The text message dinged on my cell phone while I was driving through heavy traffic north of Philadelphia Airport. “Your AirTran flight to Atlanta has been cancelled. Please go to www.southwest.com to rebook.” I was on my way to Atlanta to attend an internet marketing conference that began the next morning.
When I strode into the terminal, I quickly surveyed the scene. I saw two AirTran ticket counters. One counter had a line of about 8 people. The other had a line that wrapped round a corner and had at least 60 people in it. In that split second, I had to choose a line. I quickly got into the back of the shorter line. Some part of me knew there had to a reason it was different, but no one stopped me as I confidently got into place.
The people at the ticket counter were laboriously rebooking each passenger, which took at least 10 minutes per person. I kept thinking about a whole plane full of people who needed new seats.
Then I heard a murmur around me that the line I was standing in was for business class passengers – which I was not. Should I get to the back of the other line, which was even longer by now? Should I stay where I was, only one person away from the counter?
I stood my ground. When it was my turn, I clearly and firmly said to the man at the counter, “I need to be booked for Atlanta.” He looked at my itinerary and license while I held my breath, fearful of being banished to the end of the line.
When he said, “Put your suitcase on the scale” I knew I was won.
I quickly left the area with my new tickets in hand, which got me to Atlanta only 3 hours later than originally planned. But I felt guilty. I was trained to feel guilty as a kid. If I wasn’t guilty about something it meant I wasn’t paying attention.
On my plane from Orlando to Atlanta I sat next to a guy. Feeling guilty, I told him how I had inadvertently selected the shorter line. He laughed and told me he was in the back of the other line. I realized we both got to Atlanta at the same time and the weight of guilt drifted away.
Lessons learned from the airline rebooking game:
1. Pick the shorter line. In life, there are opportunities to take advantage of a situation. The shorter line is usually quicker.
2. Carry yourself with confidence and authority. I did not apologize to the man at the counter for being in the wrong line or ask him if I should go to the back of the line. I clearly told him what I wanted.
3. It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. If I had been challenged, I would have explained that I saw no difference in the lines and then used the logic of, “Since I am here now, I’d like to get a new seat.”
Patricia Iyer MSN RN LNCC is president of The Pat Iyer Group. She enjoyed her recent trip to Atlanta. Learn how to confidently get new clients and win at the marketing game when you get the on demand course How to get All the Clients You Need