It seems like every time I travel I come home and have some story about crazy passengers, annoying TSA agents, and just the overall experience of flying the [un]friendly skies. Yes, I am picky, but I also think we’ve lost the service out of customer service… which means the customer is left hanging. As companies fight for market share what many are finding is that service is actually what sets many companies apart. Think Zappos or Nordstroms.
I just came across this story back from May 2015 where Southwest Airlines elevated their service game. After reviewing a few articles about her story, here is a recap of what happened:
A woman is on a Southwest plane flying from Chicago to Columbus finds out her son is in a coma after an accident. The plane turns back to the gate and the flight attendant asks her to get off. At the gate they told her to call her husband. She finds out that her son, who lives in Denver, is in a coma after a head injury. This is what Southwest does:
_Offered her a private waiting area
_Rerouted her luggage
_Allowed her to board first
_Packed a lunch for when she got off the plane in Denver
_Her luggage was delivered to where she was staying in Denver
_She received a call from Southwest asking how her son was doing
Amazing right? Yet, should it be? I wish we did not think that was stellar service. I want that to be the normal type of service that we can expect. How often does this type of tragic thing happen to folks? Often. People travel to sick, hurt, and dying loved ones, but so often we do not know their story. The morale is — how can we raise the bar and make what Southwest did for this woman the norm?
Somehow every time I come back from a trip I have annoying airplane stories. For my flights to/from Maui I think the worst was the woman sitting directly behind us on our way to Maui who literally (I am not exaggerating in the least) talked for the entire flight. How the poor woman sitting next to her made it through the flight I will never know. Chris kept offering me his noise canceling headphones but I do not think I should have to block it all out. Rather I think that individuals need to have more self-awareness! Especially when you have a high-pitched voice.
I did tell Chris that he can NEVER tell me I talk too much. I do not think I could ever talk for that long!
The next story has nothing to do with my trip but was an article I read last week about a man on a Portland bound Jet Blue flight that was sleeping and woke up and began peeing on neighboring passengers and their belongings. What, what, what? What is wrong with people these days? What has happened to the art of traveling, the luxury, and the excitement? We no longer seem to care about what is happening around us.
I definitely think a lot before traveling these days. What will my TSA experience be like? What will my overall travel experience be like, and how will the other passengers around me act? A colleague of mine’s spouse is a flight attendant, and they share horrifying stories about the things that people do on airplanes. We need to elevate our travel experiences both for ourselves and those around us.
Chris and I just got back from a babymoon in Maui. Ah, it is so nice to be home, but ah, it was just so nice to be away.
The last time we were on that island, we were on our honeymoon 12 years ago. We found quite a few new areas that we fell in love with this time and asked ourselves why did we not find them before? Ah, yes, the Internet. After Chris and I ran off to Kauai all those years ago and got married on a beach, we spent a few hours posting photos from our wedding in Kauai to our website for friends and family to see. We remembered how slow it was and how long it took over what was not called dial-up but should have been, and how expensive it was because we were paying by the minute. Since the Internet was not a big thing in all Hawaii resorts at the time, we were at the mercy of guidebooks, maps, and word of mouth.
This time we had word of mouth from friends that frequent Maui often AND the Internet. We found two little towns on the road to Hana that were perfect for us. No, we did not drive the road all the way to Hana. I am not sure I could have handled it with how many times I have to pee per hour, and sometimes the winding turns makes my big belly a bit queasy. 12 years ago we never explored the east side of the island (only the west and south parts). This time we found: Paia and Makawao.
Paia is on the way to Hana and is on the Hana Highway. It is right on the water and the beaches that neighbor this small strip of a town are ones that in the winter have the massive waves that attract surfers from all over. So Paia could be called a surfer town, but without all the cheese and touristy feel of say a Lahaina (sorry for those of you Maui buffs that love Lahaina). It is an old sugar plantation town. I kept trying to rack my brain for what Paia felt like to me. It was like an Ojai, California in Hawaii with more shops and restaurants. It felt natural and real without the pretentiousness of the shops in Wailea that bring those from the neighboring Four Seasons resort. It inspired my senses and creativity.
