Opening Doors with Kim

Kim Ades of Opening Doors lets you in on her frame of mind.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

You Don't Have to be Anybody to be a Somebody

Last Wednesday I flew into Denver for a strategy meeting with the publisher of LORE Magazine. I was supposed to leave Friday morning. My departure was scheduled for 11 a.m., arrival at 4:24 p.m. leaving me just enough time to get to my Billy Joel concert scheduled for 8 p.m. After 2 hours on the tarmac, Air Canada announced that the flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues. Apparently one of the engines was not functioning properly and was not safe to fly. Picturing what it might have been like to fly with only one functional engine, I was grateful that there were aircraft standards and someone decided to cancel the flight.

After standing in line for a good two hours, I tried to get an alternative route home, but only passengers with 'Elite' status were permitted that privelege. Even tickets to the Billy Joel concert were not enough of reason to find me a way home. All of the remaining passengers (about 150 of us) were shuttled to a not-so-nearby hotel for the night. We were told to come back in the morning for an 8:30 a.m. flight to Toronto. Thinking that I would avoid the inevitable lineup in the morning, I took the 5 a.m. shuttle bus back to the airport in the morning. I arrived even before the ticket counter opened up and stood in line again. A half an hour later we were all informed that this flight was also cancelled due to maintenance issues and that we would have to spend another night in Denver because there was no alternate route.

The passengers around me went wild, each asking the supervisor about a million questions at a time. Wasn't there an alternate route? When was the next flight out? Why did they not keep their promise? Didn't they understand that this was unacceptable? Some of us had to get home to our families, some had events to attend, and some had important meetings to conduct. I too had my own question ... Was there not a more senior person that could make a decision to get us a plane home???

It was then that some force took over and my mind went into super charge. I got it in my head that I should call the president of Air Canada and ask him to do something to help us. I called my brother and asked him to look up the name and number of the president online. Montie Brewer, President of Air Canada. I had nothing to lose, I felt fearless. I called the number that he gave me. A woman answered. She told me that he was not there. I told her that there was a crises in Denver and I needed his attention. She took my name and number and said that she would pass it along but that the best way to reach him was by email. She gave me his email address and proceeded to explain that if I sent him an email that he would receive it on his Blackberry. Then she said this, "I just want you to know that I have nothing to do with Air Canada, I am just his wife." I just spoke to the wife of the president of Air Canada - how cool is that?

I hung up and sent him an email. In very few words I explained the situation and told him that I needed his attention to this matter. I left my name and my number and waited for something to happen. Within a half an hour I got a call. It was a call from a man called to tell me that I was booked on the next flight to Toronto and I would be leaving at 10:40 a.m. that morning and that I should just proceed to the gate and the boarding pass would be waiting for me. Minutes after that, I received an email reply from Montie. Holy Smokes! I was home by 4:30 p.m. that afternnon.

I missed Billy Joel, but I received the gift of learning exactly what I am capable of when I am fearless. I would say that that was a pretty good tradeoff!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story, you might also be adding some insight about being and remaining civil.
As you called someone else to help get you the number shows a great deal of management ability and probably experience.
A good manager recognizes when the time is to ask for advice, knowledge, or help.
This also shows a great deal of confidence as many people are intimidated to even attempt to speak to someone of authority...This includes my past, I was brought up with a brutilized self asteem...That has changed and changed my life.
Take care,
Warner A. Weber III

3:14 PM  

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