Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Model for US Airlines

As you probably remember, Stevie flew back to the States at the beginning of December to interview for jobs. What you may or may not know is that getting to the States was one of the biggest ordeals in flying I've ever heard.  Basically it took the poor guy 51 hours to get from Okinawa to Maine at which point he had 6 hours to sleep before going through a grueling all day interview process.

The reason for the ordeal was that his first flight out of Okinawa was delayed because of a medical emergency.  Some poor lady was having a heart attack before the plane even left the ground.  Being the good Samaritan that he is, Stevie and one other doc from the Naval Hospital who also happened to be on the plane attended to the woman while the ambulance was called and the paramedics could take over.

Now ANA (All Nippon Airlines) had already paid for a hotel room in Tokyo for Stevie (and my mom who was traveling with him, although, in fairness, only after Stevie "convinced" them to) and they offered him an upgrade to business class for only $80 when he got to the gate. Apparently they knew exactly who he was even though it was the next day and a different flight from the original - "Ahhh, Dr. Coats, we know about you."  

Who would have expected anything more?

But this is Japan, and in Japan apologizing and expressing gratitude is a fine art which seems to permeate all aspects of its culture.  Including airlines.

Why do I say this?  Because today I picked up the mail and found a notice for a certified letter.  The letter was from ANA addressed to Mr. Stephend Coats.  Inside?  A letter thanking him for his generous service during the doomed flight and a gift - a thank you - five 1,000 Yen gift cards!  Have you ever, EVER heard of an airline sending a passenger a thank you gift?  Dang, I'm going to miss this country when we leave.

The letter...

It reads, "We would like to express our sincere gratitude for you assistance on (flight).  All of our flight crew members were very grateful for the help you had offered when one of our customers had fallen ill.  We thank you for your willing generosity once again, and look forward to serving you on our flight again in the near future."

The gift envelope so nicely packaged...

About $60 worth of gift cards!


  1. You live in such a beautiful, little piece of heaven! :)
    What a gracious gift from the airline - I do miss their unselfishness and welcoming spirit.
    Steve is such a great guy - always willing to go the extra mile for people. He,nor your family, may be Japanese but your personify similar attributes. We miss you guys!
    PS I will be emailing back. I tend to be a bit tardy. Sorry