An Open Letter to American Airlines

I expect better.

In the last 15 days, I have been on 9 flights. 5 with American. All went well until flight #8 made me miss flight #9.

Mind you, it didn’t have to happen. Yes, it was delayed, yes, it was a tight connection, but we got to the gate at 9:02 for a 9:16 flight. Yes, we saw that boarding closes 15 min before take off, but that isn’t the point.

The point is that when our fellow passengers got off in JFK on AA, there were people to meet them at the gate to get them expedited to their next flight. No one even acknowledged we had another flight or tight connection. We literally RAN from one terminal to another only to miss the flight.

We were greeted at the closed gate by a man in a suit who did not tell us to go to rebooking, but put us on a golf cart with 3 other people to go from gate D16 to E7 (mind you were can in at E11) and took pictures of our boarding passes (as did the golf cart driver) after telling us that there was plenty of room on the next flight.

Well, after we were left by the driver, the gate agent showed up, shocked to have a group of stressed and tired passengers saying they were told they would be on that flight (We started our day in Paris at around 3 AM EDT). She was quickly overwhelmed and let us know she was 11 people overbooked and we were not getting on the flight and she had no idea who sent us and no, a golf cart could not take us back to D37 for rebooking. All of this as we watched the crew from our plane, get on the flight we were told we would be on.

So we walked back.

The rebooking people did their job and got us on the morning flight. We got a hotel, but had to Uber because the shuttle stopped running 6 minutes before we got there. We had to Uber back in the AM because the shuttle didn’t start until 7. Everyone was nice enough and the stay was fine for the 3 hours of sleep we got after finally getting dinner at midnight.

Oh, and we were lucky. The there was a passenger who was 21 who also missed the flight and he had to sleep at gate 37 because he was too young to go to a hotel. He was also part of the group who was shuttled on the golf cart.

We are home now, but all of this could have been avoided with a little extra effort on your part. Here is what could have saved you money and lots of stressed people:

1. Priority debark for passengers with tight connections. If we were in row 1 rather than 23 we might have made the flight.

2. Have someone to take people to the next gate or rebooking if it is far away.

3. Let us know that we might have to rebook so we don’t run like crazy across the airport. We were on your airline, so you knew.

4. Don’t let staff mislead people or cart them around and leave. I wish I got the man’s name, but his “helpfulness” made the situation worse.

So as a long term Advantage Member, I am disappointed.

As a frequent flyer, I am frustrated.

The messages that my bag arrived early were not helpful since the bag made the flight and I didn’t.

The situation is resolved, but I just think you could do better.

9 flights, 1 train ride, and 4 countries in 15 1/2 days

A small drink on one of our many flights

I like the idea of vacations and being on them much more than the act of planning a vacation. This most recent one was supposed to be easy, Spain and Portugal. The challenge was the lack of direct flights, the expense, and even more expense if we didn’t do a round trip. So we decided to add 1 more stop in Paris to save money and give us a chance to go to one of our favorite vacation spots.

So we added Paris. Then we needed to decide if we wanted to go to Spain or Portugal first. There were 4 cities we wanted to see. They were Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, and Porto. We could fly to the countries and take trains in between the cities.

When we started to feel like it was too much, we dropped Porto from the list and kept the other 3. Then throw in the wrench. I was granted to opportunity to go to a conference in England while we were on vacation. A few changes of bookings and Barcelona got dropped and Manchester was added.

The next challenge was finding a flight from Lisbon to Manchester. After an unsuccessful search, we figured out we could take a train to Porto and get to Manchester that way. Whew!

Planes were on time, train was on time, but the one other sticky point (other than being nervous the hurricane was going to keep us from leaving Orlando) was now that Norwegian Air closed up shop, direct flights to Paris are rare and expensive. Add in paying with points and you end up on 5 flights to get to Paris and back.

So I am now on flight 7 as I write about all of this crazy and I hope we stay on schedule and I don’t curse it by saying all has gone well.

Next trip will be simpler and have way less moves, but all in all, we loved every bit of it. Except maybe the lack of air conditioning in a couple of places and the double landing with Ryan Air.

More to come.

By the way, Eddie took 2 additional round trips by train while I was at the conference in Manchester.

Update- I cursed it. Will share in another post after we get home. Flight 9 is in the wings…

Perspective

Having the opportunity to travel to 4 different countries over a 2 week period is a tiring, but beautiful experience. There is so much to learn about other cultures and the people of these amazing places.

One of my favorite things is to visit museums. I am amazed by the details of historical paintings. Some are so good, they look like photographs. Probably because before photography, this was the way to memorialize people and scenes. Imagine a time when you couldn’t just snap a picture on your phone!

