It’s pretty rare that a post in this series ends up being a happy, feel-good story and I thought it was time to change that. So cozy up by the fire with a warm cup of cocoa on this Christmas Eve while I tell you a tale about an unhappy traveler who had her day turned around by American.
We’ve all had those trips that are crappy before they even start. Elaine, an employee at our largest small business client at Cranky Concierge, was finishing up work in Columbus, Ohio. She was supposed to come home to Tennessee on a Friday and then have a good birthday weekend ahead. But things went wrong, and her return was pushed into Saturday, cutting into the weekend. With her birthday not until Monday, that still wasn’t bad… until she got home. She was told she had to turn back around for another meeting that very Monday morning. Brutal.
So it was that Elaine booked flights to go back to Columbus late on Sunday night, planned to meet with her contacts Monday morning, and then expected to fly back via Charlotte on American. She’d get home in time for a night out. Even if everything went to plan, this was going to be a pretty crappy birthday. And of course, things didn’t go according to plan when it mattered to her most, on her return.
First, her flight back to Charlotte was delayed due to a late arriving aircraft. She still had a shot at making her connection, but it was going to be iffy. Then the airplane got to Columbus… and broke. Nearly two hours later, the airplane was fixed and she was on her way. But now she wasn’t going to get home in time for dinner, the last piece of her birthday that she hoped to salvage.
Was this an earth-shattering delay that was going to ruin her life? Of course not. There were other flights with seats and she would get home only a couple hours late. But this was just the cherry on top of a tough couple days, and I felt bad.
So while she was enroute to Charlotte, I sent a direct message to American on Twitter. I figured if nothing else, Elaine needed a beer, or at least something to celebrate her birthday just a little. So I asked if American had a way to get a message to a crew. Her connecting flight was on a mainline aircraft, and I figured it might be a nice little gesture. It wasn’t long before I received a note back from American saying that they had sent a note to the airport team to see if they could get anything done.
Then I got this.
Once Elaine was back home, I heard from her. There was no actual beer, but she said after she boarded, the flight attendants came up to her along with a couple gate agents. She thought she had done something wrong, but of course, she hadn’t. They started singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Then once they landed, the flight attendant on the intercom told everyone to make sure to wish Elaine a happy birthday as they got off the airplane. That small gesture absolutely made her day, and she can thank American’s Twitter team for that.
I fully expect to see comments like “well that’s nice, but American totally screwed me” or “whatever, they only did it because you write this blog.” While I doubt the latter was true (this really just seemed like one of those great “surprise and delight” opportunities), those comments are lost on me. This was just a great example of a big faceless company doing something small and meaningful to help makes someone’s birthday just a little bit better.
It’s the little things that count.