“Hey this is Niki, your tour guide. I’m afraid to say your flight back to the United States is delayed by seven hours. You’re going to miss your connecting flight in Dallas.”
This is not the phone call you want to receive an hour before walking out the door to the airport with a group of 29 people, half of whom are between the ages of 89-94.
What would have been a 14-hour travel time back to Memphis now looked like it could be days. This is not the way we wanted to end a “Trip of Honor” that had, in every way, been nearly perfect.
It turns out…the plane that was supposed to pick us up in Frankfurt was late getting to Dallas. Once it got there, that plane broke down. American Airlines brought in another plane, only to find it wasn’t air-worthy either. Its’ brakes had to be replaced. It would be seven hours before the plane could get to us in Frankfurt.
But the most interesting things happened. Everyone, especially American Airlines, met the needs of our vets.
The Holiday Inn in Frankfurt allowed us to keep our rooms well past our check-out time. This enabled our vets to be comfortable. Many of them rested from a busy, honor-filled week.
When it was go-time, American Airlines arranged to have a 50-passenger bus pick us and our army of luggage up from the hotel and take us to the airport. On the way, the airline agent ran us through the pre-flight international security check. Once we arrived at the airport, American gave us curbside check-in for the entire group, something I’m told they don’t do in Frankfurt.
After that, they carted every one of our vets through the security check-point and to the gate. They made sure we would get out of Frankfurt as easily as possible. It was the best treatment our vets have ever received in a European airport.
But it didn’t stop there.
Since we missed our connection in Dallas, American put us up in the Hyatt Grand in the lobby of the airport. That meant not having to haul 50+ bags and 8 wheelchairs to and from a hotel down the road.
The next morning we woke to have breakfast at the nice restaurant in the lobby where we were given vouchers for an amount far more than any of us could eat.
Finally, the last move impressed us most. On Monday, our group was scheduled to fly to Memphis on three different flights throughout the day. This was less than ideal since we were traveling with elderly men who required lots of help.
But, we woke that morning to find American Airlines brought in a larger airplane to accommodate our group, allowing us to all fly home together.]
There is no telling how much money American Airlines spent to accommodate Forever Young, especially our veterans. We are so grateful and they have earned their name as “American” in every sense of the word, by honoring the men who gave them the freedom to fly around the world.
Well done, American. You served your country well.