Be Good to Your Travel Staff

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by alisinna, Feb 12, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. A great discussion has been going on at our round-table in SFO: specifically, treating courteously and well everyone you encounter and make your travels possible. Gate agents, front desk clerks, flight attendants, pilots, hotel managers, lounge staff, and the list goes on and on.

    There are always those people who are grumpy, demanding, and all together unpleasant travelers. If you can't stand them as a fellow passenger, think of how you would feel if you had to deal with an incessant stream of these gremlins 8 hours or more a day, most of the weeks of the year.

    In the spirit of good community building, and setting a positive tone, please post your stories, tips, and tricks for being that traveler (elite or not) who always brings a smile and feeling of appreciation to the people who make your travels happen.
     
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  2. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I was taking the last flight out of ORD to MSP for a wedding last summer. UDU cleared for my gf and me. So we're sitting on the plane, everyone seems to be on and there's still 10 min before scheduled departure, and then the FA comes over the PA saying that our flight will be delayed as we wait for some connecting passengers.

    10-15 min isn't so bad, but we ended up waiting for an HOUR as 3-4 passengers trickled in, one every 15 min. As if to make up for it, the FA in F came by to offer us drinks while we waited. I get my usual scotch, and she had a gin and tonic. Then he brought a few extra bottles for each of us, explaining it was a short flight, he may not have time to do beverage service, and we should feel free to refill our cups ourselves. 30 min later he brings us refills and a few more extra bottles. Another refill in the air. Fortunately I only drank the ones he poured for me and knew there was an airport shuttle waiting for us, but we were very well supplied for the reception the next day. [​IMG]

    I don't get mad at employees for things beyond their control. I'm sure some other pax were giving him hell. The order to hold a plane for an hour must have come from higher up. But the FA was clearly stressed out and did his best to keep us happy. It was definitely one of my better trips despite also being the longest I've been stuck at the gate.
     
  3. diver90
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    diver90 Gold Member

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    It's a series of little things but the single most beneficial act you can perform is to ask questions with the word "please" in them, be positive and upbeat (but not to the point of appearing medicated) and conclude exchanges with something sincere that thanks them for their efforts.
     
  4. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    Colleagues have often asked me how I achieved 'special treatment' (e.g., my favorite room every week available at check in) and after a while I started paying attention to what the differences were in what we did. Kindness indeed goes a long way (in life)!
     
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  5. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    Please and thank you go a long way in making the world a better place. Anytime you ask for more service than you paid for, expecting and accepting no as the answer would lead to fewer bad experiences. While traveling home from SJU on a holiday on a non-upgradable fare, I struck up a pleasant conversation with the GA. My wife and I got the upgrade without asking. I later asked about upgrading the kids but that was reject as they found a few passengers to pay for an upgrade.
     
  6. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    I try to be nice to everyone I interact with, not just travel staff.
     
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  7. aitchly
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    aitchly Silver Member

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    Trudging off a shuttle bus, with a line of silent drones, throwing a thank you is always pleasant.
     
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  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I couldn't agree more. The fact that we must consciously act to be nice these days is shameful. How hard is it to (meaningfully) say please, thank you and you're welcome when dealing with people?

    In the airport on Friday there was a couple with a baby in a buggy trying to get down an escalator or stairs to the gate (bus) area. They didn't want to take the escalator and he was tied up schlepping their bags so unable to help her with the stroller. It isn't hard to recognize that situation developing so I simply walked over, stepped two steps and reached out for the stroller base. Didn't even have to say anything (which is good because they were speaking Italian and I most certainly wasn't) but a small smile made all the difference as I helped them down the stairs. "Mille de grazie" is what I ended up with, along with three big smiles in return. Just one of a dozen or so experiences this week of similar happiness and easy, helpful actions.

    It is entirely too easy to be nice. It take more energy not to be. Just do it.
     
  9. I stand rightfully corrected. You should strive to be nice with everyone you interact with. :)
     
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  10. SFOPeter
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    SFOPeter Silver Member

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    i make an effort to always be civil. i don't like it when people go off on airline employees. the last one was a woman screaming at a JetBlue employee at iad over the holidays after being told that their flight was cancelled and there weren't any seats available for 3 days. but let's be cognizant that people are very rarely rude, and to the average person airline policies are incomprehensible and they rarely make an attempt to do right by or go the extra mile for their customers. these same people would never be rude to their hairdresser, etc.
     
