Last week I had the pleasure of sharing with you the great story about flying out of the Kansas City International Airport and the service from American Airlines and FirstLine a security company doing business with the TSA folks. Sunday I spent 22 hours traveling from Florida to Iowa...
Today it isn't so bad...because I am gratefully home but yesterday was a real interesting day.
I'd been at the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association Spring Conference in Panama City. I had decided to drive the distance from Fort Walton Beach to Panama City (70 miles) because the flight was about $300 cheaper and I needed a vehicle while at the conference anyway.
Arrival was great. However leaving was a new story...and something we might learn from if you are interested in customer service.
I had a 6am flight out of Ft. Walton Beach...so I was up and out the hotel door by 3:30am. Arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. The ticket counter folks didn't get in until 5am and when they did...nice folks at American Airlines.
Flight was supposed to take off at 6am...but it was delayed for a bit. Something was not right, lots of noise coming from the rear of the Brazilian manufactured aircraft. We're wheels up at 6:50, climb to about 14,000 feet headed west to Dallas. All of a sudden the aircraft banks left, quickly. We start a rapid decent and we're now headed east. I nudge the person next to me and say..."Ahhhh, too quick a turn, too quick a drop and we're headed back to Ft. Walton Beach...in a hurry."
Broken airplane. Something about the cargo door in the rear. I think it failed to latch correctly. We landed, got off the plane and waited. And, waited, and waited. Not much from anybody other than a few announcements. Then the bags came off the aircraft and we figured we were done. But not much info from the desk. The crew left...we figured it was a safe bet we were not going back on.
Sure it was Sunday morning...and sure the American Airlines employee was swamped. But anxious passengers should have been given a heads up. American Airlines...as far as I could tell have only one bay at Ft. Walton Beach...but there were 36 anxious passengers.
Some of us were driven to Pensacola, FL at 11am and waited until 3:30pm for a flight to Dallas. By the way, the friendly American Airlines employees we experienced in Kansas City need to train the folks at Pensacola....not a smile among the bunch.
Got home at about 1AM on Monday...22 hours after I left the hotel in Florida.
Bottom line: Customer service...is important all the time. I'm grateful the crew did the right thing and turned that aircraft around. But, the understaffed ground crew needed some help. It would have been nice to have seen some other folks jump in and move things along. Teamwork works...even in the airline industry. (Maybe the unions don't allow?) And, when dealing with some stressed folks...information is helpful.
Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications where you can always reach us by clicking here.