Around 9:45 a.m. on Saturday our bus left the University of Pittsburgh campus for Pittsburgh International Airport. The ride was quick and smooth, and our flight was scheduled for 1:50 p.m. so we had time to kill. A few of us went to TGIF to grab a quick bite to eat before our plane departed. Our flight to Charlotte was extremely easy; even though the landing was a bit wobbly and we hit the ground a little harder than expected. We landed in Charlotte around 3:30 p.m. and boarding for our next flight was in two hours. During this time, our gate for Dublin changed twice so we quickly learned the layout of the airport. At around 5 p.m. I decided to grab some quick southern style cuisine and Bojangles was the move. As I sat in the food court, I looked outside and saw dark storm clouds approaching. Two minutes passed and it poured. I tracked our flight status online and saw it was delayed. This was bittersweet because I, as for the rest of the group, wanted to fly ASAP but now I had the opportunity to watch the Kentucky Derby. At 7:30 p.m., we were told our flight was delayed again and our gate changed for the second time to the other side of the airport. Fortunately, when we got to the gate, we didn’t have to move again but the delays kept coming. At around 9 p.m. our group started to worry our flight would be canceled. There was even another flight heading to Barcelona that was at the same gate as us, then leapfrogged us, and took our originally scheduled plane. This was a disaster and for the next couple of hours, American Airlines was not giving us any updates on our flight. We relied on an online flight tracker to get updates. At midnight, we learned our flight had been canceled and we needed to find a hotel. Chris and Liz thankfully found a Hyatt about 15 minutes from the airport that could accommodate 17 people on short notice.
I hope this short story gives a quick summary of our frustratingly long day at the airport. Now, I will discuss two business functions performed by two different organizations I encountered on our trip so far. In addition, I will note two different business skills I’ve seen in action. As bad as American Airlines seems from my short story, Hyatt was a Godsend and their employees have treated us so kindly.
Starting off with American Airlines, the business function I noticed was their operations management. In Charlotte, they placed two different flights, Dublin and Barcelona, at the same gate. Their intention was to get one of the flights out and then scramble together another crew for the other. They chose Barcelona to leapfrog Dublin and we were left in Charlotte with another plane but no crew to operate; mind-boggling to put it nicely. Our first delay was due to weather but every succeeding one was due to poor operations management by American Airlines. Another issue with American related to business skills. Their communication was extremely bad. One of my classmates even overheard an American employee saying that they didn’t even know what to tell us. They were as confused as us. This should never happen with business and communication is vital to the success of an organization. Overall, our American Airlines experience was horrible, and it cost a lot of people valuable time and resources.
Even though our American Airlines experience was less than ideal, Hyatt was a Godsend. The business functions that stood out to me was their people management. Their employees took us in when we were desperate for a place to stay and treated us with great kindness. I appreciate how every employee takes time to say “hello” and ask how we are doing. It feels nice to be treated as a person… take notes American. One employee even greets everybody with a “Hey Baby!” and begins a conversation, this is so sweet and refreshing. The hotel even lets us use a meeting room so our group can discuss our plans of action. I, as well as everybody else, are extremely grateful for Hyatt’s awesome hospitality. The business skill that relates to my Hyatt experience is customer service. The employees have been awesome and helped lessen the frustrations with our trip so far.
During this trip, I have learned how to adapt when the schedule does not go according to plan. I have never suffered through a 10-hour layover/delay before, so I have gained an appreciation for other airlines who value their customers. Another thing I learned was how an experience like this can bring a group of strangers closer together. We went to TopGolf and got delicious ice cream at Jeni’s. I believe when we finally get to Ireland, we will have a blast! This bonding experience makes the trip even more interesting.