As someone who has to fly frequently, there’s nothing about getting on an airplane these days that one would consider enjoyable. By charging to check bags, the airlines are forced to board planes 30 to 40 minutes before take off to enable passengers to cram their luggage in the overhead bins. Imagine how much more efficient loading and unloading would be on an airplane if the airlines charged to carry on and provided checked baggage at no cost?
Baggage policies are not the only reason that flying is not pleasurable. Many flight attendants do not appear to enjoy their jobs (Southwest attendants are excluded). More often than not, they are surly, unfriendly and even combative. To those who fly regularly, were you at all surprised that United Airlines dragged a passenger off a plane?
A third annoyance is the intellectual dishonesty of the airlines. They purposely inflate estimated arrival times so they can increase the percentage of flights that arrive “on time.” An hour flight is advertised as taking 90 minutes. Do the airlines truly believe that their most valued customers – frequent flyers – don’t realize that flight time inflation is regular practice?
The list of annoyances and unpleasantries is almost endless. That’s why when an airline actually does something nice, it makes a huge impression. On a recent JetBlue flight, I was seated next to a woman who had a framed picture that she was bringing as a housewarming gift for her son. The framed painting would not fit in the overhead. It did fit underneath the seat but projected into the aisle, clearly in violation of FAA’s requirements to leave all aisle space unencumbered in the rare case that the plane would need to be evacuated. I did not foresee a pleasant outcome for the painting or the person sitting next to me. If the painting had to be checked, chances are that it would be damaged or destroyed, because it was not wrapped properly to be put on a conveyor belt or handled as a piece of luggage. To my utter shock, the flight attendant said no problem. The plane was half full (a rarity) and he indicated that he would strap the painting on the seats in front of us. Even if the plane was full, I was confident that this flight attendant would have found a workable solution.
This JetBlue experience was so refreshing, because it belied expectations. And therein lies the opportunity for properties. Brainstorm with your team to identify opportunities to pleasantly surprise and delight your residents and tenants. When you do, your random acts of kindness will make a huge difference and likely generate higher retention rates and more positive online reviews.