Naturally the most awesome part of this hobby is flying itself. Being able to fly on a ‘metal’ tube across an ocean from one continent to another just keeps baffling me no matter how many flights I take. Looking down at the mountains and clouds below you is definitely one of the greatest feelings in the world! But also, a great feeling is to receive excellent service when flying. This, however, takes a team; which is the point of my post today. Two days ago my wife and I flew to Puerto Rico to see my side of the family. From Chicago it only takes a smooth 4 hour ride – smoother in United First. We boarded swiftly, and ordered some drinks while prior to take off. It was one of the newer planes. Immediately I noticed the friendliness of one of the two flight attendants assigned to first class. She was very friendly, eager to assist, accommodating and gentle in her manner. You could tell she enjoyed her job and was working hard to do it outstandingly. Even my wife turned to me and said “Wow! She’s definitely above and beyond! I wish all FA’s were like her.” Then there was the other FA…Accompanying her in first class was a young, sharp looking gentleman. Likely, somewhere around 30 years old. He had the potential to make this flight an even better experience – you know one of those experiences for which you don’t care what the question says, you just select ’10’ all the way in the follow-up survey. But instead, immediately after he started making announcements we noticed his attitude. I thought someone must have said something that offended him. He looked livid. He was rolling his eyes constantly like a 13 year-old girl. He not once engaged ANYONE in first class and kept to himself. Every 5-10 minutes he’d look through the aisle and roll his eyes again. At one point my wife went to the lavatory and asked him for a Stroopwafel. She said he didn’t look at her at all, though he did sigh and dismissively stretched his arm toward her with the cookie, desisting from saying a word. Needless to say it was ironic when he said through the PA among other things “…Thank you for flying the friendly skies.” I kept waiting for the ‘NOOOOOT’ to come at any time. What a shame.
I like to think I’m ‘understanding’ when it comes to FA’s. I try to always put myself in their shoes. I’ve even apologized in a few occasions for MY own attitude! There are things one does that are common courtesy even when one’s not being paid. Then there are the things you do BECAUSE you’re being paid. So on those bad days at work, when I don’t want to see or talk to anyone, I’m still courteous with my clients/co-workers, because I’m being paid to – and that’s a good incentive enough for me. Otherwise, it’d be as if I was stealing my paycheck. A flight attendant must naturally be courteous, warm, attentive… But even in those more difficult days, when not feeling 100%, when there’ve been several irritating passengers, they should still display the same manner. They’re still being paid and if they don’t display the qualities required for their job they’re stealing their paycheck!
Here United had an excellent opportunity to wow us with their customer service. They almost did. If only the gentleman FA hadn’t been there… And yet all we remember was the ever rolling eyes, the deep sighs when asked for something that we had paid for, the darn attitude! I’m going to take my time in my follow-up survey and that’s not a good thing at all. It takes a team of FA’s to provide great customer service. It takes a team effort to wow passengers and to make them want to come back. I imagine that this has been the reason why so many have been dissatisfied with United in the past. It only takes ‘the one’ FA to entirely ruin your flight experience, and that’s what happened to us. Do I have a fix for this problem? No – and I don’t have to. But it’d work to United’s (and any other airline) advantage, to figure it out, and quickly.
I had to get that off my chest today. Later on I’ll post the full reports on the different services we enjoyed (and didn’t) throughout.