On A Wing and Some Air

Joint effort between rival airlines works out for passenger

Joint effort between rival airlines works out for passenger

It’s been a long interesting year in the airline industry for 2015. This year started off a little rough, in the first 6 months alone we saw United Airlines cabin crew members being fired after refusing to fly over security concerns and stowaway scorpions attacking passengers. That was followed by United being fed up with your over-packed bags, planes landing without wheels, a real life House of Cards aviation scandal in Washington, and an American Airlines executive being arrested in a child sex sting. As if that wasn’t fun and exciting enough, there was a fatal crash when pilots turned off the wrong engine, bomb threats, a crazy cat lady, a crazy lady who can’t stop sneaking on board airplanes, introduction of electrocuting business class seats, to a Russian aircraft being blown up leaving a leisure destination, more bomb threats, to the fact we still have no idea what the hell happened to flight MH 370.

Seeing all those headlines, the majority of news that makes it’s way into the media is either depressing or comes with sad and nefarious connotations.

While the holidays are supposed to be a great source of joy and fulfillment, they are often a great source of stress, for both passengers and their flight crew alike. This holiday season, with weather pushing itself off one coast and into another, delays were becoming rampant, and passengers becoming rerouted. Add in a mix of unhappiness from airline management of frustrations in their inability to staff their operation and that of their employees frustrations at record profits, meager wage increases, and management’s inability to staff their operation properly, and you have hostile holiday mix that could be best described as “acrimonious” on all counts.

Anyone who has worked in the airline or aviation industry has a story or knows one about a stressed out passenger who asks, “…but, am I going to make my connection? Will you have them hold the plane for me?

Sadly, in this day and age of the airline industry, it’s driven by high performance numbers, there is no little to any heart left. You are either on your plane on-time, or you miss your flight – even if it’s the airlines fault that you’re late. While there are airlines that do have some plans in place for said situations, it is only under certain conditions that meet extenuation circumstances.

So, this morning I was more than a little relieved to receive a snippet of a story involving the airlines. It was passed along to me by friend late last night, that story actually warmed my heart. That being said, it would seem a fitting story to round off the year on a positive note.

While we don’t have the full details yet here’s what we do know:

Yesterday on Christmas eve, a woman traveling on a delayed Delta flight from Atlanta to Newark gave the below note to the flight attendant.

letter to crew

Being that Delta and United are two different rival airlines that run separately, there wasn’t much she or her flight deck counterparts could do to help.

So, what did she do? She turned to the internet for help.

While some airlines have fought social media, relying on it to remove employees that they feel reflect a bad image; Delta flight attendants have a social media group that the majority of them belong to, one the airline encourages them to use. Here they can ask each other questions about everything from service operations to suggestions or tricks on how to do their job better – a “two heads are better than one” mentality. Delta helps moderate the social media group to make sure the proper information is relayed when requested as well. But Delta also uses the group as a tool to see what isn’t working for their employees on board and can in turn change their service to make both the customer and employee happier.

The flight attendant posted the photo of the note to their social media group asking for help or suggestions. The photo of the note began to work it’s way through social media. Soon, someone posted that they knew someone at United in Newark that might help. That person worked at United’s Operation Control Center. A group effort was made between the two rival airlines to work together, and in doing so, they arranged a transfer from the delayed Delta flight, where the passenger was picked up and escorted to connect to the United flight, making sure she could be with her terminally ill loved one during the holidays.

It would seem that while airlines and employees may continue to fight, complain and bicker, when given the opportunity, humanity and compassion are still strong no matter their differences.

Bravo to United and Delta, hopefully they will recognize their employees and their outstanding efforts.


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