As someone who flies a lot, one attribute I seldom ascribe to the air travel industry is “niceness.”
Airline service personnel must deal with unpredictable weather, equipment problems, and overstressed passengers all through the day. Conversely, when we call for help with changing flights or deal with gate personnel, we have learned to expect long delays and escalating frustration followed by abrupt service.
Enter David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, Westjet, Morris Air, Azul, and Open Skies.
His new airline, to be called Breeze Airways, expects to begin service sometime later this year. It will feature low costs, low prices, and a more comfortable travel experience with expanded legroom for passengers. It will fly from and to “secondary” cities that don’t usually have direct air service to each other.
And it will offer one other element Neeleman thinks will be a significant competitive advantage: his employees will be nice to their customers.
The Forbes article notes: “It stands as an indictment of this nation’s current airline industry that someone now is ready to compete—and win—at least partially on making old-fashioned, positive human connections between employees and customers the featured aspect of their operation. We’ll see, over time, whether it’ll work.
“It’s also rather refreshing that someone not only recognizes the glaring problem with service quality in the US airline industry today but is aiming to do something about it.”
The enduring power of kindness
David Neeleman knows something Christians will do well to remember: when we treat others with the grace we have received, our kindness draws them to our Lord.
Maya Angelou famously observed, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In our secularized, chaotic, divisive culture, one of the most distinctive features of the Christian faith should be the kindness with which we treat others.
But we should note that such kindness is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22), the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in and through our lives. The only way to sustain kindness in unkind times is to live in submission to his power and purpose. The more we stay in touch with the Spirit in prayer, Bible study, worship, and surrendered faithfulness, the more he will manifest himself through us.
When was the last time someone treated you with kindness? You will likely remember the experience long after you forget its context.
Who will remember your kindness today?