Tag Archives: Passenger
Wichita Falls is a city of about 100,000 people in northeast Texas. It looks like there’s a lot of stunning natural beauty nearby.
But what the airport at Wichita Falls doesn’t have, apparently, is a place to get a nice meal near the airport, especially if 100 or more people unexpectedly show up all at once.
This became relevant last week, when American Airlines flight 2354 from Los Angeles to Dallas-Fort Worth was diverted there due to extreme thunderstorms. Passengers were looking at the likelihood of having to scramble to find a place to stay overnight, to say nothing of finding a bite to eat.
And the captain on their flight came up with a very simple solution.
In short, he called up the local Papa John’s and ordered 40 pizzas for his 159 passengers. As far as we know, he fronted the entire bill, $ 500 or more, himself. And his simple gesture went viral.
The captain’s name: Jeff Raines, according to CNN. His actions–in fact the moments when he found himself running back and forth from the terminal to the Papa John’s delivery car–was all captured on video by an airport worker named Josh Raines (no indication they’re related).
As Josh explained later in his Twitter feed, the passengers were going to travel the rest of the way to Dallas via bus. But Wichita Falls Municipal Airport is actually a mostly military airport, attached to Sheppard Air Force Base. It’s just not equipped for a sudden, unexpected influx of passengers.
Jeff Raines (the captain) apparently followed the whole thing up with an explanation on Facebook:
Thanks for the compliments however this was a “TEAM” effort. My First Officer was on the telephone with crew tracking / hotel desk arranging for our release and hotels for the entire crew.
The Flight Attendants manned a galley cart from the aircraft serving waters, juice, and sodas to all the passengers in the terminal. All while the Envoy SPS Personnel were arranging for a bus, re-booking flights, and answering a flurry of questions from these passengers.
Thanks to everyone for your help – there is no “I” in TEAM.
It’s unclear whether the passengers continued to Dallas via bus, as both Josh Raines and Jeff Raines seem to have suggested, or if they flew there the next morning, as American corporate P.R. says. I suspect it’s possible some passengers might have continued on to Dallas via bus; others waited for the flight the next day.
But the real point here is an airline employee taking it upon himself to do something that’s clearly not listed in the American Airlines handbook, but that has a lot of potential to increase passengers’ affinity for the airline.
We’ve seen this repeatedly lately, for example with the Southwest Airlines captain who rerouted a flight to enable a passenger to get an amazing photo of the Great American Eclipse in 2017, and the Southwest flight attendant who worked to allow a passenger who has Down syndrome to fulfill her dream, at least for a day, of working as a flight attendant.
These little actions help any business’s reputation, and they often pay big dividends. For its pilot’s $ 500 pizza outlay, American clearly got a lot more than $ 500 worth of brand equity or marketing.
It doesn’t even really matter if the passengers like pizza. Simply by making the effort, the captain bought goodwill.
“We are always proud of our crew members who take great care of our customers who fly on American Airlines,” American said in an email. “We are fortunate that our crew members are the best in the business.”
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
People look gift horses in the mouth all the time.
That horse could, after all, be Trojan and you never know what might lurk inside.
There are those, however, who truly deserve a real gift just because of who they are.
United Airlines wants to hear about those people and it wants to meet one of them in particular.
No, it doesn’t want to offer that person the job of company president.
United’s idea in this instance is to find the hardest-working person in America and send them to Tahiti for a few days.
As a little message that says: “You’re working too hard, silly. Please get a life or you’ll die.”
This little prize seems well worth winning.
It consists of a roundtrip airfare from your hometown to Tahiti — via San Francisco — for two.
In Business Class, no less.
There are three stays, totaling seven nights, at various alluring Tahiti hotels.
And, just to make your return to life all the more meaningful, you get a $ 2,000 prepaid card for meals and other expenses.
Should you be honest enough to admit you’re not the most hard-working person in America, you might choose to nominate the person who is.
It’s likely one of the people who do most of your work for you, never complain and never ask for a raise.
These days, United is desperately trying to show it has a heart. Or at least, to offer the appearance.
It offers a valuable argument by revealing that 700 million vacations days go unused every year.
Is it because people love their jobs so much that they don’t bother? Or is it, perhaps, that they’re too frightened in case their jobs disappears or is taken over by someone else?
I only have one slight worry about this well-meaning search — timed to coincide with United starting to fly nonstop from San Francisco to Tahiti.
What if the winner is someone who really is the hardest-working person in America and is one of those impossibly strange characters who really doesn’t want a vacation?
Can a boss force an employee to go to Tahiti?
Now that would be a fascinating topic for Human Resources lawyers.
Other than that, Mrs. Cannon, how was the flight?
A lot of things went wrong on Leighton and Merry Cannon’s recent trip to Europe on American Airlines. But, as Merry Cannon said in a phone call, the worst part was probably right at the very end: when she discovered a dead rat in her checked luggage.
