Public Relations

westjet PR - Lynda Lynn Muskoka ArtistI’ve been thinking about public relations and how we do business.

Last June 2013, Ron and I were on a relaxing, week long cruise from New York to beautiful Bermuda with a group of friends who get together yearly for a visit. This was in celebration of 25 years of this reunion, as well as some significant birthdays for many.

The following is about our journey home and West Jet’s PR.

Final day:

Up at 5 am to watch the amazing arrival into New York, breakfast on the ship, then out of our cabin for 8:30 to allow the staff to refurbish things for the next sailing that afternoon. We sat in the lobby until after 10 until it was our turn to shuffle off.

After the cattle (us) trek off the ship, walking from the farthest point of debarkation along the full length of the pier ( I don’t know why we are all so like these beasts) trudging along back and forth in the terminal in the maze of fabric taped lines (that were empty for about half the distance), lugging my carry on which must have weighted as much as my suitcase, nearly breaking my shoulder – I know, my own stupidity, but I like to keep essentials with me. My urge was to just duck under the barriers but the steely eyed guards standing there with legs splayed and arms folded was a definite deterrent. I’m such a rule follower!

We gathered our bags, then limo’ed to LaGuardia, arriving around noon,  and faced  the first glitch. Ron wasn’t allowed to carry his duty free booze in the box and it had to travel in checked baggage. He had opted to bring a lovely smaller suitcase that was light and easy to manoeuver but without a square inch of space left in it. The check in person suggested that he go to another terminal to purchase a bag to put it in. Right! Take a cab, pay for a suitcase, to save the 30 bucks on the Kahlua.  That made a lot of sense!

I was able to unzip the expansion gusset on my suitcase, and after much reshuffling of clothing, get the box into the protected centre of the bag. Now – I was nearly at max weight when we left home and had purchase a few small gifts, but I guess that I wore a heavier top and had my jacket in the carry on so came in at 49 pounds. Whew. Away went the bags.

Then the news from West Jet.  The couple ahead of us who had been on the 2:25 flight (also from the ship) were told that their flight was cancelled but that the attendant was trying to get them on a later flight. Good to go at 6:30ish.

Our turn – 6 of us.

Oh! Ours is also cancelled. We will be squeezed onto the 6:25 as well. Great! It was now 12:30. Because we already had printed our boarding passes West Jet had sent me an email, but were en route to the airport. We hadn’t had time enough to do anything in NY as we were to fly out at 4:45pm. We checked in and settled in for the wait.

We dawdled over a fabulous lunch, poked around in the shops, and wandered down to the gate. “Only a couple of extra hours.” we told ourselves.

Although it was sunny and hot, the sky was looking ominous with nasty flashes of lightning low on the horizon.

The terminal became more and more crowded. Now people were sprawled out on the floor, perched on the arms of the chairs, and milling around. The air conditioning wasn’t operating and, with the crowds and the sun glaring in the massive glassed walls, it became hotter and hotter, and of course we were destination dressed, anticipating about 12c.

Not able to face the suffocating air, we shuffled back into the bowels of the terminal where there appeared to be a waft of a breeze. There must have been a door open somewhere since there were a couple of sparrows drifting around looking for a way out and picking at fallen crumbs when they spotted a mess on the floor.

More lightning. More delays announced. More crowding.  Hotter and hotter.  More and more suffocating. A storm band had flights cancelled everywhere in a wide swath from South Carolina into Ontario and Quebec.

6:25 came and went. No flights.

Finally!  At about 8:30 we were loaded onto the plane. I could still see lightning, so wasn’t optimistic. Fat ladies with multiple bags stuffed the overheads to bulging. Why are they allowed to do that? Since we had been squeezed in near the front of the plane, all of the storage space had been jammed. Under our feet the bags had to be.

We taxied for miles to get to our runway, (it felt as if we were driving to another airport) watching the storm clouds get closer and closer, lightning flashing and snapping with severe regularity just off to the north. Announcement!  We will be delayed for a few minutes. Things did not look good. Sat some more. No less hot or crowded than in the terminal. Mind you, I’m a bit of a nervous flyer and certainly would rather keep my feet on the ground if there is risk involved.

Finally, after watching several other flights come it to land, we turned onto the end of the runway. It was near on 9:30pm. The engines revved. We were off like a duck jumping into the air from a lake. (My own visual of takeoff as I’m sure that the wheels morph into webbed feet.)  After an uneventful flight to Toronto , a quick clearing of customs, gathering of bags, lugging them to the shuttle, and finally, to the furthest corner of the car park, we faced the 200 km. drive home. It is a royal “we” since Ron did the driving.

Total exhaustion when we got home somewhere near 1:30 am.  After a week of relaxation, who’d a thunk it!

Now – to give West Jet their due.  They don’t control the weather but are kindly refunding the surcharge for pre booking our seats and have sent coupons for a flight for each for us, at half price, between Toronto and Montreal, Ottawa, or New York. Mind you, they expire in 90 days so we aren’t able nor have a need to use them.

But – Like a hug at the end of a tough day.  Great PR!