Imagine you are out of town on business and you receive a distressed call from your child’s caregiver saying there has been an auto accident – it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. There is nothing you can do; you are powerless in that moment.
This happened to me on March 19, 2014.
I finished exhibiting at the EXHIBITOR 2014 conference in Las Vegas with another coworker. As we finished our meal, I received a call saying there was an accident – totaling my car and two others. Thankfully everyone was okay, but I realized I needed to get home immediately to be with my son. Problem is – my flight was 5 hours later.
Knowing this, we moved quickly to collect our personal items and headed to McCarran International Airport. On the way to the airport, I called Southwest Airlines to see if they could change my flight. They could, but it was over $100 to change the flight. After pleading with the agent to change it for free, the person said, “Ask a ticketing agent for help – maybe they will have heart enough to help. I can’t do anything for you here.” With renewed hopes of catching an earlier flight, I hopped out of the cab, said goodbye to my coworker, and headed for the ticketing counter.
Then the fun began.
I ran to the 40-person line and asked one of the floor employees if she could help move me to the front of the line. She said she could not help me, but I should try the outside ticketing counter. Before moving outside I attempted to speak across the line to the representative, but fell short.
When I reached the outside counter, there were 6 people waiting in line. I quickly explained to the small group my situation, which they immediately answered with an usher to the front of the line.
Now I’m finally at the counter.
The sweet clerk spared no time assisting me – and mentioned how troubled I looked. After explaining the situation she said there was one plane leaving at 6:10PM – which was 35 minutes from then. She handed me a ticket and said hurry to the gate. If there is a seat available, this will get you on that plane. “For free?” I added. “Yes, for free,” said the agent.
I was blown away with happiness.
From there, I rushed through the airport with my bags jumping over luggage, people, and skipping escalators. I made it to the security checkpoint, but hit a brick wall. They would not expedite me or help me move closer to the front of the line so I jumped in the 75+ years or older line and asked for help. The security agent said no to me and told me to enter the normal line so I did what any parent would do.
I got the attention of the travelers.
Nearly 30 people allowed me to move to the front of the line. From the beginning of the ordeal through the airport, it took 25 minutes. I had 10 minutes to spare, received my ticket at the counter, and was on my way home.
Thanks to Southwest Airlines, their customer-service hearts, and the generous people at the airport that day, I made it home safe within 2 hours to deal with my situation.
Have you ever experienced anything like this on Southwest or another airline? Share your story in the comments below.