In a follow up to my recent summer travel tips post, I thought a little advice on how to talk to an airline employee might be in order. While I’ve had great luck working the handful of travel issues I’ve had in the last year with the @DeltaAssist folks, sometimes you just can’t take care of things in a few 140 character messages. Sometimes, your phone might even be out of juice. In that case, you’re going to need to speak to an actual person. After 10+ years at an airline, 4 of which were spent in a supervisory customer-facing role, I think I’ve learned a few things about what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few thoughts to consider.

The airline agent did not delay you on purpose – Trust me, no one hates delays more than an airline employee. They mess up the system, create extra work for everyone, and of course, they create stress for the customer.

Follow the Golden Rule – I know it’s disappointing, and sometimes downright infuriating to be delayed, but put yourself in an airline agent’s shoes for a minute. Would getting yelled at, called names, or having your job threatened incentivize you to offer your best assistance to anyone? Thought so. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Be courteous. It is possible to look out for yourself and be courteous at the same time. A little please, and thank you can go a long way.

Have a plan but present it with an open mind – If you’re a frequent business traveler, you likely have a subscription to ExpertFlyer. Use it to find a few options to get to your destination. Tell the agent you were looking and options, share them, and ask for their advice. Try something like “do you think these options are viable?” “What other options would you consider?” Did I mention a little please, and thank you can go a long way?

Surviving summer travel takes flexibility and perseverance. A little kindness won’t hurt either. While I’m the first to admit that there are some bad apples out there, most airline employees want to get you to your destination as soon as possible. Keep that in mind as you enjoy your summer travels, please. And thank you for reading.

-MJ, June 2, 2014

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