The above is a tweet from the well known flight attendant Heather Poole and it is a reference to the ESPN announcer who blew up and was very mean to a towing company employee. The tweet is in regards to the character of the person in question, but I think there is more to be taken away from this and what everyone who travels often knows and just “does” right.
Let’s first off be very honest about this. Unless we are talking about your home town airport or something similar, “most” folks in the travel industry, be it a phone rep or a flight attendant, you will only see or talk to once in your lifetime. Sure there are exceptions, but most times this is the fact of the matter. I mean, I flew well over 120 segments last year and saw the same flight attendant only once.
So with that, does how you interact with folks matter? You better believe it does!
There are two big factors at play when it comes to your interactions with those in the travel industry. The first simple one is they are deserving of your kindness, respect and appreciation for what they do (likely for less money per year than you make). They put up with less than nice people all day long and THEY, most times, smile back at you. Keep that bit in mind and please try to always smile when you greet them! I do.
The next one is much more selfish, but after all we are the ones trying for an upgrade, a better route, room or something we want. If by just being a nice person, that we should be anyway, we can get more for us that is just icing on the cake – right?
For example, when you call Delta, please do this (not word for word but as an example):
Rep answers phone: Hello this is Bob how may I help you Mr. de Lambert?
Me: Hello Bob, how are you today? (smile, it will come through on the phone)
Rep: I am good thank you for asking.
Me: I am calling about XYZ
Rep: OK I have it how can I help you.
You now ask the rep for whatever it is you want to have happen. It may be simple or it may be hard. It may be inside the rules or it may be outside the rules. Just remember we are talking airline rules not laws of the land. You are not going to go to jail if a rep breaks a rule for you, but you also don’t want to get them in any trouble. You want to be their friend, even if just for this call.
Me: Can we possibly switch me to ZYX from XYZ due to (whatever)
Rep: Let me look. No, that is not going to work.
Me: Bob (notice I saved the rep’s name and I USE IT), I don’t want to get you in any kind of trouble. Is this a situation a supervisor could do something to help “us” out?
You see what I am doing here. It is now “us”, you and the rep, working to get what you want done and the team of you and Bob are going to plead to the next one up the food chain to help the both of “us” out!
You can really apply this to almost any travel situation. Even IF the rep on the other side is short, nasty and unhelpful with you – do NOT push back. Smile again. Thank them warmly and move on. Find someone else who will help you get what you need.
I know this can be hard if you have, say, been flying for a day or two and are beat, want a shower and food and sleep and the rep across the line or desk is not being helpful at all, but do remember cameras are EVERYWHERE and ending up on youtube or CNN is not #Winning. Winning is getting what you need and feeling good about yourself at the end of the travel day!- René