I was stressed in New Orleans. It was Thursday afternoon and I was at Louis Armstrong Airport waiting for my flight to Dallas to make my connection for my overnight flight to London. I was tired because it had been a long week. I flew out to New Orleans on the previous Saturday to attend meetings and a conference. Five days of early starts and late finishes. Lots of walking, standing, talking, sitting, eating, listening, drinking, exercising and thinking.
I was keen to get home. Six nights away is a long trip for me. I had missed both a Saturday and a Sunday with my family. And a big England vs. Wales sporting event. I was stressed because my connecting flight from New Orleans was showing as delayed.
I had ninety minutes at Dallas on my schedule – normally more than enough for a transfer from an internal flight. But I arrived to see a twenty minute delay and to see colleagues who were due to have left on the earlier flight to Dallas some sixty minutes previous.
It had been a great week. The atmosphere at the conference was very engaging and positive. My meetings big and small had been exciting and interactive. My internal colleagues had been superb. It is a thrilling time in our industry. And a fantastic time to be part of our industry.
My external interactions ranged from more formal meetings with established partners through to informal connections with new people and teams. Every one had been a delight. I learned more again from every interaction. About our partners – their wants and needs; about our industry – what we are doing and more we can do; about our company – how were are doing and what more we could do; and about myself – where I am and how much more I want to do.
But at that moment in Louis Armstrong Airport…I just wanted to go home. And my plan was now showing forty minutes delay. I could feel how hard I was working not to get stressed.
The departure terminal was already manic. Mine was not the only plane that had been delayed. Planes were arriving (late) and departing (late). Everyone had connections. The airline crew behind the desks were under pressure. There were long lines of passengers in various stages of irritation at every desk. Understandable but of little help to me.
We were then moved to an hour delay. I knew I had to do something. But what? I had looked at every website I could think of, but the only consistency was that they were all showing a delay. Although – needless to say – my international flight from Dallas was showing on time!
I saw no value from joining one of the lengthening lines in the airport. So I decided to call my international airline helpline. I didn’t know what they would say but I had to try something.
I was connected to Matt. He was immediately amazingly reassuring. His system showed my flight on route to New Orleans and estimated departure. He also gave me the gate arrival time in Dallas (much more useful) and even better told me the quickest way to change terminals to make my connection.
And better yet, Matt identified three other later flights out of Dallas with partner airlines with plenty of open seats…and explained that if we missed our connection we would automatically be switched to one of these flights.
Our call was no more than five minutes. Matt listened. Reassured. Advised. Helped. One way or the other I knew I was going home…that night. I sat back down. Relaxed. Confident. Happy.