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Auto Transport Broker Prepared by Cancelled Flights Due to Blizzard
Turbulence and football
Out of a deep sleep, the captain advising us to return to our seats and buckle up awakened this auto transport broker and family. We were entering a very large pocket of weather with extreme turbulence. The flight attendants assisted those who were not so steady on their feet back to their seats. This part of the trip freaked my husband and son out. What would they do if the plane crashed? They are not great travelers anyway, but to reassure them I told them we would be fine. The crew flew through all kinds of weather and this was no different.
The turbulence was a major blizzard. After the plane landed in Philadelphia, it took awhile to get to the gate. Looking out the window snow and ice was everywhere; our auto transport broker business was the last thing on our minds. There were very few signs of activity, which should have been a clue. Not traveling internationally much, we were clueless about the signs around us.
As we got off the plane, we walked to the customs clearing area. Everything went fine this time through; luggage in tow we left the area. As we made our way to find something to eat, we stopped at one of the boards to find our connection and gate. It was that very moment that we realized something was not right at all. The airport had CANCELLED all flights, in and out for the night.
Now what were we to do?
Okay, first we needed food. Walking the terminals there was not one establishment open. What was the deal? Finally, we found a security guard and asked what was happening. He was happy to help us, his customer service superb although his answer was not what we wanted to hear. The airport was operating on a bare bones crew due to the snowstorm; no one could get in to work.
We decided to get a hotel room and just order room service. If I believed in luck, which I do not, we did not have any. It happened to be the one weekend for the Philadelphia Eagles to be at home in a play-off game. All hotels/motels were booked solid for miles. With no rooms available, we settled for the Mylar blankets and found a spot in the indoor walkway that crossed the road below.
The only food establishments were inside the security area or outside the airport. We had our luggage, there were no employees at security, and we were not able to get inside without going through security first. Finally, we crossed the street and found an outside restaurant. There was a two-hour wait for a table. At that point in time, we did not care how long we had to wait. At least it was warm inside and we knew warm food was to come.
It was finally our turn to enter the restaurant to enjoy hot coffee and a warm meal. All three of us savored every bite. It had been a very long flight, a long day and we just wanted some nourishment. After our hot meal, we ordered more coffee to enable our stay inside the establishment. Pushing the limit, we finally left and returned to our piece of airport real estate. We had never been so tired, cold or frightened.
Morning humbled even the best of travelers
I am not sure any of us really slept that night. The blankets might have been warm on top, but the freezing air from the frigid temperatures outdoors encircled the walkway beneath our butts below. Then there was the fear of those wandering around all night might swipe our luggage. I now know that was silly, but hey it was our first time being stuck in an airport overnight because of a storm.
We heard other passengers talking about getting in line to rebook their connections that morning. Quickly I took my place in line. After two hours standing and creeping up, the announcement came over the loud speaker. The ATC stopped all plane activity ~ in and out again.
Shrinking back to where my husband and son sat I had to break the news. We were not going anywhere anytime soon. Later I decided to try my cell phone and try to book seats out for us. This time it worked, we would be able to board in less than an hour.
As we neared our gate, a familiar message blinked on the flight board ~ all reservations, in and out ~ DUE TO STORM nixed. This was so frustrating. Now the vision of frantic passengers trying to get home during the holidays came to mind.
Remembering how I reacted to their frustrations while sitting at home on my warm, soft sofa in front of the radiating heat of the stove made me sick to my stomach. Now I knew what they had gone through. We were living the experiences of the angry travelers with rescheduled flights. I vowed I would never again judge how they were acting in such a situation.
It would take two more bookings on that airline and twenty four more hours before we successfully boarded our plane headed for San Francisco and then on to Sacramento, California where our car was parked.
Auto Transport, Weather and Truck Drivers
The lessons we learned on that trip helped us to be aware of how people must feel when they are shipping their car. In our auto transport business people come up against all sorts of situations that can cause stress. Their reaction to that stress can cause them to act differently than they normally would.
This year has been a glowing example of how weather can affect everything in our lives, including shipping your car. We must keep in mind that these men and women truck drivers put their very lives on the line to serve you and me. If the roads are not safe, we should not push them or get angry because they will not drive those big rigs on sheets of ice. Instead, we should be thankful that they are aware of the dangers to themselves, their equipment and other drivers on the road. You never know when that other driver could be you or a loved one.
Just today, one of our owner-operators called to let us know their truck broke down. The shop had ordered the parts but they would not be in until the next afternoon. This put the truck driver one full day behind on his schedule. When I called all of the customers and auto transport brokers to advise them of the situation, some were understanding and adjusted their schedules. Others were furious, screamed, yelled and literally threw the phone down.
Even though we try to work through all glitches like this one, we cannot make everyone happy all of the time. Even trying to reason with them through the situation did not work. Can you imagine someone telling you that she does not care that the driver cannot help that a piece of machinery broke ~ it inconvenienced her? How do you handle that? Does that even make sense?
We offered every possible alternative to ship her car nothing suited her. Finally, I advised her that if she wanted to calm down and work with us instead of against us, we could find a solution. This angry auto transport customer finally came to her senses and worked with us to find a solution good for everyone. It only took one phone call and we handled the situation.
When an angry customer attacks us as she did, I always remember how I felt in that airport with rescheduled planes due to extreme weather. Thank goodness I did not act out as she did, but I can understand why she felt the way she did. Having empathy for our angry auto transport customers makes us a better person, broker, servant and business owner now and in the future.
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Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
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