Thursday, November 30, 2006

Planes, trains, and automobiles

My wife and I spent the holiday weekend in Florida with my parents and grandmother. Its nice to take a short break from the activities around the church. I'm so thankful that I have such a great team of people around me that I can go away and not worry about how the services will go. Great volunteers are wonderful!
The trip was fun for us. We spent some time at Disney and got to see the Osborne family lights show at MGM. There are several million lights put up all along the Hollywood Blvd area that are set to music for an amazing show. Despite some of the goofy things Disney does with social issues they still know better than anyone how to put on a great show for the whole family.
On the trip home we had an exciting time as well. Our flight from Orlando began like any other flight. Just after takeoff, say less than a minute, there was a very loud bang and the entire plane shook. We could smell smoke instantly and there were people toward the back of the plane yelling fire. You don't' need much imagination to understand this is not something you ever want to hear or smell on a plane, especially these days. My wife and I were both scared for sure and began praying for safety. Time seems to slow down in these cases so I don't know how long it was before the captain came on and said that we were going to go back and land immediately. By this time I realized we were not in grave danger but still had no idea what was going on with the plane. We made a safe landing and after the emergency teams came out and checked the plane we finally were taken back to the terminal and off loaded. Eventually, we were told that they think a large bird was pulled through the engine.
I'm a super big proponent of high quality customer service. I know it can make or break any organization, whether its a church or an airline. I've shared in the past poor service things that have happened so I want to share a positive one. The airline staff tried to keep people informed as we waited in the terminal about the situation and how they were going to proceed. In about an hour they had another plane ready to take people on to Atlanta. For us it was to late to catch a connecting flight on to DC and they told us to stay put as they worked out what to do. They booked us on the first direct flight from Orlando to DC the next morning and put us in a nice hotel, gave us meals, and tried to make it as easy as possible. I give them big kudos for doing a good job in a very stressful situation. In addition, we got 2 round trip tickets anywhere they fly.
Thanks AirTran for making a bad experience much more pleasant.

As for the hotel we stayed in that night, they also had great service and took excellent care of us. However, for the love of all that is holy, high speed Internet access should be FREE at all hotels. We stayed at a Quality Inn for the previous nights of our stay that had free wireless service. Yet this Marriott hotel with much nicer accommodations wanted to charge me $10 a day for Internet access. Highway robbery! Seriously, I will not stay at any hotel that doesn't have free Internet these days. Even my church has free access in our cafe'. Such an easy way to win over customers and they miss the boat. It all matters and people notice.

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