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A Night Sleeping On The Floor At Houston Intercontinental, Gate B85

by David Brock on December 11th, 2008
It’s 6:20 am, Central Time, I’m in the President’s Club in Terminal B at Houston Intercontinental. The trials of winter travel started for me last night. I barely made my connecting flight to the East Coast last night. We finally left the gate, 90 minutes late.

Six and a half (that’s right 6.5) hours later, still sitting on the tarmac, along with dozens of other planes waiting to be de-iced by one of Houston’s 2 de-icers, the pilot turned back, we had burned through our fuel.

Turned out to be the same plight of dozens of other planes. My guess is well over a thousand people spent the night sleeping on the floor somewhere in Houston Intercontinental. I found a comfortable spot near gate B85. (Pictures to come later)

The reason, I am telling this story is that I noticed something really different than I have seen in 20 plus years of business travel. While people were frustrated, I didn’t see the hostility and bad behavior I’ve seen in the past. People, were relatively patient and calm.

Likewise, the overworked, overstressed gate and ticketing agents were very patient and somehow seemed to keep smiles on their faces. After they re-booked everyone, around 3:00am, they brought pillows, blankets, and food around. They did everything they could to make us as comfortable as possible. My compliments to the agents at Continental Airlines.

Except for the guy snoring 30 feet from me, it hasn’t been that bad an experience.

This gets me to the reason I’m writing. Last night and this morning, I have seen and participated in a civility, patience, and good humour that I have never experienced in business travel. Usually it is exactly the opposite of this.

I wonder if during these tough economic times, we are all learning to be better people. I hope we are—-maybe every cloud does have a silver lining.

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