I fly quite a lot. It’s inevitable really. Even with the wonders of modern technology there is still nothing quite like meeting someone in person, or like a team meeting in the same room. Conversations are different, body language is apparent, mood is sensed, problems are resolved and opportunities are identified.
I always fly with the same airline. It is partly policy and partly habit. Most of my flights are to the same destinations. When I fly long-haul, I fly with a UK airline. Not that I am particularly patriotic…it’s more about the benefit of the majority of people on a plane being from the same time zone as me.
The majority of passengers on a UK-based airline flying back overnight from the US will be very tired and will want to sleep…like me. The majority of passengers on a US-based airline flying out overnight from the US flight will be wide awake and will not want to sleep…unlike me.
I don’t actually get very much from the airline by way of recognition. I get a lot of surveys…and marketing. I was excited last year when I received a thick envelop…could this be the moment? Inside there was a ‘Golden Ticket’…sounded fantastic! But was it a reward? Or some sort of recognition? Well yes…but just not for me!
I read the letter; my Golden Ticket was ‘the chance to recognise staff who give outstanding service.’ Yes it was for me. But it was for me to give to someone I met during my travels that year who really made a difference.
Last year, I dutifully took my Golden Ticket whenever I flew…looking out for that moment when someone really made a difference to me. In the end I awarded it out on my last trip of the year…to someone at Chicago check-in.
I realised of course that I was thinking about it too much (no surprise there then!). I had lots of great experiences on my travels that year, and I always try to recognise and to say thank you. But I held onto that ticket…waiting for one special moment.
This year I received two tickets. I adopted a different plan. I gave the first in January to someone I see most every time I fly back home. He should have been my recipient last year. Always friendly, very helpful and always interested.
I resolved to give out my second ticket instinctively. Whenever the thought came to me. No matter when. Or what.
Last week I flew to the East Coast to meet one of our partner companies. After watching a film and catching up with my email I wandered down to the kitchen and asked if I could have a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. The coffee was for then. The water was for the transfer to my hotel. They had coffee…but there was no water left.
The stewardess apologised and I went back to my seat. A few minutes later she reappeared with a bottle – she had ‘borrowed’ it from the front of the plane. I was surprised but very grateful.
As she left, it hit me – that was the moment. A simple act…not necessary or even expected…but an action that made me feel special.
She had no idea I was carrying a Golden Ticket. She was amazed when I went back to the galley and gave her my Ticket. ‘For a bottle of water? Really?’ She looked shocked. She was delighted.
I smiled as I sat back down. I knew that recognising someone always feels good. Little did I realise how great giving my ‘instinctive’ Golden Ticket would make me feel.