What strikes me though is how history is revised through the eyes of the artist. In many ways like the propaganda we receive through all forms of media (especially political ads). Some of the religious paintings seems to tell a much different story than I have read in my Bible. As I reflect on this, in many ways, nothing has changed. People often believe what they are told. Pieces of the story come forward while other pieces are left behind.

Yesterday, my husband went to a museum in Liverpool, England. He was surprised and amazed that the museum showed the raw truth about slavery in their country. In his words, “they owned up to it, bad things and all”.

As a society, we can’t move forward if we tell ourselves lies and revise the history that happened before us. Some of the situations we face are bigger than us. Bigger than one country. Whether it is economics, climate, or politics, we are all entangled whether we admit it or not.

It is time to see each other for who we are, work together on solutions, and learn history so we do t repeat it.

Schedules

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

I once heard a podcast by Andy Stanley and he talked about how some of our relationships are based on our schedules. I don’t think we put much thought into it, but as our schedules and others schedules change, it is often more difficult to maintain close relationships.

I have friends that I really care about, but I don’t see or talk to them as often as I used to. I used to have breakfast monthly with some girlfriends and it was always an uplifting and fun event. When I changed jobs and Longwood became a world away, the breakfasts stopped. I still try to keep up with these friends on social media and occasionally in real life, but it is harder now for us to make time for each other.

One of my closest long-time friends and I used to talk every day going to and from work. Now our schedules are different and so we have lost that time together. I will still be there in a heartbeat if she calls and the same is true for her with me, but that day to day interaction has been disrupted.

Same goes with my kids. At one point in time, we spoke every day. Now it is maybe a few times and week and I see them several times a year. Big difference from 18 years of being together daily.

It is hard to stay connected when life changes. We all go through seasons and during some points we are closer to people than others. In this season, I am happy to have my parents close by and I get to see them much more often than when we lived 4 hours away. Same goes for my sister. In the past we saw each other on holidays and occasionally when one of us would make the drive. Now we see each other weekly, and I like that much better.

To my friends who I don’t see as often. I still love you! I am thankful for all of the times we have had together and the memories we have made. I hope our schedules will once again be in alignment so we can spend more quality time together. Until then, I will see you on social media and talk to you on the occasional call. Feel free to reach out now and again and I will do the same.

Kindness

I was recently scrolling through Linkedin and I saw a post my son wrote. The beginning of the post went like this:

Kindness is vastly underrated.

I see so much negativity online and in the world, and so I understand how easy it is to become bitter or jaded. However, the best antidote to hate is love and kindness is an emergent property of an unconditional love and respect for humanity.

A gift of Kindness

As a person who is a big fan of kindness, this made my heart happy. It is easy to forget the people behind posts are just people. It is easy to get annoyed or mad. It should be easy to be kind.

The pillow above was a gift from a program manager at the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation. I spoke at a conference about how I thought it was cool to be kind, and the next day he found me and gave me this pillow. It sits prominently in my library as a reminder.

The other day I was really frustrated with someone and I told a friend “I just hate her right now”. Her response was so perfect. She said “Don’t hate, that is not who you are.” Wham that silenced me for a moment.

So I say all of that to say this- the best way for us to be kind to ourselves is to be kind to one another. 💕

Inclusion

Everyone wants to be loved.

Everyone wants to be included.

We need to do better. As I think about how much I have had the opportunity to get out of my bubble over the last few years, it makes me realize how many amazing people are out there I never would have had the opportunity to know if I didn’t open my heart and mind.

History has shown us just how terrible people can be to each other. From caste systems to racism, to treating others as less than, humanity has shown how callous we can be.

I challenge you today to reach out to people who are different from you. Expand your bubble. Open your mind, and you may just find out we are all more alike than you think.

#loveoneanother

Acknowledgement

A Note I Received Yesterday

I am not the type of person who seeks recognition. I love to be behind the scenes connecting dots, scheming and dreaming (Z- I miss this with you!) and coordinating efforts. That often times means that I just do what I do and move from one thing to the next.

I am very goal-oriented and self-motivated, but once in awhile it is good to have someone just say “I appreciate you.” Yesterday, I was moved to tears twice which is not unusual, I am actually secretly a sap, but it was really special because I was able to see the culmination of several years of work turn into something positive.

The first thing that moved me to tears was a simple text that said “I can’t thank you enough.” It was from someone I had connected with several years ago around a shared advisory board. He has since that time become very dear to me and I have been fortunate to work closely with him on a project that became very real yesterday as we saw what it will look like when it rolls out. A simple response to a Facebook post turned into a journey that has led us to where we are (to be announced soon). He has done a ton of the work along with a great group of advisors, but I was able to open some doors to make it all happen. His acknowledgement in that moment, made it even more special.

