Yesterday, I wrote a posting from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. Specifically, I wrote from the boarding area.
My flight (AirTran 176) from ATL to DCA was delayed. Weather in the Atlanta area caused a ground stop. The actual airplane to be used for flight 176 was still in Raleigh, North Carolina, awaiting clearance to leave for Atlanta. Our departure would be delayed.
The gate agent got on the public address system and explained all this to people. She ran through a couple of scenarios, depending on when the plane would leave Raleigh, and told us she’d be back in touch in 15 minutes.
About 10 minutes later, she came back, told us which of the scenarios had played out, and what that meant for our flight. She also explained to people waiting for later flights scheduled to leave from that gate what it would all mean for their flights.
She repeated these announcements every 5-10 minutes from then until we were ready to board almost 90 minutes later. She’d begin by saying “in case you weren’t in the boarding area when the last announcement was made…” It reminded me of Red Barber, the old time baseball broadcaster, who used an egg timer to remind him to tell the audience the score, so they always knew, even those who joined the broadcast late. Until we boarded the plane, this young woman made sure we had all the information we needed. When I boarded, I thanked her for doing that.
The boarding area was quite crowded all this time, but there was no consternation, there were no disturbances. Everyone was calm, all the way through boarding and the flight. People were in a good mood, even. I think this is because we always had up to date information, we never had to guess and hope when our flight would be ready, and so we were prepared and not disappointed.
There has been a lot of attention these past couple of years on passenger service. I am convinced that what most passengers really want is reliable, candid, up to date, information. They hate it when no information is forthcoming. They hate it when people just tell them there is an ATC delay. Most passengers understand that, sometimes, things happen. They just want to be informed.
The young woman at gate C8 in Atlanta yesterday afternoon did that. And her passengers were most grateful.