Virgin Atlantic embraces cribbing pax, asks him to choose in-flight menu

Here’s a perfect example of a an airline not only dealt maturely with a negative situation, but also showed that it takes feedback seriously and has the guts to involve the customers in creating brand experience. A passenger who wrote a witty letter complaining about the Indian meal on a Virgin Atlantic flight to Mumbai has been invited by the airline’s boss Richard Branson to help select food and wines for future Virgin flights!

In what The Telegraph calls “the world’s best complaint letter”, Oliver Beale included seven photos and tons of witty remarks in his 1300 words letter! Here are some excerpts:

“I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the dessert?”

“Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji (scrambled eggs) custard and the Mustard sauce.”

“It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese.”

Virgin Atlantic at its resilient best!

Virgin Atlantic not only replied to the “constructive if tongue-in-cheek” email, but also offered him a job selecting the food and wines for future flights. What does that show about the airline? It’s preparedness and resilience for sure. The fact that instead of ignoring such an email, Virgin responded promptly, and offered something to make the passenger happy shows the airline’s maturity.

And what better way to involve a customer in creating a brand experience? I had mentioned in my webinar on airline branding that airlines that embrace the accidental spokesperson will do well. And this is exactly what Virgin Atlantic has done. They have managed to involve a person passionately speaking about the airline, to further improve customer experience.

What do you think? Could Virgin Atlantic have dealt with the situation any better? How can other airlines adopt such a practice, given that not every passenger’s whim can be addressed?

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