October 5, 2005

                                                                                                                        1901 McIntyre St.

                                                                                                                        Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Doug Parker

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

America West Airlines

4000 E. Sky Harbor Blvd.

Phoenix, AZ 85034


Dear Mr. Parker,


I am writing to express my extreme gratification at the professional, beyond the call of duty, efforts of your employee Yvonne M.


The initial story: On the morning of June 16th, coming home from a conference in Portland, I missed my flight. I was late, it was my fault, and quite frankly (since I am a poor graduate student with little chance to fly and therefore didn’t know your policies and procedures) I was quite concerned about how, exactly, I was going to get home. However, your front end folks, the people at the boarding terminal desk, reassured me that they would find me a flight home to my wife and kids. Super. I bought a book to read and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Each flight came and went, packed full. I even wondered -  how could the airlines be losing money with every flight jam-packed solid?


The continuing story: I had called my wife to let her know I was going to be late. However, by mid afternoon, after seeing almost a dozen planes come and go, I was beginning to get quite worried. We had our summer vacation planned, leaving to catch a train that Saturday, going across the country from Michigan to Arizona and a rental camper return, almost three weeks roundtrip, and there was every indication that I might not get home in time. Your folks were very understanding and kept checking for open seats, but the flights were completely full for the rest of the day and into the next (that Friday).


The happy conclusion: Without my knowing it (most likely because she didn’t want to get my hopes up) Yvonne spent a considerable amount of time hunting flights, even other airlines, and finally found me a direct flight home, from Seattle, on another airline, the last seat available! As I started looking into renting a car to drive from Portland to Seattle, (she was furiously typing away at her computer at this point), she looked up with glee, she was able to find me a shuttle flight up to the Seattle airport, also one of the last seats.


I strongly imagine that this set of flights cost more than my original flight home, but Yvonne and America West took care of me, and didn’t even ask me to compensate for the difference in costs. This is Customer Care at its best. I cannot begin to express how happy I was to get home that Friday morning just as my wife was going off to work and my children were going off to school. We were able to have our planned summer vacation!


To follow up, I called America West customer relations to help me recall Yvonne’s name (I had misplaced my note during our rush to pack and only had a moderate memory of her name) and started a file (File #1476915A). I have posted this letter on my website (www.johntheengineer.com) and on epinions.com. Thank you for hiring people like Yvonne. Just today I had to book a flight to a conference in California, and as you could imagine, I went with America West.





John W. Norton, Jr.

Doctoral Student, Civil Engineering

University of Michigan