I don’t know what it is about people who are in airports but there is a constant angry vibe that I’ve seen. This past year I’ve flown over 30 round trips and still can’t believe the lack of kindness in the airports. Believe me, I am not saying that I was a perfect passanger. But when a flight is overbooked, a child is screaming, the security checkpoint line is long, and a line of people trying to find out what is going on, many people have a reason to just mentally snap. And yet, if you are generous with how you treat people, most individuals will be generous back.
A few weekends past, my wife and I had the opportunity to fly to Newark for a wedding. It wasn’t your average run of the mill wedding instead it was sensational. I wasn’t even in the wedding and yet had the opportunity to wear a tux. But, that was a side note. After the wedding was finished Aletheia and I went back to the hotel and packed for our flight the following morning.
Low and behold, after we got to the airport we found that the flight was overbooked. For me, this means adventure but to many others, including my wife, it meant a negative change of plans. I watched the interactions of a father who was irate reaming out the women who was trying to help him while his own kids cried. The father finally walked away expressing his disgust and I was the lucky guest after him. I went up, smiled, and asked if my wife and I could be volunteers (vouchers were going to be given out). Low and behold, they took us.
My wife and I were put on the next flight out, in an hour, with $400 dollars of vouchers each with a free lunch. But the women at the counter took it the next step and advised us that the other flight may be overbooked as well. With this pre knowledge Aletheia and I figured out if we would take advantage of this situation too. No, we weren’t under a time crunch to get back to Indiana but we also had a goal of getting vouchers and being simply nice.
It could be a good faith gesture but after we grabbed our lunch we heard over the speaker some words we were waiting to hear “The flight to Indianapolis is overbooked and we need two volunteers.” I quickly jumped up and went to the desk again. And in this moment the ‘reward’ was $500 voucher each.
But yet, we were still stuck and I decided to ask an interesting question. Was there any way that we could fly to Boston that afternoon and return to Indianapolis from there? The women looked at me, a moment passed, and said something that made me write this. She shared, “You are a nice guy so let me see what I can do.”
Thirty minutes later she had landed us a flight out to Boston, a hotel room at the Marriott overlooking downtown Boston, free vouchers for dinner and breakfast, and an encouraging word.
The funny part about this was the fact that we were nice and got what we asked for instead of them offering a ‘taxi.’ We flew to Boston, had a surprising little vacation with a dinner at the oldest Italian Restaurant in the North End of Boston, $1,800 in flight vouchers with no black out dates, and a reason to truly smile.
I personally understand that not everyone can do this and there are time crunches and ‘not so great benefits’. I personally have been in them continually and watched my father go through them. But at the same time when we treat people with respect, they truly try to help and move forward the situation in a generous way. Being nice encourages others to be helpful and kind back.
The three pointers to take are simple: smile, kindly ask, and say thank you during the process (even in the moments they aren’t working nicely with you). These things can make the world of differences in your service, travel, business, and networking ability.