Virtually all of us know that sinking feeling in the pit of our
stomachs. It accompanies the sense of dismay or even panic that
sets in when our flight is canceled or delayed.
It happened to me Nov. 8 on Continental Flight 402 to LAX from
Bush Intercontinental in Houston. I was returning from an overnight
in Houston for the Norwegian Sea’s introduction into the market,
and I was eager to get home for what was left of the weekend.
The sinking feeling is worse if you’re already strapped into
your seat and if you’ve snagged a primo window seat in an exit row
with no seats in front of you. We were ready to pull back from the
gate when the pilot made his announcement. Turns out a luggage
truck had driven into our plane’s open cargo door while loading
baggage, and the door couldn’t be fixed.
So we all trudged off the plane into the gate area where a hefty
man with a booming voice told us to sit in the seats at the gate.
(I felt just a little like a schoolchild.)
He quickly informed us of the problem, told us the airline would
swap our plane with a different one, and then we’d be rebooked into
new seats since the configuration was different. He then handed out
$8 lunch vouchers and told us takeoff would be in less than an hour
and a half.
Yeah, right. I ate a square cheeseburger at Wendy’s and returned
to the gate. And was pleasantly surprised when I was immediately
handed a boarding pass for seat 21A not as prime as 7A, but a
window exit nonetheless. Lo and behold, we soon boarded and took
off by the time we were told from the start.
The gentleman who handled the situation was Mark Grossbard, a
supervisor for Continental. He informed us of what was going on,
what he was going to do and then fed us because it was lunchtime.
Because of his actions, he ended up with no cranky or even abusive
Problems happen. The difference between a poor company and one
that inspires loyalty is how the problems are handled. This time,
Continental and Mark Grossbard did everything right.