Welcome to Katie's Travel Blog. This is really Jenny-doesn't-get-to-travel blog where I (mom) keep track of Katie's adventures so I can have some vicarious enjoyment! Here's a look at what one globally-aware kid from little Santa Cruz, California gets to do these days if her mom's willing to keep working!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

P2P Day 1: An Open Letter to United Airlines

After the drama. Whew.
Dear United Airlines:

You have a hero among you. Today all hell broke loose. I thought we were sunk. And then Landry Stewart stepped in and saved the day. She handled it like a boss. But let me explain. Because it was quite a morning. One I may not soon forget.

We left Santa Cruz at 4:30 this morning for an 8am flight. Katie was finally heading to the UK with the People to People program. First leg: SFO to Chicago. We got to the airport at 5:45 as Katie asked, "Why are we here so darn early?" We entered the terminal to check in.

By 6am we discovered we had a big problem. Apparently a person flying to Scotland - via Chicago - needs to have her passport. Only People to People requires we surrender her
passport to her delegation leader who keeps all the kids' passports together so no one is lost. That would be fine except her delegation manager was in Los Angeles with the rest of her delegation. Katie was to join them in Chicago. Bottomline: no passport.

Check-in sent us to ticketing where we waited in what had to be the slowest line in history. If you want to know where to put resources, add them to ticketing. After 20 minutes, we finally got to a representative who tried to explain Katie could not fly to Chicago on her ticket without a passport. So we thought fine, we'll buy another ticket to Chicago and get her going. No seats were available (at this moment, my daughter lost her innocence as she actually tried to explain yes, there was a seat, it was hers, the one she wasn't using and the representative kept saying, nope, you can't have that one, yes, it will go empty, and so on). No seats were available on any of the next three flights either.

He also explained that the minute she didn't board her ticketed flight, she'd also lose her flight to Scotland and her return flight (what the heck? how did we let things get so insane?) so we were basically stuck. Inexplicably, insanely stuck.

This is where our hero enters the story.

While I was frantically trying to call her delegation leader in Los Angeles (ring no answer for about a half hour) and then work with the travel contact from People to People, Landry had a plan. If I could get a United Representative to call her on the company phone and relay Katie's passport information, they could get her on the plane and just ask to verify the passport in Chicago before she got on board the International flight.

The hunt was on. We scrambled to reach her leader (which we finally did) and the ticketing person in LA said Landry had to call him (whatever). She did so graciously and got the information we needed to get Katie on the plane.

Now this all seems simple enough, but what's missing here is a clock counting down (this took us until about 7:25am), the pressure of a line that was growing by the minute and frankly becoming rather crazed and so much noise and confusion and chaos. Within that tableau, she handled our crisis, still took people in line while we worked on the sideline, managed the crowd and got Katie ticketed and on her way. She even got me a gate pass so I could make sure Katie got on the plane.

I can't imagine working in those conditions. It takes a very special kind of person. Landry should be the ombudsman who expedites people in the line and tells the counter representatives what to do. She needs a company cell phone with access to everyone and I'm convinced, she could single-handedly clear that line!

Katie landed in Chicago with no problem, met up with her delegation and is halfway to Scotland as I write this. While I am finally recovering from my adrenaline-filled morning, there's one more piece to the story I need to share. Because it speaks to the character of Landry.

As she was finishing everything up she waved me in and said to me quietly, "I want to thank you for something you did this morning."

"Me?" I asked, incredulously. "What did I do?"

"You stayed calm," she said. "You didn't get loud, you didn't yell at me, you calmly stayed with me as I tried to figure things out. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. It makes a huge difference. People don't understand that when they start yelling, we kind of short-circuit - it's upsetting. So thank you for staying calm and working it out."

I was totally blown away. Not only did she save the day, but she was together enough to reward my behavior!

So thank you Landry! You were great this morning. You saw me shaking. You knew I was on the edge and how important this was to my daughter. You saved the day and you did it like a boss.


Jen Carole

NEXT UP: Day 2 in Scotland!

Leg one from SF to Chi, leg two from Chi to Edinburgh.

1 comment:

  1. Holy crap...bet you felt like you were having to channel Mama Lion to deal with this...but how cool that you did so with apparent calm...not many of us could do that! So glad that it worked out and that you found a great resource there to be a 'yes person' instead of a 'no person'!!