Where Is My Passenger?

Jim Luff
Posted on December 31, 2015

In our business, we spend a lot of time looking for passengers. Whether it’s the baggage claim area of an airport, the lobby of a hotel, hospital or restaurant, we are always trying to connect with passengers.

The most common connection problems occur at large airports. While having chauffeurs text their clients on arrival at airports has vastly helped making connections, it’s still not foolproof since the passenger and chauffeur don’t know what the other looks like.

But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog post centers on major chauffeur blunders in losing their passengers. In the most recent case, one of my chauffeurs was dispatched to a local residence on Beech Street to take a group of people to a restaurant in the quaint town of Visalia, Calif, about 65 miles north of my city. Visalia also has a Beech Street. My dispatchers wondered why the chauffeur left the yard nearly two hours before pickup, a procedural no-no. Alas, the chauffeur would call in by radio to say he was unable to locate the house numbers on Beech Street to pick up his passengers. Two dispatchers scrambled to assist him. As a cross street location was obtained from the lost chauffeur, an observant dispatcher realized the chauffeur was already in Visalia WITHOUT his passengers. As luck would have it, we had another vehicle complete a job 20 minutes before pickup time, so the client never knew the chauffeur who picked them up was not the originally assigned chauffeur.

That doesn’t top the chauffeur who was sent to Redding, Calif., in a stretch to fetch a doctor late at night. The 8-hour trip became a little longer for the doctor and the chauffeur through an honest mistake. At about 2 a.m., the chauffeur stopped to refuel. The doctor was in the back of the car presumably sleeping. The chauffeur went inside to buy a soda, use the restroom and grab a smoke break.

As he puffed away on the side of the building, the doctor woke up and slipped inside to use the restroom, unseen by the chauffeur. You see it coming? The chauffeur finished his smoke, put the gas hose back in the pump, and jumped into the car to continue the journey home. The doctor came out and found his limousine gone! He didn’t know what limo company his assistant used so he had to call her first as the limo barreled down Interstate 5 with only the chauffeur in the vehicle. The assistant called the limo company and informed the dispatcher of her boss’s plight. The dispatcher called the chauffeur who by now was 20 miles down the road. The chauffeur argued that his passenger is asleep in the back before finally having the nerve to drop the partition only to find out his passenger was missing. Meanwhile, the doctor spent about 45 minutes in the parking lot of a gas station. It was a humbling experience for both parties.

Related Topics: California operators, chauffeur behavior, chauffeur training, customer service, difficult clients, Jim Luff, operations, Shop Talk blog

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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