The other acknowledgment came from a note I received from a former employee. In her note, she thanked me for pushing her out of her comfort zone both personally and professionally. She is now embarking on a new venture and will benefit, I hope, from our time together. It was a simple gesture, but it had so much meaning for me.

I just want to encourage you to encourage others. Simple notes, texts, and thank yous can go along way to keep people motivated and feeling appreciated. It certainly did for me.

Leadership & the Great Resignation

I have learned so much from bad bosses*. Let me clarify, I have learned how not to lead from managers I have had in the past who were not good leaders. I thought I would share a few lessons learned as we are continuing through the great resignation, reshuffling or whatever we call it next.

Some resignations are going to happen for a variety of reasons. Things like retirement, growth, and change of industry may be out of your control. Pay is sometimes a motivator for people to leave, so my suggestion is to pay as well as you can.

Here is my 2 cents for whatever it may be worth:

  1. Don’t take credit for your employee’s work. This just pisses them off and makes them vent about you to other people as they get on the internet an search for a new job. I had one boss, we will call him GQ, who never lifted a finger and got credit for everything I did. He was good at reading reports so he could act like he knew what was going on. When I eventually left, he was at a loss because he was too busy planning his wedding, taking long lunches, and surfing the internet to pay attention to who our clients were and how to keep them happy.
  2. Listen to your employees. I try to be really open to feedback. Sometimes it is not what I want to hear, but I have to appreciate that someone cares enough to help me to be better. I had a boss in a previous job when I worked in Human Resources who was a complete narssicist. He thought he knew everything. I did find it entertaining though, when he would share something I had told him with everyone at the management meeting to educate them on whatever the topic was. So he did hear me. After I left, he had to resign for harassment. You can’t keep everyone out of trouble.
  3. Micromanagers suck. If you have to be in my space all the time asking if I did something, then you are not letting me do my job. The only exception is to manage a new task or process until someone becomes proficient.
  4. Be transparent. Don’t let the grapevine be the source of information. Be as open and honest about things as possible.
  5. Deal with conflict. Not dealing with conflict just creates more conflict and stress. Don’t wait until review time to give feedback.

I do want to give a disclaimer that being a bad boss is not the same as being a bad person. Both GQ and the Narcissist were really fun to hang out with and be around. They just were not good managers. The Narcissist ran a really tight ship and got stuff done, but he caused a lot of grief along the way. GQ was very likeable and had all of the upper management in the company fooled because he could talk the talk, but he couldn’t walk the walk.

If you give employees the freedom to contribute their ideas, help them to reach their personal and professional goals, and give credit where it is due, they are much more likely to stay with you, or if they leave, to leave well.

*Disclaimer- my current workplace is not reflected in any of the people referenced above.

What I Like to Read – Part 3

I am a sucker for a good romance novel. I am a big fan of people in love and stories with happy endings. I secretly cry watching hallmark movies even though they are pretty much all the same story.

Photo by Suvan Chowdhury on Pexels.com

I think I have read pretty much every book by Danielle Steele and I still find myself in tears every time I read one of her books. For me, they are a super easy read and I can get through them in one afternoon or evening.

One book I particularly enjoyed this past year was the Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab. The book combines history with fantasy, and romance, but not in the traditional sense of the word.

Some of the other books I enjoyed were the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library is a fantasy tale of trying again and again until you get it right.

Anything by Nicholas Sparks keeps my heart racing and The Return certainly did not disappoint. Kristin Hannah masterfully weaves romance into her novels and The Great Alone is one of the best of the ones I have read by her.

There are so many authors I have not yet read in this genre because the authors I enjoy have written so many books and I am in the process of reading them all. I hope to add a few new writers to my readings for 2022. I would love to get some suggestions!

What I Like to Read- Part 2

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I actually feel a bit vulnerable sharing my reading list. Like do I really want everyone to know that I enjoy reading psycho-thriller novels? Well I guess you know now.

Some of my favorite authors in this genre are Ruth Ware, B.A. Paris, Rachel Hawkins, and Lisa Jewel. There are a few others including Alex Michaelides, The Maidens, and Silent Patient, where the jury is still out.

I do find some of the books fairly predictable, especially when I have read every book by the author, but I still find them to be enjoyable as I read towards whatever twist there is in the end. I have always been a fan of mysteries and these types of books satisfy some of that intersest.

It is hard to talk about enjoying these types of books because the topics are generally pretty dark, but the twists and turns of the story keep the reader engaged. Being that these books are often on the top of the bestseller lists, I know I am not alone.

Here are some of my favorites, please don’t judge me I do not advocate for any type of violence.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware

The Invisible Girl, Lisa Jewell

The Therapist, B.A. Paris

The Wife Upstairs, Rachel Hawkins

Behind Closed Doors, B.A. Paris- this one was particularly chilling and horrifying all at once.

My next post will be about a lighter topic- Romance Novels.

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