Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Honesty the best policy

Well what a long week! I had the misfortune to be caught in the mass groundings of planes across the United States. The one shiny light was a young man who demonstrated some great leadership to those of us stranded. Let me recount what started as a straight-forward trip.

Sitting in the lounge relaxing, I've been though the fun of checking my luggage to my overseas destination I have my boarding passes in hand, an hour to wait for the first leg from Chicago to LA at 6:00 pm, with two hours to change to my international flight. Here I come home sweet home. Around 5:00 pm most of the flights suddenly come up as cancelled and we all rush to the service desk - feels a bit like a rush to get into the football finals. After years of practice at the said football games I get to the front of the queue and am lucky enough to get another flight leaving at 7:00 pm.

With this small hick-up behind me I board my new flight all set to go, surprise surprise we are delayed another 20 minutes - getting tight for my connection in LA, but I'm confident I can make it. We taxi out and then sit as a lightning storm comes across O'Hare airport closing all the runways for about 30 minutes.

"This is your Captain speaking" starts the announcement, our co-pilot doesn't have enough flying hours left to take us to LA we need to return to the terminal and get another co-pilot, so back we head to the terminal. Eventually we taxi back and the airline staff come on board.

Ladies and gents we don't have another co-pilot for this type of plane in the area and we will have to wait for one to fly in from another city! A hundred plus passengers groan in unison. After this announcement we were escorted from the plane to wait.

The one silver lining in this whole debacle was this young man from the airline who every 30 odd minutes gave us an update on what was happening. While the message was not one we wanted to hear, at least we knew what was going on. Sure there were upset passengers and about 20 of us who would miss our on-going flights.

To cut a long story short we eventually took off well after 1:00 am the next morning. Arriving very early in LA the airline representative bundled us off into a corner and advised us to wait. Lucky us some four hours later they eventually came up with a plan what to do with each of us who were stranded. In the four hours we sat around we had 3 contradicting stories and the staff continually wandered off. By the end of the four hours the group was very upset and hostile towards the staff and the airline. Yes I did get home - just a day late!

On reflection if our hosts in LA had of taken the initiative, shown some leadership and kept us informed as our host in Chicago had, we would have been in a much better frame of mind and maybe more accepting of our predicament.

What can we take away from this? When things go bad, whether its our fault or not. We need to take stock of the situation and talk to the people involved and tell them how it is and show them how you are taking steps to correct the issue and make things right.

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