I revised this letter from the original letter sent to the airport service company and public affairs office of that airport, because I recognize that every organization is made up of people, and that we, being the humans that we are, sometimes make small, but far-reaching mistakes, that do not necessarily reflect the nature of the organization. I do, however, want to recognize the angels who help us in seemingly small, but "huge" ways:
XXX Airport Services
cc: Airport Public Affairs
To whom it may concern:
I flew from Denver, Colorado to Marquette, Michigan and back on Tuesday, November 23, 2010, to bring my recovering father from a skilled nursing facility to stay with me at my home. This letter is not meant to describe how I felt the airline ruined my trip, causing distress and making significant mistakes; rather, this letter is to express sincere gratitude and respect to the young lady who truly cares about people, exceeding at what many others, would ever do to assist another. This is, after all, the season for such thing.
The day I purchased the tickets, I immediately requested for wheelchairs to be available at every connecting flight gate for my father. I also verified twice earlier on the day of our trip that the request was ordered and that wheelchairs would be at each arrival gate. Each airline representative assured me that my request was in the system and that a wheelchair would be at the gates to help us.
The airline employee at Marquette issued only my boarding pass for the flight from Marquette to Detroit, and would not issue my boarding passes for connecting flights, even though he gave my father his boarding passes for all his flights, contributing to my distress. He did, however, assure me that a wheelchair would be ready in Detroit.
Needless to say, we arrived in Detroit late, with only fifteen minutes to spare, and there was no wheelchair at the gate to help us. Knowing we could not move quickly and that I lacked a boarding pass for the connecting flight to Minneapolis, I was in tears, and could barely breathe. I was prepared to stay overnight in Marquette due to weather; we have family there; I was not prepared to keep my medically recovering father overnight in Detroit for who knows how long, due to airline employees dropping the ball. I was having a physical anxiety attack.
The airline staff at our Detroit arrival gate did not chatter; they immediately requested a wheelchair and communicated to the connecting flight’s gate staff. Within a few minutes, airport services employee Angela C. arrived with a wheelchair, loaded my father and we began running to the gate, where our flight to Minneapolis was due to leave within minutes. She stated that she had not seen our wheelchair request in the system. Knowing we had little time and that I lacked a boarding pass, Angela was honest; we would likely miss the flight. She did not believe that we would make it across the airport in time. Never-the-less, Angela C. ran at full speed, pushing herself and my father on a wheelchair. When we reached an elevator, having missed an airport shuttle, and noting that I was struggling with the run, she put my overnight carry-on on the lower rack of the wheelchair, and off we ran, with her pushing close to 175 pounds on the wheelchair.
As we ran up to the gate, I identified myself, and the airline representative had both our boarding passes ready and ushered us onto the plane. The door to the plane closed just after we boarded. Thanks to Ms. C., with the assistance, of course, of diligent airline gate representatives, we made it across the enormous airport in impossible time, and I had the boarding pass I needed to get on the plane with my father for the next leg of our trip.
This was not the end of airline mishaps or my anxiety, but Ms. C. impacted our night in a tremendous way, running her hardest, physically pushing an old man, and mentally pushing me, an exhausted, frustrated, and miserable traveler, to a gate she never believed we would reach on time. She pushed herself because, even if we had not made it on time, she would have done her best to help us; that is huge, unforgettable and uncommon. The airline representatives acted silently, but Ms. C., despite being realistic, helped us reach what seemed an impossible goal, and was enthusiastic for the entire run.
I wish to recognize airport employee, Angela C., and others like her. Most of us do not write letters expressing our gratitude, though, I am certain that true caring like hers does not go unappreciated. She is truly an angel, an amazing person, and I wish her the absolute best. Her kindness is uncommon and heart-filled and genuinely caring. Angela C. is a name I will not soon forget; a heart who truly pays-it-forward for the benefit of others. This is the season for gratitude, for sincerely considering others, especially others who serve us; her contribution may seem but a pin-drop in the long course of a life, but serves us in such enormous ways. Perhaps if we write more gratitude letters, we will experience more to be grateful for. At the very least, we can learn to focus on the good rather than the bad or negative.