By Bill Bachrach
Bachrach & Associates
Flight attendants have a step in their preflight process called the destination check. It sounds something like this: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Flight 123 bound for wherever. If wherever is not in your travel plans, now would be an excellent time to gather your belongings and deplane.”
Most of the passengers ignore the announcement and a few shake their heads in disbelief that anyone could actually get on the wrong plane.
A few years ago, I was on a flight headed to Chicago. It was the flight at the end of the day that tends to be packed with business people going home or to the next city. I had gotten lucky and been upgraded to first class. There I was, sitting in row five on the right-aisle seat, and I noticed the man sitting one row ahead of me on the opposite aisle. He had obviously been on the plane for a while by the time I boarded because he had already gotten very comfortable. His shoes were off, his tie was loose, his carry-on bags were stowed in the overhead compartment, his suit jacket was hanging in the flight attendant’s closet, he had a cocktail in his hand and was reading his book. He was fully settled in.
I was about to witness something I had never seen before and, until I saw it with my own eyes, might not have believed was possible.
The boarding door was to close in just another few minutes, but before it did the flight attendant took the microphone to make the destination check announcement, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Flight 718 bound for Chicago. If Chicago is not in your travel plans this evening, now would be an excellent time to gather your belongings and deplane.”
Mr. Totally Comfortable And Relaxed jumped like he’d been poked with a cattle prod! He was reading his book and only half listening to the announcement, when his head swiveled around. He looked at the passengers in his vicinity in a minor state of shock and asked, “Did she say Chicago?” I heard another passenger say, “Yes, she said Chicago.” He jumped out of his seat and yelled at the flight attendant, “Don’t shut the door, don’t shut the door, I’m not going to Chicago!”
None of us had ever seen anything like it.
In a nanosecond, he went from relaxed and comfortable to mobilized into action. The drink goes down, the book goes back in the briefcase, the shoes go back on, the carry-on bags fly out of the overhead bin, and he digs his jacket out of the closet all in one, big sweeping motion. The rest of us just looked at each other, bewildered as he exited the plane. Did that just happen?
Here’s my first question: Why did he get off the plane? Because that’s what you do when you discover you are going somewhere you don’t want to be, of course.
Second question: How long did he wait to get off the plane? He got off the plane as fast as he possibly could. Why? Because the moment you are certain that the path you are on is not taking you where you want to be, the only reasonable course of action is to get off that path and get on the right path immediately, right?
My story about this passenger on the wrong plane is an analogy for life’s journey. Sometimes you are on the right path and sometimes you are not. The key is to be aware of the path you are on and make the appropriate change when you determine you are on the wrong path, based on your desired destination.