Nantucket Airlines has flourished where other regional carriers have failed by following a simple mantra: “MOCHA HAGOTDI,” short for Make Our Customers Happy And Have A Good Time Doing It.

Launched with a single Cessna 402 in 1989, Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Air ( began with a Boston-Provincetown commuter route; today, the $35-million carrier operates up to 850 flights a day during the high season and has expanded its seasonal service to Florida and the Caribbean. The original handful of employees has swelled to 600.

President and CEO Dan Wolf personally attends all employee orientation meetings, has shared ownership with them through a stock purchase plan, and has empowered line-level staffers to do whatever it takes to make passengers happy — including refunds and free tickets. Employees distribute novels to passengers, hand out fruit instead of color-coded boarding passes (“Will the bananas please line up for boarding now?”), and serve Nantucket Nectars and locally baked cookies.

“Employee bonuses are tied to how well we do,” says Michelle Haynes, director of marketing. “Their major job is to make sure the passengers are happy.” And they have fun doing it.