Customer Satisfaction

As I was standing in line at the airport to check in, the man in front of me was giving the ticket agent all sorts of trouble. Even though he had a coach ticket, he was demanding a free upgrade to first class or, failing that, "at least business class!" as compensation for some imagined slight. It appeared the agent was doing everything possible to please the man, even though the airline had done nothing wrong. He firmly refused any free upgrades, and the customer seemed be raising his voice louder and louder. So much so I thought the agent would call security, but no:

The agent, in fact, kept perfectly poised. He finally got the man to leave by handing him a $5 meal voucher (which he'd have to walk at least five minutes down the concourse to cash in, effectively getting him away from the place for at least 10 minutes).

Then it was my turn. I stepped up, smiled at the guy and told him, "I don't know how you kept your cool with that jerk."

"Oh, it wasn't too hard," said the agent in a gracious and subtly southern accent. "I've dealt with his type before."

"I still don't understand how you managed to stay so calm when someone is yelling at you like that!" I said.

"Well," he said, "you obviously know you're both heading to Denver?"

"Yes," I said.

"His luggage," said the agent, a twinkle returning to his eye and his voice getting very quiet, "is going to Dallas."

Posted May 6, 2005

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