Helping strangers at the airport

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by lili, May 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. lili
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    lili Gold Member

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    It can be a real feel-good thing.

    As I was checking in at MCI a young (to me) woman points to the kiosk, and says "Is that a kye-osk?" Guessing (correctly!) she was new at this but had done some research, I pointed to the kiosk next to me and said just touch the screen and do what it says. Since I had hours at the airport, I assured her I would stay there until she completed the process. She was embarrassingly relieved and thankful. Such a simple thing.

    Question from her: Can I get boarding passes for both flights here?
    Answer: Yes, and the printer is slow, so be sure to wait for the second one. (I've walked away before.)

    Question from her: (disbelieving, holding flimsy paper printout) Is this the Boarding Pass?
    Answer: Yes. (not what you were expecting, eh?)

    Getting her two bags weighed, tagged, and dropped was new to me, but easy enough. She's getting the baggage charges reimbursed, so as I said she's got some savvy or being sent on business.

    We take this for granted, but this reminds me how easy it is for us make the system simple for newbies and we all should do it more often. Happy journey, Mallory!
     
  2. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    A month or so ago, I was on a plane that was forced to land at an outlying airport when the destination airport (DFW) was closed for weather reasons. Equipped with my laptop-with-aircard, I acted as IRROPS helper for my fellow pax; the one thing I was glad I was able to do was to convince them to lock in hotel rooms RIGHT THEN, rather than waiting until we finally got into DFW. As a result, they were able to get room at a close-by hotel (the Sheraton DFW) at relatively reasonable rates (a couple were even able to get a government rate).
     
  3. jmrich1432
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    jmrich1432 Silver Member

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    How nice of you! I have to say this is usually the exception to what I see from FF at the airport. I wish more FF were like this. It takes so little to make someone's day sometimes. When you have the skills to help, why not? :)
     
  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    During the last few years, I remember three distinct occasions when IMO I went above and beyond to help people in an airport. Each time it felt good (and I had lots of time, so no worries about my own flight) but I was shocked by either the lack of staff or the lack of concern by personnel. It was also fun to identify and help passengers while playing gate agent for the day at the DL ATL DO.
     
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  5. Chad
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    I sometimes guest random people (normally elderly) into the Qantas lounge.
     
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  6. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    I try to do random acts of kindness when traveling whenever possible. From asking those who look a bit lost in the middle of a terminal if I can help them find something, to treating someone who shows kindness to another passenger on the plane (assisting with stowing carryon, trading seats, etc.) to a drink during the flight, and even loaning my phone during IRROPS to help someone rebook. Always makes my own experience better, and hopefully takes the stress out of it for someone else.
     
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  7. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I'd also say that we should keep this in mind outside of the airport, too!

    I live in Chicago and work downtown in the Loop near the Sears (not Willis!) Tower. Every day is a constant stream of tourists who are dazed and confused on where and what they want to see. I have been that person MANY times in other cities/countries, so I always try to give a smile and ask them if they need help with anything.
     
  8. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I remember one time I was waiting in the tunnel in downtown Seattle (my base) for the light rail to the airport. An elderly woman looking slightly disoriented came up to me dragging a suitcase asking where the monorail was. And since I was waiting at the Westlake station, where the monorail is located up above at the Westlake Center mall, I directed her upstairs, thinking to myself as I told her, why would anyone need to take the monorail to Seattle Center after arriving from the airport?

    Of course, it made sense 15 minutes later as I was riding the light rail to the airport that she really was asking if this was the correct platform for the light rail to get to the airport, and that she had said "monorail" by mistake. No one rides the monorail. I felt awful, and really hope she got the airport and made her flight. I couldn't help but think that she had taken the monorail out to Seattle Center and wandered around looking for the airport. :eek: But usually I'm a nice enough guy. I've even put up with a screaming baby on a 12 hour flight from LHR to SFO without begrudging the parents or offerred to give bulkhead seats to disabled passengers.

    Personally my favorite experience was showing up in Berlin at the U-Bahn looking around and utterly confused when a nice older gentleman came up, introduced himself in English, and asked me where I was going and if he could offer directions. That and the food (surprisingly enough) convinced me that Germany is way better than France.
     
  9. mrsmortis
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    mrsmortis Silver Member

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    Having been the recipient of a random act of kindness (someone lent me a call phone when I was stuck in LAX because of the volcano) I try to reciprocate. Most often by trying to clear a path through to the gate for a parent travelling on their own with small children (I've been in that situation). The only thing I'm wary of is watching someone's baggage.
     
  10. MSPeconomist
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    As a recipient of "help," one needs to be wary of help avoiding taxi lines (my vehicle is just over here, follow my--to a gypsy cab, a scam that I see often in the baggage claim area at PHL, where a visitor was raped and murdered some years back) or help in finding a good cheap hotel (said to young people arriving in European train stations).

    In Moscow airports, it's pretty common for a foreigner to use a stranger's cell phone upon arrival. I was told by locals that this should be the fallback plan if there are problems and the one time I did it, no one thought it was strange at all to ask a stranger (who looked like an upper-middle class educated Russian man) to use his cell phone for a local call. I don't think there are any pay public phones, even if one had the right coins.
     
  11. mrsmortis
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    mrsmortis Silver Member

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    Oh I only ever travel in a registered taxi or with the driver that I have booked to pick me up. I'm a female travelling on my own and I've been doing it since I was a teen. I also don't talk to people if I can avoid it. I don't really want people to know where I'm going or why, etc.

