Sun Country just can’t seem to the learn the lesson: Cheaper isn’t always better. Minnesota’s hometown airline has lost once loyal customers in droves as they’ve transformed into an ultra-low cost carrier and been acquired by a New York hedge fund.
Their disastrous response to weather cancellations in April left hundreds of passengers stranded in Mexico. And now, they’re rethinking their decision to lay off 20 percent of their workforce in order to hire an independent contractor for ticket counters, gate agents and ground crews.
The Star Tribune reports Sun Country and Global Aviation Services Inc. have parted ways after the contractor regularly left the airline short-staffed at its Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) hub.
Sun Country is hiring out that work on its own – at least for now. Global Aviation Services Inc. told the newspaper it ended the contract three weeks ago.
It was never smooth sailing since Global Aviation Services took over the work in May. Sun Country chief executive Jude Bricker once asked employees to help out at ticket counters or with plane trash pickup, faulting a contractor employee shortage.
Most notably, Sun Country forgot to load an entire flight’s worth of baggage for a flight from MSP to Las Vegas (LAS). Our readers have also regularly told us about long delays in the baggage area after arriving at MSP or another destination.
The service level that has been provided at MSP is not up to our standard,” Sun Country spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said. “It is not the customer-service level passengers deserve from us. We are going to do whatever we can to apologize, and hope that they’ll be patient with us.”
Airlines frequently hire out much of this work. Sun Country itself contracted with a different company for baggage handling before swapping in for Global Aviation Services. But clearly they cut too many corners for a cheaper cost, and now they’re paying the price.
That’s been par for the course for Sun Country since they changed their business model. By making more mistakes – and mishandling their response – they’ve lost a lot of the goodwill that they had built up in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Clearly, ending their relationship with Global Aviation Services was the right move. Will Sun Country permanently resume hiring for counter, gate and ground work? Will they find a suitable third-party contractor? The answer will be telling.
It’s been a rough year and change for Sun Country, but many of its errors are unforced. And they all seem to lead back to the airline’s decision to abandon its customer-focused business model and transform into a Spirit-like airline.
I use to love Sun Country and would not fly anyone else in order to support them. I waited over an hour and a half for my bag when returning from LA. I understand that things happen but they just kept saying “there is a delay with the belt” and nothing else. Even if you fly “first class” like they like to call it now (don’t get me started with the awesome boxed lunches that at pita sandwiches and a bag of potato chips) and you have “priority” on your bag tag… it still came out close to last. That’s not meant to make me sound like I’m above anyone, but when you pay for first class, you somewhat expect the perks of first class when you pay a premium price. It’s so disappointing knowing this is just going to turn into Spirit Airlines….