Adam Kraus glanced around him as he made his way down the aisle of the aircraft looking for his assigned seat. He arrived at his destination and rechecked his ticket. He’d noted the plane was tightly packed as he made his way down the aisle and wished he hadn’t missed the connecting flight because of his previous flight late arrival. They only had economy seating available as they sought to accommodate him on this flight. Usually, he flew business class on another airline and the check in offered to book him for a substitute business class flight next day with a courtesy hotel for the night, but Adam had an important meeting in his destination country that could not be missed so he had to accept this seat on a smaller craft in economy. It was bad enough having to deal with a smaller aircraft than usual but now it appeared his seat had been taken and the whole row was taken up with a family who smiled winningly at him. He spoke to the one in his aisle seat assigned after rechecking the number.
“Sir I think you’re sitting in my seat would you recheck your boarding pass please.”
The man looked at him blankly and smiled but did not move. Adam repeated his request and there was an animated discussion with the family. Finally, a young woman obviously part of the family spoke to her father and he pulled out his boarding pass. She addressed Adam respectfully.
“I know a little English, but my father didn’t understand your accent sir, he is checking his ticket now.”
The ticket produced was the same number as Adam’s ticket and he stared at it in unbelief. He checked the flight number on the boarding pass, and it was the same flight number and same seat. He reached up and pressed the call button apologizing to the young woman as he did so, and she smiled back.
“Is there a problem sir?”
“My ticket has the same seat number as your father’s boarding pass, so I’ve called the air attendant to sort it out for us. Not your fault Maam, the flight attendant will have to sort it out for us.”
One of the flight attendants appeared through the bustle in the aisles as people placed their hand carry luggage in the overhead compartments. She addressed the man occupying the seat in a language Adam was not familiar with respectfully bowing and he pointed to his daughter who explained the situation. Then the attendant turned to Adam.
“May I see your ticket sir?” Adam handed it over.
Then she bowed to the man seated and requested to see his boarding pass again in a language Adam didn’t understand. He produced his boarding pass, and the attendant shook her head in disbelief. She turned to Adam.
“I’m sorry sir could you bring your luggage and come with me?”
Now Adam had something else to feel irritated about but he was tired from the long previous air journey and the hassle of negotiating this seat so he could meet this appointment. He was aware of the young woman leaving her middle row seat to follow him. How was it possible for computers to make this error and those doing a final check of boarding passes at the flight gate let those two passes with the same number through. He noted a check mark made on a list every time they were permitted through the walkway door to the plane. Surely that would have been picked up when he presented his ticket as the family had obviously gone through before him.
At the front of the plane the situation was discussed with the one in charge of attendants but not in English. The head attendant turned to Adam and addressed him in English. “So sorry sir! A big mistake has been made I have no explanation for this, but you will have to leave, and we will have to find your check in luggage before we can take off. The ground staff will find you another flight. I apologize on behalf of the airline but have no other solution.”
The young woman who was standing behind Adam stepped forward and spoke to the head attendant in their language. The attendant bowed to her and handed her the list of passengers. She checked the economy passenger list then spoke again. Adam looking over her shoulder in surprise saw her checking out business class and then first class. The girl spoke again and pointed to a seat in first class. There was further animated conversation.
The girl turned to Adam and spoke in English. She had been modest when she apologized for her English because her English was perfect. “Please be patient sir and I’ll see how this can be sorted out.”
“Thank you for trying Miss but I can’t see this being sorted out. I’m really tired and it looks like I’ll miss my important appointment now, but I appreciate you trying to help out. How is it you can tell these people what to do anyway? They seem to respect you.”
The young woman bowed politely but offered no comment, so he waited in silence. In the meantime, the head attendant had been on the phone. Then he bowed to the young woman and spoke. She turned to Adam.
“We are putting you in first class sir. I apologize to you on behalf of the airline and you can rest assured some will lose their jobs over this foolish mistake. I have instructed the crew to give you whatever service you find most helpful for the rest of the journey. If you have any complaints kindly report them to me. You know where I am back in economy.”
Adam was shocked. ‘Thank you so much Maam I don’t know how to repay you for this. Who are you? I’d like to write and thank you for your intervention if you can give me your address.”
The woman laughed pleasantly. “No need for that sir, just enjoy your journey and please don’t contact any media about this unforgivable mistake. I’m sorry you may have to pick up your check in luggage at the economy luggage carousal as the flight cannot be delayed further.” She turned and went back to her seat.
Adam had service he’d never experienced on an airline before and was well rested by the time they reached their destination.
When they finally arrived at the assigned gate of their destination an announcement was made for all to remain seated until permitted to leave their seats. To Adam’s surprise the family in the row where an error economy seat had been assigned to him by computer headed to the front followed by attendants carrying their hand luggage. The old man spoke to the flight crew on the way out and the crew bowed to him, then the young woman paused to ask if Adam’s experience had been satisfactory.
Adam thanked her and stood with the crew to bow to her wondering who she was and why she exercised that much power on this plane. When they’d departed and everyone was given clearance to disembark Adam beckoned to one of the crew standing watching them depart.
“Who are those people?” He asked.
“That is the owner of the airline sir, he started as an aircraft mechanic and began building small planes and made enough money out of it to start an airline of his own which grew to what it is today. He is quite old now and has turned over management of the airline to his daughter.”
“Then why was he in the economy section when he occupies such a high position?”
“He does this occasionally to check on the quality of our services sir and he watches our service delivery closely. If it is not up to par, then those responsible will have to return to our flight service school, or they will be terminated if the service is considered bad. We hope you will not give us a bad report on your unusual experience with us to the media sir.”
From that time onward Adam used that airline small as it was whenever practical and was effusive in his recommendation of the airline to his friends and business associates.
Story © Copyright 2021 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved. Airport photo taken from Microsoft Bing Images