A couple of months ago, I used Expedia to arrange a Friday evening departure flight from Toronto so I could deliver a 12 hour program in St. Louis, Missouri. I am a faithful Air Canada flyer but they had no evening flights available. Suddenly, I found myself using Expedia to find flights with an alternate airline carrier. With my ticket purchased, I had secured a connecting flight to St. Louis via Chicago with the first leg departing at 6:40pm.
My Friday meeting in Toronto finished earlier than expected so I decided to go to the airport uber early to see if United Airlines could accommodate me on an earlier flight. What I experienced was fascinating!
When I reached the front of the line to speak with the United Airlines agent, I found out that my 6:40pm flight to Chicago was cancelled and I had not been re-routed to my final destination. I asked the agent about other options. She replied, “There are none.”
“What do you mean none? Surely United flies to other locations that can then hook me through to St. Louis?”
“No what? You’re telling me ALL connecting flights are not available? You haven’t even looked….What about through another hub like New York, Philly, Atlanta or Denver? (Yes, I was willing to fly west to only turn-around and go east to St. Louis.)
“No”, the agent replied.
“At least can you appease me and check?”
“There’s nothing. Flights are either cancelled due to weather or not available.”
“What does “not available” mean”?
The only thing that came back to me was a blank stare.
“Okay” I thought. “Let’s try a different approach…”
That’s when I said….
“Since I am a frequent flier and have high status can you check your partner airlines? I am aware of a flight this afternoon and since United has cancelled my flight and not re-booked me, can you put me on the 4:55pm flight operated by Air Canada please?”
She checked and replied, “That flight is full Ma’am.”
“What can you do for me then?”
“Ma’am, I can get you on a flight tomorrow at 11am to Chicago then connect later getting you into St. Louis by 5pm.”
Ah, not happening! No was NOT an option! You see I had a number of professionals waiting for a 12 hour program beginning at 8:30am Saturday and finishing up by Sunday at noon.
So I stood there for a moment and decided this women either didn’t care, didn’t know what to do, or somehow was limited by something else.
So I stayed in line and used my cell phone to go to the Air Canada website to check the flight I wanted. Since tickets were still available I figured that some seats were, too. So I let her know and showed her the seat map.
“Ma’am, I cannot help you.”
Wow, some things I really do not understand! I also realized quite quickly that I do not need to understand. What I need to do is solve this challenge immediately!
So, I said “I believe you’re right, you are unable to help me. Have a better day.”
Then I logged into my frequent flier miles account, booked myself a seat on the flight that “wasn’t available” and walked over to the Air Canada kiosk where I printed my boarding pass. That took less than 5 minutes! My time spent with “Miss Unhelpful” took way way longer.
I boarded my flight on time, on a plane that had at least 6 seats empty! So, I am reminded to never take no for an answer!! Yes, it is essential to be very clear in what you want!!! When thrown a curve ball, step back up to the plate and look for your home run pitch. When we quiet the mind, we can often see a different way to solve any challenge at hand.
By the way, the departures board never noted all those so-called “cancelled” flights! Not to mention the 4:55pm Air Canada flight was the original flight I wanted to take had I not had a meeting scheduled that day!! A great reminder that the universe works in remarkable ways!!!
So, what about you? How many no’s can you turn into a yes?