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  11. kraven
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    kraven Silver Member

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    If someone approaches me in a bad way, I give them the worst seats on the plane, e.g. a middle seat in the last row or the center seat in a 2-5-2-seated plane :)
     
  12. Gnopps
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    Gnopps Silver Member

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    When I am treated badly I complain to the service provider and I think it is equally important to compliment when things go great. Having worked a lot in frontline positions I know how much a sincere thank-you can mean and so I make sure to send positive feedback when things have gone great.

    As an example of great service I was flying KF ARN-HEL with my 10 month daughter last year. The flight was a little delayed and though one of the flight attendants had already come by many times to check on us she continued to do so. At one point she came over with a tiara for the baby. Some minutes later she came over with a tiara for me as well. Yet a few minutes later she came over with two tiaras more - one for each of the business women sitting next to me (one of them put it on). We continued to receive great service all during this short flight. Later I wrote KF asking them to forward my compliments to the flight attendant (and to one of the lounge staff who had also been very helpful with the baby).

    Last month I was flying KF on a business trip and again had the same flight attendant on the plane. I went up to her to thank her again and was happy to see she remembered me. Very disappointing was that she had received none of the feedback I had written customer service :-( So I have written KF again asking them to make sure the feedback is forwarded and am still waiting for a reply to that message.

    If we as receivers compliment a lot we give the staff a great incentive to provide better service. Imagine going to work if you knew you could receive X compliments today! The compliment certificates that some airlines hand out to their frequent fliers seem like a good idea - though I haven't tried them myself.
     
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  13. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Travelers should always try to be understanding with travel employees, at times it can be a very stressful job.
     
  14. Bay Pisco Shark
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    Bay Pisco Shark Gold Member

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    This is reminding me of a flight a couple of years ago (EZE/IAD) where we had a really bitter FA. No eye contact, robotic service, seemed to have a bit of an attitude of getting the utilitarian service done without an extra effort. With each service item, we thanked her, we said please, we smiled (and were actually nearly laughing between ourselves because no matter how nice we were, she wouldn't crack). Finally a few hours later, she finally had a personality and ended up being pleasant.
     
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  15. Flyer_Esq
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    Flyer_Esq Silver Member

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    Back when I worked in the airline industry, the frequent business travelers were the best to deal with because they "get it." They know that you don't have any control over weather delays or mechanical issues. They know that you have a stressful job and you are doing the best you can. They smile, say please and thank you, they learn your name and are pleasant to deal with. You appreciate this, so you make sure that they get their favorite seat, you hold flights for them if they are running late, and make sure they are re-booked/re-routed first when there are issues.

    Now, for the folks that treated you like dirt - they would get the non-reclining seats next to the screaming baby and the lav.
     
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  16. no-backpacker
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    no-backpacker Silver Member

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    Last year I was travelling with my son, then 15. I forgot to buy water before we boarded and forgot that they don't serve anything on the route OSL-BGO. In the middle of the flight I became extremely thirsty so I asked the FA if it was possible to buy a bottle of water. The FA said theat they didn't serve anything and I said: "Well, too bad!" with a smile. Two seconds later she came with a bottle of water. When I wanted to pay for it she said it was on her. My son asked me why I got it for free and I explained to him that I didn't know, but I thought it was because I behaved well and that this was the reasons why we had teached him to behave. Too many people DEMAND nowadays.

    What I don't understand is why travelers become so angry over delayed flights. There is nothing you can do with it anyway, so why use energy on becoming angry? When we were stranded in Paris because of the ash-cloud some people became rude and there were even people starting to physically fight! When we finally reached the counter, after 5 hours, I told the woman that I really felt sorry for her and that I understood how difficult it was. I bet I was one of the few people who said that that day!!! :)

    With that said, some people never smile, no matter how much you smile to them... The front desk people at the KLM lounge in AMS (Schengen) never smiles. Not to me, at least... :)

    Xxx.
     
