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Elaine Herrera's Story

Several years ago I worked in one of Continental Airlines Hubs as a gate agent. I love my job, but as you can expect got my share of angry, ornery customers. One winter it was particularly bad. This was one of the worst winters that our country had on record, and flights were cancelled in mass amounts. We had people in the airport sleeping on the floor, the airport restaurants were running out of food and water, and the custmers all had tempers. One day I was stuck with over 500 passangers in my gate area, as most of the flights had been cancelled for several days. We finally had a flight that was coming in to pick up passangers and there was some relief in sight. After announcing that the plane was on it's way we got a call from operations that they had diverted the flight due to a mechanical problem, and there would not be a plane after all. As you can imagine announcing this to 200 hungry, angry, tired customers was not an easy job. I was 7 months pregnant at the time with my twins and tired myself from working back to back for a week on cancelled or delayed flights. As expected, when the announcement was made, all holy hell broke lose. There was a rush to my podium with people screaming, wanting a refund, to change airlines. Not able to be heard above the din of the passangers, being the only gate agent at the time as our staff was spread thin, and losing what little control I had left, all of a sudden 4 huge burly Hell's Angels bikers pushed their way up to the podium. Covered in leather and tatoos, wearing sunglasses and bandanas I thought I'd pass out. I had one woman to the left of me who had grabbe d my arm HARD and was screaming in my face. All of a sudden I felt a huge hand around me pulling me out of her grasp, and looked up into the face of one of these big bikers. "Don't worry Miss..we'll handle this" he said smiling down at me. The four bikers turned the crowd and one of them whistled shrilly. "HEYYYYYY" he yelled. "BE QUIET!!". All of a sudden there was a lull. The first I'd had in over a week. The four bikers crossed their big arms across their cheast and stood in front of me and my podium. "If you want a solution to all of this, you need to CALM DOWN and let this poor little lady work! We aren't going to get ANYWHERE screaming at her. Now pipe down and let her do her job!" Amazingly enough, the crowd started to form into a semi-organized line. At that moment I got a call that the plane had been replaced with another and would be arriving in an hour. I made the announcement and everyone seemed pacified for the moment. The four bikers stood at the podium with me until the plane came in, and even while I boarded it and closed the door to the last passanger. Tuned out they were on a cancelled flight stranded coming back from a Biker's convention, and were an Accountant, Lawyer, Physician's Assistand and a Chello player! These four guys were super nice, and I couldn't thank them enough for the crowd control and sticking with me til the last person was out the jetway door. I will never forget that winter season, or the diligent customer service my co-workers offered up to all those stranded passangers. But I will always remember those four Biker guys who saw a very pregnant "little lady" getting yelled at and came to her rescue!

Elaine Herrera,
Boarding with Bikers
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