Some time ago I was stuck on the ground in India with a piston Islander I was ferrying from Malaysia to the Middle East. The avgas supply situation across the world had been tightened by insurgent attack and the rupture of a critical pipeline in, of all places, Iraq. I made it as far as Calcutta before it affected me, we stopped dead in our tracks unable to proceed due to a lack of fuel supply from Indian Oil. Nothing would prize the uplift we needed from them to make it to Muscat, Oman on the next hop. There was none to be had in either India or Pakistan – stuck!
After a month of hanging around hotels and trying to kill time usefully, Christmas hove across the horizon and a decision was made for us to return to the UK. First Class tickets were obtained and barely able to contain my excitement I pitched up to fly home for the family festivities.
Everyone who travels by air knows this feeling, a hard session at the boardroom table or extended absence intensifies it, but for us all it is there – the sense of relief when you step from a chaotic terminal in a foreign land down the ‘finger’ and across the portal into an air conditioned paradise. Your ride home!
The rest of the experience is a variation of quality and presentation, but that feeling as you walk aboard can be priceless, something received that is from a point beyond a commercial exchange, it can be very personal. If you are flying with your flag carrier it might even provide you with a welling of patriotic pride. Been there?
What the airline does next is a measure of how well the crew and the company perform their time etched routines, but for that one moment the smiling face and the warm welcome have your heart.
How you are fed and cared for during your journey and at its finale is the source of raging debate with the bean counters on one side of the table, and the service delivery teams on the other.
A hero of mine, Sir John Harvey-Jones brought an idea before many during his time as CEO of ICI, the UK chemical giant he ruled after joining as a ‘tea boy’. He said, “In the name of saving you can slash costs in any area of your business bar one, NEVER erode your product – it is all you have.”
In our collective scrabble to stay in business we need to remember a few fundamentals, we forget his words at our peril. The advice is timeless, unlike some of us…