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  17. Fredd
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    Fredd Gold Member

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    We've carried out the same experiment with the same results. It's a challenge though. :D

    We're in domestic F on UA quite regularly and see fellow pax who just grunt or point when asked if, say, they want pre-flight OJ or water. I remove my NR headphones, I make eye contact, and I say please or thank-you. It's sad that such basic little acts of courtesy causes FAs to remember us from previous flights, to tell us "how nice" we are, or occasionally even to give us a bottle of wine.
     
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  18. chemist562
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    chemist562 In Memorian

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    Back in April 2001, I was flying on United on a Priceline (bid) ticket. Paid $45ai LAX-PHX. On the way back PHX-LAX, I politely asked the gate agent if the flight was oversold. (I wanted to spend more time in PHX as PL gave me Sun noon as return time). She said yes & I put my name in. She called me & told me she needed my seat. :) I told her to call me when she was ready to process my VDB vouchers. I was at the podium and while she was processing me, a passenger was quite irate because he got a middle seat because he arrive late and the seat assignments were under airport control. He got off the plane and got nasty with my gate agent. .

    I told her I will sit down & have her call me when she is ready to finish processing me. The pax was told that I'll let this gentleman (me) get on the plane and he will not fly that day. (I had my $600 voucher in hand :D) He got back on the plane. The funny thing was he would not have flown if I didn't give up MY seat. [​IMG]

    The poor gate agent took alot of abuse and I did my best to let her know there are many nice people out there--definitely not that guy!!! We talked for a while about UA stuff,travel, etc. That seem to put her at ease.

    Bottom line: In addition to the $600 vouchers (4 x $150 :)), I got a nice food voucher & an overnite stay in a nice hotel. I used the $600 vouchers for 4 transcon tickets which was halfway to Premier Exec. :D The gate agent was nice to me even after she took all that abuse from that pax.
     
  19. I firmly believe that you reap what you sow when it comes to traveling, and those negative feedback loops just get worse and worse. It can be tough, sure, but the whole Louis C.K. bit about it being amazing that you are flying through the air still really centers me.

    This might sound a little hippie-dippie (which is not my bag, I assure you, I am more princessy-wincessy [​IMG]), but I also think intention counts. I'm not looking to bag free drinks when I give the FAs on some crappy regional flight a bag full of peanut butter cups, I'm just looking to let them know they're appreciated. It's ended up turning out that occasionally I do get free drinks (oh, UDUs on regional jets, who gets you, because it sure isn't 1Ps) but mostly not. They've all been really grateful though, and that works to put me in a better mood while sitting in a sardine tin.

    What really gets me is people flipping out during weather cancellations - like, I'm sorry bro, but the poor desk agent doesn't have anything to do with this hurricane, no matter how much you hate waiting in line. Poor things. Their best days are probably worse than my worst days. They need all the compassion they can get, I think.
     
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  20. Bob Smolinsky
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    Bob Smolinsky Gold Member

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    They don't to anyone, trust me...
     
  21. no-backpacker
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    no-backpacker Silver Member

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    Thanks, I am relieved. I thought it was something wrong with me! :) Seriously... why are they always unfriendly? It *is* true that I have tried to smile and be very friendly with them, still they are like soure grapes. People shouldn't work in the hospitality industry if they don't know how to smile...

    Xxx.
     
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  22. Bob Smolinsky
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    Bob Smolinsky Gold Member

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    Well, having lived in NL for 10 years, the whole concept of Customer Service there is severly lacking imho....in any store, etc.
     
  23. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    I have received quite a few surprised looks when I "thanked" the people I came in contact with for being courteous... from waiting in line I've noticed that quite a few that seek help just walk away after they got what they wanted.
     
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  24. It's not my job to "bring a smile to their faces". It's their job to serve me.
     
  25. Clocktower
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    Clocktower Silver Member

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    A few years ago, I decided to make a concerted effort to address all women with "Ma'am", both as a courtesy and (I admit) a bit of a social experiment. The results were surprising.. I've had women do a double take, some even appeared insulted at first (likely they've only encountered the 'angry' version, as in "Please get in line, MA'AM!"), and some have reacted as if I was flirting with them. [​IMG]

    All in all it seems to have a positive effect, so I kept it up.
     
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