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Aer Lingus managing expectations?

by Polle on November 14, 2011

In a few weeks I will spend a long weekend in Dublin, relaxing with friends and visiting my contacts at Facebook and Google. We’re flying with Aer Lingus, a pretty decent low cost airliner. Low cost airliners can afford themselves “screw-up-costs”; people accept extra fees, a 2 hour bus drive from the airport to the city or on-flight commercial talks because they understand that flying a low cost airliner means that they have to compromise. But how far can airliners go in stretching these expectations?

Aer Lingus managing expectations?

Today, I got an email with the subject “Aer Lingus Select Seats – Booking Ref: [my booking reference]“. That subject, the header image and the text “We’ve noticed that you have not yet selected specific seats for your journey” at first came across as a kind reminder by Aer Lingus that I forgot to choose my seat in the airplane. How nice of them.
That is the kind of stuff that makes me want to tweet, facebook, share and talk. Exceeding expectations by an airliner (more).

Then I took a moment to read the email more carefully.

Thank you for choosing Aer Lingus for your upcoming flight.

We’ve noticed that you have not yet selected specific seats for your journey, and would like to remind you that there are several advantages to selecting your own seat onboard:

  • Ensure you sit together if you are travelling with family or friends.
  • More leg room and comfort onboard when you select an exit row seat.
  • Exit the aircraft quicker by sitting at the front of the cabin. (Rows 1-5)

And especially the table below (way below the fold) made me realize that it wasn’t so much a kind reminder as a way to make me click through and choose a specific seat.

So is this …

  1. A friendly reminder by Aer Lingus that I can choose my own seat (which happens to cost between 5 and 15 euros, a fair price)
  2. A friendly reminder by Aer Lingus that I can choose my own seat (designed to make people think it is free, but actually costs them gnagnagna)
  3. A sneaky way by Aer Lingus to make an extra buck (but what the heck, what can you expect from low cost airliners)
Whatever it is, for a moment I felt disappointed by Aer Lingus. At first, I had expected a free service, but reading more carefully gave me the impression that this is a smart and converting mechanism to lure people into paying an extra buck. Whatever it is, for me, Aer Lingus wasn’t smart in managing expectations.

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