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Comment: The Calmness of Cashews

By Praxity executive director Græme Gordon


As many of you may know, I travel quite a bit. Whilst I’ve heard others wish they could have back the time they spend commuting, I, on the other hand, recently worked out that if I could get back all the time spent waiting for luggage at an airport carousel, I’d live to be at least 110!

Just as you know what to expect on a ‘normal’ commute, you usually know or at least expect that you’ll to have to wait for your bags. When I travel Business class, I’m always fascinated by the idea that airlines put labels on my luggage which suggests they should be handled as a ‘priority’. I think only once have my ‘priority’ bags come out in the first tranche, and more often they’re amongst the last to appear. Ho hum!

Nowadays, travel delays are to be expected and endured.

You may be aware that there is an EU law which pretty much states that if the delay to your flight in to or out of the EU or on an EU-based airline is more than three hours, the airline must financially compensate you.  If the flight is cancelled you can expect a refund and compensation and, if it’s delayed overnight, your accommodation is required to be thrown in too.

The three hours is the trigger.

Which brings me to this weekend.

A colleague and I were travelling back from a conference on a BA flight which was delayed for a time on the apron leaving the US and on arrival in the UK. I’d guess the total duration of the delay was two hours and fifty-two minutes, and compensation-free.

As a regular transatlantic flyer, I readily admit that I have long favoured Virgin over its competitors.  However, in the last couple of years, in my opinion, I sense that Virgin has been resting on its laurels while almost all other airlines have improved their ‘in-the-air experience’ to supersede them. Except for the lounges. Virgin lounges remain amongst my favourite.

So, why mention the most recent delay on a BA flight?

Well, simply because the way the air crew dealt with the situation was exemplary.

The Captain and First Officer kept passengers informed. Even though the issue seemed simple – affecting the pipe fuelling the plane – they provided a reassuring blow-by-blow account, regularly updating us on their best estimate of a time for departure. The cabin crew encouraged us to move around, and to keep hydrated.

Then came what was, for me, the pièce de la résistance, when they served us all cashew nuts. Something which was remarkably calming.  I don’t know why, but it was.

While this delay cost me a whole Saturday, I don’t hold it against the airline because of their on-board personnel. And because of the cashews.

So, if you are in charge of a difficult and potentially stressful situation, remember to keep the communications going and update everyone whenever you can. And don’t forget the Calmness of the Cashews!

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