Travel Pro’s Getting it Right

Have any of you been hearing about the significant upswing in “unruly” passengers aboard airplanes? I’ve read varying statistics, but the increase in violence has been significant. Fines that have been handed out are astronomical and some of these violent outbursts have resulted in injuries to flight attendants as well as other passengers. I miss the friendly skies!

I actually just flew this week and to be honest, the stage was set for some potentially “unruly” passengers.

Our very full flight started boarding on time, but was halted very quickly by the pilot. He came up the jet bridge and made an announcement to the boarding area that due to a computer sensor, the plane had not passed all the pre-flight inspections. He told the boarding area that instead of having people board the plane and then be stuck in their seats while maintenance worked on the issue, he’d rather stop the boarding process and get the issue taken care of. I, for one, was appreciative of that. The pilot stated that he hoped it would be a quick fix, hopefully not more than 15-20 minutes.

After the approximate 15 minutes, the pilot again appeared at the boarding podium to make another announcement. He told us that we were now waiting for a part to be brought to the plane for the computer. Once the part was in place they would again do the pre-flight inspections and that if we were able to pass them, the boarding would take place and we’d be on the way. He then said that the gate agents would have more information for us about connections. Immediately after he got off the speaker, one of the gate agents made some announcements assuring people that all the connections for the flight were still good to go, but that if it changed announcements would be made.

And then, announcements started to be made. “If you are connecting to Fort Lauderdale, please see us at the podium.” And then a few minutes later, “if you are making a connection to Boston, please see us at the podium.” And so it went, for about 15 minutes. The gate agents would call people up to the podium and offer alternative flights. When the announcement for Memphis came up, I walked to the podium and was given flight information for an alternate connection that would still get me to Memphis. A little later than originally intended, but still getting me to my destination. It was mostly smooth. There were no harsh words spoken (at least that I could hear) and nobody was complaining. It was great. Once we passed the pre-flight inspections (after a nearly two hour delay) the pilot appeared again to relay the good news and then he told us that the gate agents were ready for a record setting boarding process!

This is exactly the way conflict resolution in the workplace should look. We had plenty of communication. The apologies that were offered by the pilot, by the gate agents, and even by the flight attendants once we boarded were sincere and offered freely. Frustrations were acknowledged and corrective actions were discussed. Things were being done proactively in a very organized manner. It was really a sight for sore eyes! I was impressed by the efforts of everyone working our flight. It was even cool to see agents from other gates come over to help once their own flights had departed.

Teamwork made the dream work! I’m not always happy with the way my travel days go, but this was a good day.

Nikki Wince – Mandt Faculty Supervisor

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