I admit it. I hate packing. I hate everything to do with packing. I hate unpacking more. Unpacking after a vacation is, after all, such a depressing thing to do, because it means that life, along with all the included trials and tribulations associated with it, is returning.
Packing sucks mainly because, invariably, I forget something. Fortunately, my wife is better at the chore than I am. She certainly has various issues with it of her own, but her strengths offset my weaknesses, and vice versa. She also, much to my personal chagrin, likes to pack about six weeks before our departure date.
(Okay I exaggerate. One week.)
After loading our clothes into the suitcases, arranging our kid’s stuff, our stuff, and so on, we put the suitcases aside for the invariable last-minute details.
Now imagine my reaction when, the other morning, while I was out taking care of some last minute details on the morning we were scheduled to leave, I received a call from my wife saying, “I’m sick. You need to come home.”
I did my best. I told The Kid to arrange some toys and books for the flight. Organized the carry-on luggage, told The Kid to arrange some toys and books for the flight, burned a DVD (and subsequently discovered it was scratched to the point of being useless), told The Kid to arrange some toys for the flight, tidied up the house, told The Kid to arrange some toys for the flight, brought everything to the front of the house, told The Kid to arrange some toys for the flight, dragged my wife out of bed for the fight, and finally, told The Kid to arrange some toys for the flight.
Our ride arrived and off we drove to the airport. Usually, my wife checks all the luggage to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything, but this time, being she felt terrible, she elected to trust my judgement.
By now, you already know the end of this story.
WestJet allows online check-in. For those of us too cheap to pre-arrange seating, the window to check-in opens up 24 hours before the scheduled departure time. This is usually adequate. This time, however, when I logged in to check us in I discovered that the three of us had been spread out over three isolated rows throughout the aircraft; including the four-year old kid.
I don’t THINK so.
Fortunately, I was able to consolidate us somewhat. My wife (or me) were paired up, with myself (or my wife).
When you book a flight, WestJet’s booking system asks you for the ages of their guests, so it isn’t like they didn’t know one of our family was a kid.
So, after a day of stewing on the ludicrous nature of this situation, I decided to tweet this:
What was @westJet thinking? splitting a family of three up into three seats in three different rows, with a FOUR YEAR OLD on their own????
— Steven Britton – Speaking Freely (@scbritton) December 23, 2012
Within 5 minutes, WestJet responded. We corresponded back and forth a bit. I ended up sending a direct message to the WestJet twitter service, who worked with their staff behind-the-scenes to see if they could improve on what I had managed to set up.
However, WestJet did go online and search my return trip without any prompting from me. They also waived the seat reservation charge for us and arranged for our return flight to be all together in one row.
Once we arrived at the airport, my wife said, “where’s the fourth bag?”
“What fourth bag?”
“The fourth bag!”
“There is no fourth bag!”
“Um, yeah, Steve, there was.”
“Oh no… THAT fourth bag.”
We went into the airport and found a WestJet staff member. After a few minutes of discussion, we got our friend who had given us a ride to the airport to rush back to our house, grab the suitcase, and bring it to the airport. They were going to attempt to get it onto our flight, but, of course, couldn’t promise it. However they did promise that if they weren’t able to get it onto our flight, they’d get it sent out on the next available flight.
We proceeded through and boarded and flew out to our destination, wondering the whole time whether WestJet had managed to get our bag onto the plane. We knew our friend had managed to get it into WestJet’s hands before we had left; it was just a question of how whether the bag made iet to the aircraft.
At our destination, we discovered that the bag would be arriving at 6:15 the next morning. Sadly, it didn’t make it onto the aircraft.
Returning to the airport the next morning the bag was there, waiting for us. I spoke to baggage services, they released the suitcase to me, and then proceeded to give us a $100 credit towards our next booking. Holy smokes! This wasn’t even WestJet’s fault and they’re going, once again, above and beyond.
I’m not telling this story to tell you to expect this kind of treatment. You shouldn’t. WestJet certainly wasn’t obligated to waive the advance reservation fee for seat selection, nor were they obligated to send our bag through on a later flight; and they certainly weren’t obligated to credit us $100 towards our next flight! I’m telling this story because I wanted to share a story of how WestJet turned a self-induced gong show into a fabulous travelling experience. They bent over backwards to help us. They went above and beyond the call of duty, and by doing so, earned themselves a loyal customer.
And that, Air Canada, is it is done.
Thank you, WestJet.