Purser reading comment cards while onboard?

One of the things that frustrates me about travel on world class airlines (at times) is the number of times I’m asked to complete a survey while in first class. Often these are huge, ten page surveys that can take half an hour to complete. At the same time I think it’s a nice way to keep the crew on top of their game, since they know they’ll potentially be “graded” on their performance. The surveys are almost always sealed once completed, so I had always assumed that the crews never read them.

Then there are other airlines that don’t push the surveys as much, but still have comment cards or surveys either upon request, in the seatback pocket, or in the in-flight magazine.

I stumbled upon this very interesting trip report on FlyerTalk.com. Someone was flying from London to Istanbul in business class, and there seemed to be problem after problem, to the point that the passenger decided to fill out a comment card. As the trip report reads:

Once I’d finished my main, the FA who didn’t get me a drink tried to take away the tray. I had to stop her as I still had my dessert to go. I asked if I could get some water and champagne, and she went off to get it. So, it took 1 hour 20 minutes before I could get a glass of something fizzy, and that wasn only by asking twice. By this time I was pretty fed up, so decided to fill out the complaints/comments form in the back of the magazine. I handed this back to the purser.

About five minutes later, she came back saying that she was very sorry that everything had gone wrong today. She seemed very concerned, especially with the onboard service. She then asked me (very politely) if I’d be able to reconsider haindg in the form saying that the onboard service was poor, and she gave me another form to fill out. From then on, the service was incredible. I was given a plate of small cakes (not sure where they came from, no one else got them as far as I could see), and my glass was never empty for the rest of the flight.

First of all, I’m shocked that Turkish Airlines doesn’t have a policy against flight attendants reading the comment cards (or maybe they do but the purser decided to read it anyway). Also, I think it was very unprofessional of the purser to ask the passenger to reconsider handing in the form.

At the same time, I’m kind of torn about this. Would you rather have a flight attendant read your comments while onboard and improve for the rest of the flight, or would you rather have a miserable flight and possibly have management have a talk with the crew after the fact (though more than likely nothing will happen)?

Filed Under: Travel, Turkish
  1. I’m with you. I feel like it’s rude for the purser to ask the pax to revise his comments, but it was nice that they took steps to improve their service.

    I feel that if you pay a sum of money, probably rather large, to fly in Business, your experience should be as enjoyable as possible, even if that means not submitting a comment card with negative comments in exchange for better service.

    If I dished out thousands for a biz class flight on a highly regarded airline, I’d gladly take the best service possible in exchange for “wiping the negative comments under the table.” It’s better to hold your tongue than it is to stew the whole flight and not enjoy better service.

  2. I’ve had ICC agents ask me to rate their service, and then when I give them a 3, ask me to rate them higher because their performance evaluation depends on it!

  3. Like you, Lucky, I dislike the fact that she read the card, but like her response. The thing is, you know the reaction from any FA on a US-airline would have very, very different.

  4. If the service is so bad why not just speak to the purser at the time of the trouble? I generally find it much more rewarding to deal with the problem I’m having when I’m having it than to file a comment away into the ether and hope things will be better next time.

  5. I don’t want good service because I complained about it, I want good service because I deserve it and paid for it.

    In terms of the comment card, yes, it worked. But did it work for this flight or every flight?

    And how would the the purser feel if I did adjust the comment card and added to it, “but the service improved greatly after the purser read the comment card.”

  6. @hobo13: I got that same question from ICC web support a few months back. While the service she provided was a solid 5, the question caught me off-guard and, about to board a flight, I just answered it. In the future, I think I’ll say something along the lines of, “I’d be happy to independently provide a review after we’re done, but I don’t feel comfortable giving it to you directly. Please tell your supervisor that UA should not be collecting feedback in this manner.”

    I’d also like to say, “You’re nice, but I want your job to be taken by someone who lives in the USA and fully understands my country’s dialects, cultural norms, geography, travel habits, and airport procedures.” But that would just be mean and not productive to my wishes.

  7. @GoAmtrak: I like your comments about the ICC. While I’ve not been asked by an ICC web support agent to rate them at the end of the call, I have tried to be transferred to the survey, only to be put on silent hold forever, until I hang up…

    @Lucky: I think I would note something about the purser commenting about the card. The FA should have still received some sort of meeting with management..

  8. This reminds me of an incident that happened on Emirates a few years ago. I was very disappointed with one particular aspect of the flight and asked for a comment card. Not only did the Senior Flight Stewardess (an Australian lady) refuse to initially bring me the card, she also asked me to “just mind your own bloody business” once she read the contents. She then went on a rant and used a bunch of racial epithets about Indians and how Indians always complained. She then ripped up my comment card in front of me and dared me to write another one saying that she was going to note me as a disruptive passenger in her report and “It’s going to be your word against ours then and everyone knows they don’t take comments from f***ing Indians seriously”.

    Unfortunately for her, I had access to people significantly above her on the food chain at Emirates and they were able to take the necessary actions to rectify the initial problems. But it just serves as a reminder that one should never assume that comment cards completed during the flight are not read by the crew (and that retribution for negative comments will not be forthcoming).

  9. Sounds to me like the purser on that flight would prefer it customers complained at the time of the problem so that it could be corrected.

  10. I also had an interesting encounter with filling up the comment cards. I just decided to compliment the FAs that handled a full Lufthansa F cabin perfectly – but I didn’t write down the names cause I didn’t exactly stare at their name tags (doesn’t help that the names were German and for a non-German speaker, it is practically impossible to recall the spelling).
    So i handed the comment card in… and what do you know, 10mins later the FA came back to me and asked me to include their names!! He even wrote their names all on a separate piece of paper for me to copy over! I was rather shocked that my comment card was just read like that.. but well, in the end they gave me an extra box of chocolates for that. No harm done I guess.=)

  11. Reading of passenger comments during the flight is no crime… :O)

    The purser is ordered to solve problems during the flight. Each feedback handeled after the journey causes costs (at least 60$…), which should be avoid.

    By reading the comment right away, the purser or the flight attendant is able to take care of the problem and turn the bad impression into a good one.

    Let’s be honest – what sense does it have for me personally if I complain but it’s been processed 3 month later?

  12. I’d have submitted the exact same comment as before, just added “but the service improved greatly after the purser read the comment card.”

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