Wednesday, October 25, 2006

JFK Airport & New York City

I am back in the big city after exactly one year. And the exhilarating feeling that buoyed me in 2005 has resurfaced. While I am not about to exit the terminal, as I have only 2 hours, the sheer pulse of the city is visible right at this incredibly busy JFK international airport. The fact that New York city is the world’s melting pot is epitomised by its airports and the sea of humanity that converges there. Multiple dialects, multiple currencies, multiple cultures, multiple views, opinions and feelings are all available in one place. It just amazes me no end as to how this city has the power to integrate, digest and absorb such diversity into its fold every day of its life. Incredible!

I have been running from gate to gate, as the terminal from which my plane was scheduled to take off has been changed to some other terminal. And the airline officials at the new terminal are waiting for me with a smile (unlike the usual grumpiness that lateness is normally associated with!). One of the highlights of seeing what customer experience is all about, was when I boarded the flight to San Francisco at the JFK airport. The captain of the plane walked down the length of the aircraft, greeting everyone in the plane with a beaming smile, talking to them about the weather in Sfrisco, how the day was and what plans he has for the flight. Simple, yet an incredible lesson of how customer service can be replicated in the manner we do it at home i.e. if someone visits us, we spend the first few minutes greeting them, smiling at them and talking of general things. That’s exactly what the captain did, a la customer service style. Every time I come to the US, and every time I fly these airlines in this country, the quality of customer service just keeps getting better. You may recall the amazing experience I had with a delayed flight last July at Memphis airport (again on a flight out of New York City!).

As for JFK airport, well, I guess I have this to say. Based on what I had heard from my dad all these years, that there is a flight departing or arriving at the JFK airport every two minutes, I can only say that it’s the reality of the day. Two minutes is a long time at JFK airport. The various management lessons I learnt of scheduling, operational efficiency in providing better service, speed of delivery, were all visible to me at the JFK airport. Lines of aircraft stood one behind another waiting patiently to take off, one after the other. No blaring of horns that I am accustomed to back home!

Next to me is an old lady, who is alternating between sleeping and reading a Spanish book! Am off to sleep now. Should be reaching San Francisco by 10.30 p.m.