Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with (usually) a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. Today, it's something serious.
When a plane goes down, hearts in the airline world stop.
Those who work in the business know that accidents can happen and, if they do, they're likely to involve fatality.
A couple of weeks ago, an Atlas Air Boeing 767, flying on behalf of Amazon, crashed just a few miles from Houston Airport.
The cause is still unknown. There were three people onboard, and none survived.
In addition to the two pilots, Sean Archuleta, a pilot for regional carrier Mesa Airlines, was jumpseating on that flight. He was simply getting a lift home.
Archuleta had already been accepted to the big leagues. In a few days, he would have started at United Airlines.
This is how the airline reacted, as told to the Pilot Wife Life blog by United Airlines Captain Gunn:
I operated flight 1009 to Bogota on Friday March 1st. Prior to heading to the airport, I was contacted by the IAH Chief Pilot and informed that his [Archuleta's] widow would be on our flight returning to Colombia where she currently lives. He asked if I could deliver a package to her from United. Of course I agreed to help in any way that I could. United had her booked in First Class and escorted her to the Polaris Club before the flight, with plans for a personal escort to the airplane for departure. I coordinated to have her escorted to the plane and be in her seat about 5 minutes prior to general boarding. His wife Titania speaks only Spanish and although I speak some Spanish, it's definitely not conversational. I offered my condolences on behalf of United Airlines and all United pilots. The circumstances were difficult especially considering that I had never met her. I delivered a stack of condolence cards form both United and Mesa Airlines (his current employer) as well as a set of United wings and Epaulets. She was a very lovely lady but she broke down when I gave her the wings/epaulets. It was clearly very emotional for her to receive the wings. However, I could tell that she was very moved and it meant a great deal to her. Through the interpretation of the flight attendant, she told me that she would save these for her children to see and so that they would know that he was a United pilot. I simply said that it would have been a pleasure and and honor to fly with her husband. She thanked me and told me that United had been very good to her and that she was grateful for their support. It appears that United stepped up and treated her with respect and helped an already tragic situation.
Respect seems so rare these days.
I can think of quite a few corporations that might not have reacted in the way United did.
Someone might have said: "Oh, he didn't didn't actually work for us." Someone else might have said: "Do we really want to be associated with a crash?"
Instead, someone at the airline decided the airline needed to react with thoughtfulness and decency.
And they made it happen.
I'd also heard that at his first so-called Indoctrination Class at United on March 12, the airline plans to leave an empty seat in Archuleta's honor.
The airline confirmed this is the case.
When there is a death, no words help.
However, as Archuleta's wife explained, gestures such as United's will be remembered.