She sat at the gate checking her Apple watch to make sure her boarding pass loaded correctly into her Passbook. Refusing to take off her Sunglasses as she waited, she put the watch closer and closer to her face ensuring she could see that she was at the correct gate by matching the flight number.
She had her usual flying outfit on – lululemon joggers, a perfectly wrinkled chambray shirt, and a pair of Nikes she had purchased but never actually worked out in. Unhappy with her seat assignment, she approached the desk to inquire about an upgrade.
“Excuse me,” she started before being cut off.
“One moment, ma’am,” she was told. “I’m trying to take care of this customer first.”
Appalled, she put her elbow on the desk of the kiosk and gave the airline employee a death stare with her sunglasses slouched down on her nose. At this point, she was confused by what made her more upset – the fact that she was just called “ma’am” or the fact that she was asked to wait.
Upon the airline employee giving her the attention she felt she deserved, she slowed down her speech to a pleasant pace while still somehow coming off as aggravated and frustrated.
“Hi,” she began. “How are you today?”
Her calmness worried the employee as it felt like she was going to snap at any given moment.
“I fly on this airline a lot, and I was just wondering if it was possible to receive an upgrade from Economy Plus to first class.”
The employee began fervently typing into the computer, but wasn’t actually checking to see if there was any availability in first class. If she had a dollar for every time a person requested an upgrade because they “fly on this airline a lot,” she’d be in Bermuda drinking Painkillers topped with 24-carat gold shavings as a garnish.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but it doesn’t look like there’s any availability for an upgrade on this flight.”
She scanned the gate and saw several empty seats.
“Is the flight full?” she asked.
The woman again began pretend-typing into her computer. After sixty seconds, she responded, “It does not appear that the flight is full, but unfortunately we still cannot offer an upgrade at this time.”
She again began to survey the gate. While she wanted to remark something using the word “peasants” in regards to who appeared to be on her flight, she feared that her abrasiveness towards the rest of the customers would rub the airline employee the wrong way even more.
“So first class is full?” she clarified.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” she was told again, “But we cannot offer an upgrade at this time.”
“So first class isn’t full. I mean, if first class is full, you’d just TELL me that first class is full.”
The employee took a deep breath. Locking eyes with her, she gave a toothless smile and tilted her head slightly to the side. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but there’s nothing I can do. Now if you’d take a seat, we’re going to begin boarding in just one moment.”
In the middle of the employee’s sentence, she decided to put her sunglasses back on and type in the passcode on her phone bringing up her boarding pass. There was an intentional 15-second delay between the employee’s apology and her eventual response.
“I’m just going to give you a little advice about customer service,” she said while putting her bag back on her shoulder. “The customer? They’re always right. And if you have room in first class, you should give those seats to people who belong in first class. In the future, I hope you treat your other customers with a little more respect than what you’ve treated me with. Rest assured, I will never be flying on this airline again.”
She slipped her phone into her purse and began walking away before turning around and saying one last thing.
“Oh, and please do not call me ‘ma’am’ ever again. I have at LEAST ten more years until that’s appropriate. Thank you.”
As she took her seat at the gate once again, she pulled her phone out of her bag and began texting.
“Todd, you will NEVER believe how I was just treated.” .
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