As I read Rich Aberman’s seven lessons for a start up, I began to wonder: how important are anger and betrayal at helping people to reach an epiphany?
..I asked to speak to a supervisor. The woman walked over to her supervisor, whispered something in her ear, and the supervisor simply shook her head “no” without ever looking up from her computer screen. I walked over to the supervisor to explain my situation, but she wouldn’t listen to me or help me find a solution. She just kept saying: “that’s our policy; it says so on our website.” When I got frustrated, she said: “sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the line, or I will call security.” (By the way, the original “Additional Services” attendant was laughing at this point – at me!). By now, I just wanted to get on any flight home. I didn’t know what to do, but I left the line to avoid being removed by security. I was offered zero recourse and shown absolutely no empathy.
I walked to the Virgin America counter, and asked to be put on the first flight to SFO. I was greeted with a smile (and some groovy music and disco lighting). The attendant regrettably informed me that all the flights were booked until 1pm. She volunteered to put me on that flight, and allow me to fly standby for every flight to SFO departing before then. The experience was warm and human. I ended up telling the attendant about my experience with United. She was as surprised as I was.