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Customer Service At An Airport Check In Counter

July 17, 2013 Headline News, Leadership No Comments Email Email

UntitledI do not know about you but generally I expect little customer service in some business sectors, but hope for the best.

Let me tell you about a recent customer service experience.

I fly internationally out of Australia sometimes with low cost carrier (LCC). I preface the story by saying the inflight was fine and as expected no frills, that’s what they advertise and that is what you get.  Overall, the flight experience was good.

Richard Coles

Richard Coles

Unless you go business class a nervous moment is walking up to the counter with your suitcase. Did you pack it conservatively or is it one pair of shoes and jeans too much? I fly legacy carriers a lot so 30kg is normal for economy.

At the beginning of my airline career I was check-in for a well-known airline and have empathy with that walk to the counter! Charging passengers for overweight was the hardest part of the job, and many received very flexible interpretation of 20kg from me! Anyway back to the counter, now I realize LCC have weight limits and fair enough, mine was only 2kg above. My estimate was out. Now on a flight that was 2/3 full 2 kg is not a lot.

But now the customer service part.

“That will be $40.00”. “Pardon me” I said “your 2kg over. – pay or repack”. In protest to the way I was spoken to, I said I’ll pay nothing and in disgust I walked away.  I took some papers out of the suitcase and put them into my cabin baggage and proceed back to my check in queue. Hoping I would not get the same person. To my luck a different check-in person, this time a big smile and not a mention of 1kg still over. I was just asked with a smile, “window or aisle seat”. What relief – what joy – a happy customer service representative at the check in.

So with my bag tagged and my aisle seat boarding pass in my hand, I proceeded to immigration. Oh, by the way, I asked if the middle seat was free and was told – “let me change your seat so that will happen”. How easy and how customer friendly. I went from never flying with them again to maybe not so bad after all. The friendly crew on board were great and all was well.


  1. With customer service expect anything
  2. A smile , empathy and how you say something can make a big difference to a customer’s perception of your brand
  3. If you have a third party offering part of your service, ensure that they are on board with your customer courtesy standards and part of your team. I mean well briefed and trained. Be careful  all the ‘touch points’ are sending the same massage
  4. There is a better way of giving bad news – but it needs training
  5. Get an accurate scale at home if you’re flying LLC!!

At Coles International Training we understand the travel industry well and the importance of customer service. Rick Coles has worked with the best in the industry and trained with the best. Differentiate yourself – place yourself above from your competition in every way you can. Customer service is one of the most important ways. It will ultimately contribute to your bottom line. Ask me how we do it in our training. It’s called maximising your “Moments of Truth” and capitalisation of your strengths. If you would like a quote on our training and consulting, please contact me.

All the best in your business!

Richard Coles



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