The southern part of the United States just had some nasty winter weather. There was snow, sleet, and ice in North Carolina. We also had unseasonably cold temperatures, which sucks because I don’t own cold-weather clothing.
I didn’t leave my house for over 72 hours.
I was upset about the weather because my company‘s first meeting was scheduled for last Thursday. We’re a virtual team, we’ve made a commitment to meet monthly, and every single person lives below the Mason-Dixon line. Winter weather shouldn’t factor into our travel. Unfortunately, my flights were delayed before I began to think about packing.
So, before anybody got stranded or had an anxiety attack from dealing with the airlines, I canceled the trip and set some ground rules for company travel.
Don’t get on a plane if you’re pretty sure you’ll get stranded. Unless there’s a million bucks on the line and maybe not even then.
It’s family first when there’s a storm. Without apology, you stay home. This policy applies to winter weather, or more commonly in the south, hurricanes.
When in doubt, rebook. Especially if the airlines are offering no-fee rebooking. Duh.
No trip is worth extra Xanax. Even if your flight is on time and it is smooth sailing, you can always change your plans if the world feels like it’s coming to an end. Let’s talk about it. (This one is for me.)
Flexibility goes both ways. If you miss a flight, make it up by being an extra awesome colleague who gets stuff done. Our experiences with one another should be positive and healthy enough to overcome flight delays and missed connections.
This isn’t revolutionary stuff because adulthood isn’t revolutionary. I’m not running a daycare center. I’m not anybody’s mom except for my cats. And I work with people I love. Nobody is getting in the way of our success. Not the airlines, not the weatherman, and certainly not Old Man Winter.
So here’s where things stand: our meetings have been rescheduled, the South is warming up, and our company continues to push forward. Canceled flights are no big deal when you run a mature and easygoing organization that gets shit done — no matter the location.
Thinking like a CEO – principle-based leadership. You are definitely starting things off on the right foot.
Laurie, as a former airline supervisor with over 20 years of sometimes brutal experience, I highly approve of your position. The only thing I would add is to learn to practice what I call “Zen travel.” You’re nearly there with your post.
Accept what is happening when things are going badly. Don’t make things worse for yourself, your fellow passengers, or the airport staff. We don’t like delays and canceled flights any more than the public does. The poor schlubs out there at the counter and gate don’t make the rules or decisions. We’re as stuck wth them as you are.
We don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed on our watch. Remember, the first people at an airline accident are the flight crewmembers. I saw American 191 happen and I never want to see another one. If the airline says it’s a “no-go,” then that’s it.
I used to go through an entire roll of Rolaids per shift at O’Hare during bad weather days. I’ve had people spit and try to blow snot on me, throw things, and try to punch me. If you really need Xanax to deal with travel stress, then take it. Please.
If your employer isn’t flexible when travel is hazardous or snarled up, you need to find another employer. There is nowhere you need to be so badly that you can afford to arrive in a pine box, especially in this day of Skype and Lync.
In a word, take a deep breath and lighten up. We’re all in it together on a bad weather day.
Tip: Want to make your gate agents and flight crew love you during a delay or cancellation? Buy each of them a cold soda and give it to them at the gate. Buy a box of donut holes or Cinnabons for the flight crew. I’d move the world for someone who did that for my people…