The Power of a Thank You

It was winter night, in 1995, and the newly opened Denver airport had some challenges with luggage issues, and very bad weather. It was late evening, hundreds of flights had been cancelled or rescheduled, and I was reading a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Those types of books had very “feel good” stories of the value of love, support, sharing and gratitude.

I finished reading this most touching story, and at the end of the tale, the author always posts a call to action based on the story line. This particular story was all about gratitude, and the end message was “Who can you thank today to make their day” (I’m paraphrasing) and my eyes focused on a weary captain dragging his suitcase across the terminal. I admit my first thought was a wee prayer that if this was to be my captain, that he would be in good spirits for the flight. Then, it hit me – the captain and the flight crew would certainly deserve a thank you; after all, I put my life in their hands at least twice a week with my frequent corporate travel.

Thank you card, gratitude, thankfulI rushed to the bookstore, bought a card and addressed it to “Captain and Crew”. Inside, I thanked them for the work they do, and for bringing me back home safe and sound each and every flight. I handed the card as I embarked, and made my way to my mid-plane seat. As people came in, most of them grumbling, short on patience and tired, and tempers were a bit high. Some complained about the delays, some complained about the weather, some complained about the lack of overhead space and some just plain complained about everything. The voice over the intercom asked “Would passenger Hanes please ring your call button”. I wondered if I had forgotten anything or my ticket wasn’t validated properly, and I looked up to see the captain walk right to me. He asked me if I had a carry on and as I pointed to the overhead compartment, he opened it up, pointed at my suitcase and when I nodded, he pulled in down. Then he loudly mentioned to the passengers close to my seat “In 27 years of flying I have never received a thank you card” and he added “Mrs Hanes, thank you, please follow me to first class” and he guided me ahead.

From that flight on, I have always given the captain and crew a thank you card. I don’t do it for perks, but I don’t turn them down when they are offered. I’ve had multiple upgrades to a better seat, hot cookies and champagne from first class brought over to my economy seat, crew members getting me drinks or special meals, travel kits, and many many many thank you in return.

Once I had a flight where a captain came over, sat down by me and promptly told me he wasn’t a chatty type, and he wanted to rest. He pulled down his hat over his eyes, and settled in for the flight. A few moments later, a crew member approached me to thank me for the card, and to let me know the captain wanted to see me when we arrived at our destination. The other captain sitting beside me sat up, looked at me and said “You have the captain a card?” and he quickly pulled out his briefcase from under the seat. He looked inside and pulled out one of my early thank you card. He smiled and told me he often pulled it out to talk about client service, and he was proud to tell me that he started giving cards to the hotel staff that often take care of them during their layovers.

It doesn’t take a lot to say “Thank You” and I expect there are many people that you deal with on a regular basis that would be happy to be recognized, and appreciated. Try it next time you travel, but don’t be surprise that this little gesture will be greatly appreciated by all!

apptraveler

Retired exec consultant who traveled for more than 4 decades, both corporate and leisure. I appreciate my travel experience and want to share tips, photos and stories with readers! I live in Ottawa Canada and have traveled to 31 countries.

28 thoughts on “The Power of a Thank You

  • July 11, 2017 at 4:18 am
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    This! A thousand times this! I love this story and you are so right. It doesn’t take much to offer a thank you but it can largely impact the one you thank. Like the napping captain who said he carried his card with him and referenced it often. If everyone was more gracious, the world would be a better place. Fantastic post!

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    • July 11, 2017 at 10:52 pm
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      Thanks Anna for your kind words – I agree that more gratitude would make the world a better place… but it can start with each and every one of us!

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  • July 11, 2017 at 1:02 pm
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    What a great story! You’re right, thank you’s are so important. I often feel despair in my job when I don’t feel I’m making a difference so when someone else makes a difference in my life I really try and remember to tell them in the hopes that their day will be better off for it.

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    • July 11, 2017 at 10:51 pm
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      Hi Susan, Thanks for your comments. I know that those who are reminded of their influence on you appreciate it very much!

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  • July 11, 2017 at 4:50 pm
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    I love this! Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a great reminder to thank those who serve us, in big and small ways. They all deserve our thanks! 🙂

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  • July 11, 2017 at 6:45 pm
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    I always appreciate a thank you card. I need to write and send more of them!

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    • July 11, 2017 at 10:50 pm
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      Thanks Adrienne for your comment – I think ALL of us could send more of them!

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  • July 12, 2017 at 2:59 am
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    I just want to say that in my 15+ years I’ve been in the airline industry I’ve never seen nor heard of anything remotely close to this. I’m really inspired and thank you for what you’ve done. Keep in touch this has been one of my favorite blogs by far.

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    • July 12, 2017 at 6:20 am
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      Hi Ken, I actually heard the same from most of the crew each and every time I gave them a thank you card, unless it was a repeat plane schedule during my standard 3 month projects. I wish more people would recognize that those who work for airlines are in very challenging situations at all times… I’ve seen so much change since 1995, and honestly, I don’t think I have the required patience to deal with so many demanding and difficult passengers. Bless your heart ad thanks for your comments.

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  • July 12, 2017 at 5:44 am
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    I love it! I’m a big fan of thanking people for what they do. Never thought of doing it on the plane, but I will definitely give it a try!
    Thanks for sharing this inspirational story 🙂

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  • July 12, 2017 at 10:59 am
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    good article,keep up the good job.

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  • July 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm
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    This is so nice! I was thinking about doing something similar but didn’t know how would people react. But after reading your post, I’m aspired to write a couple of thank you cards!

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    • July 12, 2017 at 6:27 pm
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      Thanks for your comment – from what I’ve experienced after more than 2000 thank you cards over the decades, not one person ever had a negative reaction to my cards. There were lots of people asking me “why do you do that, it’s their JOB!” to which I always responded “Because of the fact they do their job well, we get back home safe and sound” and that sort of closed the comments.

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  • July 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm
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    I love handwritten thank yous. They are becoming a lost art

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  • July 13, 2017 at 3:03 pm
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    This is so sweet! I worked at a coffee shop in the past and I always felt happy when customers came up to me and said a simple “thank you”. It may sound cliché but I loved it more than the tips! It motivated me to work harder and better! Your post reminds me to be more thankful for even the smallest things in life. So, THANK YOU!

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    • July 13, 2017 at 3:11 pm
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      Hi Nindy, thanks for your kind comments, and thanks for the service you gave to your customers. I agree that the thank you go a long long way!

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  • July 13, 2017 at 8:19 pm
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    What a great blog. It’s amazing the power of a thank you and how often we forget to say it. Thank you for the remnder!

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    • July 16, 2017 at 2:34 am
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      Thanks Catherine for your comments. A thank you goes a long long way!

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  • July 16, 2017 at 8:57 am
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    This is such a lovely gesture! I can imagine it goes so far and is so very appreciated. I always say thank you when I leave an air craft but on my next flight I’m going to give a card!

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    • July 17, 2017 at 2:52 am
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      Thanks Mel for your kind comments. Let me know how your next flight experience turns out!

      Reply

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