Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'd Rather be Safe Than Dead

On a recent flight home, I ran across some truly ugly behavior. I hope that pointing out this behavior will help others to realize their folly.

I had arrived and checked in with plenty of time to make my flight. I always like to err on the side of being too early rather than slightly late as it really ruins my day when I miss my first flight. At check in, I was gently informed that due to a late arrival the night before, the crew was going to be about 30 minutes late. This was because FAA regulations stipulate that a crew must get a certain amount of rest before serving on another flight the next day.

I've known about this regulation for some time, but the way that it was presented made me suspect that other travelers that had checked in that morning were less than understanding on this point.

Personally, I'd much rather have my flight crew be well rested than to have them be groggy when it comes to air travel. It's amazing that commercial air travel even happens at all, so if I need to be a little late for safety's sake so be it. Sure I might miss my connecting flight and get home a few hours later, but when it comes down to it I'd rather be safe than dead.

Once the 30 minutes came and went, an announcement came over the speakers. It was a courtesy message letting us know that two members of the crew were further delayed due to a taxi not showing up.

I know that anything can happen when you travel, so none of this phased me. I wish I could say the same thing of my fellow travelers. That poor gate agent was bombarded with complaints. Some of these were to his face and others were just audible amongst the travelers in the terminal. People were reacting as if the gate agent had personally delayed the crew, and they wanted to hold him responsible.

"How dare you delay my flight?"
"Don't you know that I've got someplace to be?"
"I bet he made last night's flight late!"

Haven't these people ever heard of not shooting the messenger? Seriously, this guy was just trying to keep us all informed. As far as I could tell, there wasn't a line of people pounding on his desk asking for an update, so he could have easily not said anything and saved himself grief by not updating us.

He did the right thing by giving us an update, and I appreciate that. Honestly, I don't know how this guy does it. I've seen a lot of poor behavior while traveling, but gate agents seem to get the burnt of the wrath of irritated travelers.

I've had to depend on gate agents often when a flight gets canceled or I miss a flight due to delays, and they've always been helpful as long as I am respectful, ask for help nicely and remain reasonable in regards to my expectations. I've met some exceptional gate agents who are able to get their flights down the jetway in an orderly fashion while delivering announcements and changing customer's tickets.

To these gate agents I am eternally grateful, and I will always remember to thank them for the service that they provide me. I hope that you will join me in doing the same the next time you fly.

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1 comment:

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