When I start my airline company, the first person I am going to hire is Allan. Allan is a manager/supervisor for Cathay Pacific in the Brisbane airport, and Allan understands customer service – big time.
My multi-leg flight from Malaysia to Papua New Guinea was tiring: Kuala Lumpur – Hong Kong – Brisbane – Port Moresby. The Cathay flight from HK to Brisbane was delayed, which threw a wrench into the last leg – operated by PNG’s national airline Air Niugini. (Air Niugini had also frozen my ticket for inexplicablt reasons – but that’s a story for another day).
When I arrived at the departure lounge in Brisbane, an apologetic woman advised me that I would not be able to complete my flight because of the lateness of the inbound flight and the status of my AN ticket. I wish I coiuld recall her name, because she really did do a fabulous job. She looked at my tired face, and just said, “There must be something we can do. Let me check a few things.” Five minutes later, she looked up from her screen, and said, “It might be possible to route you on a Cathay flight to Cairns – then you should be able to catch the Cairns – Port Moresby flight. It will make for a longer day, but at least you’ll get there.”
The problem was, she wasn’t actually an employee of either of the airlines (I don’t think), but a customer service person. That didn’t stop her. She told me there was a Cathay Manager named Allan, and if anyone could cut through all of the red tape to get both me and my luggage where it needed to go, it was him. To be honest, I wasn’t holding up a lot of hope. I have seen much simpler challenges get thwarted by airline processes and bureaucracies. But I was tired, and really had no options, so I braced myself for the inevitable whirlwind of paperwork and headache.
It never came. Allan showed up shortly after being paged. The wonderful customer service lady outlined the situation, and he listened intently. She told him of her idea of rerouting – but the question was whether I needed to buy an additional Cathay ticket to get to Cairns. Allan thought for a moment, looked at me, and said, “Don’t you worry – we’ll get you there.”
When I responded with “Thanks – can you get my luggage there too?” he smiled and said, “And your luggage too.”
Ten minutes later Allan came back to me with a new boarding pass, new luggage tags and a big smile. I would have to get the new Air Nuigini boarding pass when I got to Cairns, but he was trying to make arrangements so that it would be ready when I landed. I can’t even begin to imagine the creative leaps he had to go through to do what he did. And between him and the wonderful woman at the counter, they created a beautiful customer experience. They took a ‘problem’ and turned it into an opportunity.
When I got to Cairns, I was greeted by yet another Cathay person who handed me my final ticket. I thanked her profusely. She just said – It was all Allan’s doing – he’s the best.
Yes. Yes, he is.