Once upon a time, there was a little ten year old girl, named Carly, who sat with her two sisters, Annie and Rebecca, on a flight heading from Atlanta to Milwaukee, when a mean Flight Attendant came up to her and said, “You have to get rid of your turtle.”
“My turtle?” the girl asked. “You mean Neytiri?”
“Yes, and you need to do it right now.” .
“But I was told to just put the cage under my seat? What am I going to do? She’s my turtle.”
The mean Flight Attendant took a deep breath and squinted her eyes. “No. Federal regulations – see Clause 3456 – state no turtles allowed on Air Tran. We’re taxi-ing back to the gate, taking you and your sisters off, delaying the flight a full hour, so we’re asking you right now: Get out of your seats and take the turtle off this airplane, or we’ll have to call security.”
So the teary-eyed Carly and her two sisters lifted the cage with the two inch turtle inside as the Pilots and mean Flight Attendant escorted the sisters off the jet way.
“When you say get rid of it, what do you mean?” The teary-eyed Carla asked.
“Throw it in the trash and get back on the airplane,” the mean Flight Attendant said again.” You’re holding up the entire Trans Air Airline. What do you think we have all day?”
So Carly, Rebecca and Annie reluctantly placed the caged two inch turtle in a trash bin, quickly called their father in hopes he might retrieve the animal before it got dumped into the sewers of Atlanta, and re-boarded the airplane.
Now I may have embellished this story a bit – it’s sort of Airplane Meets Snow White — but truly, this is based on a factual story, and the airline delayed a flight, forced passengers to wait at least an hour, and created a PR nightmare (broadcast around the world) just so that they could follow the letter of the law: No turtles on domestic or International flights. I have to admit – I have a hard time with this. What’s the big deal? So the turtle breaks the rules. It’s a little, tiny pet, and let’s face it – it got through security. The little girl even asked if she could put it under her seat and she was told that was fine.My take? Let poor Neytiri stay in her cage under the seat. Put the rule aside and move on. Or, do you follow the letter of the law, and handle this uncomfortable situation with perhaps kit gloves? (Trans Air obviously didn’t do a good job of this). Listen to BlogTalk radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/consultantinsultant Tune in this Sunday to listen/hear the Insultant/Consultant take on this. How do you deal with the breaking of rules at your company? When does it become a Public Relations nightmare and how can you avoid that? E-mail questions to Gary@themouthtrap.com