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Top 5 Airline Service Moments of 2012

Though Close Together, EWR and JFK Are Not the Same

WHO: American JFK Gate agent Ellen Huggins, flight attendants Kevin Lynch, Craig Atherton and Frank Fehr.

WHAT: On Nov. 21, the chairman and CEO of a publicly traded South African retail business, on an international investor road show, were flying from New York to London for their next presentation. They arrived at New York Kennedy early to catch their 8 a.m. Virgin Atlantic flight. This is where the fun begins, because it turns out they were scheduled to fly from Newark. "A mix-up when the tickets were booked," they said.

It was too late to get to Newark in time for the flight, and they could not afford to miss their London presentations. So they raced to the American ticket counter, hoping for the best.

Fortunately, airport agent Ellen Huggins was ready to go. She was "extremely sympathetic, and took complete control," wrote Grattan Kirk, CEO of JD Group, in a letter to American. "We were highly agitated and concerned that we would miss our meetings. (She) managed to get us onto the (next) flight. It might have cost $5,000 but at least we were getting to London." Huggins also arranged an upgrade and found the two passengers a large suitcase for all the packages they had acquired in New York. She and other airport agents "were amazing, sympathetic and understanding,' Kirk wrote. The approach was, "We can fix your problem, leave it to us."

Onboard, the lovefest continued. Flight attendants Craig Atherton, Kevin Lynch and Frank Fehr "were without a doubt the best team we have ever experienced on any flight, and believe it or not we fly a lot," Kirk wrote.

"It is hard to believe that you are going through Chapter 11 because that generally brings uncertainty, despondent and de-motivated staff, but quite the contrary," he said. "They were so professional and complimentary about the airline that they had given up to 25 years of their life to. "

"I intend using the example of the service on AA in my monthly staff induction program," he added.

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