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The Key to Getting Superb Service: Be Nice

Dear Rudy:

Listening to your recent segment about being nice to airport staff reminds me of one of the most important lessons I learned about travel - and about life in general.

I was having one of those terrible travel days. I had risen early in San Diego to catch a morning flight through Chicago to Allentown, Pennsylvania, which was postponed due to bad weather in Chicago. Then I was rerouted on a later flight through DC, where I was stranded for the night by another storm. The woman in front of me at the ticket counter was yelling at the clerk and demanding that they put her in a hotel. The clerk and her supervisor patiently explained that the airline is not responsible for weather delays. The woman left in a huff.

When my turn came, I was so tired and frustrated that I had no fight left in me, so I quietly informed the counter agent of my travails and politely asked if she could direct me to a kiosk or phone bank where I could arrange for a hotel. To my surprise, she called her supervisor over and asked if they had any complimentary hotel tickets left. Within 15 minutes, I was on my way to a very nice room at the Washington Hilton. But wait! It gets better. The airline also gave me complimentary food coupons for use in the airport restaurant. Since I had spent enough time in airports that day, I stuffed them in my bag, thinking I might use them in the morning. But the Hilton offered to exchange them for credit in their own restaurant.

My terrible day ended with a nice meal and a nice room, where I had a very nice sleep, all at no cost. I dozed off wondering where the nasty woman in front of me ended up sleeping and what she paid for it.




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