Friday, 22 July 2011

TACK TMI International Conference Vilnius 2011 and Wizz Air's Customer Care - Using your LOFO

(Sculptures at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre in Vilnius' Gediminas Avenue, Since its establishment in 1940 has staged over 200 productions. Not sure we will have time to experience a production on this trip. Further photos of Vilnius punctuate this blogpost)

The Hungarian economy airline Wizz "now flies to 65 destinations on 218 routes. They have fifteen bases in six countries. They fly to 26 countries including Lithuania" as the smiling face in the photograph of the Head of marketing and sales – Attila Dakovics proudly claims in the Wizz's flight magazine.

Of course it is the front line desk staff and air crew who have to deal with the travelling public and deliver the experience that the on-line booking systems and marketing messages promise.
Flying out to Vilnius for a week-long conference at the end of July 2011 with a group of 7 work colleagues we began our voyage uncomfortably with battling with the stressful experience that is (“London’s”) Luton Airport.
(The beautiful and spiritual space of the Russina Orthodoc Church of the Holy Spirit. The bodies of the martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius (died 1347) are kept in a glass reliquary in the main sanctuary of the cathedral church of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius under the wooden cupola see left.)

The recent drop-off procedures at Luton have resulted in a rush hour that begins in the early hours. The local taxi firms apparently dread the place now. Once you access the departures hall, one has to contend with Luton Airport’s rugby scrum of a check in on a busy Friday morning.
The signage for flights and destinations at check-in have little relation to how passengers/customers are actually processed at Luton’s bag drop off.
Luton's Sahid and his team have to shout out the flights due to close to get the passengers in the packed hall through to departures , the gates and the aircraft.

Perhaps a PA system would help. The young lady who processed us seemed to be suffering from laryngitis and needed supplementary yelling from passengers to convey her announcements.

Despite the apparent swift advantages of on line booking with Wizz air .The reality of the legal practice but unpleasant experience of overbooking and bumping up/off is ever present on the cut price airlines.

A computer system malfunction in the reservation system –it was explained to us- meant that a full plane had two surplus people standing. Volunteers were asked to get off the plane.
None were forthcoming. So Wizz instigated a last on first off ( LOFO) method. The last two passengers who had checked-in were named. They were clearly not happy.

(Jesuit Church of St Casimir, Vilnius.
St. Casimir, the son of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Casimir
St. Casimir is the Patron Saint of Lithuania)

Then the police arrived to ameliorate the situation.

All this meant further delays 50 minutes in all.

Then my fellow travellers all had to identify our hand luggage and the on board hand luggage that was not identified/ claimed was jettisoned.

For all the extensive rules and regulations of the legal terms and conditions of the airlines - of course it falls on the air crew to have to deal with it all.

(The Cathedral of Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilniaus Šv. Stanislovo ir Šv. Vladislovo arkikatedra bazilika) is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania. It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off of Cathedral Square. It is the heart of Lithuania's Catholic spiritual life.)

Igor and his team on flight W6 8002 did a good job.

Their safety demonstration once we were given the go ahead to leave Luton was executed with such flourish and panache that the team looked more like synchronised swimming team members – perhaps they should compete in London 2012 games!

However on arrval at Vilnius airport to cap it all one of our party had their luggage mislaid. They await whether to find out their luggage will be’ wizzed over ‘ to the hotel on the next Wizz flight.

Well despite being greeted at Vilnius with an extended thunder laden downpour, a group of us headed off to the Old Town. What a beautiful city as the photos show.

So now its onto and into the conference.

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