Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
Crew of United Airlines went above their call of duty when they delayed a flight to help a passenger say a final goodbye to his dying mother.
Sounds unreal, right? Here is the full story.
It was January 2013. Kerry Drake from San Francisco got a call from his brother informing him that his mother, who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for decades, was breathing her last. Kerry went ahead and booked the first flight that he could to Lubbock, Texas. His connecting flight to Lubbock was via Houston, and it was the last for the day. He also had only a 40 minute stopover, but the circumstances demanded that he takes the risk.
Unfortunately, his first flight (United flight 667) was delayed by half hour. It goes without saying that Kerry was distraught. The extremely empathetic flight attendants brought him some napkins to wipe off his tears. They also conveyed the plight of the customer to the captain – passing on the details of his connecting flight. The captain, in turn radioed ahead the information apprising the Lubbock crew of the situation. This is when the crew of the connecting flight decided to delay the departure of the aircraft to ensure that Kerry would be able to board in time.
Kerry had been in panic-mode since, rushing to catch his second flight, when he heard the gate agent say, ‘Mr. Drake, we’ve been expecting you.’ It was only after he settled into the second flight, from Houston to Lubbock when he realised how much effort and coordination had gone into helping him board the plane. But that was not all! The Houston crew had also ensured that his luggage arrived in time.
With so many forces conspiring in helping him meet his mother, it is little wonder that Kerry reached the hospital, well in time to meet his mother. “At one point she opened her eyes, and I think she recognised me,” said Drake, who spent the night at the hospital. “Around 4 a.m. she had a real moment of coherence, a last rally, although we didn’t know it at the time. It was the last time.”
She died that morning.
Upon his return, Kerry ensured that he had written to the crew of United Airlines, expressing gratitude for their immense help and support.
Truly, this IS one of the most amazingly shocking stories of excellent customer experience! Don’t these kind of stories reinstate our faith in humankind? Do let us know if you have had such great service from an organisation. We’d love to publish it for you.
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