Last week I was in Ottawa for the Gatineau-Ottawa Agile Tour (check out my next blog post). I was sitting in my hotel room in downtown Ottawa at 7am when I received a call from my family. Hunter, our 7 year old Golden Retriever had just unexpectedly died. Our neighbour who is a veterinarian surgeon was beside Hunter within a couple minutes of his collapse.  Unfortunately Hunter was already gone. It was totally unexpected as he was a healthy and active dog.

My flight home on a smaller airline would not have got me home until 4pm. I just knew for both myself and my family I needed to get home asap. So I quickly bought a ticket on WestJet’s 10am flight to Toronto, packed and headed to the airport.

I walked into the airport at 7:55am. I immediately looked at the departure board and found WestJet had a departure at 8:15am.  If you do any travelling you know the flight will be closed out and it’s normally impossible to make a flight departing in 20 minutes. However, I had to at least ask.  As I was walking towards the WestJet ticket counter I must have looked frazzled. This is where things started happening …

One of the WestJet check-in people must have spotted me. She immediately came from behind the counter and asked if I’m OK or needed help. I told her my dog had just died and I needed to just get home as soon as possible. I remember I had tears at this point. She then did the one thing for me I needed most at this point.  She gave me a big hug of support. She then told me I will be on the 8:15 flight. She called the gate and told them to hold the flight as they had a family emergency coming, rebooked me onto the flight seating me in the front row, and escorted me to the front of the security line. With a final hug she wished me well and sent me towards the flight.

After passing security I got to the gate to find them waiting for me. They basically got me on board and left. During the flight I was trying to hold myself together as I had a bit of travel to do as yet.  One of the flight attendants noticed my tears, offered me some kleenex and asked if it was allergies. Again I explained my dog had just died. Immediately he stopped what he was doing and spent the next 10  minutes with me (it was only a 40 minute flight so that’s a lot of time!)

The flight attendant and I shared stories and pictures. It was nice to be able to talk about Hunter with someone. He also just lost a family pet only a week prior so he was in pain as well.  This time spent together helped to strengthen my heart to carry me home.  I cannot express how much his time and compassion meant to me at a time I was in pain.

Thanks to the great people at WestJet I made it from downtown Ottawa to being on my door step in Kitchener in only 3 hours! (that’s amazingly fast for this trip)  I’m always talking about customer value but the word has taken on a whole new meaning. Between the expedited trip, hugs, compassion, consoling and being able to share there were so many ways the value was incredible. To the people of WestJet thank you very much for being there for me and helping me get home so quick! Please keep doing what you’re doing!

This quick journey home meant I could be present with my family as we said goodbye to our friend and family member Hunter. He was a very special family member with such a kind soul. He led a very good life and enjoyed walks, car rides, camping, canoeing, lounging by campfires and more than anything … food!

We love you Hunter … you left us too soon … you are missed!

We will have you in our hearts for ever

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