC!


Posted by DennisN on Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:48 pm Reply with quote

I have emailed them a link to this article, which they would do well to read and inwardly digest.

That is to say, I've replied to one of their cancellation emails to me three days ago giving this link. Despite being an online company, they don't seem to publish an email address anywhere, just as they don't publish a telephone number either.

I got their phone number by reading Bristol International Airport FAQs in which number 7 is "I need to speak to Easyjet, how can I do this?". It's incredible that you have to ask somebody else for Easyjet's phone number! 0871 244 2366 (or possibly 01582 700036, but I haven't ever succeeded in getting through to that number). It's charged at 10p per minute and it took me 20 minutes to listen through the muzac and speak to a human being. The call took another 20 minutes after that.


If it tastes good - it's fattening.

Two of them are obesiting!!

Posted by inthe128 on Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:00 am Reply with quote

I have to fly as part of my job on occasions, I find the whole airport process to be painful. My last flight via Amsterdam went pear-shaped from the start. Snow was causing problems there, but at Newcastle Airport we were herded on to the plane, once the doors were closed it was announced a short delay because of the snow in Amsterdam, well that was 2 hours sat there before we taxed to be de-iced.

One runway closed at Amsterdam appeared to bring European flying to its knees, although as myself and my Nordic companions I was travelling with would not call that snow. The only thing we were told was that our onward flights to Denmark were cancelled for that day, so we were to go to the transfers desk on arrival. Well that desk had a very long queue, but we noticed a Billund flight as boarding which was our destination, did a sprint to the next terminal and found a fair few confused folk around the gate, no info at all, we went to the lady trying to deal with it all and the upshot we got on, minus bags.

We arrived at Billund a mere 4 hours late, so not too bad. I had a slight problem as I was going to drive home from Denmark to Poland, so in the end I stayed the night and luckily the bag arrived the next morning. The 12 hour car journey home was much less stressful even with the westerners driving in snow.

We had a very savvy co traveller in our pack, so we managed to get through, the information we got was just all wrong, although finding how to get any information was mostly zero. I work in Denmark, but live in Poland, I stopped flying that route a few years ago, prefer to drive, less hassle.

in the 128

Posted by Privateer on Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:15 pm Reply with quote


Sorry to hear about your recent experience of Easyjet! We've heard so much about the unhelpfulness, arrogance, and additional charges for what should be included in low cost airlines such as Easyjet & Ryanair that we refuse to use either of them.

A few years ago there was a documentary series about Easyjet and that showed them in a very poor light, especially for customer service. If you had the opportunity to have free advertisement on TV would you ask your staff to be diligent and to push to boat out for efficiency?

No wonder that there are websites called "I Hate Easy Jet" and "I Hate Ryanair".


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Posted by MikeB on Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:20 pm Reply with quote

In Easyjet's Annual report (where they report profits of £54,700,000) They identify business risks including:

Dependence on technology: easyJet is heavily dependent on the website easyJet.com and three key systems in particular: eRes, which is used to process seat purchases and manage reservations; RMS which is used for yield management; and AIMS, which is used to manage operational data and crew positioning.

An outage of any of these key systems could have a material adverse effect for the business.

Two server locations are run in parallel resulting in a highly resilient system architecture which is subject to review and testing.

easyJet has a comprehensive system of back-up and protection.

Obviously something they dont review and test properly or often enough!!!

(edited by MikeB got the millions in the wrong place)

Mike Barrett

Posted by DennisN on Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:24 pm Reply with quote

If you watch Airline (repeats) on TV, you've got to realise that it looks as though Easyjet actually revel in their lousy service! What sort of company is happy to be presented on telly letting people down and not helping them out?


If it tastes good - it's fattening.

Two of them are obesiting!!

Posted by theripper on Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:00 pm Reply with quote

Whenever I have flown to Europe I have always found that the local airline is usually as good if not better than easyjet or ryanair. Last time I went to Denmark I flew with SAS and had no problems at all.

Posted by inthe128 on Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:21 pm Reply with quote

theripper Wrote:
Whenever I have flown to Europe I have always found that the local airline is usually as good if not better than easyjet or ryanair. Last time I went to Denmark I flew with SAS and had no problems at all.

I used to fly with SAS from Manchester, until British Midland started a route to Copenhagen from Leeds, now I live in Poland its as easy to drive to where I want to be in Denmark and cut out the hassle of airports and flying. In December I did 8 flights split between KLM and Easyjet, to me its all the same.

I got married in Poland last year, the people from Denmark: Well the airline went bust a week before, so they lost all their money and my parents and a few others got the returned flight cancelled, so some had to return for work and missed the second day of the wedding and some had to stay 3 more days. I much rather drive, at least I know when I will get there.

in the 128

Posted by WildKnowledge on Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:34 pm Reply with quote

We were on the same flight, and having planned meticulously for our first MWC in the new App Planet, we were caught up. Using all the technology we had avilable and wives actiing as online travel consultants we managed to rebook flight with Monarch Airlines flying from Manchester the following day, ading over £600 to our event costs, a cost this small business cannot afford, but we had no choice compared to how much we had invested in the event. This included hotel accomodation, trains from Gatwick to Victoria then Euston to Manchester the following day, and the new flights. Having arrived 24 hours late, we still managed to setup the stand today and had a successful first day. Maybe we can get a cheeky plug for our tenacity in getting out there, check out our site - we use GPS for location based learning tools for schools.

Link clarified, plug tolerated this time - DennisN Smile

Posted by mostdom on Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:38 am Reply with quote

Then only other artical I could find regarding the incident.
Probably another IT related passenger going to the show!

Maybe pass the article on to the BBC?


HERE LIES PND May it rest in peace.
Navigon 7310/iPhone Navigon&Copilot

Posted by matthewj on Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:23 am Reply with quote

Perhaps the most useful lesson is to not use an airline with low commitment to customers, and only one flight a day from an airport. If you must, then you need to go the day before so you can recover from such incidents.

When we fly anywhere, we ensure that there are later flights and other airlines who can provide backup. There's a reason that business users usually fly other ways...

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