An Open Plea for the Return of Customer Service

On today’s episode of #airportchronicles Marta summons the power of a good night’s sleep, prayer and a positive attitude as she embarks on day 2 of her quest to return home to Lubbock. 
4:30am came too quickly as her body reminded her that it was still on central, not eastern time. So it was straight into the shower and a good hair scrubbing before completing her morning prep. 

Next came deep hydration as she downed 30oz of water as part of her treatment from yesterday’s water harvest. The complementary shuttle arrived just as she stepped out the front door and she and a few other early birds zipped the two miles back to MIA.

The American Airlines terminal was stocked to the brim with smiling, helpful agents at 5:30am. Security was moving people at supersonic speeds. Pilots and other crew were smiling and greeting passengers in the terminal left and right. 

As I passed the now empty Rebooking Center I felt a slight shudder at the memories of how long we stood in line and replaced them with the jokes and bonding that took place between my plane mates on yesterday.

When I arrived at my gate everything flowed beautifully and I again noticed that there were far more AA staff than I am accustomed to seeing, especially that early on a Sunday morning. It was almost enough to make me wonder, “Did a memo go out last night?”

I tell these stories as I travel first, because they are true but also to help diffuse the tension because no one likes this part of travel. However, this time I felt something else that I thought I’d share. 

The “people” of American Airlines worked their tales off yesterday trying to help all of the passengers who were displaced, and for that I am extremely grateful. What disturbs me is The Corporate Office’s unpreparedness for putting the needs of American Airlines (and their employees) needs first. 

There were a number of times yesterday where it was clear that Operations wanted to take steps to care for both passengers and crew but the Corporate Office procedures tied their hands. Not one of the employees said this but it was clear to the passengers what was going on. 

I miss the days when the Corporate preparedness model put customer service above cost savings. This business model may be profitable, but it isn’t how you show your customer base that you value more than just their money. It’s not just with the airlines but the last two days gave me time to think about how to to articulate these ideas that have been banging around in my head. Surely the pendulum is ready to swing back in the direction of sanity…

~ Marta C. Youngblood

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