- The first example is with Delta Air Lines. Temperatures in Houston were very hot, hovering around 95 to 100 degrees. Just down the concourse from our gate was the gate for a Delta flight. The flight was delayed and I overheard the gate agent make an announcement saying that the food for the flight had been sitting in the hot sun. He was concerned about spoilage, so they weren't going to load the food onto the plane. Instead, they gave each of the passengers a voucher to go get food for the flight from one of the vendors on the concourse. He was empathetic for the passengers long flight because he put himself in their position imagining what it would be like to go on a long flight with no food, he was compassionate in that he was aware that they would suffer and took steps to prevent their suffering, and he treated them with respect as one human to another.
- The next two examples are with Alaska Airlines. Our flight left the gate on time, taxied out to the runway and sat for several minutes. The captain then made an announcement that there was a mechanical problem. He was concerned about the safety of the aircraft and wanted the maintenance crew to take a look at it. We taxied back to the gate and were told that the plane would be there long enough that the passengers could go back into the terminal if we wanted. Once inside the terminal, the captain himself made several public address announcements letting us know what the problem was, what was being done to repair it, and how long he thought it might take. I noticed several passengers approach the desk explaining their situation and in each case, the crew listened patiently, offering options when they were available. Again, the captain and the rest of the flight crew and ground crew treated us with empathy sharing our frustration at the delays, compassion and respect by being aware of our frustration and doing an excellent job of communicating status with us, and by listening to us when we approached the agent's desk to describe our worries.
- Finally, once the plane was repaired and we were taxiing to the runway, a small child started screaming. This child wins the award for the loudest set of vocal chords on any child anywhere! The parents were doing what they could, but the child kept screaming. When it became apparent that the child was going to continue screaming, the flight attendants walked up and down the aisle offering us earplugs to help alleviate our suffering.
For more on empathy, compassion, listening, and respect, watch this video: