Our Whine Wednesday topic this week is about China Eastern Airlines and their absolute lack of customer service during irregular operations such as the typhoon this week.
It’s no secret that some airlines are well known for their unreliable operations and dismal customer service and China Eastern has continuously been doing their worst to secure their rightful place on this list.
In the past six days Shanghai which is China Eastern’s hub has been hit by a typhoon and the way the airline has handled customers affected by the resulting irregular operations has been appalling as it was to be expected.
China Eastern has a lot of connecting traffic through PVG and in fact has increased their visibility on international markets through very cheap fares. Naturally as soon as something as cheap people often lose their sensibilities and suddenly choose to fly on carriers they’d otherwise never consider. China Eastern isn’t the only carrier in that field as airlines such China Southern and Ukraine International follow the same example.
Airlines in China rank among the worst in customer service and as soon as something goes wrong with your itinerary things start to fall apart.
Here is an example from our reader Jamie who sent us an email we received last Sunday:
Hi there I have a question I hope you can help me with. I am at suvamabumi now waiting for a China Eastern flight that is showing a 10 hour delay. What kind of compensation would you ask for? I used delta miles for a business class ride and the counter hasn’t opened yet. …
I am here now with them. As you said they are not actual employees and they basically can do nothing. Can’t even check me in on the flight from pvg to lax. Said we have to wait till we arrive there and then ask. I called the US hotline and I waited 40 minutes. Nobody answers. …
I actually saw employees yelling at passengers at the transfer desk. Just unbelievable!
I gave Jamie a couple different phone numbers an the email for China Eastern in Los Angeles but it seems he wasn’t lucky in reaching anyone.
Later I asked him how it went and wasn’t surprised about his horrible experience that just got worse once he arrived in Shanghai as China Eastern in Bangkok refused to rebook him to Korean Air or other carriers in order to fly to LAX through another gateway.
Obviously he didn’t plan to enter China at all so he had to apply for the Visa Free Transit which took forever and is organized in a horrible way as usual. I had a similar bad experience in Shanghai this March. China is getting much worse as far as immigration is concerned than the U.S. ever was for international arrivals.
He should definitely file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation against China Eastern considering how they handled this reservation.
Even in situations of adverse weather where compensation payments don’t apply airlines still have the duty to care and to re-book passengers to connections that help them reach their destinations as scheduled. Especially as a Business Class and status customer I’d expect the airline to provide proper customer service but China Eastern usually fails to provide it and their staff, including managers, couldn’t care less.
The situation isn’t improving when it’s not even their own staff such as in Bangkok where China Eastern used leasing staff from Bangkok Flight Services, utterly incompetent people who also handle Malaysia Airlines and a few others.
Since Jamie had a Delta SkyMiles award ticket I suggested to call them and maybe ask for a rebooking to another SkyTeam partner (or check online) if availability exists but apparently nothing came of that either.