Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

Summary: One Twitter user's reach for help in the social media world highlighted a vast array of failures by one leading international airline.

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Easyjet have again failed spectacularly with their customer service and unleashed a storm on indignation on Twitter.

On Sunday evening, Joanna Jones tried to board a flight at London’s Gatwick Airport for Belfast, Northern Ireland, after spending the week with her family in England.

She was booked on an Easyjet flight from London to Belfast on Sunday evening and had pre-booked assistance with the airline. She had no issues on the flight when she came over.

Easyjet refused to let her board the flight with Orla her guide dog. so Jones turned to Twitter for advice.

Discrimination, or procedure?

Jones had 15 minutes to convince Easyjet that Orla was indeed a guide dog, even though the dog was wearing a bright yellow harness and identifying tag.

Staff at Easyjet admitted that they could see Orla was a guide dog, but said that Jones needed to provide the paperwork to "make her flight more 'comfortable’".

Easyjet policy specifies that documentation is required, but they “will accept the dogs identity tag attached to the dogs official working harness and the identity card of the owner”

Jones hadn’t received any documentation from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and so was prevented from getting on her flight back to Northern Ireland.

She had not previously been made aware that she would require documentation when flying with her dog. She had been flying for 12 years without these types of issues.

After receiving documentation, Jones and her guide dog were re-booked on a flight back home on Monday morning.

Response delays

Easyjet did not initially respond to the growing storm of protest over their decision.

The company's Twitter stream was silent until midnight on Sunday -– more than 3 hours after the flight had departed. Its response policy seemed to consist of repeating the same information over and over again to everyone who tweeted.

It’s not the first time Easyjet have been in trouble over their policies over disabled passengers. Last December, Easyjet was accused of bias against disabled passengers in wheelchairs.

Anti-social brand?

It’s worth noting that if you are a brand that has to look after customer's issues', incidents may arise outside of working hours.

Issues can occur over weekends or late at night. Brands should consider having a customer response framework to address these out of hours issues.

Easyjet’s customer service division, Easyjetcare, has a Twitter account that has been inactive since mid-November. Perhaps customers are unaware of this account, there are 'no customer service issues with Easyjet, or the Twitter alias is no longer monitored.

Silence such as this on an account supposedly used for customer service certainly does not reflect well on a company's brand.

The challenge for the social brand is that in our 24x7 mobile culture, it’s important to have a policy that suits your business model and matches your business hours.

If you’re working with customers from 5am to midnight, then your customer service response should reflect this. If you want to run a '9--5' business and a '9--5' response, stating this on your social streams will set appropriate expectations with your customers.

Is a certificate confirming that a guide dog is indeed a guide dog really worth this sort of attention? Or is common sense actually all you need?

***Update:***

Andrew McConnell, Corporate Affairs Manager for Easyjet stated: "You should be aware that the Civil Aviation Authority and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association support us in this case, and both have confirmed that we have adhered to all necessary guidelines".  Easyjet also referenced this extract from Easyjet.com

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Talkback

12 comments
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  • Common sense

    It's in short supply the world over.
    Bozzer
  • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

    Common sense is a super power.
    cmntgmry
  • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

    Sounds like an employee that was having a bad day, or couldn't add 2+2. I assume that the woman showed her itinerary and boarding pass from the flight over to show that other Easyjet personnel had no issue with her, but that the pinhead behind the counter couldn't make the logical leap.

    So she missed her flight, and Easyjet thinks everything is hunky-dory because the woman had to jump through hoops and change up her whole schedule. And with disabled people, schedule is important, they don't have the luxury of being able to adjust transit plans and coordination with other people or agencies who are assisting.

    Obviously Easyjet is just wishing it will all go away. They join the immense list of companies who think they can screw people over and they will just forget and keep coming back for more.
    terry flores
    • RE: the pinhead behind the counter

      @terry flores

      Unfortunately, for many companies, all it takes is [b]one pinhead[/b] with a 'God complex', or who like acting like Hitler, to ruin things.

      I have encountered my share of 'pinheads', and I do not suffer them for long. Once the matter has been dealt with, often with me 'tucking tail between legs' to get past the issue; then it is time for [b]karma![/b]

      I usually go to their supervisor's supervisor (two levels up). Things often get resolved them. I remember having to go to the COO of a global merchandising enterprise in order to get a bill paid; because some finance dept flunky claims to have [i]lost the paper work[/i]. I am sure that butt reaming session did not go well for that flunky.
      fatman65536
  • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

    Consistency is also key in this issue. If they didn't require paperwork on the way over to England, then they should have made the allowance for the trip back to Northern Ireland.

    And last I checked, Belfast and London are both in the UK...
    ejhonda
    • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

      @ejhonda
      Mea culpa - good catch about the UK. I've updated the post...
      Eileenb
  • wow corp. manager says the other orgs. are ok with the huge mess that the

    flap caused.
    wow.
    maybe the lady should sue everyone for the emotional distress they caused her and see which one gets the most finger pointing.
    they would certainly turn on each other if money were involved.
    who made those stupid rules anyhow?
    and who neglected to get her the proper paperwork?
    very strange!
    here in the states that kind of discrimination is criminal.

    :(
    .
    wessonjoe
  • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

    If she flew over on Easyjet with no problem, why was there such a flap when she got ready to go back? She obviously brought the dog with her when she came over without any problems, so why could she not bring it back with out a reem of paperwork? I don't get it!
    SElizDav
  • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

    I'm on the Easyjet employee's side in this. Just because lots of other people weren't following the rules, that means everyone should not follow the rules? They are clearly stated in multiple places. It doesn't matter how many times she's flown before, things change all the time. You should always verify these things before heading to the airport.
    Unusual1
  • Why would anyone ever expect special treatment?

    Next time, have the correct paper work. All people who are unprepared should be punished equally, and this just shows that they are. My safety is my utmost concern, and this is a story about Easy Jet making sure that bombs are not easy to hide on dogs. Thank you Easy Jet.<br><br>If you do want all sorts of special conditions to apply to you, why would you travel on a budget airline which only makes margin due to standardization? Stories like this illustrate just how entitled, obnoxious, uneducated, and arrogant all the peons like me are. Good thing I only share their station, and not their lunacy.
    qwetry
  • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

    EasyJet is easily an airline I can do without. Very poor customer service.
    casisevillano
  • RE: Easyjet prevents guide dog from flying: Twitter unleashed

    Easyjet seems to think if she does not fly with them again, no big deal. There has to be a cost to the company. Not flying with them again is not enough.
    Make noise, tell everyone you know, cause Easyjet pain.
    Also, support helpful companies - make noise & tell everyone you know.
    rj_wilson