From Los Angeles to London I had the treat of flying under the command of United Airlines Captain Alberto Diaz, who is not just the star of United’s current safety video but a wonderful man who showed such genuine empathy and conscientious customer service when we encountered an extended mechanical delay.
Captain Alberto Diaz Of United Airlines: An Amazing Gentleman
You’ll recognize Captain Diaz from the current safety video:
But he’s not just a captain (recently promoted from a 737 to a 787): he also runs airport operations at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). And I quickly could see why.
We boarded our flight to London on time and Captain Diaz welcomed us onboard, but then came back a bit later and apologized preemptively for a looming delay. He explained that the firmware on the 787-9 aircraft had to be updated. This process ended up taking about three hours.
Rather than hide in the flight deck, Diaz rounded the cabin, speaking to passengers.
We were allowed to exit the aircraft, but had to remain on the jetbridge. Captain Diaz did not have such a restriction and left to get some coffee. My wife and I were standing on the jet bridge with our kids and he stopped and said, “Can I get you anything? Maybe a cappuccino?”
What a kind gesture.
Later on (for this was toward the start of the delay), we had a great conversation with Diaz spanning a wide-range of subjects. His wife and my wife share a lot in common and the delay just flew by.
Diaz is a Cuban immigrant with a compelling life story. He grew up just a few paces from me in Burbank, California. He was handed nothing, but his diligence and hard work have paid off:
He is the American story.
A word on the delay and customer service. With Diaz not only keeping us updated, but going through the cabin (even to the rear of the aircraft) and talking to passengers, the delay became far less annoying. Diaz showed how delays can be perfect opportunities for customer service to shine. You’d think many would walk away complaining about United and how silly it was that the software update was not performed earlier, but instead, you had people walking away praising Captain Diaz.
And the entire crew on the flight was great. For example, the pursuer David Leonard delivered hand-written notes to the 1K and Global Services members onboard before landing in London:
What a beautiful touch.
I’ll chronicle the flight details in my coming flight review, but the takeaway from the flight was how great customer service makes all the difference when a delay occurs.