I just read a Fortune article (via CNN) about JetBlue CEO Dave Barger – who talked about why his airline is prospering, and he believes a lot of it comes down to, the human factor:
“It’s how we treat each other. Do we trust each other? Can we push back on each other? The human side of the equation is the most important part of what we’re doing.” -Dave Barger, 9-3-09
I think that’s true, or should be true for all airlines (indeed, all businesses). And that led me to think of some favorite airline experiences, and I came up with these nominees, just at random: airline folks who excel at the human touch, whether on a modest or heroic scale.
You’ll recognize some of these people — and I’d love to see your nominees. Keep reading for my list…
My Top Five Displays of “The Human Touch” by Airline Personnel
5. Pizza for Passengers: Couple of years back, a Delta flight was diverted to Syracuse and stuck there for awhile. What did the pilot do? First off, he let the passengers off the plane (we know that doesn’t always happen) and second, he ordered a bunch of pizzas. Inside, the customer service folks sprang into action, hauling out tables, finding chairs, and setting out the pizzas. And yes, a good time was had by all.
4. The Rapping Flight Attendant: Southwest flight attendant David Holmes wanted more people to pay attention to the “safety talk” because he worried about them. So, he began rapping it and people loved it (and you can see it here). A simple gesture, but never underestimate the power of fun.
3. The Passenger Soother: Starting right after 9/11, Delta flight attendant Jewel Van Valin noticed how many more nervous (and downright scared) passengers were on her planes. So she did something real simple: she pulled out a pack of crayons and some paper and asked them to draw. They did – and somehow, they began to smile again.
2. Saintly Cabin Crew: You’ve heard the term, “patience of a saint”? Well, airline crews need it in abundance – especially when dealing with the folks like the rampaging woman who drank the aircraft’s liquid soap – when she wasn’t punching the United Airlines flight attendants – and trying to bite them. They got her secured and continued their tasks – all in a day’s work.
1. Above and Beyond: I refer, of course, to the US Airways’ “Miracle on the Hudson” crew, who made sure every passenger got off first and got off alive – while the pilot made a final check to be sure no one was left behind. Would they have been blamed for any deaths? Probably not. But they made sure that didn’t happen.
The human touch…