Yes, a dead rat–“smashed,” as she put it–yet hidden, so that she wasn’t sure what was creating the “disgusting” smell that came from her bag when she picked it up at the airport. She brought it home unwittingly, despite the odor, hoping to clean and salvage at least some of her clothes.
“It smells like a dead body.”
The story began early March 5, as Merry Cannon told it. Her husband had a business trip in Germany and France, plus a short visit to London to see family. Since his mother was free to come to their house in Arkansas to take care of their two small children for a few days, Merry decided to go along.
Travel troubles mounted quickly: delayed and canceled flights, missed connections, an unplanned overnight stay in Chicago after their flight to Germany left without them, while American tried to find room for them on any airplane to Europe. Ultimately they had to fly to Brussels, Belgium instead, forgo the German part of their trip, and arrange to drive a rental car to Lille, France.
When they arrived in Belgium, however, they found that their luggage had never left Chicago. It didn’t catch up to them until their last night in France, just before their morning flight to London to see family for the day before heading back to the U.S.
Eventually, they made it home to Arkansas, and Merry collected their bags. The smell now emanating from her luggage nearly knocked her over, she said.
“Smell this,” she said to her husband.
“It smells awful!” he replied.
“It smells like a dead body.”
“It smells so gross.”
Maybe it’s “just” sewage waste from a lavatory
Leighton tried to sanitize the handle with Clorox wipes. They brought the bag to a customer service agent, who speculated that maybe it had been left on a runway in the rain at some point during the five days it took to catch up with her, and the smell was from mold.
Merry said she was skeptical, as they hadn’t noticed a smell when the luggage caught up to them in France. Perhaps, the customer service agent suggested, it had been stored under a lavatory on the plane, and sewage waste had dripped onto it.
Disgusted by that idea, Merry Cannon asked for a garbage bag or something to avoid taking the bag. But the agent told her the airline would only compensate her for destroyed luggage if she first brought everything home, tried to wash it, and offered evidence that it didn’t work.
The Cannons threw the bag in the back of their truck, and left it on the back porch of their house when they got home. The next morning, Merry Connor opened it, pulled out a few articles of clothing, and held her nose. She dropped them in the washing machine with vinegar, bleach, Tide, and OxiClean.
It barely had an effect. Disgusted, she walked back to the porch. And then she saw the dead rat.
Her reaction: “I’m surprised the people next door, building a house–the construction workers–didn’t call the police. I screamed, ran inside, started washing my hands over and over. I was just crying.”
“Your biggest concern would be bubonic plague”
She called American Airlines. They told her to photograph everything in the bag, and to put in a claim. The person she spoke with at the airline was apologetic, she said, and promised that the airline would pay for everything.
Then she called the county health department.
“This is awful,” she said the health department official told her when she described the rat situation. “I’ve never heard of anything like this. Your biggest concern would be bubonic plague.”
“The plague? What am I, in a sitcom?” She thought about her two young children. Had she unwittingly brought a bubonic plague-infested rat into their home?
“Rats carry the plague,” the heath official told her. “Your other worry would be fleas. That’s what carries disease.” Later, he added, “Burning garbage is illegal, but that bag needs to be burned.”
Merry and Leighton took photos, and disposed of the bag and its contents. She said she hoped American Airlines would make her whole–at least for the actual value of the things she lost.
“I realize this is not the outcome you requested”
An American Airlines representative emailed her, saying the airline would pay her $ 1,648, “maximum liability set by the Montreal Convention … for a trip with an international flight.”
“I realize this is not the outcome you requested,” said the note, which was signed by a “specialist, central baggage,” in the Central Baggage Resolution Office. “[H]owever, I appreciate this opportunity to address your concerns and explain our position. We hope you will give American Airlines another chance to earn your business.”
I asked American Airlines for comment. Here’s their statement:
We have apologized and are not aware of any similar issues of a rat making its way into a checked bag before. While we are unable to determine if the issue occurred in the United States or overseas, we did apologize to the customer, and they were compensated earlier this month.
NOTE: Based on the Montreal Convention and applicable international tariffs, liability limitations for international travel are 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) per ticketed passenger. This applies to all airlines for international travel. SDR (Special Drawing Rights) is an International Monetary Fund unit of currency. SDR’s will be converted to U.S. Dollars using the rate in effect on the mishandled baggage settlement date. That is what was compensated. If you convert 1,131 to U.S. dollars, it is around $ 1,600.
It wasn’t enough, Merry Cannon replied. The bag itself was a Samsonite that cost $ 300, she said, and she had three pairs of boots that cost $ 200 each, “plus I had dressy clothes, and workout clothes.” Some of the things she’d brought were brand new, and stillahd the tags on them.
Cannon said she tried several more times to get someone from American to discuss her case, and see if she could get anything beyond the $ 1,600, but to no avail. Eventually, she posted the photo of the rat and her story on Facebook and Twitter.
“You could have just paid me for my bag, and none of this would have been out here,” she said. “I’m never flying with them again.”