Way to go, Delta and United. Four Thumbs Up!

Many of us have experienced flight delays and in the past, we might have a flight that would push back from the gate only to sit on the tarmac for many hours waiting for takeoff. Some may recall planes sitting out there for eight hours while passengers were stuck inside, sometimes without food or water.

Fortunately those days are pretty much behind us but there are still cases where delays, especially caused by weather, can leave us sitting on a plane for what feels like an eternity until the aircraft can get clearance for takeoff. After two blistering blogs about changes in Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program rules, it is time for one about something that actually helped their passengers.

As reported here, this Delta flight was rerouted due to weather and fuel concerns. Instead of making the passengers suffer endlessly sitting on the tarmac awaiting that precious traffic control clearance, the airline became very proactive. Imagine you are sitting on that plane in a cramped seat when suddenly you look out the window and see a police car, lights flashing, coming to your plane with 60 pizzas. A photo op for sure and a small, inexpensive gesture that will never be forgotten by these passengers.

United Airlines also made headlines recently because of very heroic behavior. First reported by Christopher Elliot, a passenger desperately wanted to see his dying mother before her final breath. What the airline did was above and beyond. This two-tissue heartwarming story required lots of coordination, timing, and cooperation, but United made something happen that all of us would appreciate.

Both are great examples of airlines putting their passenger needs first but of course, I use the term “airlines” very generously because they really did not do anything. It was the employees of the airlines who deserve all the praise. With acts like these happening so infrequently (which is why they make headlines), the feeling is that these employees actually went outside airline rules to make them happen. Could they be dismissed for what they did? Perhaps, but seriously would any airline fire employees for such selfless acts of kindness? The cynic in me says yes but the optimist side says that the airlines should lavishly reward such behavior.

With somewhat similar products and fares, airlines have pushed themselves into been seen as a commodity. Yes, there are some differences but most passengers believe that price and route are more important than anything else. However, perceived customer service also receives high marks. Southwest Airlines often earns praise for outstanding customer service but for the others, it is easily the exception.

It would be nice one day to see stories like these as everyday events. Indeed there are many unreported instances of outstanding airline customer service daily. Sure, they are not all headline-making as these two but good customer service pays for itself. These employees are the airline ambassadors who deal with passengers and their actions can make or break a relationship that can have a lifetime impact.

Kudos to the Delta and United employees for stepping up and hitting home runs. It would be nice to learn that these are not one-off events.

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