When waiting for your plane that is two hours late, or staring at the baggage claim that never brings out your luggage, it is easy to forget that airlines are run by people – not animals (or vegetables). I was reminded of this after my month-long trip to Mexico. As you might recall, my luggage was lost somewhere between SFO or Santa Ana or Dallas or Cancun. No one on the ground could actually tell me where my baggage was after two days. I even pulled out the big guns and had the executives at American Airlines looks for my bag (it’s nice to have friends in high places).  

After two days of being baggage-free, my luggage was returned to me, sans my tags. I keep at least two nametags on my bags for just this reason. My theory is that if one gets pulled off, the other will still be there. Well, not this time. Both of my nametags were gone, no wonder they couldn’t figure out who my bag belonged to, it was nameless. Fast forward to my return…..

In my work mail, I find a letter from someone I never met before. I was tired, miserable, and not happy to be back to reality, so I did not bother opening the letter immediately. When I finally got around to opening it, it was one of my missing nametags with a lovely note from a Southwest Ramp Supervisor. I must admit, it put a big smile on my face, and some faith back into my cynical jetset side.

It is moments like these when I am reminded that as much as we hate late flights, lost luggage, screaming kids, and crappy airport food – we are all humans sharing the flying experience together, and that includes the folks who work for the airlines. They can’t control the weather, nor can they always figure out where to send lost luggage, but whatever might happen, I trust they are doing the best they can. So, a big shout out goes to my new friend Eli Robbins, the wonderful Ramp Supervisor at Santa Ana airport who took the time to send me back my nametag and a nice note.

I think we could all learn a bit from Eli at Southwest, it is amazing what a kind note and a stamp can do to change a person’s attitude. Hey Eli, if you are reading, thanks so much for taking the time to reach out to a weary passenger. Your kindness makes all this crazy air travel worthwhile.