Detesting Dulles Airport

Let me begin by saying my favorite approach is the river visual into Reagan airport, to runway 19 .  From the cockpit, flying down the Potomac with monuments on either side is nothing short of exhilarating. As a passenger, I don’t get the same view, but I do enjoy the views of the city. Given the choice, I will choose to fly into DCA over IAD, any day of the week.
I just finished a very productive trip to the DC area and I was elected Treasurer of The Equality Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to decrease the digital divide in Nepal and also improve the education opportunities in this beautiful and fascinating country. While on this trip, I was also able to spend time with two of my former students. It was a productive and rewarding trip.
I flew home from Washington Dulles at 0600. The bag-drop line was long but not unbearable, as some people did not know to use the kiosk to get their boarding pass. It wasn’t awful, though, but it was a precursor to the extremely long security line. There were only three scanners available and the TSA agent who checked me was a little too vigorous and overly intrusive in her pat-down.  I”m not even sure why I needed a pat-down since I was wearing the same clothes I had worn on the flight up.  I’m all for security but I’ve had mammograms with less touching.
I made it to the gate and encountered one of the most unpleasant gate agents in my 50+ years of flying on commercial airliners. This man either woke up on the wrong side of the bed or is just a really unhappy person. Rarely have I encountered a gate agent who is just rude to everyone. I generally try to avoid the gate agents, because I know they are busy and they deal with a lot of people, and I don’t want to create any additional stress. This guy seemed to go out of his way to be hateful and even chased a lady who did not say thank you, screaming, “You’re WELCOME!”  From his actions, she clearly wasn’t.
On the flip side was our pilot. He was Captain Personality!  He walked through the cabin, smiling, shaking hands, and speaking to each passenger prior to takeoff. He actually made a second trip back and told me he wished he had been able to fly with my husband prior to his retirement from Delta. Nice. Yes. My husband is the nicest guy in the world and he loved every minute of his Delta Air Lines career. Our captain’s uniform was clean and pressed and he exuded professionalism.  I love to see people smiling and loving their jobs.
Customer service is important and it is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Employees may not realize that what they say and do reflects on the organization as a whole.  This wonderful captain’s commitment to excellence was very powerful and outweighed the unpleasantness of the gate agent. Hopefully someone at Delta will give the gate agent some additional customer service training and will help him see his job in a different light.

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