My apologies to Nabil Alaoui and Mohammed Dahouch. These two gentlemen, both of Royal Air Maroc, deserve swifter praise for their quick and gracious handling of my personal travel crisis last week. Blame it on the flu – not H1N1, fortunately, but something else that kept me largely out of commission until today. My first act upon recovery is my thanks to them.
The scene: I was on a final leg of a rather grueling 10 day tour of duty that included stops and stopovers in JFK, Frankfurt, Singapore, Bangkok, Paris, Casablanca and Agadir (also Morocco). On Sunday, October 11, I took a day flight across the Atlantic from Casablanca to JFK on Royal Air Maroc. The trip itself was unremarkable – which is that you want on such flights – and my flu must have been coming on because I took down my laptop but never used it because I slept the whole way. In fact, I slept until I had to get off, which was a bit of a mad scramble. And therein lies the problem.
About 2 hours later, after passport control and customs, and shifting my bags at the transfer desk for the final leg to Boston and home, I was in Terminal 3, heading through my final security check. I unzipped my carry-on reflexively to grab my ever-present laptop for its solo journey through security– and it was gone. Empty space. My business life flashed before my eyes: when had I last backed up? Before the trip began. What had I added to the memory? Lots of stuff that I did not want to lose: revisions to writings and workshops, new names and addresses. Yowza.
So I sprinted back to Terminal 1 from Terminal 3. It was easy to calculate that at least two hours had passed since departing the Royal Air Maroc flight. Was my laptop hurtling over the Atlantic in the other direction, its permanent departure from me hastened by the jet stream? Or had my precious helpmate been tossed into a Royal Air Maroc trash bin? Might it have been spirited away to a service worker’s home to be used for all night gaming parties? What were the chances that my precious laptop and I would ever be reunited? How could I have treated my dear friend and valued colleague so callously and carelessly?
Enter Nabil Alaoui and Mohammed Dahouch, the two Royal Air Maroc service professionals at the transfer desk. I had already met Mohammed when I transferred by bag two hours earlier. I remembered him because of his friendly and open smile. He grasped the situation immediately, and, making no promises, sprang into action. First, he asked me if I was a Red Sox fan. When I confessed that was indeed the case, he hesitated, but decided to help anyway. That little act of comedy went a long way toward making me feel that I was among friends. Second, he dashed over to the Delta counter to see if I could take a later flight if the laptop was hard to find. The 6 PM I was on was the latest, so he know that time was of the essence (although I offered to stay overnight if that would make the difference). Third, he quickly ascertained that the plane had left the gate (heart plummets) but he would find out where it was (heart rises). Fourth, he quickly recruited the very willing Nabil Alaoui to head out onto the tarmac of JFK to see what he could do. Fifth, while I was waiting, he shared the story of how he himself had been robbed of $1,000 on a recent trip to Tangiers, and how he knew how it felt to lose something precious.
Within 10 minutes – no longer – Nabil came bounding back with my laptop! Both men were genuinely delighted that it was found and that they were able to help. The only way I know to thank them is to share this story – and to send it along to the powers that be in Royal Air Maroc.
I can’t way that the amenities of Royal Air Maroc rival that of, say, Singapore Air or BA, two of my favorites. But for the human touch, Royal Air Maroc in a world-beater.