Friday, April 15, 2011


Good days and bad days.  We all have them.  People, animals, machines and even corporations.  There have been times when I have been so angry about something I experienced I immediately came home and wrote a nasty letter. Sometimes the issue would be resolved to my satisfaction. Sometimes not.  Regardless of whether or not I received a suitable response to my complaint, it always made me feel better to vent.  

 I also try to make it my business to write the good letters. 

Too often the negative is the only feedback in the loop. Think back to the last time you complained about someone or something.  I am willing to guess that it was pretty easy to remember the last incident.  Now think back to the most recent time you stopped to compliment someone, anyone : your spouse, a friend, a stranger or even contact a company when an employee went out of their way to provide you with good service?  Can you remember that as easily? I hope so.

Today is one of the good days.  I am happy to share with you a letter I wrote to Delta Airlines. 

To Whom It May Concern;
On a recent flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta I noticed several uniformed members of the US Air Force boarding along with me.  As an Air Force veteran, I found myself observing how much the uniform had changed since I had served; though not much else.  Members of the military always carry themselves differently than civilians, especially in uniform and it made me smile with pride to see them.  I travel frequently and often encounter military personnel.  I always want to say something unique and special to each of them but usually all I manage to do is fumble around and thank them for their service. 

On this occasion I decided that I could show my appreciation, albeit in a small way.  Before we departed, I offered my Delta Sky Miles American Express card (yes, in my letter to Delta I even gave them a shameless plug!) to one of the flight attendants and requested that she use it to purchase drinks for all of the uniformed personnel onboard.  I requested that she keep my identity anonymous-to tell them only that the drinks were a gesture of thanks from one vet to others who are now serving their country.

 She thanked me and told me that it was very nice to offer to do that.

 She asked me if I would hold on to my card until the beverage service started.

I had figured she didn’t want to risk losing it. 

Shortly after take-off the ranking member of the group approached my seat and thanked me. Drinks hadn’t even been served yet and my anonymous cover was blown!  It was quite alright however as it afforded me the opportunity to shake his hand and express my appreciation for all of them directly.  I walked back with him to the section where they were sitting and shook all of their hands and thanked each and every one of them.  We chatted a little bit about where they were going as well as what my job with the Air Force had been.

 Later on, when the drink cart came to my seat I thought I’d order something for myself and settle the tab for the others as well.  Once again, I offered my card to pay but neither of the two flight attendants would take it. No, that doesn't quite cover it: they flat out refused to take my card!

I should mention that neither of them was the original attendant I had spoken with so it became apparent to me that this had been discussed among the crew. 

I had simply intended a small gesture of appreciation.  I was grateful that while I had been trying to honor others, I unexpectedly found myself being honored along with them.

I was deeply moved that the Delta crew was so thoughtful that they chose to amplify my personal expression of gratitude. 

As I write this there is a crew of airmen headed to Afghanistan thankful for the gratitude and acknowledgement they received on a Delta flight.  I made the offer and received the high fives, but the real thanks belong to the crew who made it happen-and took none of the credit.

Warmest Regards,

 -end of letter

I made sure to note the names of the crew and include all the pertinent details of the flight so that there was no question as for whom the compliments were intended.  I hope they get the accolades they deserve.

I inserted a P.S. as well:

I would also like to mention that it bodes well for Delta as a corporate entity to see that Delta empowers its employees enough to make these types of ad hoc decisions.  It enables them to enrich the customer experience well beyond the ordinary expectations of customer service.

Don't think I've swallowed too much Koolaid.
Someday Delta may do something stupid and I will be more than happy to let them know that, if and when it happens.

For today, I'm grateful for the opportunity to write the positive letter.

It feels good.


Judy said...

it is so nice to hear that there are considerate and generous people in the world!

Dalai said...

Just got back from a trip via ATL. Soldiers were all over the place, many headed home for Easter leave. We had a chance to personally thank just a few for their service. And it occurs to me...words certainly fail here. How do you thank a young kid for putting his life on his line for you? I hope the message came across...