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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Monday, September 01, 2014

How to Build Brand Loyalty (or Some Days It's Good to be King!)

Yesterday I flew across America. On my way to the airport my Hertz rental car died. Check Engine Light came on. Power steering went kablooey. Transmission would only work in low gear. I wrestled the thing off the road and called the Hertz 800 number. They informed me a tow truck would be sent poste haste. I was to be taken to the nearest Hertz office and issued a new car. This was on a Sunday morning around 7 o'clock. 

If all had gone smoothly I could still make my first flight (out of Detroit). 

Things didn't go smoothly.

They had given the driver the wrong address. He was supposed to be at my location within ten minutes. After repeated calls and corrections he got there an hour later. Not his fault. The nearest open Hertz office was in Columbus airport. They had received no notice from Hertz. The guy on duty wasn't authorized to do anything. I had to wait til 9 when the manager came in. 

Bottom line: I wasn't going to make it to Detroit.

So I called my airline. Delta. I have flown a lot these past few years and consequently I made Delta's Diamond status this year. It has it's privileges. One of which is a direct line to Delta. No messing around with computer operators. It's nice.

They were very helpful. Booked me new flights out of Columbus. I had to hopscotch my way across the country. Columbus to Minneapolis to Salt Lake City to Oakland, CA. But I would still arrive at my original scheduled time. Only cost $59 for the change. I'm happy, even though I didn't get my traditional Cubano sandwich at DTW. But hey, you can't have everything.

Here's where it gets good:

Wouldn't you know, my first flight is delayed. We arrive at the gate in Minneapolis with barely minutes before my next flight is scheduled to leave.

Minneapolis is a very nice airport. But it is HUGE! I was arriving at C concourse and my next flight was from G. Probably (and I'm not exaggerating) a mile from gate to gate. The stewardess had me first out the door, told me to get on the people mover and run. Maybe. MAYBE I'd make it. I knew there was virtually no way I was going to make that flight. I wasn't too concerned, because if I missed it, Delta would re-arrange everything. And after all, it's not like I had to be at work the next day.

But, nonetheless, I was in full "get after it" mode.

So I jump from the plane and am stepping out smartly up the jetway when I spy a women holding a sign with my name on it! I identify myself and she asks if I would like a ride to my plane. I'm looking around for the golf cart, thinking it wouldn't be much faster than me, but at least THEY thought they could get there in time.

She says no. No golf cart. Follow me. We step through a door in the jetway, down some steps to the tarmac and there sits a new Porsche Cayenne SUV.

"You can relax Mr Wigal. You've made your flight." 

We whip around the airport and pull up along side the plane. She calls the gate and tells them to mark me as "boarded." And then she took my picture. I was happily astounded.

It's called MSP Elite Services. So far as I could learn it's only in Minneapolis and only for Delta Diamond members. 

Look, flying is a hassle. No two ways about that. But when a company goes an extra step or two (or there) to make it smoother for you, you have to appreciate that. This was my best ever Delta experience.

And if nothing else it motivates me to KEEP THAT STATUS! 

It would have made the story even better if I had been upgraded to Business on that flight. I wasn't. But on the following flight I was.



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