Then we drove down Baldwin Ave to Makawao. I had heard about Makawao because of the famous “malasadas” known mostly in Honolulu at Leonard’s Bakery. Since we were not going to Honolulu, I wanted to try what I could in Maui. A little Internet research told me that T Komoda Bakery was one of the places to go to try their version. So of course I wanted to continue south on Baldwin to explore Makawao and get a malasada. I found another interesting little town, inland, but just as charming. Almost as though you were going to be in wine country, only you are actually in cattle country. Galleries, boutiques, and restaurants down another cute strip.
Oh, and guess what? T Komoda Bakery was on vacation from the day we arrived for 3 weeks. So no malasadas, but we found two great towns that will be on the list the next time we are back in Maui. And yes we still got malasadas – thank you to Home Maid Bakery. They do not start making their evening batch until 4 pm, and on our way back from Paia and Makawao were an hour early and they still made us a dozen!
I am glad to be home in my bed, but I do already miss paradise and my daily dose of shave ice!
This week, Chris and I were pondering the last 12+ years and how we know when we feel settled with decisions. Sometimes we know right away and other times it takes a bit longer for the decision to feel right. Sometimes he knows so clearly, and sometimes it is me. It really depends on what the decision is, how big it is, how costly and its impact on our lives.
A plane ticket: I will not purchase it until it feels right to me. I have had quite a few occasions when the trip changed drastically, and I saved a lot of change fees because I had waited to purchase the ticket.
Furniture or large house items: Usually I am not as picky as Chris is – I know when I like something and I know when I do not like it, but we have a rule that we both need to like, want, and appreciate it before we make a large purchase. Sometimes I can push the envelope a bit and continue to show him different options because I am not set on his choice. Other times all the other options still lead us back to our original choice.
Large financial decisions: These always get me to slow down to a snail’s pace. I hate spending money, and even though not all financial decisions are spending money — they could be about investing money. I still want to look at it front and back and all angles to make sure we are making the smartest choice. Nothing wrong with that.
Food: If I know I do not want something I voice it, but generally, I just want Chris to decide on food. If something sounds amazing, I will state that, and whatever sounds nasty I will state that too, but I have way to many other decisions to make in my day, the last one I care about is food!
What I find interesting — on most things at work I know fairly quickly what feels right to me, but at home I tend to hem and haw about decisions. Maybe because it might be a large purchase, or a decision that is extremely permanent. Maybe it is also because Chris and I always make our decisions together. Regardless of whether the decision is at home or work, it is always important to feel settled, happy, and content with your decision. You have to live with it and the consequences.
I am not the best airplane traveler. Chris is a trooper to put up with me. I just get cranky. I think I would have been a good match for traveling in the ’60’s minus having to dress up — or maybe I would even opt for dressing up versus the cattle farm process it feels like now.
We just came back from visiting my niece. Security was horrid. They only had one body scanner open, with two lines feeding the one scanner. Approximately twenty TSA employees for the one scanner (with quite a few standing around). It took forever. It was the slowest security line I think I have been in. Not to mention they were pushing all personal belongings through so that all the people were backed up but you no longer could see your stuff. A TSA agent was picking stuff out of bins because the personal items were so backed up. Frustrating because things were not where you left them. By the time we got to our stuff we were completely frustrated. I mean how long do you want to stand barefoot on the nastiest of floors, hoping you do not get the rub down from TSA?
By the time we got our luggage I could not NOT say something. I did and the guy said: “here our supervisor is right here.” I said something to the effect of: “how can you do this every day and night and still have such a backed up process? Folks are missing their flights because they had to wait so long, and you should never force passengers to be separated from their luggage.” His response was “you could stay with your luggage.” I said: “How? They are pushing us through and you would then never make it through security.” As I rolled my eyes and walked away.
It baffles me. Airport security is not rocket science. It is a fairly repetitive process that should be able to work like clockwork. There were a lot of better choices they could have made. All those TSA folks standing around? Open another line. Have TSA actually provide good customer service for those traveling. We do not have any other choice. Save us all some pain, and ensure that folks make their flight. Seems simple to me.