Flying The Friendly Skies Friday: Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag; Better Than First Class

Around these parts, we hear our share of the frustrating, the woeful and the all-out angry. But when we catch hold of an idea that brings out the happy and rewarding stories of customers, we like to celebrate it. This week in Flying The Friendly Skies Friday: Hey, that’s my bag!; Grandpa gets a really cool upgrade.

In an attempt to make Fridays even more of a delightful day, we’ve been asking you, our dear readers, for stories that made you smile while soaring through the air. Flying The Friendly Skies Friday celebrates all that is right and good in the world of customer service, and this week’s edition is no different. Keep those stories coming, and we’ll keep spreading the happy vibes.

Reading last week’s story about the oil-soaked duffel bag reminded me of a recent experience my wife and I had while flying US Airways from Baltimore to Las Vegas this past February. This was the first leg of an almost-two-week trip, and we arrived fairly late in the evening but had a show to get to after checking in at our hotel.

My wife was watching the conveyor belt for our luggage and commented on how badly torn up somebody’s bag was… imagine my horror when I realized it was MINE. Definitely wouldn’t be accepted by the airlines for the next flight.

I dragged it over to customer service, hoping maybe they could get it repaired in the three days we had in Vegas. Imagine my surprise when the lady looked at me and said “We don’t have one EXACTLY like yours, but I can give you something of similar size,” walked over to a locked cabinet, and pulled out a brand-new suitcase for me.

Seeing that we were in a hurry, she didn’t even make me wait for the paperwork to be signed off on; she mailed it to my home later. She also didn’t need me to swap suitcases and give them the old bag as proof — just took some pictures so we could get moving quickly. Very nice customer service!

I’d been working in West Africa for weeks — hot, tiring, exhausting.  I was working 12-18 hour days to get all of my research and writing done in some very dusty archives. Flights from that part of the world always leave at night, and I was booked on the 22:40 flight out — Dakar to Paris. It was full, so I slept very little. In Paris, it was rainy and cold so I spent the day in the airport. By 16:30 that afternoon I was whipped, but still had to make my CDG to DTW Northwest flight to get home. I was running a fever and had a lovely cough from what was soon to be diagnosed as a sinus infection — just in great shape.

We boarded the NWA flight, and I settled into my coach class aisle seat with my legs tucked comfortably under my chin for my flying comfort. One of the attendants noticed me and said, “Wow honey, you look like you just finished the flight. We haven’t even taken off. Are you okay?”

We chatted a bit, he brought me a nice cup of ice water, and I figured that’d be it. Not 15 minutes after takeoff, he came and found me. He’d found me an entire unsold row in the back of the plane. Four seats, together, already set with pillows and blankets.


I slept the whole flight.

And more importantly for NWA, back then I was routinely flying 100,000+ miles (usually international coach) in the air every year. After that, if Northwest could get me there, that’s how I went. Delta’s good, but not that good.

Several years ago, me, my sister, mum and grandparents were flying back from Spain on British Airways (about a three-hour flight). My Grandparents were linving there at the time and were coming back for a holiday to see the rest of the family.

We had standby tickets, as my father could get a staff deal on them. When we arrived at the airport we were told that there were only four seats available, so my grandfather volunteered to wait for the next flight, in about two hours.

We were all a bit disappointed, but these things happen. We boarded the plane, and about 15 minutes later an airstewardess came and said there was someone in the cockpit who would like to meet us — as we were the only kids on the flight and passengers could still visit the cockpit this wasn’t unusual so we went to met the captain.

And sitting in the jump seat in the cockpit was Granddad. He’d been chatting to the desk staff and mentioned he used to work for them, they had radioed the pilot and he had OK’d an extra in the cockpit.

They didn’t have to do it, but it meant the world to us.

So thank you British Airways staff wereever you are now!

And on that note, a special suggestions from Matt:
All of your stories had one thing in common, “I didn’t have a name so I didn’t thank anyone”, which is kind of sad really. Airline employees put up with a lot of shit, some deserved, some not, and a nice note of appreciation is always nice. I’ve written a complaint letter or two in my day, so I think it’s only fair to write a thank you one as well.

The great thing is you can do all this without a name. For US Airways, I once wrote a letter and simply addressed it to US Airways [Airport Name][Airport Address]. They actually wrote me back, a supervisor, and said he was happy that they had helped and he shared it with everyone.

If you’re worried that the letter won’t get through, why not just write to the main airline mailing address? Now with Twitter, I’d even just consider leaving a note there, although the letter to the specific location is more likely to reach the target.

Do you have an uplifting tale that made your whole day take off? Forgive me the pun and send your FTFSF stories to

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