One advantage of long-term loyalty to one airline is that you get to know some of the staff. I had a wonderful reunion with an old friend in SFO last week, who happens to be a United Airlines employee.
Back in the day, I attended law school in Philadelphia but still essentially lived in Los Angeles. This was during the Great Recession, an era of cheap transcontinental fares and liberal routing rules. My weekends would often look like this. Oh, what fun times…and I was also extremely productive in reading and outlining on airplanes for my classes in the pre-Wi-Fi era.
My routine typically included a stop in Washington Dulles and Denver on the way home, usually on a Friday morning. After the Continental merger, my routine became an Amtrak connection from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station to Newark Airport followed by a nonstop to Los Angeles on Thursday nights. Then, on Sunday nights (or occasionally Monday nights), I would take a redeye back to Philadelphia from Burbank via San Francisco. My upgrades always cleared and I got to know airport and lounge agents on a first-name basis.
This was back in the day of bmi gold status, so I had access to the United Clubs when traveling domestically. Thus, every Sunday night I spent about an hour in the United Club (then called a Red Carpet Club) in SFO. And every Sunday night my favorite lounge agent, Rosemary, was working. Over a three-year period, we go to know each other fairly well and always enjoyed a brief (and sometimes not-so-brief) conversation during my layover.
Well, I graduated from law school, moved to Germany for a bit, got married, returned to Los Angeles with my wife, had a son, and settled down (a bit…). With my weekly transcontinental commute a relic of the past, I did not pass through SFO nearly as much as before. And I certainly missed my conversations with Rosemary.
Six Years Later
Last week prior to my United 777-200 Premium Plus flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt, I stopped by the United Club. Walking in, I could not believe my eyes. There was Rosemary! It had literally been six years since I had seen her last.
She was as beautiful as always and I walked over to her with a big smile and said hello.
She looked at me with a hint of confusion. I guess married life and the struggles of running three businesses have aged me…it had been six years after all.
But as I continued talking, she remembered…and oh what a happy reunion it was. We had a great talk, just like old times, as I filled her in on my marriage and the birth of my son. I’ll respect her privacy, but just add that she’s doing quite well herself and ended up doing most of the talking.
She always called me “doll” and as I finally left to catch my flight, she said, “Great to see you doll. Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by to chat.”
I know my road warrior readers will be able to relate to my anecdote above. We’re not talking about vacationing together or spending holidays together. No, we’re just talking about fairly basic conversations on a sporadic basis. But what a joy it was to see Rosemary again. It was another reminder that employees can cement airline loyalty. Rosemary is one reason I have been so loyal to United over the years.