ATW Editor's Blog

To the PSA pilot who made my Christmas Eve


It can often be the little things that make for great customer service, especially when things go wrong. Here’s a true Christmas Eve story of a PSA Airlines pilot who made a difference.

I had a flight Christmas Eve morning from Washington Reagan to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I wanted to visit a friend in the North Georgia mountains for Christmas Eve night, then fly home Christmas Day. So it would be a quick, but special trip.

The aircraft, a CRJ200, was packed with people all anxious to get to their holiday destinations. There were several families, young kids and babies. Being a regional jet (PSA operates for American Airlines), we were bused to the aircraft and climbed an outside stairway to board. As we queued, I saw the captain had placed a little plastic Christmas tree on the cockpit window and he waved at the passengers, which had everyone smiling.

But as we taxied out, the captain gave us the bad news: some warning lights had come on and we would have to switch off the engine, reboot and hope that did the fix. It didn’t, so the captain explained we’d have to go back and wait for a technician to come onboard. The passengers responded with sighs and groans, some juggling toddlers on their laps.

Then something rather unexpected happened. Instead of staying in his seat, the captain came out and told everyone: “I know you all want to get out of here and I’m sorry for the delay and I know it’s frustrating. So I’m going to walk down the aisle and if you want you can yell at me; I won’t take it personally!” And that’s what he did – walked down the aisle of that cramped little CRJ and chatted with his customers, none of whom, of course, now felt like yelling at their pilot.

He then walked back to the front of the aircraft and asked the flight attendant to pour some cups of water and put them on trays. He personally delivered those water cups to every passenger, receiving lots of good wishes for a Merry Christmas.

Maintenance came, the warning light issue was fixed and we set out again, arriving in Chattanooga about two hours late but with a relaxed and happy set of passengers.

To the captain of AA flight 5132 from DCA to CHA Dec. 24 (I’m sorry I’m didn’t get your name, but I know you are based in Charlotte) a big thank you for enjoying your job so much and for truly delivering great customer service.  To you and all in this industry, wishing you a peaceful, successful New Year and Happy Flying in 2018!

Karen Walker

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