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.
I 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!