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A change of tune.

Old 04-04-2009, 08:01 PM
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Default A change of tune.

The regulars on here will have seen me bitch quite often about airlines and what a pain it is to fly these days.

So to be fair to them I now want to post a good story. Something that just happened this evening.

Yesterday around 5pm my wife got a call from her mother. She was in her home in England and the paramedics and a neighbor were there with her. She could hardly talk but was able to tell my wife that she couldn't breath and was being taken to hospital.

My MIL was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis about 6 months ago and is on oxygen and meds. She has had two "controlled" hospital stays during the past two months. But this seemed to be the escalation that doctors had warned us about.

My wife is an only child of a divorced mother. Living in a different continent has always been hard on them, but obviously it has been tougher recently.

So I was able to get my wife on a flight from Jacskonville to Newark and then from Newark to Manchester today.

First kudo to Continental. I am a frequent flyer on about 5 airlines. I have miles on them all but only Continental had multiple options for using miles the same day. Cost if I had to pay was between $1300 and $2600. Cost with continental was 50K miles and $171 for taxes and fees.

I dropped the wife off for her 4:55 flight from JAX. Bang, the flight was delayed. She finally took off at 7:45, with an estimated arrival into terminal A in Newark at 9:50. Her next flight was from terminal C at 10:00.

She took off and I came home to an email from Continental saying in case she does not make her connection they have already confirmed her on the first flight out tomorrow. Second Kudo for their automated tracking system.

I used FlightAware to watch both the flight she was on and the departure time of the Manchester flight.

The Manchester flight continued to show an on-time departure. Then at about 9:30 it changed, saying that it would be delayed, and the reason given in parenthesis was "awaiting customer".

My wife called me at 10:15. She told me she was on the plane to Manchester.

She had spoken to the stewardess on the Jax flight and told her about her mother. The stewardess came back a few minutes later and told her that they had radioed ahead and made Newark aware. I'm guessing that is why the status of the Manchester flight changed. I can imagine that airline personnel get to hear many a BS story but for some reason that crew accepted her situation. Third kudo.

Next, by the time she got off the first plane it was 10pm. She had to get to the other end of the airport. They directed her to the shuttle bus door that would allow her to bypass security. She told the guy manning it that she really had to make this flight. He told her that a bus would be along to take her over in a few minutes. I guess she looked upset. A bus driver who was sitting nearby told her to come with him. He went out to a darkened bus, put her on it and took her, a single passenger, over to her departure terminal.

As she got to the gate the attendant there asked if she was Mrs L. She said yes and thanked him for holding the plane. His response "It's OK, we have a guy laying on the ground holding the wheels, it isn't going anywhere without you!" This is an international flight.

So she is on her way.

I wonder how many of those times I bitched about delayed flights, and the reason was that the airline was being accomodating to a similar situation.

Lesson learned. And a thank you letter will soon be winging its way to Continental.
Old 04-04-2009, 10:11 PM
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Wow! Great to hear success stories about American companies. Hope all turns out as best as possible given your mil's condition.
Old 04-05-2009, 04:54 AM
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It always amazes me that much of the corporate world fails to realize that just treating people in a courteous and thoughtful manner is the best advertising they can buy. And it costs so little. Some day maybe they will all learn that.......and management will remember it for more than one quarter.
Old 04-05-2009, 09:47 AM
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Truly unbelievable from an airline, at least there are some that do not operate like a cattle hauler.
Old 04-05-2009, 04:31 PM
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Menzies, that is truly good customer service and I am glad that your wife got to where she needed to be. I have not flown to England or anywhere else in Europe, but I wonder if there was another connecting flight at the stop in England for another passenger on board your wife's flight. What if someone else misses their connection because the airline waited? Again, I am very glad it worked out for you, and if the only difference it made was that the plane was a little later getting to England than that is great. If it meant that someone else ended up missing a flight and had to spend a day in an airport in England than maybe it was not such a great move. I guess it all depends on which side of the equation you are on. Right now, there might be some guy typing on the Italian Birdwatching and Quilting Forum that he lost a day of his pursuit of the Sicilian Red-Breasted Myna because the airline waited for some chick that can't get to the airport on time.
I guess it all depends on the explanation given to the passengers while they were waiting. I hope things go well for you MIL and I also hope you enjoyed my feeble attempt at humor.
Old 04-05-2009, 04:37 PM
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I understand what you are saying - which is why I ended with what I did. I wonder how many times I was on the wrong end before!
Frankly on a 7-8 hour flight they can make up 15-20 minutes if they have to.
Old 04-05-2009, 08:30 PM
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I did not go back and read the timing when I posted, so I did not realize what the exact delay was. I still think it was good customer service and something that more airlines need to try to do. No hard feelings I hope.
Old 04-05-2009, 10:18 PM
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Menzies, Hope all is well with your MIL. I am very close to mine who also is having problems with her health. I wish you and yours the best in these troubling times.
Old 04-06-2009, 06:48 AM
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Great story. Good customer service is such a thing of the past anymore it seems. Glad to hear that one customer is happy out there. Hope everything with the family works out.
Old 04-06-2009, 08:25 AM
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I have another good story. I recently flew to Phoenix on Delta. During this trip one of the steerage class passengers decided to use the first class toilet. Anyhoo, after dropping what must have been a few pounds of nine week old crap in the toilet...he exited the restroom and left the door cracked open. Most of my fellow elite travelers were gagging and choking when a Delta cocktail waitress rushed forward, closed the door and apologized to the first class section for what had just happened. Given her heroic efforts.....I didn't make one complaint over the soft green beans and overcooked fillet mignon she served me that day.
Old 04-06-2009, 09:49 AM
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GREAT story. Hope your MIL makes out OK. Good luck to your wife with a stressful situation.
Old 04-06-2009, 11:45 AM
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Glad your wife was able to make all of the connections, hope everything works out well for you MIL.

I did not see anything in your story that was extraordinary. It's all pretty much the norm with regard to making connection for int'l travel with the same airlines. Perhaps it appears more significant to you considering the importance of the trip. Try making those connections when you are traveling competing airlines, you'll have a totally different story to tell; e.g. Delta is not going to hold a plane for your wife is she is coming in on a delayed United flight -- but Delta will hold the plane until all passengers from connecting Delta flights arrive. That is typical, happens all day, every day, every airline does it without a need to request it.
Old 04-06-2009, 04:13 PM
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In this day of employees not giving a damn about customers (I say employees not companies, because the actual employees are who customers deal with) I like hearing about any positive stories, weather it be a simple pair of Costa del Mars (another thread) or traveling across the pond on a silver bird.

My Mom and other family members have past away with cancer and my Dad is a cancer survivor with multiple other health issues but is still kickin. Family stress over health issues is no picnic.

The least little bit of respect and understanding from a stranger at these stressful times goes a l o n g way. Even if it is S.O.P. for the business, the employees are suppose to make you feel special. In her case, I'm glad they did.

Wishing you and your family the best.

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