UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
A big chunk of what makes for a good travel service provider are the front-line people we come in contact with. Be it an cruise line, airline, hotel chain or travel agency the people we interact with are a key ingredient in the recipe for success. Some businesses get that, others don’t. Some travelers care more about that element than others too. On a recent flight via Silver Airways, I was reminded just how important getting customer service right can be and how people make the difference.
It was a quick flight from our home airport in Orlando to Fort Lauderdale on a Saturday afternoon. At Orlando International Airport I passed a number of gates where passengers were lined up to board. Kids, now stripped of their theme park magic cried; impatient passengers jockeyed to be first on the aircraft lest they lose precious overhead storage space; some read books and others watched TV. The usual scene. And then there was gate 36, the one portal to Silver Airways.
Tiny Silver Airways is a regional airline that operates a small fleet of Saab 340B two-engine turboprop aircraft that carry just 33 passengers. They are the sort of aircraft so small that jetways are too high to match up with the door and passengers walk on the tarmac, climbing stairs to board. Due to lingering bad weather issues up north, our plane would end up being about an hour late taking off. No problem for me but others set to sail that same day, were worried about missing their ships. But not for long.
I watched as the jovial Silver Airways gate attendant went from person to person in the waiting area, reassuring each that they would do all they could to get them there on time. No lining up to inquire or complain, they came to us. Impressive, but we’re not talking about a 747 that could have over 500 souls on board. Still, once the plane arrived, everyone boarded at once. Eight minutes later and flight 4046 was in the air.
The Captain assured us he would do all he could to move us along, and was later seen at the bottom of the stairs when passengers got off the plane, thanking them for flying with him. The genuinely friendly flight attendant enjoyed serving beverages up and down the isle, pausing to chat and interact with each passenger. This was my kind of flight and my kind of airline. They ‘got it’ on customer service, wrapped up the experience and tied it with a bow.
This is by far not the first time we have seen this happen, but it’s not an every day thing. In Bad Flight Saved By Airline Crew, New Laws, Amiable Travelers, we told the story of Rick Chase, International Service Manager on a delayed United Airlines flight that might otherwise have been a customer relations disaster. That flight did indeed have hundreds of passengers on board but was saved by the swift action of just one United employee who had his head in the right place. People, it seems, can make all the difference in the world.
Here’s more on Silver Airways, an airline we will surely fly again: