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Dealing with Difficult Passengers: Gotta be in the mood

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Last week I worked at Sydney International Airport meeting clients joining a two week cruise. Now all of us when we fly to a foreign country arrive tired. Sometimes we arrive with a problem. A man had lost his suitcase and was understandably distraught. A woman had her scooter damaged. Neither were my clients. They approached me needing to express to someone, anyone, how upset they were. In my sometime role as a tour guide, while I wait with my cruise ship sign, people approach me for all sorts of reasons; to ask for directions, advice, tell me their problems. I help them, I sympathise with them, I am reasonable, but I need to draw the line sometimes.

Like when crew ask me for a transfer to the ship. They get transferred by a different coach company I tell them and they know this. Ok, so once I gave a crew member a transfer. He spoke little English, had only 3 Euros to his name and burst into tears when I told him how far it was to walk to the ship. I said he could sit at the back of the coach, and would need to help me load the bags onboard. But the entertainer who insisted on a limo, the male ballroom dancing partner who asked for a transfer to another companies' ship, the ship's Priest who asked to use my mobile to call back home, for them I drew the line.

I also draw the line with passengers. Passengers approach me without having booked a prepaid transfer, but ask for one anyhow. I can take them, surely there must be room! Like everyone else, they need to pay. But what about a discount they argue. Clients arrive without local currency and argue with the airport bank teller that the fee is too high or the rate is too low. I have even had clients ask for a "loan" of $10. All this I can handle, but what really ruins my day are the clients who are out to get me. Like one of the three men who were travelling together. The older two approached me, asked where should they wait and were very obliging. They told me their younger travelling companion was causing them headaches already and had disappeared to the rest room. Half an hour later, the coach arrived and I had all my clients, but the guy in the rest room still hadn't come out. Then from behind I get a tap on the shoulder and a "Where have you been, I have been looking for you everywhere! You are meant to greet me! What is your name, I will have to report you!" His two companions rolled their eyes. He was destined to ruin their holiday. The coach left. I went back into the terminal.

The next six clients exited customs and immigration and waited for their transfer coach for 1.5 hours. How awful. The coach arrived. I put them on and then went back into the terminal building. The last flight of the day was a Singapore Airlines flight. Two of my clients on an Air Canada flight were still unaccounted for. Did they miss their flight, cancel, get delayed I wonder. We can't ask the airline due to privacy issues and the ship doesn't necessarily know of last minute cancellations.

Then a very angry looking couple approach me. She is yelling. They emerged over an hour later than scheduled. She demands a transfer immediately. We will go just as soon as I get my last two clients off this flight I say. Not good enough. She demands a taxi and says I need to pay for it. She tugs at my name tag, screams, and says I am to do as she says, or else! That sounds like a threat I say. Sure, she says, she is going to report me. We hop on the coach and call into the domestic terminal to pick up several clients requiring special assistance. Where to now she screams. I will make sure you get reported and lose your job.

If you have any cause for complaint with your transfer to the ship or while you are onboard, please refer it to the ship's purser, but remember that you are on holiday. She wasn't in the mood for one, and by the time they got off the coach, her partner had his face buried beneath his hands. He had had enough. Problem was, it was going to be a very, very long cruise.

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