United Airlines passengers bring cupcakes to celebrate earning millions of miles

United Airlines passengers bring cupcakes to celebrate earning millions of miles

I wrote that the trick to traveling successfully and smoothly is to treat the people you deal with on your journey like… people. Be nice. You rely on their kindness. But do you ever show this kindness proactively when you’re not even looking for something transactional in exchange, like help rebooking or a better seat?

United Airlines is really good at celebrating important customer milestones in person and in-flight, even if they don’t do it every time. Two million milers might be recognized by the captain and crew when they passed their milestone, and perhaps given a bottle of champagne.

But one United Airlines customer she brought cupcakes for airline employees to celebrate reaching one million miles, earning lifetime gold status with the carrier (and extending its status to a partner). He wasn’t looking for an airline to do something for him, he did something people in the airline who helped him on his way.

Now there are two things to note.

  1. TSA let it go through security with a frosting that conforms to its shape and is therefore liquid.
  2. Even if it was not transactional, it creates lasting loyalty among employees and brings them into its celebration and success. They’ll remember him more and remember him positively, so it’s likely to pay off in future interactions anyway.

Airlines generally do not allow their employees to accept tips. American Airlines’ policy is that customer service employees may accept perishable items valued at less than $100 and should share them with colleagues when practical, but are prohibited from accepting “cash, gift cards and gift certificates” regardless of amount.

However, it is not uncommon for passengers to give Starbucks gift cards as a thank you. Don’t be surprised if he is rejected citing airline rules, although he often insists on being accepted (and awarded) a second time. Not necessary or unexpected! But it’s easier to ensure safety than cupcakes with frosting.

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