I recently did business with a travel company that’s been getting scorched on online reviews.
With the help of blogs, social media, and message boards, an angry customer is much more likely to tell others about his or her bad experience than a happy customer is. This is the argument of marketing expert Pete Blackshaw in his book Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Running a Business in Today’s Consumer-Driven World.
This seems to ring true for the travel company I used to book my flight, Flight Hub.
The customer reviews on highya.com say it all:
1. Worst online travel agency
2. FlightHub never again
3. FlightHub sucks
Out of 28 reviews, they received 25 one-star reviews. The only thing they weren’t accused of is helping the Grinch steal Christmas. But wait ’til December. Who knows?
Now, I don’t doubt the poor experience these customers had with Flight Hub. Nevertheless, many of their complaints stem from attempts to modify or cancel already purchased tickets. The fee for doing is typically equal to the price of purchasing a new ticket.
The reviews, while eye opening, didn’t bother me. I had no intention of canceling or changing my ticket if I got one. Plus, I figured if I got duped I would just call the credit card company and cancel it.
I was trying to find a next day flight from New York to San Francisco on Labor Day weekend. No easy task.
I started my search with Google Flights, always my go-to for finding flights. The site is easy to use and the map feature can’t be beat.
But this was Labor Day weekend, and I could only find flights for more than $400. Looks like the Golden Gate Bridge would have to do without me this weekend.
So I kept on googling. But no matter the time or airline, I couldn’t get anything under $400. And then I did something rash. Some might call it crazy. The sheer mention of it might cause someone at a garden party in a fancy hat to faint. I switched to Bing.
Bing Search: Flight from NYC to SF
Through Bing, I found a site called Flight Hub. The site displayed a few flights for about $150 but the name of the carrier was missing, replaced with the words “Phone-Only Fare.” Clicking on this text made this pop-up appear:
What did I have to lose? I called the number and was connected to a woman who politely asked how she could help me.
She searched for a flight to San Francisco and found one the next morning on Virgin America for $146.19. That was more than $250 less than I found everywhere else.
I looked back at my computer screen and scanned the reviews about Flight Hub. Do I take my chances with a company whose online reviews put it on par with the measles? But look at that price! Think of the savings! I purchased the ticket and got one of the best deals I ever bought on the web.
The Flight Hub experience was different than booking through other websites. Funny thing is, we used to book flights by phone. Then it moved to websites. Maybe now it’s moving back to phones.
The phone call took about twenty minutes. I was put on hold a few times and initially my credit card didn’t go through. But those were minor inconveniences for the low price I paid. In the end, that’s what I really wanted.
What Pete Blackshaw argues is true. Normally, I wouldn’t tell anybody about this great customer experience unless I was asked about it. But I decided to do things differently this time. I decided to write a post about it.
Yes, Flight Hub is legit and they are awesome! And our Virgin America flight even had Pacman!