NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Once again it is time to honor a few of the airline employees who went way beyond the norm to provide extraordinary service to passengers.
Three of our stories are about employees who were trying to make things better for passengers dealt some bad cards. Those passengers included a grief-stricken dad, a wounded vet and a boy who is going blind.
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Just as importantly, perhaps, two others helped average passengers move more easily through the stress points in the commercial aviation system. Those passengers included a man in Salt Lake City who feared he would miss a tight connection and some Frankfurt-bound travelers who had to board an aircraft through a leaky jet bridge.
Everyone appreciates being offered a helping hand at a time when it is needed.
In general, inside the airline industry, things look a lot better than they have in the past. Profitable airlines are better able to provide enhanced services, at least for premium passengers, and also are better able to compensate employees. Additionally, the mainline airlines have worked hard to improve their operational performance, so more flights are on time, which benefits everyone.
The feeling is that what customers most desire from airlines is on-time performance, and that operating on time solves most other of the other problems, particularly missed connections and mishandled bags.
My impression is that passengers seem to be complaining less. At the least, I get fewer emails with complaints about service and see fewer blogs complaining about service. Although when I checked recent monthly stats regarding complaints filed with the Department of Transportation, I did not see diminishment.
In any case, complaints don't tell the whole story -- even if they are magnified by social media and an overabundance of Web sites. Thousands of employees go to work every day and each day somebody does something special for a customer.
Our list begins this year with Martin Beiersdorf, a Newark-based flight attendant for United (UAL) , pictured below. On July 2, Beiersdorf was working Flight 50 to Frankfurt.
"There was a thunderstorm in Newark that day and it was raining tremendously," wrote Kevin Cumiskey, United's Newark inflight base director, in a commendation letter. For some reason the jetway had not made a tight connection to the aircraft.
"The aircraft canopy did not keep the rain from coming into the aircraft making boarding impossible," Cumiskey wrote. "Martin borrowed an umbrella from the pilot. Martin held the umbrella at the entrance of the aircraft for each and every passenger so boarding would not be delayed any further due to the weather."
"Martin exhibited creativity and innovation in an unusual situation and displayed the utmost attention and consideration for our customers," he wrote.
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