On a rainy Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, MD, I was desperate to catch my flight back to Dallas. After all, my showtime as an author over, it was back to reality. On Monday AM, I was due back at my real job. The one that paid the aching nursing.
Honored to have been selected to participate, I had been in DC as a part of an amazing group. Academy Women, a Women in Military Service leadership group had invited four authors, all book award finalists from the Military Writer’s Society of America. I was one of them. What an amazing event it had been. Young, brilliantly smart women representing the multi-cultural tapestry of America. Midshipmen, Cadets, Lt. Colonels and Generals. Students and leaders. Active duty and retired. It was a mecca of honor, courage and commitment.
The two day conference, designed to mentor future women leaders of tomorrow was held at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Hallowed halls depicting the history of women’s service within our U.S. armed forces. As featured authors, we presented on what motivated us to write about women in service.
I had timed my departure from Arlington down to the tee. A quick dart up 295 to the Baltimore-Washington parkway and I would be on my way to BWI – and my Southwest Airlines flight back to Dallas Love Field. Except for one small detail, somehow I missed my turn. I was on 395 and then Highway 50, being stopped at every red light in roughtown DC! There wasn’t a chance in heck I was going to make my 5:20 PM departure. And that was the last series of flights back to Dallas that evening.
To make matters worse, once I got to I-95 into Baltimore, my cell phone died. I had no way to notify Southwest I was going to miss my flight! According to the new cancellation policy, I would lose those funds. For a starving author, that simply wouldn’t do. This honorary trip has alrea-dy cost me more than $400 bucks.
As I approached the terminal, I had to make a choice. Return the rental car and surely miss the ten minute notification window or park at departures illegally, run in and try to find an agent. I chose the second. Rushing inside the terminal I spotted Southwest gate agent, Darlene F. She greeted me with calm reserve. “Take a deep breath, with the rainy weather, some of our flights are about ten minutes late.
“No, you don’t understand” I protested. “My plane to Dallas leaves in twelve -minutes. I am going to miss it and couldn’t notify you. I can’t afford another ticket!” my voice quivered. The tears had started up.
“Just breathe. Consider me Lois Lane. See Clark Kent over there?” she joked pointing to a grey haired, pleasant gentlemen at check in. “We’re gonna work some magic for you and save the day. Have you got your reservation?”
I nodded and handed her the copy of the electronic ticket. –
“You go turn in your rental car, before you get a ticket. When you come back, just find me. We’ll have it all worked out for ya. No need for those tears.”
I smiled then with a huge sense of relief. Dashing back out the front door of the terminal, I managed to get to my rented VW bug just before the airport cops made it around the circle. Off to the rental car pavilion some two miles away. Then, back on the rental car bus to the terminal. Total time? Fifteen minutes. It was now just after 5:00 PM.
Running into the terminal, I spotted “Lois.”
“Here comes your problem child” I called out.
“Head over to Kent” she pointed. “He’s gotcha all sorted out.”
“Really? Wow, you guys are awesome!”
“That’s what cha get when you fly Southwest. Great customer service”
“Boy, no kidding! Thank you so much” I exclaimed.
As I made my way to the counter, My “Clark Kent” who was really gate agent Kent B. gave me a big smile. “Got cha all taken care of. We routed you through St. Louis, but you’ll be home before bedtime. Your flight leaves in twenty minutes”
“Wow, you guys are just awesome. I can’t tell you enough how great my service has been on Southwest! Great flight attendants. Kind, upbeat people at the counters. It’s been great!”
“Thanks, just doing our jobs. But it’s nice to hear.”
What surely would have been a missed flight and hassle on another airline, was made doable by people that really care about their customers. Thanks Southwest – yet again. I know I have a choice when I fly. Thanks for reminding me why I love to fly Southwest!