Airports and airlines frequently get a bad rap. The internet alone has more complaints about air travel than and episode of Evening at the Improv. However, buried deep among the stories of security gropings, crushed luggage and delayed flights lie some uplifting stories to restore your faith in humanity.

A while back we reported on JAL’s kind move to provide specialized guitar cases free of charge. That’s swell, but this story about what happened to our reporter Kuzo on his return flight on ANA after eating some dancing squid will brighten your day and remind you what customer service is all about.

The Take-off

As the last of the passengers were settling in, panic stung Kuzo like a bite in the neck from a vampire bat. He realized that his beloved iPhone was missing. The door to the air tunnel was open though, and the plane wasn’t moving yet. There was still time.

He fumbled at his seat belt trying to get back to his beloved smartphone but just as he got up the door glided to a close. It was too late. The iPhone with all his personal information, not to mention Puzzle & Dragons, was now in the hands of this rural Hokkaido airport.

The Flight

Dabbing at a cold sweat over the thought of some grimy salesman fingering his precious device, Kuzo told the cabin attendant what happened. With an unflinching smile the attendant excused herself. Kuzo sat and waited.

He had traveled a fair bit and knew how these things worked. The attendant would come back and tell him they would try to find it. She would then jot down his name and phone number probably only to toss it the second she’s out of his field of vision.

In minutes, the attendant returned still beaming and told Kuzo, “An airport worker said they found an iPhone in the men’s room by a toilet.” He knew at once it was his. Long stretches of checking Twitter on the toilet is commonplace when you’re the RocketNews24 food critic.

After confirming the phone was his, the flight attendant told Kuzo that they were holding the phone at the airport and another ANA staff member would meet with him at Haneda to arrange for the phone’s delivery. She also gave him a pamphlet with a number to call should the staff member fail to rendezvous with him.

The constant smile of the attendant would normally come off as condescending, but she spoke in a relaxed but professional tone that made him feel everything was under control.

The Airport

Once the attendant went back to work, our man’s confidence in the airport staff once again started to fade. Kuzo now envisioned the process of retrieving his iPhone from halfway across the country, and begun mentally making plans to get a loaner phone for the weeks he would surely have to wait.

After arriving at Haneda, however, Kuzo was immediately met by a gentleman holding a piece of paper with his name written on it. The man greeted Kuzo and gave him a sheet of paper. The note had a phone number for him to call about the iPhone, along with a secret identification number to prove his identity.

Kuzo called the number and gave the code number to the staff member. This person to spoke with a tone that both professional without being cold, and warm without being flaky. It was like talking to a really together friend who knew he was suffering the loss of something dear and took charge to help.

ANA was able to get Kuzo’s address from his frequent flier membership and told him they would send the iPhone to him by courier. So far so good!

The Next Day

Having suffered the effects of smartphone withdrawal for a morning and afternoon, Kuzo sat at his desk skimming through tweets on a desktop machine like some Neanderthal. Figuring the first few hours were the hardest, he began to get settled into his new life without Wi-Fi.

Then, there was a knock on the door. It was a package from ANA–with Kuzo’s iPhone densely packed in so much bubble wrap that he could pop himself silly for hours afterward.

So, in less than 24 hours since our reporter left his iPhone in a restroom, ANA found it, confirmed it was his, confirmed he was the phone’s owner, and delivered it to him. It’s also worth noting that the airline had absolutely no liability in this matter whatsoever. This was all just a result of Kuzo’s careless restroom antics, and was resolved at no extra cost by the airline he simply chose to fly with.

Thank you

To finish this tale of customer service gone right, here’s a message from Kuzo to the all the staff at ANA who helped him reunite with his iPhone.

“Some might take this kind of service for granted but I don’t. My phone came back much more quickly than I would have ever thought it would. That’s high quality customer service. The idea of “doing more than the customer expects you to” is a very impactful one in the service industry.

I sincerely would like to thank the staff at ANA. Things like this make me want to choose your airline more than the mere yen of a ticket price.”

Original report by Kuzo
Photos: RocketNews24

▼ If they had only charged the phone for him. That would have been the icing on the cake.

[ Read in Japanese ]