Why Flair Airlines Disconnected Its Phone Lines For A Weekend

Rather than have frustrated customers be put on hold for hours at a time on the telephone, Canadian budget carrier Flair Airlines has decided to close its phone line altogether – at least until Monday, July 19th. The airline has decided to take this abnormal approach in order to focus on its backlog of customer inquiries while at the same time working on boosting its customer service staff numbers.

Flair 737
The global health crisis has been difficult for airlines due to flight cancelations. With these cancelations come thousands of customer service inquiries regarding changes and refunds. Photo: Brand03 via Wikimedia Commons 

“Our phone line is closed”

Call Flair’s customer service phone number this weekend, and you’ll instantly be greeted with a message that begins, “Thank you for calling Flair Airlines. We are currently closed…” Following the suggestion to go online are the days and times that the carrier’s phone lines are open.

The problem is, even if you’ve called during a time the airline says its phone line is open, you’ll get the same message.

Thankfully, it’s not a case of the airline suddenly collapsing or running away with your money. Indeed, to solve “the mystery of the closed call center,” we have to turn to Flair’s Twitter feed to a post made on July 16th (embedded below).

Increased demand behind high call volumes

As you may have read in the above Twitter post, the airline cites an increased demand and extremely high call volumes as the reason it has decided to close its phone lines until Monday, July 19th.

The reasoning does make quite a lot of sense, with COVID-19 restrictions easing right across Canada. Indeed, interprovincial travel restrictions have even led to a weaker domestic aviation market in recent months. However, combining the easing of restrictions with the flurry of new Flair services, it’s completely understandable why its customer service channels might be overwhelmed.

Flair Airlines 737 MAX
Flair Airlines is expanding its fleet and expanding its route network. Now it needs to expand its customer service capabilities. Photo: Flair Airlines

“Not what you deserve”

In the message posted to Twitter, Flair Chief Commercial Officer Garth Lund is clear about the decision to shut down customer inquiries via the phone. At the same time, he is clearly apologetic about it, saying:

“We are very sorry for this. Our current customer experience is not what you deserve, and not what we strive for.”

The executive goes on to say that the airline is doing this to clear its backlog, catching up on existing inquiries. At the same time, it’s currently training new team members to triple the size of its customer care team while working to provide more digital self-serve options. “Through these efforts, we will be able to open our phones again on Monday,” he adds.

Flair 737 MAX
Flair recently announced it would be launching service to the United States. Photo: Flair Airlines

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One Mile At A Time calls the move “oddly refreshing” – something that we would have to agree with. The airline is transparent with what it’s doing and is saving customers the experience of being put on hold for what could be hours, potentially using up minutes on their phone plans. It also avoids that rage that can build up from each additional minute of being put on hold (which, of course, triples when there’s a sudden disconnection!).

At the same time, we can acknowledge that there are a variety of urgent flight reservation circumstances that might require the help of a human being with broader access to the reservation system. At least with Flair’s online form, the airline can theoretically sort and handle inquiries based on how soon a flight is taking place.

At the end of the day, it’s good to see that, in addition to this phone line closure, Flair is tripling the size of its customer care team. Hopefully, this will mean that the airline will never have to close its phone line during normal hours ever again.

What do you think of Flair’s decision to close its phone lines temporarily? Should more airlines do this in order to manage customer expectations? Let us know in the comments.

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