I need a flight. That was one of my first thoughts after hearing that my aunt Anne had died. I need to be in North Carolina, not London, so I called American Airlines.
I explained to the woman on the other end of the phone, I don’t remember her name, that there had been a death in the family and I understood most airlines had special “bereavement” fares. It felt disrespectful even to ask. Someone has died, so can I get a cheap ticket please. But the American Airlines representative handled it all beautifully. She explained that the airline understood that there were times when a passenger was not able to book in advance. She checked availability on the next morning's flight, quoted a fare that I would have received had I booked way in advance, reserved a nice aisle seat at the front of the plane, processed my credit card and sent me my e-ticket, all in a matter of minutes.
I’ve said tons of ugly things about airlines in this blog. Still, I thought I’d use this chance to thank American for being so nice about one of the saddest requests I’ve ever had to make.
FYI – American Airlines has a daily non-stop from London Heathrow to Raleigh Durham Airport with a terrific new terminal where I cleared US Customs and Immigration in less than 10 minutes. Right now, I can’t think of a nicer or more efficient place for foreign nationals to enter the United States.