A bad day at work
June 9, 2017
by Ivan Raconteur

I suppose most people have a bad day at work once in awhile, but there are some jobs that make it difficult to conceal when this is the case.

Earlier this week, federal investigators announced they blame the pilots in a wrong-airport landing that took place last year when a Delta Air Lines jet with 130 passengers landed at the wrong airport in South Dakota.

Investigators noted the flight crew had been cautioned that the two airports are close together and easy to confuse.

Delta Flight 2845 from Minneapolis landed July 7 at Ellsworth Air Force Base, about 6 miles northwest of the intended destination, Rapid City Regional Airport.

The flight crew misidentified the runway due to excess altitude and failure to use all the navigation information available to them, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s final report.

It has been reported the crew realized its mistake just before touchdown, but decided it was safest to complete the landing.

I’m not in a position to be too critical of the pilots in this case. Frankly, I don’t know how pilots are able to fly those giant planes at all, much less navigating in and out of complex, busy airports under all sorts of conditions.

I have all I can do to find my way through the larger airports, past security checkpoints, to find the right gate to be a passenger on a flight.

It must be incredibly stressful to have to fly those things.

And, to be fair, they seem to have a pretty good record of getting to the right place.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin referenced an Associated Press search three years ago of government safety data and news reports since the early 1990s found at least 150 flights in which US commercial passenger and cargo planes had either landed at the wrong airport or started to land and realized their mistake in time.

That might seem like a lot, but it probably isn’t all that many, considering how many flights have taken place during that period.

However, I suspect some of the passengers on those flights weren’t amused.

People these days seem to get very worked up over small things, so it seems likely that some passengers who paid good money for an airline to deliver them to a specific location can get a bit cranky when they discover the pilot has delivered them to the wrong location.

I’m confident that some of these passengers don’t hesitate to express their dissatisfaction to the pilot, the flight attendants, and anyone else they can find.

This dissatisfaction is likely magnified if the passengers are subjected to further inconvenience, as in the case of Delta Flight 2845. It has been reported passengers were kept in the plane for about 2.5 hours and ordered to pull down their window shades while base security personnel investigated the incident.

All of this leads me to think it could be a pretty bad day at work if a guy is responsible for a mistake that results in not one, but 130 (or more) unhappy customers, plus all the unhappy people who may have been waiting to pick those customers up – at a different airport.

A Delta spokesman said Tuesday that the pilot of Flight 2845, who was 60 at the time, retired shortly after the incident.

I’m not surprised.

He may have had a brilliant career with a flawless performance record, but dealing with the repercussions of a day like that might be enough to convince anyone to retire or find another line of work, possibly one that does not involve dealing with the general public.

Sadly, the pervasive decline in good manners goes far beyond the airline industry.

Too many people seem to think they no longer have an obligation to treat others with civility or respect.

It seems to have become acceptable (at least for some people) to take out their frustrations on anyone working in any type of a service job.

Rude and abusive customers can cause anyone to have a bad day at work.

I try to remember that whenever I am conducting business.

We may not like some of the situations in which we find ourselves, but we always have a choice in the way we respond to them.

In many cases, the person behind the counter or on the phone did not cause the problem we are having, and even if the situation was the result of their mistake, we should still treat them with civility.

I try to imagine how I would feel if the roles were reversed.

In that context, it’s not hard to remember to show a little kindness.

I haven’t met anyone yet who is perfect. We all make mistakes, and we should remember that when others fall short of our expectations.

Whether a person screws up a dinner order or lands a plane at the wrong airport, I’d rather be the guy who helped him or her have a good day at work than the guy who caused them to have a bad day at work.

It’s up to us to make that choice.

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