It finally happened – one of my greatest traveling fears – I lost my wallet in a foreign country.
Maybe it was the sleep deprivation after more than 20 hours en route, maybe it was the chaos of wrestling with my squirmy 15-month-old, or maybe I’m just that absentminded, but I somehow managed to leave my wallet on the plane after a 14-hour flight from Washington Dulles to Beijing.
I realized it when we were at the baggage claim – far too late to turn around and go back to the gate. Before we left the airport, I contacted United’s baggage services, which had someone check around my seat on the plane for the wallet, without success. I also filed a claim with the airport’s lost and found. But I left the airport that day thinking it was gone forever. What a pain.
JetBlue Airbus A320. Image by Jeremy-Dwyer Lindgren
There are many stories out there about how experiences with airlines can be negative. Luckily that is not always the case and many times people can have a positive experience. Recently reader Russell Christensen had a positive experience with JetBlue and wanted to share. Here is his story in his own words:
Back in February I was traveling to Long Beach Airport (LGB) to attend my brother’s wedding via Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) on JetBlue. I was traveling with my wife, brother, and sister and we had a really early flight at 6:00am, but seeing how SLC is typically not the busiest airport I have been to, I figured that it would be ok to show up at 5:15am to check in and be to the gate right as we needed to board.
This idea was perpetuated by the fact that I had to drive from Idaho the night before and we didn’t get into Salt Lake till about 1:00am, so I wanted to sleep a little (which didn’t happen actually; I couldn’t fall asleep for the life of me). So, my wife, sister, and I drove to the airport and parked in the long term parking, thinking all was in order. We were making perfect time and were on track to get checked in and through security.
However, on the shuttle ride from the parking lot to the main terminal, my sister discovered that she had left her I.D. at the house we had spent the night at and a return drive that would take 30 minutes. Needless to say, if we returned for the I.D., we’d miss our flight. We decided that the best thing to do was to talk to the JetBlue ticketing agent to try and get booked on the next flight out (despite it throwing off our plans pretty severely) and hoping that we wouldn’t be charged a change fee.
Upon talking to the agent, she pleasantly told us that it was no big deal, that there are many people who forget their I.D. and that she thinks we should be able to get on the flight with no issue. Recognizing that we didn’t have a lot of time to get to the gate because we still had to deal with the TSA, she also made a note on our boarding passes that we could take the Business Priority Line through security. This made my day.
She proceeded to tell us that if we did miss the flight, to go back to her and she would simply book us on the next flight, no extra charge, yet another wonderful gesture on behalf of JetBlue. Her giving us access to the priority lane turned out to be a blessing because for 5:00am in SLC, the security line was enormous. I have flown out of SLC for years and have never seen security this long, ever.
My wife and I were able to get through security without an issue because we had our I.D.s, but my sister had to go through an intense screening where some office in D.C. was called and they asked her about personal info that only she would know (which is scary to know that the TSA has access to such private and intimate information).
Needless to say that we made it just in time to get to our gate and we made our flight to LGB. Were it not for such a flexible and hardworking ticketing agent who got us through the priority security line, we never would have made it in time. This reinforced my belief that when agents do their job–help passengers–the experience turns from nightmare to a wonderful experience.
Thank you JetBlue and SLC ticket agent from Feb. 16, 2012!
While the 36 passengers waited for their luggage, wrapped packages starting coming out, each with one of their names on it.
“People were very surprised. They were waiting for their luggage and when they saw the first gifts, they watched in disbelief. One of them found that each box was labeled in the name of a passenger and all began to make the distribution supported by our employees,” said Jonathan Trudeau, airport spokesperson.
The presents ended up being fleece blankets with “YQB” embroidered on them (the airport’s code). The flight was the first one of Christmas day and the airport wanted to celebrate with something a bit different.
Thanks to James Burke for pointing this story out to me. Note that the original story was in French and I used Google to translate — meaning the quote might not be spot on.
It is time once again to share an #AirlineLove story. This one is from Jason Rabinowitz (aka @yankees368) who recently took a Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Here is his story in his own words:
You recently wrote about how many of the emails you get bitch about some bad experience with an airline, but don’t often read about good experiences. Well, I have a good one for you. The airline is Delta. I know, I know, very unexpected. Delta and I have a very checkered history over the last four years, so this was something I felt had to be shared.
I was booked on Delta Connection/Mesaba from DTW to JFK at noon Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Security at DTW had no wait and a lot of TSA personnel, very nice. Aircraft was a CRJ900, not the biggest, but not tiny. For whatever reason, Delta has really cut back on their DTW-JFK route, and they are down to three a day (two on a CRJ900 and one A319). I am very surprised that they did not add capacity due to the holiday, but I digress.
When I checked in at a kiosk, I was presented with the screen asking me if I would like to put my name on the volunteer list to be bumped. I agreed and proceeded to the gate. The gate agent eventually called me up and informed me that the flight was oversold by three passengers. I happily took the opportunity to get a $400 voucher and be moved to LaGuardia Airport (LGA), as there really wasn’t any space going to JFK. I even asked for a first class upgrade, which she happily agreed to.
Flash forward 15 minutes later at the gate and my seat assignment turns into 22C! Thats the last row on their A319. Hardly first class, but I am happy to be in a seat. I hopped on Twitter, asked @DeltaAssist what the deal was, and they apologized and gave me another $25 voucher. Now we are at $425 voucher credit + $6 meal voucher.
Just before our 12:10pm push back, air traffic control stops traffic at LGA until 1pm. Uh oh, I know how these 1 hour delays turn into 2 then 3 then 7, so I needed to act fast and get something to eat. I asked the flight attendant if the door was still open and if I could grab something to eat, and they said sure! However, when I went up the jet bridge, the gate attendant informed me that I could not deplane and re-board, as she plane would no longer be secure. She then offered to personally escort me to the food court right around the corner while I grabbed a snack, with a smile on her face the entire time! Wow.
The flight was bumpy but fast, and now I am at LGA instead of JFK. I figured I would take a shot in the dark and ask a Delta red coat if they would provide a coupon for a cab ride to JFK. A few smashes of the keyboard later, she prints out a voucher and tells me to wait for a car. Holy crap, the car they called was an all black Cadillac Escalade, all for me. Again, wow!
For whatever reason today, everyone at Delta went above and beyond what they needed to do, and made my day easy (and profitable). I first started flying Northwest Airlines (which merged with Delta) when I moved to Michigan in 2008, right when they probably gave up. For what its worth, things didn’t start to go downhill until the Delta name was slapped on the ticket. It once took me 3 days to get from DTW to JFK! Yowza. Now, this summer I got from Lansing’s Capital Region International Airport (LAN) to Yankee stadium in 4.5 hours. Delta has come a long way.