This week brought my first taste of the new bids at work... which meant a taste of the 4:15 A.M. start time. Was I a huge fan? Not at first. Going to bed at 7 P.M. was a huge struggle. But, after one week of learning how to function with just enough sleep to manage putting on winged eyeliner, I actually really enjoyed this shift. Here are the three most memorable stories, complete with the lessons they taught me, this week:
1. The lady who tried traveling back home on the same day she had to return to work. This passenger was pretty rude from the moment she stepped foot in the airport, but I digress. Yes, she chose her departure date as the same date that she was supposed to return to work. I don't know about you, but I never have (and never will) bet my job when it comes to the gamble of travel. Always give yourself a one-day window of return, just in case you happen to encounter one of those worst-case-scenarios on your travels. In this instance, the first leg of this passenger's flight was delayed, which was going to cause her to miss her connecting flight, which was going to cause her to miss work. She approached the ticket counter, yelling at my supervisor, saying that she was going to lose her job because of our delay. My sup was patient (to a certain point) & gave her the only reroute option that was available at the time, which still wasn't enough to satisfy this lady. She became so irate that the other customers we were assisting started to look at her bewildered. I was reminded of something my dad has always said: "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." Read the fine print on your tickets -- we straight up tell you that your seat on any aircraft isn't guaranteed. In the event that there is a delay, we will rebook you for free to help accommodate you. But, when you book your ticket, knowing full & well that you have to work that same day, just two hours after landing at your final destination, I'm sorry, but I don't feel bad for you. You chose an extra day of vacation in lieu of giving yourself ample time to return home for work... unfortunately, you have to take responsibility for that. We tried to accommodate you with what flights we had available, but we can't create magical flights out of thin air. Lesson here: don't fly home on the same day you have to work. Or the same day you have any kind of responsibility Always give yourself one extra day of travel, just in case.
2. The lady who forgot her phone at home, so she went back to get it. Yes, she missed her flight over her cellphone. She approached the gate podium and presented her boarding pass, but we had to break the news that it was too late, that she had missed her flight. She couldn't believe that we didn't hold the plane for her (which always makes me laugh, because there were 49 other passengers who made it on-time just fine). We were able to rebook her, despite her angry, heavy sighs. That giant purse your carrying? Maybe you should de-clutter that thing to make sure you have your keys, wallet, & cellphone. The lesson here is make sure you have everything you need for your flight before leaving the house.
3. The patient passengers on my deplaned LAX flight. We have direct-flights to Los Angeles every day, which is fantastic for non-rev leisure travel. One of my coworkers, Amber, surprised her two children with a day trip to LA this week when I was working the flight. I was so excited for them! The plane was all boarded & I had my final paperwork in hand when I got word of a Flow Delay at LAX -- which is just a fancy way to say that LAX didn't have enough room at the gates for my flight (and many others) that were inbound that morning. We were quoted a two-hour delay time & the Captain advised that I should deplane the passengers pending the approval to land at LAX. So I got to make my first in-plane announcement -- which involved deplaning every single passenger & returning all of their gate-checked bags. Advising passengers of delays is never fun, especially when they are all in their seats, buckled fastened, & ready to fly. Marti assisted me in rebooking passengers who were going to miss their connections & we used a diversion cart to give our passengers snacks, waters, & juices while we all waited for re-boarding instructions. The two hours delay was lifted early, & we were able to re-board after only one hour. The lesson here is to always smile & be kind. The energy you give out will always come back to you.
This week, I was incredibly grateful for the powers of sleep & Vitamin C... & also for all of my coworkers for their guidance as I entered the new schedule bid. Our people really are a fantastic, encouraging bunch! Having only three stories to share this week was also a welcome change, as most of the time there are too many outrageous stories to keep track of, & I want to pull my hair out by the end of the week. Happy to say that I survived this week & am looking forward to the next.
Megan Elizabeth is a storyteller based in Kalispell, Montana. Take a peek at her blog & portfolio, drop her a line, & follow her story on Facebook & Instagram.