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What Do You Do When “It” Happens?

Reading time – 39 seconds – plus a smidgen; Viewing time – 2:07  .  .  .

I scored a fresh travel horror story recently, but this post isn’t about my lousy experience. It’s about how the airline first created it and then made things worse.

Twenty-five minutes before departure the gate attendant announced that the flight attendant hadn’t arrived. She’ll be here – some time – we were told. That’s when things got worse.

Well into our vigil we learned that our first officer had an early flight the next morning, so they sent him home, leaving us without a first  officer. That meant that we couldn’t depart when the flight attendant arrived, so we waited extra hours for a replacement first officer. The net is that instead of my arriving home around 8:30PM, it was well after 1:00AM. All of that happened not because of weather delays or a maintenance issue, but because the airline couldn’t properly staff their flights and hadn’t created a reasonable backup plan. And things got worse again.

The rather bloodless apology emailed to me refers to the airline as many times as it does to me. There’s a link to their online, automated “token of appreciation” gifts where they maintained the ratio of references to themselves; plus, they hit on me twice to get me to book a flight. That’s not counting that their “tokens of appreciation” are only good toward a small portion of the cost of a future flight.

The airline sent an email two days later requesting feedback. Although they took me through the “not happy” track of their survey, they closed it out by telling me that they are looking forward to my flying with them again soon.

All of which is to say that it’s clear that this airline’s focus is entirely on themselves. I was the customer that day and, oddly, I think their focus should have been on me.

Fully Alive Leadership is a learning laboratory, so let’s make this about you. When you fail to meet customer expectations, what do you do?

Tip for leaders: Don’t do what this airline does.

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