Recent weeks have been tough on so many local people and businesses here in Australia, ourselves at Flight Centre included. Our Australian community is the heart and soul of what we do. Recently we've seen those we love grounded, but we won't let our people, our community or our customers lose hope.
One thing that has become apparent over the last few weeks is that when times are tough, it’s the people who possess true grit, determination and empathy who shine the brightest. Not because they’re personally showcasing their hard work but because the kindness and the extra miles are what people remember the most. Colleagues, friends, and most rewardingly, our customers have been sharing their stories about the Flight Centre agents who have been there for them all the way.
We’re taking a moment to share a few of the heartwarming stories that have come from such a trying time. Our agents have helped thousands of Aussies return home, and as a result we have just as many stories of appreciation, but in the interest of brevity below are eight of our favourites.
We’re sharing these with you as a reminder of the kindness and courage that exists, and has been demonstrated during such a stressful and testing period for our country, and our world. Amidst the chaos, however, the most uplifting message that shines through in these stories is the hope shared by many for the future and where our collective journey will lead to next.
Grab a cuppa (or a 'quarantini'), sit down and enjoy.
Here's a story about having someone by your side:
“Hello to you Tracie,
Thank you for your call this afternoon regarding our problem with Thai. As I am sure you can understand. We are both now feeling a little bit easier than we were at this time last week and can now rest a little bit easier after hearing what we really hope is good news.
So until then, thank you for all of your help Tracie and I was[sic] saying to Pat that if these bookings had been done over the internet, then I don't really know how we would have gone about rectifying the problem and it really proves the point that whilst the internet may be a smart, clever, sexy and savvy idea for the people that do everything over the internet, when disaster strikes, they really are completely and absolutely on their own. There is a lesson here don't you think?
Cheers for now, speak with you on Friday Tracie.
Pat and Peter”
A story about never giving up:
The below story is told by both the agent Lily Rose Commins and her customer Marianne:
"Marianne called my store a few weeks ago, late on a Friday afternoon as her son Rileigh and his girlfriend Brookelan were stuck in Cambodia and she desperately wanted to get them home. We found a Singapore Airlines option that would get them home that Sunday so we booked the flights and hoped for the best.
Because Brookelan was not an Australian citizen she was denied boarding due to the airport staff not being able to contact the embassy even though she had supporting documents stating that she was a permanent resident, they both missed their flight. I called Marianne on Monday and we found a Cathay option that would have Rileigh and Brookelan home that Friday, However that night Hong Kong changed their border restrictions and Marianne called me after hours stressed that we would lose the funds from another flight that wouldn't get them home safely. We managed to void the ticket and get a refund late that night which was a great outcome although I was worried that there wouldn't be any other options to get them home.
The last option to get them home before everything was closed was a china southern flight, weirdly enough the only borders not closed were flying via China so again we booked them and hoped for the best.Marianne was so excited to potentially get Rileigh and Brookelan home, I received texts from her waiting at the airport to collect them safely.
Marianne was incredible to deal with, even in such a stressful time she was more than lovely to me and extremely appreciative which made the whole experience really incredible. She genuinely cared about my well being in all of this as well which shows what an amazing person she is."
“I would like to take this opportunity to let you know about what an exceptional team member you have in Lily Rose Commins. I recently was going through the most stressful time in trying to get my son Rileigh and his partner home from Phnom Penh , Cambodia during this crazy border closing and flights being cancelled period.
I feel I was the luckiest person in getting Lily on the other end of the phone when I called in desperation. I have no doubt that if it wasn’t for Lily they would both be still stuck in Cambodia. They made it home safely to Tullamarine this morning.
Every step of the way Lily kept me in touch with changes and offered solutions for possible flights we could book. Lily was professional, she was efficient and the passion she has for helping people shone through.
When every avenue and possible source of help was unavailable, spending hours on hold over phone calls to airports, embassies and the like, it was so comforting and supportive knowing I could call Lily. Her empathy and dedication was incredible. When no one else answered their phone Lily did no matter what time of day or night.
I want to say the biggest thank you to all the team there at Flight Centre but especially Lily. You have my support and my future bookings when all these sad and uncertain times are over and done with. Please everyone there acknowledge and applaud her.
Regards and respect
A story about a daughter’s safe return home:
“Hi Lisa and Heather,
Jeanette arrived home safely yesterday. All the flights proceeded very smoothly. I would like to thank both of you for your part in bringing my daughter home. Thank you, Lisa, for your tireless efforts with the constant changes imposed by the airlines. Thank you for taking my numerous anxious calls and emails over the last few days, each time with patience and kindness. It is very much appreciated.
I had used Heather earlier on last year for Jeanette's flight to Rome and for our family's MSC Grandiosa cruise in January 2020 as I found her dedicated and enthusiastic. At that time, frankly, I did not see the value in paying more for Flight Centre's services as I could make all the same bookings myself online at a lower cost. But Heather's services were so good that I decided to book certain parts of our Jan/Feb trip with her. Now, my recent experience with both you Lisa and Heather when bringing Jeanette home this time has convinced me that there is value to using your services. I will definitely use you guys again. In these difficult times, I wish you both all the best. Keep safe!
