I just want to give a shout-out to United Airlines Captain Colin Adams, who transported me and a full Boeing 767-400 from Houston to Newark earlier this week on UA557. Although we ran into an annoying delay upon landing, his superb communication kept everyone calm onboard.
Captain Adams, The Great Communicator – Making The Best Of An Annoying Delay
There are few things more annoying when it comes to flying than arriving on-time only to find that your gate is occupied. This is happens often, however, in heavily-congested Newark.
Let me first commend Captain Adams for his warm welcome onboard and his gentle yet firm announcement noting that masks must be worn at all times over the nose and mouth except while eating or drinking. It is so important that the Captain set the tone for the flight and Adams did so here, reminding passengers without unnecessary threats of the importance of wearing masks.
As we neared Newark, Adams provided a detailed weather report, thanked every passenger for traveling on United, and wished everyone a happy holiday season. A small touch, but it is always nice to be thanked for your business.
After a smooth landing, we taxied for a bit before coming to stop well short of the gate. Without further delay, Adams informed us that an aircraft was delayed in pushing back and that we would move as soon as possible. He was apologetic, but his quick update took away any doubts as to why we had just stopped.
It took longer than expected to clear the alleyway so that we can pull into gate 90, but every few minutes Adams would give us an update, essentially stating just a bit longer. When we were cleared to start taxing, he proactively informed us that we would stop just short of the gate and be towed in, because of the sharp angle of the gate.
Consequently, when the aircraft came to a stop, this time much closer to the gate, no one got up.
Soon enough, we made it to the gate…30 minutes late. But people were not upset. Sure, many rushed off to make connections which suddenly were much tighter, but everyone had information…we were not left in the dark.
This flight was a small but important lesson that keeping passengers informed is just as important as the delay itself. Transparency and clear communication go a long way toward alleviating anxiousness and anger over delays. Well done Captain Adams.