This week we’ll talk about what happens when we THINK Like a BLACK BELT in business from the C-suite to the front lines…
Nobody likes delayed flights. Some even say their worst nightmare is to be stuck in an airport terminal for hours with no food, no lodging and no options for alternative travel.
No- my worst nightmare would be to fall out of the sky because the airline ignored a “minor” mechanical problem and flew anyway. For the record, there are no “minor” problems in aviation; there are problems that can be fixed quickly and others that take time.
Groundings and delays happen. Customers have no choice but to make the best of it. Sadly, airlines and airport personnel seldom seem to seize the opportunity.
Another recent story of passengers grounded in Midland, Texas provides an opportunity to demonstrate how Black Belt Mindset can save the day and make you a hero instead of a goat in the eyes of your customers.
Here’s the scenario:
A passenger becomes critically ill and dies on a flight from Orlando to Los Angeles forcing the pilot to divert to Midland. Upon landing, the ground crew discovers a mechanical issue that needs attention and further delays the flight. There are no rooms available to accommodate the 150 stranded passengers.
Let’s keep our perspective. If any one of us experienced the death of a family member or dear friend on a flight, we would hope the crew would put down at the nearest available airport and let us deal with this terrible situation. We would also hope that our fellow passengers would understand and tolerate any delay.
By and large this group of passengers was extremely tolerant, however, after several hours of waiting with no food, no beverages and no lodging…the mood began to change. Finally, one of the passengers asked if there might be a 24 hour pizza joint nearby and suggested a delivery.
You’re an employee at the airline or the airport. What would you have done?
Since we THINK Like a BLACK BELT, we would see opportunity in this disaster…
We would have ordered a food delivery. We would not wait for approval from a supervisor. If we didn’t have authorization for the expense, we would have simple taken up a collection from the passengers and offered to go out and get some food as soon as possible. If the food service stations at the airport were shuttered for the night, we’d be making phone calls and telling the proprietors that they had a golden opportunity waiting for them if they could get to the airport right away.
We would have called our local chamber of commerce and found businesses willing to rally to the call. We would have made this unscheduled stop a shining example of Midland hospitality. We would have found restaurants willing to make a delivery. If we couldn’t find rooms for the passengers or assuming they simply couldn’t leave the airport, we would have found pillows and blankets or sleeping bags.
We would have found out if anyone had any special needs. In this particular situation, there was an autistic child on the flight.
We would suggest to our employers that in the future, we stock an inventory of non-perishable snacks, bottled water, blankets and pillows for just such an contingency.
We certainly wouldn’t make the passengers have to file for their “Passenger Bill of Rights” rebates and privileges; they’d have a coupon in their hands for another flight as they re-boarded the plane.
The airline wasn’t wrong in this situation. They certainly should keep a plane on the ground if it needs repair. Legally, the passengers are not their responsibility once they’re on the ground- they’re not running a hotel or a food service.
The airport really wasn’t in the wrong either. They did, however, miss an opportunity. These passengers will no doubt talk about this incident for the rest of their lives. Instead of talking about being stranded with no food or water for 16 hours, they should be talking about the amazing hospitality in Midland, Texas.
Black Belt Mindset is the mindset of courage, confidence and innovation. It takes entrepreneurial courage and confidence to step outside policy and do what’s right in the moment. It takes creative thinking and innovation to find a solution to what seems like a insurmountable problem.
When you THINK Like a BLACK BELT you know the power of focused practice. We would rehearse for just just a scenario and have contingency plans in place and ready to implement.
This will not be the last time a group of passengers will find themselves stranded in an airport after the food vendors have pulled down their steel gates for the evening. If you work in any of our airports or serve on the ground for any of our airlines…and if you THINK Like a BLACK BELT; this should be the last time your passengers go hungry or thirsty the next time it happens!
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