TLG Flights

Posted on June 26, 2011 by


Here are my thoughts on the TLG flight situation. These thoughts are my own and are not some sort of official position.

First of all, I do acknowledge that it is very unfortunate that this whole situation happened. As many of us now know, this round of flights has been messed up in several ways. Some people were told they had flights booked for a certain date and time, only to find out that they did not and would have to wait another two or three days to fly. Most people did not have their tickets or booking info until only a few days before they were due to leave – in some extreme cases, people were given as little as 36 hours of notice. It seems that the logistical realities of getting several hundred TLG volunteers sent out of Georgia at around the same time in an orderly fashion were unmanageable given the constraints involved – standby flights, open-ended round trips, Georgian travel agencies, multiple airlines and hundreds of destinations, etc. Many people are understandably upset, especially those who are anxious to leave Georgia and get back home.

Then again, I knew before I even left New York last August that this was within the realm of possibility. We didn’t get our tickets to come to Georgia in the first place until several days before the flights, and by my group – group 3 – we expected that to be the case due to the experiences of groups 1 and 2, as related on the Footprints Recruiting forums.

So I’m inclined to see this from a somewhat dispassionate perspective. After all, from my point of view, how many entry-level jobs fly you back and forth across the ocean twice a year? I’m willing to exercise a little patience and flexibility given that I’m paying nothing for these flights.

Still, TLG didn’t do itself any favors by leaving this chaos and confusion regarding flights as the last impression of Georgia in many volunteers’ minds. On the plus side, I have heard through the grapevine that they are taking measures to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again – including working with a more reliable travel agency and changing the kinds of tickets that they buy for us. Also, they sent those of us impacted by these flight problems an email apology with an explanation of why things got messed up in the first place. To a certain extent, I chalk this problem up to growing pains – although I think that cultural differences made the problem worse for many of us.

I think that this would have gone down a bit better if TLG had been more explicit, earlier on, that we needed to be flexible with travel times and dates; and if they had kept us abreast of developments in the flight bookings as they occurred, rather than after many of us had already been impacted. So this is just the same drum that I’m always beating – more proactive communication will make for a better experience for everyone. And again, I think that to a certain extent this comes down to cultural differences in how and when communication is expected.

Of course, for me the bottom line is that everyone’s going home. In four days I’ll be in NYC for my two week vacation, catching up with family and friends, hanging out on an Atlantic beach, tossing back my favorite Chicago microbrew, and munching on pizza without mayonnaise. I can almost taste it.