Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Right Thing

Picture this: A flight is delayed at the gate. A man sits in his seat and weeps. A flight attendant asks if she can do anything. He tells her his problem. She tells the captain. The captain gets the flight out as soon as he can and calls ahead to ask the connecting flight to hold for the man. The connecting captain holds. The man arrives in time to see his sick mother just before she dies.

Bigwigs at desks in company headquarters crack whips on underlings to get flights out on time because they think that's the most important measure of their competitiveness and their pressure is felt at the operational level every hour of every day. If I'm even one minute late getting off the gate I'll get a nasty gram from ACARS asking me why I delayed.

Nonetheless, the bigwigs undoubtedly jumped with joy and patted each other on the back when they read the news about what their crews had done. Who gets the credit? The bigwigs publicly say their happy crews get the credit, but  they know the drill. Crap always flows downhill, but sweet fragrance wafts upward. The bigs wink and sip. They created the caring culture that got this man to his dying mom in time and won them high accolades in the press.

And the crews? The flight attendant that cared enough to tell her captain about the man’s problem? The mainline captain who went above and beyond to arrange for the connecting flight to hold? The regional jet captain who refused to release his parking brake (and burned into his layover) until the man was safely aboard? If you asked them why they did it, they’ll shrug and say, “Credit had nothing to do with it. It was the right thing to do.”  

Did you notice I mentioned the connecting flight was a regional jet? That’s important, because it demonstrates that the regional crews are in tune with those whom they hope to someday join. They aspire to come up to the big leagues, and when I hear that they care about their passengers like that, I’m ready to see them across from me in a big cockpit.


Anonymous said...

From what I read in the Aussie press, the crews of both flights were the real carers - they had to get the ball rolling on this situation - and they did. It's a shame the airport wasn't on the ball by providing quick transportation between gates, but it seems to have worked out without them. Three cheers for caring people.

Cedarglen said...

Thanks for sharing this, Alan. The sipping executives and the culture that they have created have nothing to do with it. It was a small group of functional producers, a couple of pilots, a FA and probably one or two CSAs that made this happen. It is a rare event, but I'm glad to know that such things ARE still possible. While not a regular thing, I happy to know that A FEW folks at the majors and regionals are still able to think for themselves and just DO the right thing - once in a while. Thanks for reporting. I hope you are back on flying status, soon. (Nothing worse than a grounded pilot!) -C.

S. J. Crown said...

Kudos to the crew. Perhaps the world would be a better place if we treated everyone as though they were on their way to see a loved one for the last time. As you and I both know, Alan, that time may arrive without warning.

wayne in louisiana said...

Sorry about the late answer to Mildred but she has to be tons better than this x-plane9 sim. And
btw, maybe i missed the reason but how did you hurt your arm?

Alan Cockrell said...

Hi Wayne. After George's crash I decided I needed to stay busy to keep my mind off of what happened, so I started home improvement projects. I drilled out broken brick with a hammer drill and after three days of it the tendons in my right arm became so inflamed I failed my flight physical. (Couldn't reach.) It's much better now. I have my medical back and am back out cutting cons across the sky. Will the x-plane9 will do that?

wayne in louisiana said...

Glad to hear that you are back in the front office. I didn't know George but have flown into Moontown
in many years past. The B777 on x-plane9 is fun to fly. Enjoy your remaining time in the left seat; the
good part about retirement is not having to set an alarm clock.