    When I lived in SF and someone tried to talk to me on a bus nine times out of ten I used to have to reassure myself that it was OK they weren't dangerous, just tourists...
     
  12. MSPeconomist
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    If I'm sitting next to kettles whom I suspect are entitled to lounge access--i.e., in domestic FC and they tell me they're connecting to international or incoming international business class connecting to domestic, presumably on the same carrier--I make sure to tell them and to show them the location of the lounge on the airport map in the back of the inflight magazine.

    I've also helped passengers around me with connections in MSP and DTW to know the fastest way to walk to their next gate. During the NW/DL merger, I was sitting next to a guy who discovered as we were landing that delta.dumb had sold him a ticket with a seven minute connection.
     
  13. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    These are quite reassuring posts.

    I have formed the habit of helping obvious kettles with trivial immigration issues, usually when the GA are utterly clueless and nobody speaks the destination language ( mostly Brazil flights). Neither DL nor US have Portuguese-speaking agents as a rule so often help is needed. Other FF are also normally helpful too. GA's often seem perplexed by dual passports, and a surprising number of those people are kettles. AA and CO seem to be far better prepared for these issues. FF's on every flight are helping somebody with connections or immigration.

    My last trip through CLT I helped a tourist couple with their bags and security to get them to their short connection to PHX. I had tons of time so I led them to their gate. It made me feel better than it did them, since they were the last pax to board.

    Many people do not want help from strangers. I try to figure out who they are. Eyes averted usually seems to be a good clue.
     
  14. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Since frequent fliers are in the know, it almost feels like it’s the duty of the traveling community to help others. I never mind helping as the airport can be a place of total chaos for the occasional traveler. I once put the luggage on the scale for an elderly lady, she did offer me 50 cents which I declined.:)
     
  15. mrsmortis
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    Which reminds me of the time I was landing at LHR and several bags had gone missing (including mine). There were a couple of german speaking unaccompanied minors from the same flight whose bags had also gone missing. The lady who'd been sent to meet them didn't speak much German and the poor kids were scared. I spent about half an hour with them making sure that their missing bags got registered properly and that they understood what was going on. Definitely not a fun experience for the first time the kids had travelled on their own.
     
  16. jmrich1432
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    If I see military personell in uniform I will guest them into whichever lounge I am going to (thank you Amex). 9 times out of 10 it is a very young (very nervous!) soldier travelling internationally by themselves for the first time and just having someone to talk to seems to help.

    Thanks for posting this, it happens all over the world and it is an issue to be wary of. Especially for those travelling alone. Sometimes we forget that these scams can turn out so badly even in our own backyards.
     
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  17. 2soonold
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    I am a grumpy old man, and I can't count the number of times I've been nice to people; both in the airport and around Atlanta. You're already here; life's annoying; so what else have you got to do with your time?:p
     
  18. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Helping strangers at the airport = yes.
     
  19. BurBunny
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    I'm amazed at the number of times in foreign countries I'm stopped and asked for directions or help. Perhaps because I look confident and North American, though occasionally I'm asked by those speaking the local language. Am always on alert for pickpockets or other crimes, especially when this happens, but it has never been a problem.
     
  20. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I don't know... personally I find it counter-intuitive, but perhaps it's because I've lived in New York for too long. :)

    The airport is just like every other crowded "gateway" place... not where you want to be, but where you must pass through to get to where you're going. Same thing with train stations or every other place with large crowds of people running around seemingly clueless.

    At the airport my routine is fairly set and I rarely deviate from it. People that travel with me know this, or I let them know... you're going at my pace or I'll meet you at the gate. :)

    My single purpose from the time I set foot outside the car is to get to the gate. Get your boarding pass, deal with security, make sure you're not carrying anything that's gonna delay you, scan the lines for the newbies and go. I dodge people on walkways, escalators, the works.

    I'll scan the crowds and keep my eye out in case some crazy person needs a scissor kick, but I'm not at the airport to make friends... I'm there to get the hell out of town.

    But like I said, maybe some people take a different approach and are more friendly. I'm not that guy though. :)
     
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  21. FetePerfection
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    In foreign countries I can be like the blind leading the blind, but I usually try to assist someone in an obvious state of confusion or despair. The universal language however is usually a smile and a hug.
     
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  22. gobluetwo
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    For the record, many lounges (DL and UA, as examples) provide courtesy access to active military in uniform.
     
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  23. jmrich1432
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    That's interesting. I have yet to meet a service person who knows about this. I will be messaging several of my active friends to let them know! Thanks for the info!

    Edit: I just did some research into it. Seems that DL does not have a defined policy (that I could find), but will let them in at the discretion of the club employees (depending on capacity, etc). AA does have a defined policy for members on R&R or emergency leave if they present their papers. Couldn't find anything on UA!
     
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  24. lili
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    lili Gold Member

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    American Admiral's Club also invites active military into the club. At DFW they have a sign out front welcoming them. Now that they have free booze I think the word will spread more rapidly; however, most of the military I see in the airport don't look old enough to drink.
     
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  25. MSPeconomist
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    Are you sure about this for DL SCs? I've seem members guesting in strangers in uniform and the lounge dragons do not say that they can enter on their own anyway. I've never seen a published statement of this, although some GAs have been known to upgrade military or let them board early.
     
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