Our friends at Revitalization Partners help companies make better decisions about business operations. This blog from their newsletter looks at common sense (or lack of It) in the airline industry. At Juniper Capital, we are committed to sharing business advice that helps you achieve success. We offer private money lendinghard money loans and real estate loans in Seattle and other cities across the Pacific Northwest:

Every business, no matter what industry, has some sort of management system, rules and regulations, satisfied or disgruntled employees and of course, customers, clients or consumers. And how each company deals with these constituents often determines the success of the business. Some companies, like airlines, have continuing union battles. How do employees behave when there is a battle between their representatives and management? Some companies have very strict rules that they expect their employees to follow, others hire the very best people they can find and expect them to use their own judgment.

The airline industry has gone through quite a PR disaster over the past few months. Most recently, a passenger was removed from a Delta flight in Atlanta for going to the bathroom. Yes, you read that correctly! The plane was delayed leaving the gate and supposedly was third in line for takeoff when the passenger felt the need to urinate. However, when he reached the lavatory, a flight attendant told him that the plane would lose its place in line if he used the bathroom, so he returned to his seat. After an extended delay, the plane had not moved and the passenger’s need became urgent. In desperation, the passenger used the bathroom but returned to his seat before the plane moved again.

As a result, the plane returned to the gate, all passengers were deplaned and re-planed except for the passenger who used the bathroom. He was met at the gate by a law enforcement officer, who declined to arrest him because he was completely cooperative, and hundreds of dollars later, the passenger took another airline home.

Where was the common sense in this situation? What was the passenger to do? We’ve all been there, desperately needing to use the restroom. We can’t think of any alternatives that would have been appropriate or welcomed by fellow passengers.

On this incident, Delta has said: “Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers. It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.”

Federal regulations state that the fasten seat belt sign must be turned on while the aircraft is in motion on the ground, during landing and takeoff, or when the pilot in command sees fit; all passengers must remain seated with their seat belts fastened when the sign is on; and all passengers must comply with seating orders given to them by the crew. However, it’s completely unclear how much freedom employees at Delta and other airlines have to make judgment calls when necessary.

How about your business? Have you or your employees ever made a mistake and tried to blame it on another employee or maybe even a customer? Are there policies in your company that force a customer to prove that an error is not their fault? Do you have a union shop and insist your employees “follow the rules”?  Or do you rely on them to use their good judgment and common sense? Have you or your employees ever told someone that the restrooms are “for employees only” even when a “customer” has a difficult situation?

If these issues sound like your organization, as with the situation on Delta, your rules may be overcoming common sense. At Juniper, we strive every day to see the uniqueness in each individual’s situation and customize our tactics accordingly. We know everyone goes through difficult times and we promise to always use common sense in times like these!

Revitalization Partners is a Northwest business advisory and restructuring management firm with a demonstrated track record of achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients. They specialize in improving the operational and financial results of companies and providing hands-on expertise in virtually every circumstance, with a focus on small and mid-market organizations.