How much should you pay for a sandwich?



Tuesday: up at 04.00 to leave the house at 04.30 to catch a flight from Heathrow.

I needed to fill up with petrol on the way to the airport. So I stopped at the 24 hour BP petrol station near my house. I needed to wait for the attendant to wake up to allow me to spend £50. I didn’t think much more about this poor level of service until I arrived at Heathrow.

The Iberia self check-in service failed so I had to queue for 25 minutes to check-in. The ritual undressing through security followed: shoes off, coat off, jacket off, watch off, belt off…then there was no convenient place to get dressed again.

In turn this meant that I arrived at the gate just in time to board the plane. No opportunity for breakfast, coffee or anything! Of course the plane took off 25 minutes late.

My Iberia ticket to Madrid was well over £600. Bought at short notice, fully flexible for a variable business stay, I could probably accept this. That is of course if the flight delivered refreshments! I’m being a little unfair here as there was a refreshment trolley. I was lucky, I was in the third row of economy, and when they got to me the sandwich choice was down to one only. So much for the glossy menu. The row behind me, still miles from the back of the plane, had no sandwiches at all. The really galling thing about it all is that a club sandwich (and not a very good advert for the genre either) and a coffee cost 10.5 Euros.

There was a chance that I could have just nodded off and put all this down to modern standards. But instead I started reading Market Leader, the journal of the Marketing Society: page after page of articles about delivering great service in service industries. I felt inspired by the thoughts of opportunities and at the same time depressed from my consumer experiences of the day.

Coming home was a British Airways flight. Guess what? Three choices of food, all available and all made quite recently…and they were free (well, included in the £600). Thank you BA! How daft is that…I’m thanking BA for a service level that I would expect.

Anyway, being a positive chap, I took it all as a learning experience. And I could have been trying to fly into Heathrow today after the Boeing 777 crash. I could have been hours late.

I’ve had a couple of meetings today about new business opportunities and I have to say that service delivery has been very much front of mind for me.

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