A story about needing more people like ‘Mat’ in the world:
"Hi, my name is Becky and I am writing this email to you in a time where the world seems to have gone mad. Over the past year or so I have had the pleasure of being able to deal with one of your employees Mat Bottin, currently working from Stirling Flight Centre. The reason for this email is simply to let you know that Mat is a huge asset to your team! I realise your industry is currently going a little crazy and it is a stressful time, however over the past 6 plus weeks that this has unfolded Mat has been outstanding!
Every email I have sent he has responded promptly, and every phone call I have found him to be not only very professional but also happy! It is refreshing to know that when I answer the phone Mat will not sound stressed, although I'm sure he is! But I also don't feel like I'm an inconvenience! I realise it is difficult to always stay positive when the pressure is on and it is a credit to him to remain cool, calm, collected and still be able to have a laugh with me. We need more people like him.
I am confident when the time of this crisis calms and we are able to move forward I can trust he will be in touch with some great deals! At the moment everyone seems all doom and gloom and I think it is important to give credit where it is due!"
A story about keeping spirits high during tough times:
"To Fight Centre personnel management,
My husband and I have recently returned from Guayaquil in Ecuador after the COVID -19 situation suddenly escalated.
We planned to holiday in South America and our whole trip was organised by Tara Maye from the Bentleigh (Melbourne) branch of Flight Centre. In all our dealings with Tara she was friendly and knowledgeable and no question was too big or too small for her to answer. If she did not know the answer she would speak with someone who did.
When our holiday plans were shattered due to the recent situation, Tara worked extremely hard, in conjunction with the tour company, to repatriate us from Guayaquil. She willingly took calls from us and from our family (whom she had never met) as they were still in Australia and it was easier for them to contact her than us due to the time difference between the two cities.
We kept her abreast of our situation through email and through family members and she worked tirelessly to get us home as quickly as possible. At first she was successful getting us a flight home but unfortunately this flight was cancelled so she had to continue working hard to make further arrangements for us. If it was not for Tara’s mammoth effort we believe we would not be at home now as the day we arrived home Emirates suspended all their flights.
We wanted to acknowledge the effort that Tara put into solving our problem and getting us home safely and in a timely manner. She was always very positive even though at times you could hear that she was very stressed under the circumstances as we all were.
We have thanked Tara profusely for all her work but she also needs to be commended on her professionalism and her work ethic. We did not know Tara before we made the booking but that did not matter to her as she worked tirelessly on our behalf.
Any future holiday plans for us will be made with Tara as she has demonstrated that her knowledge and experience in the travel industry is of great benefit to those she deals with.
Debbie and Peter"
A story about staying up all night (one of many) to get a family home:
“Good morning Adam,
I am writing this letter to you to express my gratitude for the excellent work Diana Chan did in getting my son and I back from overseas (Europe) on the 19th and 20th of March. In summary, Diana made herself available to us all hours of the day. Of particular note, she was working on getting us back when it was past 1am in the morning Australian time.
She was responding promptly to my panicked messages. Not once did she ignore a message. She was able to keep me calm and reassure me every step of the way. She was working on getting both my mother in law and I to the UK, from Berlin. She was also working on getting me home from the UK. Simultaneously, she was trying to get my son back from Amsterdam.
Diana kept in contact with my son and I, whilst we were arriving at various airports during the night. She stayed awake to ensure we were heading back home and had transited the various airports. She even contacted us to make sure we had arrived home safely. Diana, went above and beyond her professional duty. We are all so grateful for her monumental efforts in getting us home. I have used Diana as my agent now for several overseas trips and have always been so satisfied in her work.
This time, she was beyond exceptional and words cannot come close to expressing how thankful I was to have her looking out not only for me but 2 other members of my family.
Diana, is a credit to your organisation. She is calm, professional and caring. We will be booking with Diana again and again, I will keep referring family and friends to her. She is outstanding!!! Please confirm receipt of this email and I am very happy for you to forward it on to Diana’s superiors.
Evdokia ( effy )”
A story about the small things making a big difference:
“Hello…I arrived home on Tuesday from overseas and therefore am in self isolation. The travel agent who organises my trips, Frank Taylor at Barangaroo office, brought round some take away coffees yesterday afternoon leaving them safely outside the front door of our Barangaroo apartment. That is extraordinary service, the sort of extra step one looks for from a service organisation. As it happens, Frank is also an excellent organiser of travel. Cheers”
A story about looking out for each other:
“In this uncertain, trying time, it's always nice to have a ray of hope! We had a random person come in and thank us for everything we're doing in this tough time. She then got our coffee orders, went to our local Gloria Jeans, and bought us all a coffee! And she wasn't even a customer or in the travel industry - she just knew we were having a hard time and wanted to help out! A little help can go a long way in times like these!” - Michael Kelly, Flight Centre Underwood, QLD
Note: The quotes above have only been edited for spelling and grammar where absolutely necessary.
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