Etihad Ups Its Customer Service Game (but Only for Premium Customers)

Earlier this week, Etihad Airways rolled out a new customer service feature that enables its top customers to message the airline via WhatsApp. The airline will hand out the WhatsApp number at the premium check-in desk at Abu Dhabi International Airport, where the company operates. The airline can then directly communicate to customers regarding possible delays, flight or gate changes, and other updates.

“The new WhatsApp Business solution will provide Etihad Airways’ premium guests with immediate contact with the airline, using the very latest technology. Air travelers around the world use WhatsApp in their daily lives and so it is an ideal channel for them to communicate with the airline and receive the latest information about their travel journey,” said Robin Kamark, Etihad Airways' chief commercial officer, in a company statement.

The feature is not yet available for economy customers—for the time being, they’ll have to continue using social media to get the airline’s attention, or use their website and customer service hotline.

Meanwhile, as Etihad aims to innovate and improve customer service, another airline, Ryanair, is struggling in this regard. Earlier this week, the airline canceled more than 600 flights to Belgium, Portugal, and Spain that were scheduled for July 25 and July 26 as a result of an employee strike. Though the company said it has rebooked or otherwise dealt with roughly 75 percent of affected passengers, the remaining customers are fuming—they’re reportedly struggling to get through to the airline by phone, and the online chat system estimates a wait time of more than 100 minutes.

“Ryanair has added extra customer service staff to help re-accommodate/refund these customers over the next seven days, and we are assisting all affected customers as quickly as possible. All customers whose flights were cancelled have been contacted by email and SMS text message and sent links with information on how to automatically transfer to an alternative flight or take a full refund,” a Ryanair spokesperson told The Sun.

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