Well, I am interrupting my Spring Break to step on to my soap box. It is not often that I use this space to do that, but today, I feel warrants it! I have come home to visit with my family over the Easter holiday and I was so very lucky that after spending time with my sister and 7 month old niece, the two of them travelled with me to see our Mom and Dad.
Yesterday, my sister and niece headed back home to Virginia and spent the entirety of their day in the airport. Now, I know this is nothing new, being a frequent traveller, I have had this happen many a time, I am sure many of you have had that happen. One flight after another cancelled, delayed. No one wants to tell you what is going on, a string of inconsistent reports, grumpy people all around.
My sister’s flight was delayed by over 4 hours and if it wasn’t for the only kind gentleman at the gate she would have been delayed a lot longer, but he got her on a flight. She was guaranteed to be on her original flight connection from Chicago to Virginia. However when she arrived the flight was delayed. That delay went on and on and on.
Now, here’s the thing, my sister doesn’t care to fly, she was on her own with a baby and carrying all the things a mama has to carry and you can say what you want, I am sure some people are rolling their eyes, they have been there done that, well, that might be true, but this is MY sister and niece we are talking about it and they are two of the most important people to me, so it doesn’t matter what anyone else has or hasn’t done, my focus was on them.
Her husband and my dad were on the phone with United Airlines trying to help her, because no one at the United counter was. My mom and I were doing what we could from the computer. She finally got on a flight, after spending almost 5 hours in the airport, with one spare bottle left for the baby, both parties exhausted but trying to keep their spirits up. And if you saw my niece, your spirits would always be lifted. She has the kindest little soul and she is such a happy, well loved little baby.
I know that 5 hours does not seem like a lot of time, but my sister had only packed 3 bottles, she was supposed to have a quick turn around. She had planned for a bit of extra time, but not almost 5 hours of extra time with a little girl who at that time would have already been home and in her bed.
My sister and niece were blessed to sit next to an angel who just kept talking away to them; while her husband drove over 3 hours to the airport to pick up his girls since they had been rerouted. I am blessed, I have a wonderful family. I am also blessed that not only do I love the person that my sister married, I truly like him as well.
As a trained Jedi, he knew what needed to be done and picked up a case of water and extra formula and packed extra bottles. He also had an intuition that after almost 5 hours in the airport that United Airlines would not manage to get my sister’s luggage or the baby’s carrier on the plane, because that would have been too easy. So, he went to pick up a new one. Well, he was RIGHT. The airline had lost my sister’s luggage and the baby’s carrier.
Another unexpected expense added to their trip was the purchase of a brand new baby carrier. What if they weren’t able to do that? What would have happened? They couldn’t legally have driven a baby home on their laps for a 3 hour car ride. United Airlines could have cared less.
You know, a lot is happening in the world right now. People are working harder then ever to keep their jobs, to keep a roof over their head, to put food on their table. Any business, I don’t care how big or how small you are, should be honoured that you have a patron. You should care for that patron. Where has the art of customer service gone? Where have simple acts of decency gone, where a young mother would have been helped, where the airline would have done everything for her to make things smoother. Where they would do anything for a passenger to make things smoother. Unfortunately, you are at their mercy and they are fully aware of that.
Our prayers were answered that my sister and niece landed safely. My niece made the trip smoothly, as this was only her second time flying, we all were praying she would do well. My sister the excellent Mama she is, thought on her feet as all good Mamas do and kept everything just ticking along for her little love bug of a baby. But, what she endured yesterday, well, in my book there is just no excuse for. United Airlines did nothing. I did something I wouldn’t normally do, I took my soap box over to Twitter to air my views.
The best United Airlines could do, was send me the link to their Customer Service page. I wanted more. It is my baby sister and niece they were in charge of caring for and I was not impressed. I know they have thousands of individuals to deal with, yet each should be treated like they are the only ONE, that is the art of customer service.
As we become more and more machine orientated, as the art of conversation and letter writing begin to disappear, I hope that there are a number of us who continue to fight for politeness, decency, kindness, strong values and standards, people to people customer service and care. We should not forget our humanity. We should not forget to commit random acts of kindness. We should not forget to care for each other like we would want our own loved ones cared for. We should not forget the art of customer service.
I’m stepping off my soap box, thanks for listening.