Amazing Stories of Trust #1: the airline and the lost baggage

Image courtesy Mark J P on Flickr

Image courtesy Mark J P on Flickr

I don’t like to look at the past with rose-coloured glasses too much. However, one of the things I think has suffered in the last 30 years is the element of trust in one’s fellow person: the concept that most people will do the right thing most of the time.

I’m reminded of something that happened to me in 1980 in my homeland of New Zealand, when I took a flight from Auckland to Hawke’s Bay. It was only a one-hour flight, and while I arrived at Napier-Hastings airport safely, my bag was nowhere to be seen. The Air NZ staff were apologetic, and said my bag had been put on the wrong trolley and would be forwarded the next day.

In the meantime, they said they would pay for some toiletries for me to make do with. They gave me an Air NZ cash cheque and told me to go to a chemist (known as a drug store in the US) and get whatever I needed.

This was not just any cheque. Well, it was, actually. It was what was known as an “open cheque”, which was signed, leaving the amount blank for me to fill in, depending on how much it was. I could do that at the point of purchase, they said.

“How much should I spend?” I asked.

“Just whatever you need, within reason,” they said.

Even back then, this amazed me. Such trust!

I didn’t buy much: a toothbrush, deodorant, a few other minor items. The bill came to less than $10.

The next day, the airline arranged for my bag to be couriered to my house in the small town of Waipukurau, about 45 minutes’ drive from the airport.

That’s customer service, trust and great company PR all in one.

9 thoughts on “Amazing Stories of Trust #1: the airline and the lost baggage

    • Yes, so true. We should also be prepared to give it. Often, it is the media that makes us mistrustful, by amplifying negative occurrences. For example, if someone approaches me in the street, I am immediately on guard (though I try not to show it)—yet they usually just want to ask directions or something similar. This is because I have seen so many stories on the news and in current affairs about women being attacked in the street. Statistically, young men have the highest risk of being attacked in this way.

      • I’ve seen an incident in downtown Chicago when a young gentleman had a seizure and was shaking on the ground. Many people, in business attires, just gave him a quick look and moved on. They were so afraid that if something happens to the man they would be sued. Some of us tried to call 911 for help but no one comforted him nor touched him. But mostly didn’t do anything. They didn’t trust the system. We have become an uncaring society because of the lack of trust.

        • That’s very sad. There was an incident here in Melbourne this week, in which a middle-aged man was set upon by two teenage girls in a train, resulting in a bleeding head injury—and video shows that not one person stepped in or even looked his way. He was just trying to sit down in a seat, and had words with the girls because one of them refused in a rude manner to move her bag. They continued to abuse him and tell him they would kill him and hoped he died. Not a word from anyone.

  1. They were also the days when you were given a voucher for a meal if your flight was delayed. Hell, they were the days when you actually got a meal on your flight, served on a china plate.

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