When easyJet had to switch planes because of a technical issue, one of their passengers was thrown off.
Switching from an A320 to a smaller plane meant that easyJet flight 6149 from Bristol to Geneva was overbooked by one passenger. It would seem that easyJet chose to evict Charlotte Barton from her seat because she was a passenger travelling alone and she didn’t have any checked in baggage in the hold. Charlotte was the easy one to pick on.
Charlotte reports her experience as “humiliating”. She had left home at 2am that morning, heading to the Alps for a long-planned holiday with friends. Not only was she removed from the plane, she was abandoned airside with no flight to board. One of the ground staff told her to “Just retrace your steps”. I’m not quite sure how that stacks up with all the security procedures at international airports, but it doesn’t sound good.
easyJet seem to have forgotten three key things in throwing Charlotte of their plane:-
  • According to Bain & Co, 68% of customers will switch supplier because of perceived indifference ie when the customer feels that the supplier doesn’t care about them. I don’t think that Charlotte Barton will be booking with easyJet again.
  • Research by Ipsos Mori shows that 72% of customers become more loyal when a complaint is resolved to their satisfaction than they were before the complaint arose. With this little bit of knowledge, wouldn’t easyJet have done something to put the situation right for Charlotte?
  • You never know who your customer might be. Charlotte Barton is a television producer and one of the best people in the world to generate negative press for easyJet. That’s not to say that easyJet should have picked on someone else. But this publicity must have cost them dearly when there had to be a better way.

Final note: I understand that easyJet did later offer alternative flights, a full refund and €400 compensation. But remember how Charlotte Barton said that she felt. “Humiliated”. That’s a powerful emotion. I tell this story not to shame easyJet but as a case study. Think about what went wrong. How could you make sure that nothing like that ever happens to one of your customers?