If you have travelled recently by plane, consider yourself lucky to get there and back without any delays, baggage losses or even cancellations. And definitely don’t think you are guaranteed to take off even when sat on the plane having just boarded. That’s exactly what happened to me – as a result of delays caused by the baggage handlers at various airports the carrier (which will remain nameless) decided in it’s wisdom to cancel the flight because it risked exceeding the air crew’s working hours if the flight had gone ahead. Oh woe is me. Luckily, compensation has been applied for and granted – just waiting for the cheque in the post as it were.
Given the fact that this fate also happened to another flight at a similar time to ours goes to show that these occurrences are on a daily basis and surely hitting many multiple times daily considering all the flights in Europe alone.
Like in this case, how much are the carriers losing through compensating customers due to issues outside their control? What about striking aircrews – how much are the carriers losing as a result, which is indeed in their control? Why on earth have we reached the situation we are in and more importantly, how do we get out of it?
Without a doubt, it is a complicated situation and certainly more complicated to find solutions. That being said from a customer’s perspective, we wonder why it is taking so long to settle disputes? The negotiations are clearly entrenched and everyone seems to be playing hardball and sticking to their guns. Could there be another way?
In my experience, correct due diligence and the willingness to think out of the box are the two key components to successful negotiations. Are the negotiators involved doing enough due diligence correctly - do they know their counterparts interests? Let’s take the cabin crew strikes – in the media we always hear pay and conditions cited as the reason for the strike. Pay is relatively clear, conditions on the other hand can mean many things – working hours, working environment, holidays, to name but the obvious. Could the airline negotiators figure out a package whereby the keep any pay rise to a minimum but are able to accommodate the air crew in another way?
In my experience, having trained many thousands of participants in the science of negotiation, planning is an often neglected part of the negotiation process. Participants quickly realise that due diligence, hand-in-hand with strategizing in advance is crucial to the successful execution of the negotiation - the better prepared you are, the better you master it.