Northwest Airlines Compliment - A letter of gratitude
TOKYO -- I am writing to alert you of an employee to whom I am very grateful: Mr. T. Terasaki, who was working the check-in counter at gate 46 of Tokyo Narita airport for flight NW18 on July 30, 2001.
I flew on Northwest from JFK-Tokyo-Beijing and returned via from Hong Kong-Tokyo-JFK. I paid for the ticket using USAir frequent flyer miles, and I paid the full fare 90,000 miles for a business class ticket. I was able to secure a business class seat for 3 out of the 4 legs of my trip, but for the last leg, there were only coach seats available for mileage customers. Prior to my trip, I called USAir regularly, but the lack of availability did not change. My USAir agent advised me that my best bet would be to explain my situation at the gate on the day of the flight, and hopefully they would upgrade me in light of the situation. I had no alternative but to take my chances, but I was deeply dejected at the possibility of having paid so much for a business class ticket and not being able to use it on the longest leg of my trip.
On the day of my flight home, I confirmed that there were still business class seats available for paying customers. I then went to 3 Northwest ticketing agents in the Hong Kong airport, but none of them would upgrade me--expressing particular concern about a notation on my account from USAir, saying that all further changes MUST be made by USAir, no exceptions. (Apparently, USAir was angry about a change that I had made to my ticket through Northwest...even though it was a USAir agent who encouraged me to call Northwest about it in the first place.)
So, I continued on to Tokyo and tried again there. The gate agent let me know that she had received a call from one of the Hong Kong agents who had been looking into my situation. The Hong Kong agent had called USAir, and USAir apparently had advised her NOT to give me the upgrade. I could not believe it! Between this and the nasty note on my account, USAir was doing everything possible to prevent me from getting this seat - knowing I had paid for it, and knowing I held 100,000 of their frequent flier miles.
The Tokyo gate agent then said, regardless, there weren't any business class seats for her to give me - the flight was completely full. I said I knew that there were business class seats available earlier that day, and she said that they were no longer available. So I asked her twice, 'For paying customers too?' and twice she said yes, there was not a free business class seat on the plane. As I soon found out, that was a blatant lie.
As a last effort, I asked to speak to the manager at the gate. Mr. Terasaki listened quietly as I explained the situation, and without another word, he pulled my file, typed for a few minutes on the computer, asked me where I would like to sit, and happily handed me a business class ticket. His demeanor was extremely pleasant and comforting (despite the long line of people waiting behind me), he treated me with respect and empathy, and with that one gesture, he made my day a thousand times better. In my heart, I felt that I did deserve special consideration for that seat, and his recognition of the value of customer service was very much appreciated - especially since I was technially the customer of USAir.
In addition to Mr. Terasaki's commendable service, the flight attendants in business class on all 4 legs of my flight were among the finest I have ever had. Everyone was warm and friendly, the service and food was excellent, and I felt that those were truly the best four flights of my life.
I wanted to let you know about the situation - both its negative and positive aspects - and thank Mr. Terasaki again for taking care of me when it seemed that no one else would.
Thank you for your time. I will also send a copy of this letter to USAir.