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Recent weather mayhem at Toronto (YYZ) airport severely impacted my travel plans to Mumbai. Long string of delays and cancelations in Montreal (YUL) meant that I never made it to YYZ for my international leg to Mumbai (BOM). Long story short, I was eventually rebooked on Qatar Airways via DOH to BOM. Unfortunately, my Qatar flight (QR 764) sat at the gate, with all passengers onboard, for over two hours! Obviously, I took to twitter to share my thoughts. Qatar Airways reaction to my tweet was extraordinary and eft me equal parts confused and impressed.
After two of the longest hours spent inflight, I decided to share the situation on twitter with the following tweet;
Curiously, both Tripit Pro and Expert Flyer were showing that my flight was en-route, while we sat at the gate. Unmoved. The pilot had confirmed a mechanical issue and Engineers onboard trying to fix the issue. Unfortunately, no other source even hinted to a delay.
I had intentionally tagged Qatar Airways, the Canadian Transport Authority (CTA), and good friends at Air Passenger Rights CA. My tweet got the right attention and the responses were swift;
Qatar Airways social media team replied with the staple response and asked me to share my trip details in DM, which I did. The clock ticked on and I tried to distract my agony by surfing Canadian regulations on tarmac delay. To my utter surprise, my phone rang with a Doha, Qatar number. A lovely rep from the Qatar Airways SM team was calling to follow up on my complaint and wanted to assure me that things will be sorted soon and we should be on our way shortly. She also assured me that I will not miss my BOM connection in DOH. Not really helpful in that situation but I was impressed with the personal call. She also sent me an email contact to follow up in case I wanted to put my complaint in writing.
We eventually pushed out of the gate at 10:22pm, after 3 hours of sitting at the gate (2 hrs and 22 min past official departure time). Mid-flight, I connected to the complimentary wifi (1 hour, paid thereafter) and noted that CTA had also responded to my tweet with a link to a complaint form. The link has not worked for me in two days!
QR 764 did a good job of time recovery and we landed in Doha only an hour and 24 minutes late. As I deplaned, I was met with two Qatar Airways personnel who were holding my name up! I was greeted warmly by both individuals and one of them identified themselves as the supervisor. He wanted to follow up on my twitter complaint and assured me it was being taken seriously. Although the pilot had confirmed (and apologized) for the delay in YUL due to a mechanical issue, the supervisor was adamant that it was a weather related delay.
Well, colour me impressed. I started wondering if every twitter complaint was dealt with this level of professionalism by Qatar Airways. With only an hour to connect, I politely declined their offer to help ‘any further’, and proceeded to the gate.
It wasn’t over yet – as I approached the gate to board my BOM flight, my boarding pass scanned with a different beep and I wondered if I had been upgraded (did QR upgrade me as compensation?!). Alas, it was no upgrade but a trigger for the floor supervisor of the next flight to personally walk me into the flight and apologize for the delay in YUL. Wow! Again, he made it a point to tell me it was not a mechanical issue, but weather related.
That aside, I did not know what I had said or done to deserve this level of follow up from Qatar. I was truly confused and impressed at the same time. An upgrade would have been nice though 😉
To add context to my experience – Under a proposed legislation the Canadian government is lobbying to double the time passengers can be kept on the tarmac for delays, from 90 mins to a full 3 hours. And worse yet, no compensation to passengers in case of delays caused due to mechanical issues.
Was Qatar Airways response to my tweet normal or over the top? Please share any similar experiences you have, with a comment below.
Featured Image Source: Qatar Airways