What every successful frequent traveler knows & what a difference this can make.

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how you treat others

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
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21 comments

  1. well said–applies to every interaction in life. “Winning” is also possibly making someone’s day by just being pleasant, smiling, saying please and thank you. It’s simple.

    Thank you, René for your blog. I enjoy reading it and learning from you every day.

    Bruce

  2. Let’s say I do this and follow your advice. The first phone agent says no. I call back and get another agent. Does it show up the computer that Bob, the first agent, just spoke to me and said no?

  3. @FNT – Most times No. They CAN note the record but you have to be really bad for that to happen. Again, be nice, and much less of a chance that happens.

  4. i tried the above to get a same day change to an earlier flight on sunday since i am diamond thought it would work but was told in U and H class and the 4 planes goingto my destination did not have any U and H class seats left so NO can do the supervisor in cinn.ohio agreed so no go…!!!new rules i ws told,,,but if DL changes u toanother flight taat is OKKKK ???

  5. Nicely done Rene.

    Being nice should be the norm for all of us.

    Thanks for your ongoing insights.

  6. You’re right and you make me feel bad for arguing with the bag police this morning

  7. You’re right and you make me feel bad for arguing with the bag police this morning…even though my bag fit in the bin thing and the gate agent said it was fine, the bag policeman said that I had to check it because the wheels were sticking out….I was like “it fits and the gate agent agreed”! Then he told me that he’d put a priority tag on it and I said that didn’t mean anything and took my bag tag and poured intil I fell asleep on the plane. In my defense, I didn’t yell or name call, just argued. Argh. I guess next time I’ll try to not argue and just be nice even if I am getting the short end of the stick.

  8. Once upon a time, some guy was being a real jerk with the gate agent – shooting the messenger for a situation beyond the agent’s control. I stepped up to the counter, told the dude to chill and treat the person trying to help him with more respect. You can probably guess who got upgraded to 1st class – and, hint, it wasn’t the rude dude. Be nice!

    Thanks Rene for another good blog. Too bad you have to teach manners to adults! Cheers, Scott

  9. Rene – Have you seen the latest points offer from Citi? Do the points transfer to Delta? I’ve looked and can’t seem to find anything, but, maybe I just looked in the wrong place. Thanks for your help as always!

  10. @Pam – Yep and you can get it from ME and support the blog: http://www.DeltaPoints.com/bwm
    .
    They do NOT transfer to Delta. You can send to Flying Blue and then fly Delta or spend like cash and fly Delta and earn points too! 🙂
    .
    It is perfect timing for Lisa’s next round of cards. #Winning

  11. Great suggestions as always Rene. FYI, I also find inviting them to call me by my first name instead of Mr. at the beginning of the conversation also helps establish an us relationship.

  12. After reading about it on Rants of a Sassy Stew, I began purchasing $5 Starbucks coffee cards and began handing them out to the lounge staff and gate attendants and flight crews.

    Several times I was introduced to the pilots and we shook hands, I’d board the plane and hand the cards to the FA saying “get yourself a coffee after the flight.” One time I was the only first class passenger between Montreal and Halifax and the flight director said it was the first time in 7 years this had happened.

    Like you say Rene, these folks are usually treated badly, it’s easy to make their day.

  13. Coming from a Res Agent, a few things.

    The good Agents will notate the record anytime something is asked outside the norm. Not being malicious, just informing the next agent should the passenger play Agent Roulette (we know it’s a common thing).

    So even if it’s something as simple as a change fee waiver, I, and many others, document. Takes 5 seconds.

    You definitely do much better by being nice rather than mean. Agents have tons of power (or can get someone with tons of power) to do just about anything. They just need to be able to justify it, and they certainly aren’t going to stick their neck out for a rude person.

    That being said, I disagree with you on your phrasing. The name thing doesn’t matter. At all. And it comes off as fake, which we see through. And asking if a supervisor can get involved immediately after they say no doesn’t work, for a few reasons. #1, you’re challenging (even if you’re being nice about it) the intelligence/authority of the agent. It’s annoying, and it doesn’t make the Agent want to help you at all. #2, depending who you talk to, you could find yourself immediately transferred to a Supe (as training says as soon as someone wants to escalate they always do that). While a Supe has more power and more discretion, you’re likely not going to win many battles and don’t have any farther up the food chain to go (And Supes document EVERYTHING).

    In my experience, if you’re asking for something outside the rules, the best way to go about it is to do a few things.

    #1 Be nice, of course. Courtesy goes a long way. We get tons of requests for waivers and the mean folks don’t have a chance.

    #2 Acknowledge up front you know you’re asking for something outside the norm. I absolutely love when customers do this, as they realize the expectations. I’m so much more likely to help bend the rules if they understand they’re asking for a favor.

    #3 Admit fault, if applicable. Ties in to #2, but if you’ve screwed up a reservation, let me know. We all make mistakes, and if there’s a way we can help, we generally will. Don’t try and make it out that we/the website/travel agent messed up if it was really you.

    #4 Try and meet halfway. If you’re asking an Agent to waive a fee and fare difference, you’re likely out of luck. It’s much, much harder to waive a fare difference…but a change fee is easier. Sure, aim high. But agents hate saying 100% no to nice people, and will try and do SOMETHING for you.

    Agents have more power than you realize. A decision on WHAT can be done rarely has to go to a supervisor. The HOW may need to be done by someone else, but that’s the easy part.

    – Tom

  14. Was on the DM desk line 35 minutes last night trying to get some Comfort+ seats worked out with some KLM flights (DL coded.) “DM do not get Comfort seats on KLM.” Wrong. After 10 minutes, “I got the seats for you. It will be 150 Euros.” Wrong. After 10 minutes, “I had a lot of trouble but I have them for you now.” Not a peek about being so mis-informed or for the long wait. When she said KLM did not offer the seats I should have hung up but this was the JV special Delta/KLM desk. Pat me on the back. I kept my cool and thanked her. Wish I would have agreed to take the 1 minute survey after the call and given her a 1!

  15. It’s all about how you want to go thru life.

    An Angry Jack
    or Cool Guy/Girl.

    Who would you rather be?

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