Get Me on the Next Plane Please

This blog post is a personal story of traveling and how unexpected situations can be improved with technology.

The plane circled and circled the airport like a demented circus tea cup ride until I was lightheaded and nauseous.  As we approached the airport again, the turbulence adding to my discomfort, I nervously checked my watch with the odds of catching my next flight dissipating as the plane once again banked left.  Lightning illuminated the rain splattering on my window like a strand of Christmas lights with an erratic short.  I clutched the arm rests with my seat belt adjusted so tight my feet tingled as the plane descended through the lightening and turbulence; the squeal of the tires against the runway eliciting a collective gasp of relief from all us on board.  The good news, I was alive.  The bad news, I had ten minutes to make to my connection.  I grabbed my bag all the while fighting the urge to leap over my fellow passengers.  I sprinted to the monitor searching the list of flights and finding “CANCELLED” scrawled in bold font next to mine.  An hour later after desperately searching for flights on my phone and pleading with airline representatives my reality became mercilessly clear, no flights were leaving Houston that night.  

The storm was too intense.

The only thing worse than the cancelled flight and being trapped in a non-destination city was calling my husband who after five days of being a single parent, changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing children, and refereeing fights over toy sharing was more than ready for my expected arrival that night.  After breaking the news and promising to assume any and all child care responsibilities for the next month, I went back to customer service.  The line looked like the checkout area at Walmart on Black Friday.  A tired and haggard service agent that looked like her shift should have ended five hours before gave me a sympathetic smile, re-booked flight for the next day, handed me a clear plastic toiletry kit and a hotel voucher.  

I fell into my hotel room starved and exhausted. The peanuts and the water I had on my flight had long ago worn off. I called the front desk, no one answered. I flipped through the concierge book, but someone had torn out the restaurant section. I searched my phone, but all the restaurants listed were miles away and I didn’t have 45 minutes to find out who delivered.  I didn’t have a car or the energy to walk miles through the pouring rain. Pizza wasn’t an option, I wanted real food. 

What I needed was CATIE – Communication and Access To Information Everywhere. 

During my time at Status Solutions I have seen the impact our solutions make in customers’ lives. But this time it was me.  I needed help. If I had had CATIE in my hotel room I could have quickly and easily searched CATIE’s self-service directory, found a restaurant that delivered and ordered right from the kiosk.  But the hotel didn’t have it and so nothing, not even getting a meal was simple that night.  

We have all had similar experiences.  Whether it’s business travel or a vacation it’s invariable we’ll arrive at our hotel tired and hungry.  Although we can’t control the weather, plane schedules, or flight cancellations, the hospitality industry can make these stressful experiences a bit more pleasant and bearable through better use of technology.  I wish all of you Happy Holidays and safe and hassle free travels. 

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