We never know what form in which an angel may appear. But we all know that, when in distress, discovering an angel at airport customer service is a blessing. More than a dozen Delta Airline passengers encountered a small miracle at customer service one day this past week at LaGuardia Airport.
A young Italian couple with very little English had their many questions answered. And, they were escorted to their gate in order to receive the food vouchers they were entitled to because their flight had been delayed.
An older gentleman was first directed to his gate. Then, when he panicked after realizing that two of the five travelers he was with did not have seat assignments, he was assisted to resolve the issue.
A young woman got help finding another flight so she could make her connection when her original flight was delayed.
All this was done patiently and with the utmost courtesy, but, surprisingly, not by a person on staff for Delta.
A friend of mine, the mother of a former Delta employee who still receives discounted flight benefits, was trying to get to Florida to be with a sister battling cancer. Flying out of Boston, she found she couldn’t get on a flight to Atlanta as everything was overbooked. So, she opted to go to LaGuardia to see if she could find a connecting flight there.
While waiting at LaGuardia, she went to an unattended Delta Help Desk, where she was able to log onto the computer to check Delta flight information.
Diligently searching to find a way to get to Florida, she was surprised to glance up to see that a line had formed at her desk. Since she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, she asked the first person in line if she could help them. She has been flying for many years, and was surprised at the amount of information she had stored!
One by one, she answered their questions, looked up the information they needed, and sent them on their way. “The Italian couple was a little difficult as I don’t speak Italian and they only had a bit of English, but we got through it with lots of gesturing,” she said. “They were extremely appreciative, and promised to learn more English before returning to the USA.”
Maybe my friend is just nicer than most people or it’s her “caretaker” personality, but she says she had a lot of fun. “It made the time go by faster and it was great to help everyone — they were all so nice, but most of them were clueless and couldn’t find anyone to help them,” she said, “and, you know, I was quite good at it.” She only had to call her daughter (the former Delta employee) once to get an answer to a particularly difficult question.
In fact, all was going well and my friend was about to assist the next person in line when a bonafide Delta customer service representative came out and tried to shut her down.
“This customer service station is closed, and this agent does not work at this airport,” the woman said sternly to my friend and her fellow travelers, as she tried to shoo them away. Those still waiting for help were told to use the telephones on the wall to get the assistance they were seeking.
The dejected, even scared, looks on the people’s faces got to my friend, so she motioned for them to just stay there while she warded off the, as she described her, “mean” Delta representative. “I just have to look up one more thing to get my flight to Florida,” she said, “and then I’ll be gone.”
Once the Delta person left, my friend finished up as quickly as possible with those still waiting for assistance, making sure that they all got the answers they needed. She found out her own information and then left her temporary Delta customer service job.
Now, I’ve encountered actual airline employees who have been extremely helpful, but then I’ve also sat for hours with no information and no one to ask. Perhaps airline customer service is now like the Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates — “You never know what you’re going to get” (like the people on Steven Slater’s JetBlue flight). I’m sure the people my stranded, savvy traveler friend helped were glad they ran into her last week. Too bad that it takes small miracles to discover this kind of service these days.