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CX: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly #6

Air Canada loses luggage, but delivery agent goes the extra mile.

Most of us have had the bad experience of an airline losing our luggage. This can be annoying or infuriating, depending on what you packed in that checked luggage.

This happened to us not too long ago on a ski trip to BC. We had to switch flights to take a smaller plane to the interior. It was high season, so we were in good company with other ski bums making the same journey. The trouble is that some people, like us, prefer to bring their own skis along when they travel. They take up a lot of room, even on planes.

Seated on the smaller plane, waiting for all of the pre-flight preparations to conclude, we watched them try to load countless skis into the cargo area of the small aircraft. It was a bit comical watching one dolly after another come around to get loaded on such a small plane. We knew we were in trouble by the number of dollies we saw and the head-scratching done by the ground crew. We were told by the flight crew that all bags would not make it on. To reinforce that point, I saw our plane taxi by the dolly still holding our skis on our way to our departure runway. Yippee, I was 100% certain that our skis were not making that trip with us.

For the record, I was infuriated. I hate renting skis. It ranks right up there with borrowing shoes for bowling. The fit and size are never quite right. There is always something wrong with them (e.g. never have sharpened edges). And it is just something else we have to do before actually getting to enjoy ourselves. In all my adult glory, a 50 year old man was acting like a snot-nosed 5 year old that is not getting his way. I know, I know… first world headaches to be sure…

On our flight, we quickly figured out that it was pointless to wait around at the airport for our skis to arrive on a subsequent flight. Instead, we could go to our final destination and have the skis delivered there. When we landed, Air Canada confirmed they would get us our skis as soon as possible, probably the next day. I was not holding my breath. The five year old in me was getting agitated again…

We were two hours away from that airport. By the next morning, snow drifts circled our rental vehicle. More snow was falling, light fluffy stuff we powder hounds just crave. I could not wait to get to the mountain. The thoughts of my powder skis being elsewhere made me cringe. My poor wife shuddered at the thought of me and her waiting in line for rental skis on a powder day. She did not mind the wait. What she really minded was having to put up with my whining about the travesty of it all. In her own special way, she told me to put on my big boy pants and get out the door.

We did just that. By 9 am, I was cruising down the mountain, on my crappy rental skis. The fresh powder and altitude were making me forget my first world problems.

I had my mobile phone with me, mostly in case someone from work needed to reach me. It did ring, so I decided to answer, even though I did not recognize the number. It was a delivery person. He was standing at my vacation rental entranceway. He had our skis. He did not want to leave them out front, and asked if he could tuck them away behind the place near a stack of wood, buried in the snow. He had to walk 50 metres in deep snow just to put them there. I was dumbstruck. I could not believe it was my skis! I asked him when he left the airport. He explained the trip took about twice as long due to the poor winter driving conditions. He apologized for being so late. I thanked him, then again, and again, and again, and again.

Our flight got in late in the afternoon the previous day. I had the skis less than 24 hours later, exactly where he said he would put them. The delivery person took the time to reach me to ask where he might leave the skis while we were out. He even offered to return with them later, instead.

He cared about my gear. He cared about getting it to me quickly. He cared about making it right. He cared about my first world problems – enjoying the rest of my trip, with my own skis underfoot. My wife cared that my whining would finally end. And it most certainly did end, replaced by that same five year old, this time with a big smile on his face.

Written by Andreas Noe

Andreas H. Noe, MBA, BComm Marketing, is a founding partner of Phase 5 and has more than 30 years of experience in marketing research and consulting. Andreas leads Phase 5’s Customer Experience and Market Insights teams.