On my most recent trip to Phoenix, I was faced with some challenging travel arrangements. Being that it is the summer travel season, booking business travel can present some unique opportunities for misadventures and travel mishaps. Now normally, I would fly out late afternoon, but due to my company’s inability to approve travel requests in a timely manner, I ended up staying an extra night with a scheduled departure at 6:00am. Up at 4:30, quick shower, a cup of Joe for the road, and the door closes on another successful stay at (my personal favorite) Marriott.
I drop off the rent-a-car, hop on the shuttle, looking forward to getting on the plane for a power nap before arriving back in Denver for a late morning and an afternoon full of conference calls. Think again Bucko, you are flying United. It was just like Emeril jumped out and yelled BAM, right in my face, a 3 hour delay! Imagine my frustration. After a long week in 100+ degree heat, the Friday before a holiday weekend, I was in no mood for travel delays. Heck I could have slept a few more hours. Cursing at United under my breathe I turned the corner towards security; unbelievable, the longest security line I have ever seen in Phoenix, and at 5:30 in the morning.
I decided to make the best of a bad situation. Once I got through security, I grabbed breakfast from the Paradise Bakery and sat down. Now when I travel, just like most of you, I utilize the full complement of electronics. You know, as the commercial goes, “You are a Sales Pro”! I have my PC and Blackberry with me of course, but I am an iPhone guy. I love my iPhone, it has all my travel entertainment, games, newspapers, and the most importantly of all, Twitter and Tunes.
As I tuned on the tunes and fired up Twitter I could feel my mood begin to change. My favorite “Kings of Leon” songs and my favorite Tweeps. Yeah, I know, but I figured I have a major delay I might as well check in on what’s happening in cyberspace. I read a few articles and various posts from some of my favorites, adding some of my candid comments. Well you know what, thanks mainly to a few of my favorite tweeps, my mood and attitude turned from frustration and distain to being very light hearted, smiling, and enjoying the moment. I suddenly found myself very relaxed and in the moment. Very much aware of my surroundings, I began looking around taking note of the all the people around me. The modern day business traveler, the traveling family on vacation, people of all types off to who know ‘s where. It seemed as if everyone had some sort of personal electronic device. If I had a dollar for every electronic gizmo I saw I would have caught a flight to Maui.
Anyway, I checked on my flight status and decided it was time to head towards the gate. When I arrived at the gate there was an usual amount of United personnel standing around. A couple were on the phones, several more were walking around with walkie-talkies. Most of the passengers seemed to be complaining about missing connecting flights while others just seemed PO’d in general. Now since I was in the moment with Twitter and Tunes I was just taking it all in. It was like being in a Seinfeld episode. It turns out that United was missing a crew. Yes the plane was there but no crew. An occasional announcement to let us know that they were working on it and efforts were being made to find the crew. It actually became quite humorous. One announcement was that a plane just landed and the crew would be over shortly. Next thing you know, well that wasn’t really the case as they got the flight numbers wrong. Another was that a different crew from US air was going to take over the flight and they were going to shuttle them over to our gate via a van. All of the sudden five UAL employees are running over to the window only to walk away in disappointment when the van driving towards our gate was just a baggage handler. Another 15 minutes go by then, as if on cue, a thunderous and resounding round of applause breaks out as an entire flight crew comes walking into the gate area. Our Seinfeld episode had come to the end. All that was left was the epilog. As if direct from the script, the United gate attendant moves a sign that had been turned the wrong way and opens the door to the jet way. How ironic (this is actually the sign that was blocking the door)
The lesson here is (or should be) pretty obvious. When life throws you a bunch of lemons, don’t make lemonade, turn to Twitter and Tunes!
A special shout out to some of my awesome tweeps, @paulcastain, @Salesdujour, and @FearlessSelling for helping me to find my balance and the humor in this situation. Also, a big thank you to United Airlines and Jerry Seinfeld for including me in this episode; “Who Lost the Crew”. This was possibly the most enjoyable trip I’ve taken, seriously!