Handling A Last Minute Out-of-Control Situation

Posted on September 7, 2011 by - Also by this author

A chauffeur bails out on job while waiting for airport arrival. It’s not about how you fall, but how gracefully you get up.
Last week I went through a dilemma I never experienced in my 21 years in the industry.  Thanks to the fast work of my own team and the team at Continental Limousines, we were able to recover from what could have been a nightmare for me.

It was 11:50 a.m. when a chauffeur called in from LAX and needed to urgently speak with me. As I picked up the phone, I am trying not to panic thinking whatever he tells me, I will react calmly and quickly. However, I knew if a chauffeur was asking to speak to me directly and “urgently,” that it probably was not going to be a good situation.

The chauffeur was scheduled to handle the pickup of a very demanding corporate client. The flight arrival time was 11:50 a.m. on an international flight from Amsterdam.  We expected to load him in the car at 12:30 p.m. When I picked up the phone, the driver said, “I am not going to be able to pick up my client.” I asked him why. He told me that he had a “personal emergency” and had to leave the airport immediately and return to Bakersfield. The words that came out of my mouth after that cannot be printed here.  The decision was final on his part and there would be no further discussion.

I asked my team to start calling every affiliate we had in the LAX area to handle this pickup that was now 35 minutes away. How would we pull this off? I asked the people on phones to yell out if they found anyone that could help us. Three minutes later, Continental had a chauffeur responding to LAX. Unfortunately, a mistake was made and Continental rolled a stretch instead of a sedan through our error.

The stars lined up for me! I called the client’s wife to let her know that her husband would not be met in baggage claim as we normally do. I explained the situation to her.  She advised me that her husband had just called and they had just touched down and were 40 minutes late. He would need to clear customs and he was traveling with guns, so it would take even longer for him to clear customs than normal.

By the time he reached the curb, a Town Car from Continental was waiting for him and service continued without interruption. Whew!

This whole drama just underscored how vital it is to know enough operators in this industry who can get you out of a jam.

— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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