Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Road to Recovery

Following the example of the French military in World War II, Continental Airlines officially surrendered yesterday in the battle to find my fugitive luggage. Four weeks to the day after losing it, Tracy Anderson (who is by the way my favorite all-time Continental Airlines employee, which is not the backhanded compliment it may appear to be. She works for a company chock full of a##holes and incompetents. She is neither.) telephoned me from, "Continental Airlines, Houston, Texas" to inform me that the Albatross of the Air had now shifted its mission from rescue to recovery. My bag - and more importantly - all of my stuff that was contained within it - is now officially considered "lost".

Apparently under the Continental Airlines "system" (given that term the widest possible definitional interpretation) once a bag is transformed from "delayed" (which mine has never been of course) to "lost" (which it has been since the moment that the dumb ass who never bothered to put it on the plane in Denver four weeks ago made that decision), cue the Survivor Greatest Hits CD. Indeed, the search is over. The purpose of yesterday's call was to confirm that my bag had not made its way to my house by any other means. I kid not. Tracy Anderson was required by her employer's protocols to telephone me to tell me that she has exhausted her search of their system (a search that likely does not include a search of the car trunk and hall closet of Continental's employee on the ground in Denver who may have pilfered my bag) and that upon the conclusion of that search, she is required to contact me to (a) tell me that her search has turned up nothing; and (b) to ask whether my bag has turned up nonetheless.

To her credit, she laughed while asking me that question. Before I could even say something critical of the airline she added, "Like your bag is a lost dog or something. Eventually it will find its way home." After I chuckled a bit at her self-deprecating humor she did something extraordinary. She did something that no one at Continental Airlines had done in the twenty-eight days since they lost my bag. She apologized for what happened and, on behalf of the company, she accepted responsibility for it happening. Does her refreshingly positive attitude bring back my bag? Nope. But her willingness to say aloud what Continental Airlines and I have both known for the past twenty-eight days but which one of us (Quick - guess which one!) refused to admit was revelatory. A most welcome change of pace.

Easy rule of thumb whether you are an ineptly run commercial airline or just a Regular Joe who practices law for a living: when you screw up, own up. When you mess up, stand up.

Well done Tracy Anderson. Well done. And thanks.

-AK

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