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.