What do you get when you combine a teething 10 month old baby, a nervous mother traveling solo, a WestJet Boeing 737 plane and a 6 AM flight?
You get my Thursday morning, and my first flight with my son!
I am an avid traveler, a big fan of flying, and an even bigger fan of GREAT airlines. After traveling across Canada, North America, and the world, I certainly have opinions on what makes an airline experience good or bad, and just about everything in between. This particular experience included flying in the middle of Ukraine in a 20-seater plane that I swear was from World War II…but nothing could have prepared me for this flight with my 10-month-old son. All I can say is thank heavens for good flight attendants WestJet angels sent from heaven.
I was nervous about this flight: my son was teething, neither of us had slept much the night before, we had to be up at 3 AM for our 6 AM flight, and I was doing it all alone. Off to the gate we went, my son in my front carrier, my carry-on and diaper bag rolling behind me. My son was dozing as we patiently waited for our boarding call. Then I hear the sweet words: PRE-BOARDING! Never before had I been able to take advantage of this.
After showing identification, we boarded the plane and I tried to gently put him down and keep him sleeping so I could get us set up for the 5 hour flight. To go a little off-topic, I must say that it is impossible to “travel light” when you have to feed, entertain, sooth and pacify a baby on a plane for 5 hours!
Not surprisingly, the minute he hit the seat, he woke up and started to fuss. With him slung on one hip, I tried to get us unpacked and set up for the flight – toys, snacks, bottles, blanket, books…I can keep going! Needless to say, this was not easy. Then out of nowhere, Brad approaches, smiling with outstretched arms. When he said, “Can I take him for you?” it was the start of something beautiful. “Absolutely!” I replied enthusiastically.
After moving us to a row with an extra seat, Brad took Lucas up and down the aisle while I got us settled. He then asked if this was Lucas’ first flight (he actually went back to the flight list to find out his name!). I said yes, so he went through the safety procedures for flying with infants, tips to help him through air pressure changes during take-off/landing, and ideas to keep him entertained. I was elated! Because of this five-minute conversation, I felt comfortable knowing exactly what to expect and do in case of emergency, and I felt prepared with the tips and suggestions to help Lucas through the long flight.
For the next five hours, Lucas was a champ, despite teething and being overtired. As any parent can attest, entertaining an active 10 month old in a two-foot airplane seat is rather challenging nearly impossible. Part way through the flight, Brad started taking Lucas for a “walk” around the plane. He did this numerous times – often right when I was getting tired of playing peek-a-boo for the 1000th time. When we were packing up to leave, he took Lucas from me so I could gather our scattered belongings and left us with a little momento to mark Lucas’ first flight. He waved good bye to us as we exited the plane, genuinely smiled and welcomed us back to fly with WestJet again. You BET we will!
These little details may have been protocol in Brad’s job when infants come onto his plane, but the genuine care and concern he had for my son was 100% him. This experience could have easily gone a different direction and turned me off of flying with an infant altogether. Instead, it not only made me excited to fly with Lucas again, but also converted me into a lifelong WestJet flyer. Not only will I fly with WestJet exclusively, but I will tell all of my friends about this experience – again and again and again – especially my mommy friends.
The Lesson from WestJet:
Customer service can make or break a relationship with your customers, so take every opportunity you can to WOW them. When you take the time to go the extra mile for a customer, they will remember it and come back to you again and again. Also, remember people don’t talk about good or average customer service – they talk about the bad and the exceptional. Providing truly exceptional customer service means your customers will talk about their experiences long after your interactions with them.