Cathy Pacific vs. WestJet: Who had Better Customer Service During COVID19

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These days, anyone trying to reach airlines or travel agencies via phone is almost guaranteed an excruciating long hold time. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, companies are asking people to hold off on contacting them until their trips are within 72 hours. I won’t get into why that’s is a horrible idea as the internet is littered with examples of people who can’t get a hold of anyone for hours or even days.

Some airlines and travel agencies have online chats, but even those aren’t connecting, as evidenced by Expedia’s chat here:

Then I remembered the next best thing: Twitter. Nowadays all airlines maintain social media presence, and The Points Guy even has an article on this subject. So when phone and online chat fail, one can always direct message airlines on Twitter.

Cathay Pacific - A Miserable Experience

I had a Cathay Pacific (CX) flight booked via British Airways (BA) Avios that was cancelled by CX due to the Coronavirus. BA instructed me to contact CX to look for alternative options, but after trying to get a hold of CX on the phone via both their North American and Hong Kong numbers, I gave up and tried to message them on Twitter instead:

As you can see, it took them a minimum of 1.5 days to respond to my message, and I even had to follow up to get a response one time. The worst part? After I was told they would try to arrange alternative flights, they simply gave me a link to their own website, and I already know I can’t do any changes by myself there. I tried calling a few more times and finally got a hold of an agent who informed me the Twitter staff gave me wrong information and I needed to call BA to arrange alternative flights. What a total waste of time!

WestJet - Now That is Customer Service!

I also had some WestJet (WS) travel bank credits that were due to expire in June, which I didn’t foresee using at all due to the pandemic. I tried getting a hold of WS via phone (long hold time) and online chat (never worked). So I fired off a message to WS via Twitter, with a low expectation.

Wow. Would you look at that! Not only did I get an instantaneous response, but I got my travel credits extended proactively. The entire conversation lasted less than 10 minutes. Now I hadn’t flown with WestJet much over the last couple years as I had become a United flyer (more on that another time), but this kind of customer service may just win me back as a customer.

Final Thoughts

It is quite refreshing to see that WestJet is providing top notch customer service during the Coronavirus pandemic; while Cathay Pacific, which is usually considered one of the best airlines in the world, fell far short of expectation.

We are now living in the unfortunate times of airlines doing everything they can to horde cash and deny customer refunds, and travelers are taking notes on which airlines are trying to screw them out of refunds, money that many need to survive on when many people are being laid off.

One day the Coronavirus pandemic will be over. Road warriors will be back in the air; families will once again be taking vacations in Hawaii. When that time comes, airlines will become smaller, and frequent flyers have opportunity to status match / shop around. I have a feeling people will give their business to airlines that put the customers’ needs ahead of their own bottom line (they got their bailout) during these difficult times.

Kevin