The pilot who cares

Posted on September 12, 2007 
Filed Under Customer Service, Management

[via and Church of the Customer Blog]

Here’s a heartwarming story of a pilot who cares. WSJ describes the unusual lengths by which Capt Denny Flanagan of UA will go to keep passengers happy.

He passes out information cards to passengers with fun facts about the plane; he signs two of them, whose owners will win a bottle of wine.

He snaps pictures of animals in the cargo hold to show owners their pets are safely on board.

He instructs flight attendants to pass out napkins asking passengers to write notes about experiences on United, good or bad.

He orders 200 McDonald’s hamburgers for passengers if his flight is delayed or diverted.

Capt Flanagan personally calls parents of unaccompanied children to give them reassurances when there are delays.

Kenneth Klein, whose 12-year-old son was delayed by thunderstorms in Chicago last month on a trip from Los Angeles to see his grandfather in Toronto, relates: “I picked up the phone and he said, ‘This is the captain from your son’s flight.’ It was unbelievable. One of the big problems is kids sit on planes and no one tells you what’s happening, and this was the exact opposite.”

Capt Flanagan explains his technique: “I just treat everyone like it’s the first flight they’ve ever flown.” The 56-year-old Navy veteran who lives on an Ohio farm and cuts the figure of a classic airline captain – trim and gray-haired – says: “The customer deserves a good travel experience.”

Randall Levelle of Morgantown, W.Va., and his family were flying to San Francisco because his father-in-law had just died. Capt. Flanagan invited Mr. Levelle’s three children into the cockpit during boarding.

“If other folks in the airline industry had the same attitude, it would go a long way to mitigating some of the negative stuff that has come about in the last four or five years,” Mr. Levelle said.



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