I was flying to Australia. The flight was two hours late leaving Los Angeles because of high winds in New York where it originated, but they finally turned it around and we all boarded at 1:15am LA time. When we sat down in Business Class, they had an extensive custom menu form to fill out – two pages worth. It was nice, and allowed us to order what we wanted when we wanted it. But after taking the time for Kathleen and I (and the rest of the passengers) to fill out the forms, I handed it to the flight attendant who said, “We won’t be doing the custom menu this evening.”
I asked why and he said that because of the two hour delay, they had already started cooking the normal food and they didn’t have time for the custom menu. I asked, “So since the flight was delayed from New York, you already knew this would happen?” “Yes sir,” was his reply. I responded, “So why did you put a custom menu on every seat? First it’s a lot of work filling it out, and second, it’s a big letdown for the passengers to find out it’s not available.”
His reply: “I’m sorry sir, but handing the menus out is our policy.”
Then it came time to sleep, and our cabin turned into a freezer. I fly about 150,000 miles a year and this may have been the coldest flight I’ve experienced. It wasn’t just us – our cabin looked like a homeless encampment, with passengers spreading blankets everywhere. Looks like I’d land with a sore throat even though I’m speaking at a conference. This time, I asked about some heat. “We’ll check on it sir.” But he said it with a slight roll of his eyes as if he’d heard that before. At that moment another attendant walked up and said “I just adjusted it, and can smell the heat coming on in the cabin.” But she gave him a sly glance and they both slightly smiled, as if I was a complete idiot.
Heat? It apparently isn’t their policy. We continued with the blankets.
Every organization has policies, but it’s not the policy that matters, it’s the customer or donor. Any company that allows policies rather than circumstances to dictate their actions is heading in the wrong direction. Now obviously there are over-arching policies that deal with safety and security in every company, but dinner menus and heated cabins don’t qualify.
Think. Don’t become a policy clog in the machine. Do what’s right, even when circumstances force you to improvise.
Now don’t get me started on the highly promoted “power plugs at every seat” that turn out to only power a laptop when the computer is turned off.….. 🙂