I am on a plane today – winging home from Barcelona, Spain after a 10 day biking/touring/visiting our daughter vacation.   The good news is that I am on this plane.  The bad news is that I should have been on this plane yesterday.


You see, our son, Rob, is an Air Canada pilot which gives us ‘privileges’ as his parents. We are allowed to travel relatively inexpensively for personal reasons only, but on stand-by.  You are never guaranteed a seat with this system and as parents of an employee, our ranking is so low that this set-up is often very risky.  But sometimes you have to try and this is what we did for our return flight this week.


smile2So yesterday it happened. We thought we each had a seat and in fact, we were assigned one when we checked in.  But then ‘stuff’ happened and we were informed that they had room for only one of us.


I would like to say that Karen and I flipped for the seat but I can’t. We said our good-byes and I watched her walk down the ramp.


So there I was with the five Air Canada ground crew looking at me and frankly, expecting the typical backlash they get when customers have problems.  But what was I going to do?  The system is clear, they followed the rules and I knew the risks.  You can complain and get nasty or you suck it up, smile and be very nice to everyone.


I took the latter course.  I did my very best to relieve them of any worries that I was upset and would react in a way other than the way I did.  I lightened the mood fast, smiled and even made them laugh.


It really does pay to be nice.  While the experience sucked, lots of good things happened. The details aren’t important but rest assured, when I arrived back the next day to check in (this time with a booked seat) they were thrilled to see me.  An old friend!


So here I sit, on my way home, care of Air Canada Rouge and thinking that:


  • Rules are rules and if you understand them up front and they don’t go your way, your job is to smile and say thanks anyway.
  • Smiling at people who work in a stressful situation is good for them and it might just be good for you.
  • When everything starts to go wrong, the more you smile, show respect for those you are dealing with and take deep breaths the better things will work out.

And finally


  • Being a parent of an Air Canada pilot has it’s rewards because he is a great guy – not because you get to travel (almost) free.






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