I find myself in the unique, for me at least, position of thanking one of our airlines. I’d originally thought to just put a short note on facebook about this but, after reading an opinion piece in the paper this morning about American and all its problems, I wanted to do a bit more. Fair disclosure up front: this is something that was related to me by my mother who was a participant in what I’m about to describe.
Yesterday was Mom’s regular day to volunteer at DFW Airport as an Ambassador. Ambassadors are men and women who volunteer to assist travelers by answering questions, directing them to the appropriate gate, helping them find someone with an airline or with airport management who can deal with their problems. They are, more than that, ambassadors of good will at the airport.
So, there Mom was working her post at the airport yesterday when one of our soldiers approached her and asked for help. This young man, who was in uniform, had a problem. He’d been booked on a flight with another airline and had been standing in line to be checked in when he was told his flight was not only filled but was taking off without him. Mind you, he’d been there in plenty of time. He’d followed all the rules. His luggage had been checked. But this airline, with its inefficient and ineffective staffing, was leaving him behind.
Now, I know a lot of you are nodding your heads. You’ve either been in his position before or you know someone who has been. Most of us, when faced with this sort of problem can simply wait for the next flight. Unfortunately, that was not an option for the soldier. He had to report in to Camp Pendleton. If he waited for the airline in question — coff: US Air — to work with him, he would be late in reporting in. That is NOT something any soldier wants to happen.
Frustrated because US Air wasn’t willing work with him, the soldier made his way to American Airlines and, by chance, to my mother who was working in that terminal. He wanted to know if there was anything Mom could do to help him. Since she doesn’t work for the airline, she did the only thing she could. She escorted him to the nearest AA ticket agent.
And this is where I give kudos to American. The agent not only understood what the problem was, but he went above and beyond to help the young soldier. He not only started working his terminal to see what sort of flight arrangements he could make for the soldier, but he got on the phone to US Air to see if he could get them to do the right thing. Handing that phone to Mom to monitor while he was on hold with US Air, he picked up another phone and placed a call that turned out to be to one of the high mucky-mucks for American.
Long story short, or at least shorter, by the time the agent finished, US Air had agreed to put the soldier on the next flight out. Unfortunately, because it wasn’t a direct flight, he would still arrive at Camp Pendleton late. BUT, and this is a big but, American had authorized a seat for him on their next flight, a direct flight, that would get him there in time to report in. His luggage might not get there with him, but it would be there on the next flight.
American might have a lot of problems right now between their bankruptcy filing, the pilots’ union and its demands — and we will not discuss them right now because I’m not nearly as sympathetic to the pilots as I am to AA right now — and the sudden influx of seats coming loose (hmmm, can anyone say “coincidence”?). But yesterday shows that AA also cares about our men and women in uniform, something you can’t always say about the current administration.
So, to American Airlines and to that ticket agent who went so far above and beyond to assist one of our soldiers, thank you.