For Customer, Airline Soars High Through Customer Service

Customer service in any field or job is one of the reasons companies either succeed or fail. Good customer service can help you soar, as people want to continue to work with you even when something doesn’t go quite as planned. Bad customer service can be detrimental. Especially in this day and age of "status updates" and "tweets" that can cause PR nightmares.

Here’s a story of a good experience in an industry riddled with a bad reputation.

We’ve all had the experience at the airport where the man or woman behind the counter could care less about whether or not you reach your destination. They just want you to move along and go on to the next person. This is typically my experience. And it wasn’t until recently that I’ve seen a glimmer of hope. Even if it was just one person at one company (Delta Air Lines) — sometimes that’s all it takes.

My wife and I were flying to New York (via LaGuardia) to see her family. We had our 9-month-old daughter with us and after lugging four suitcases, a car seat and a stroller through the parking lot and up to the counter, we were told our flight had been cancelled only minutes before. You can only imagine our frustration, to say it lightly.

We were sent to another line at the ticket counter, seething and wondering how and if we were going to get through this.

We stepped up to the counter and the woman who now had our Fourth of July plans in her hands smiled and said hello to us and our daughter. We hoped, "Somehow, there must be a way out of here!" She searched for what felt like about a half hour, finding flights going through Detroit and that was about it. But with a baby, layovers can be tricky, especially if you have precious few minutes to get to your connection. She could see we were not happy with that solution and continued to search.

Minutes later she exclaimed, "Got it!" My ears perked up as she told us that there was a flight going to New York (JFK). That’s what we wanted to hear; we were back on track. She also informed us that we would be upgraded to first class, free of charge – indicating they may not be happy with her for doing so. Could it be? Could this woman really have been so nice and helpful to find a solution for us and our daughter that would be in our best interest and not the airlines? It could and she did.

I’m sure my smiling daughter (mixed with our comment about how she wouldn’t get to see her grandma) helped a bit, but it gives me hope that there are good people out there committed to doing the right thing for customers.

See You in San Juan

I’ve been to Puerto Rico. In fact, there is a humorous story years ago about flying into San Juan, engine problems and five guys with buckets waiting by the runway in case of more trouble. But I won’t bore you with more details.

President Obama is going to make the same trip (well, not exactly, but you get the picture) next week. Although many of the four million Caribbean island residents are excited, it’s the 4.6 million Puerto Ricans (including 850,000 in Florida) living in the U.S. who are being targeted with this trip, presidential critics say.

John F. Kennedy was the last U.S. president to visit Puerto Rico — 50 years ago. The island has been a U.S. territory for 112 years. Don’t expect any major change in that status.

CQ Daily put it this way:

Some will want Obama to endorse statehood for the territory; others will press him to embrace independence for the island; yet another group will urge him to leave things just the way they are — which is what’s sure to happen, because the population is so triple-split on its desires.

But hey, I’m sure the President will have a better flight experience than the Schumans did. 

Presidential Debates: The Numbers Game

Gearing up for tonight’s VP debate? Well, you’re certainly not alone.

And according to Nielsen (the ratings system, not Leslie the slapstick actor), 52.4 million concerned Americans tuned in to watch John McCain and Barack Obama engage in some good old verbal pugilism last Friday. However, the debate didn’t even crack into the top 10 of all time.

Check out some of these stats regarding debates of yesteryear. Looks like Carter vs. Reagan (1980) claims the most viewers, while the famous Nixon-Kennedy battles of 1960 still own the top three spots in percentage of households.

You’re probably saying, "Surely tonight’s event will rank near the top in VP debates, right?"

Well, you might be right — but don’t call me "Shirley."