In separate incidents over the last few months, two well-known airlines I frequently fly made mistakes but then came through with giving me what I wanted, on their terms.
The first time was when I flew from Columbus, Ohio through Chicago to Orlando to be the featured speaker at a client’s global executive team meeting. Thanks to summer storms and close connections, the airline misplaced my luggage, which remained in Chicago while I went to Orlando—leaving me with only the clothes on my back. After landing in Orlando at midnight, I told the airline representative that I was the featured speaker at a meeting starting at 9 next the morning and needed my luggage there beforehand. The rep informed me it could arrive at 12 noon—too late. So I proposed that the airline give me money to buy a shirt and slacks to wear at the event. The airline went further, giving me a $350 allowance to buy whatever I wanted. I did and went to the event dressed in something other than a pair of jeans and at-shirt. If I hadn’t made the proposal, all I would’ve gotten was an apology.
The second incident arose from a scheduled flight from Dulles (near Washington, DC) to Newark, close to my home. I got to the airport in plenty of time for a 3 p.m. departure. So did the thunderstorms. The airline canceled my flight and every other flight. I asked the representative to send me to Amtrak so I could get home—and was accommodated with a free seat and a free transfer to Union Station. But I couldn’t retrieve my bag since the luggage handler misread the destination and sent it to Norfolk, VA. No idea why, but there you go. The next morning I received the bag at my house, no charge. I called the airline, explaining that this was a terrible inconvenience, and asked for a full refund. Not only was the cost of the ticket refunded, but I also received a $200 flight certificate for my problems.
With all the bad experiences I’ve heard about airlines, these weren’t bad. To me, it proved that if you’re calm and then propose—and not just complain—you may get what you want, or more.
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