Recently, I was in an airport where harsh weather conditions caused many flights to be delayed, including mine. I was eager to get home and the delays meant I’d be spending more time away from my family.

Obviously, the gate agents have no control over the weather or when exactly my plane would take off. So they did what gate agents typically do: they apologized; they updated passengers on the status of the flight; they answered questions; they rescheduled flights. All part of the status quo when dealing with frustrated passengers and numerous flight delays and cancellations.

And then a cart appeared at the terminal that said, “Enjoy Some Free Snacks. On Us.”


No frills.

Just some free snacks, bottled water and a sign that reads, “Have one on us.”

How much does something like this cost the airline? Well, they probably paid 25 cents per bottle of water and about $1 each for the snacks. If you estimate about 200 people on the flight, and if each person grabs a bottle of water and a snack, the cost to the airline is about $250.

Now, does offering free snacks and bottled water automatically transform weary passengers into happy, care-free travelers?

Of course not.

But was this small and relatively inexpensive gesture of compassion and human kindness a welcomed respite to passengers who might be hungry, tired, and unable or unwilling to grab some food in the terminal? Yes.

I love sharing great examples of customer service and service recovery with you. So what do you think? Was this worth the time and money the airline spent? Could you do something similar to this (for free or at minimal cost) at your organization to show your patients, employees or customers a little kindness?