Captain’s Log

The pilot on my plane this morning was a wizz on the Harmonica.

As he welcomed people to the flight, he gave us all some fast-paced Southern tunes, interspersed with some information about where we were going and some crap about seat belts and exits.

He was warm, engaging and funny – yet still sounded in control, mature and Captain-like, just one in a fahhhn Southern mood.

All it takes to turn me from
a shuddering wreck to a contented happy passenger is communication

Now, I hate flying. Hate it. Terrified. (Actually it’s not the flying so much as the crashing.) But I have a serious deep-seated fear. I hear and feel every bump, every creak, every undulation, every noise, every movement the plane makes and assume either one of our friends that wear fabric on their heads is up to no good or the wings are about to fall off.

Two things get me through this.

1. Drugs and alcohol.

2. A communicative pilot.

If I’m on a flight and we hit turbulence, I freak out. If I’m on a flight and calm Captain John J. Rickenbacker III, who introduced himself earlier, warned me that 20 minutes into the flight we’d “hit a few bumps for 10 minutes,”I’m fine. All it takes to turn me from a shuddering wreck to a contented happy passenger is communication.

And, as a result, my already-high opinion of Air Tran is heightened still further. No surprise this fine airline is now in the Southwest stable.

The Captain stepped out of his cabin as we disembarked and he looked like your average blue-chip fifty-something solid guy, albeit with a grin. And a Harmonica.

“Sully” made us realize than airlines don’t fly us, pilots do.  And as brand ambassadors, they (in my view) account for a huge percentage of my view of that company, once I’m in the air. I firmly believe there are no companies. There are only employees.

One never “sees” or experiences a company, just its iteration, its outward experience – whether that’s a website, an automated phone system or a human.

I find it staggering, still, that so many companies allow their companies to be flown without great pilots.

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