Answering the phones at FlightView can be a very interesting experience. Many travelers, shippers, expeditors, meeters and greeters, friends and worried family members see the real-time flight information on our website - or on one of the hundreds of websites that we power - and assume that since we have a lot of information about the day of travel, we must have all of the information on the day of travel, including answers to their unique personal situation. In fact, it's so hard for these folks to find a phone number for their actual travel service provider that they dial us. When it comes to questions from inbound calls, some staff favorites include a guy who asked if customs would charge him more if he brought his new inheritance back from Europe as gold or cash, as well as a woman who wondered whether her husband had brought a mistress on his flight (we suggested he call the office of border control and that she call a marriage counselor).
Most of the time we get more relevant calls, such as from a concerned family member who notices different flight status information on different websites and needs to be reassured that their loved one is OK. Today was one of those days – we received a call from a woman who had just used FlightView.com to see if her husband’s flight took off on time. Our website showed the flight as being diverted shortly after takeoff to an alternate airport.
Concerned about this, the caller looked at the airline’s website and noticed the airline showed the flight as expected to arrive at the scheduled destination on time.
She called us to ask which website was right. FlightView’s multi-sourcing of flight information allowed us to know about the diversion as soon as it took place, in which case we immediately presented this information on our website. The airline, on the other hand, did not indicate the change of plans for the flight, leaving anyone who might be checking its status on their site, including those picking up passengers at the destination, assuming it would arrive on time.
In a world full of mobile devices, sophisticated search engines and social media, instant communication and gratification is the norm. Therefore, transparency of travel information is critical for customer satisfaction. Travelers are savvy and look for the best possible sources for information on their day of travel. It's up to the travel providers to get information to their customers and constituencies as quickly as possible so consumers feel good about their travel experience and the travel brands they depend on.