Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Military-Friendly Experience with AirTran

Just about everyone these days likes to claim that they "support the troops" but once in awhile I actually come across a company that puts their money where their mouth is. And, as two separate experiences on a recent trip indicated, airline AirTran Airways would appear to be one of those companies.

In one, I was in the boarding line behind a uniformed young woman who appeared to be flying home after completing her military basic training. Just before she handed her ticket to the AirTran person clearing people to get on the plane, she noticed another uniformed young woman -- apparently one of her basic training buddies -- sitting nearby and waiting for her boarding zone to be called. The young woman ahead of me called to her friend and the two were able to trade a few quick comments before the one ahead of me got her ticket scanned. When she did, the AirTran employee very nicely offered to change their seats so that they could sit together on the flight home, which the young woman gratefully accepted.

In my other experience, was checking in for my flight and handed my dependent military ID card to the person at the AirTran check-in counter, preferring to use it in lieu of a driver's license when flying. Knowing I was not an active duty military person, the clerk very graciously waived the baggage fee as an act of kindness to someone they recognized as either a former member of the uniformed services or the family member of one (note that I have opted not to identify this person by name, gender, or even airport, as I have actually seen people be punished by their higher-ups as a reward for good deeds; I have no reason to think AirTran would necessarily do this but do not want to jeopardize someone as a reward for being kind).

The fact that I enjoyed these two experiences at different airports and in different parts of the AirTran operation speaks well for the company and suggests it truly does have a benign attitude toward military personnel and their families. That is more than can be said for many companies, airlines included -- and is the kind of thing that will make those of us who have seen it first hand keep coming back to them.