Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 2


Table of Contents

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 1 

Page 1 – Retaliation, Making it Personal  
Page 2 – Performance Management System 
Page 2 – My Performance Management Record 
Page 2 – Combining the Rank of Junior and Senior 
Page 2 – Completing Onboard Appraisals 
Page 3 – The Early Days at the Airline 
Page 4 – More of the Good Old Days
Page 4 – Cabin Crew Life Downroute
Page 4 – Pre-Flight Safety Briefings
 
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 3


Performance Management System

Cabin crew management frequently changed the way cabin crew and onboard managers were assessed. The problem with every performance management system they implemented was that it was open to manipulation.

The working environment on the aircraft was generally very friendly. It was common for good friends, relatives and even spouses to fly together.

The Flight Manager was required to complete a written performance appraisal on both Pursers. They in turn completed an appraisal on the Flight Manager and their own team of cabin crew.

Until 2018 the cabin crew rank were not required to do upward performance management on onboard managers.

A number of years ago the airline introduced the Rave Review. Its purpose was to enable any member of cabin crew to write a short review about a colleague on the flight. That could be someone of the same rank or higher.

They were only to be used if the crew member witnessed outstanding performance and felt it should be documented. The only one I have can be seen below. The reason I only have one is not because only one was ever written on me.

On this full flight to Orlando on Boxing Day on a Boeing 747 with more than 400 passengers we were four cabin crew down.


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Presented to me by my crew at the end of a very challenging flight

In the grievance submitted by Bart he not only lambasted the way I carried out my duties but made the complaint extremely personal. The same goes for witness statements completed by his now ex fiancee Anna and the crew members with whom they colluded.

The three crew who worked in the cabin alongside Bart and I spoke well of me in their statements and had no complaints about the way I carried out my duties. Little notice was taken of anything they said.

Following the first investigative meeting with crew manager Lana I wanted to show what crew who had flown with me over the years thought of me as a person and a Flight Manager.

Although cabin crew management had access to all mandatory performance appraisals, the Rave Review was an optional form that was not held on file.

I received quite a few over the years they were in use. I decided to send them all to Lana as evidence. With them having sentimental value I sent them “tracked and signed”.

The following emails are self explanatory;


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As a result of the stress of the investigative meeting which took place just a couple months after I lost my dad, I was off work for several weeks. When I returned I asked at cabin crew check-in for the envelope but nobody could find it.

Having spoken to my manager he managed to find find it and said he may be able to post it to me. I was concerned it may end up getting lost because I knew he wouldn’t send it “tracked”. I therefore told him to keep it there. I said I’d collect it when I checked in for my next flight.


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Being part time meant I only flew a few times a month and admittedly forgot to ask for the envelope the next time I checked in. I wasn’t worried because it was in the safe.

Take a look at the following screenshot which comes from evidence I submitted as part of this grievance.


copy of written correspondence
Taken from evidence submitted as part of my defence


Having initially been told the reviews had been shredded I thought this crew line manager was having a joke with me. I soon realised he was being deadly serious.

Bear in mind each review had my full name on it, my managers name and my employee number. Despite having been in the safe for “some time” it was there for a reason.

Did this manager not think of getting in touch with me before shredding a large stack of performance reviews that dated back many years? Obviously not.


My Performance Management Record

Take a look at the following two screenshots. Three crew members who worked alongside Bart and I in First Class stated in their witness statement they did not see and were not aware of any unusual behaviour at any time between Bart and myself. They also had no complaints about the way I conducted myself on or off the aircraft. The flight to and from Atlanta is around nine hours.

Two of those people had flown previously and the third had been cabin crew with the company for eight years.

Out of the remaining seven crew, five colluded with Bart, two failed to return their witness statements.


copy of written correspondence
From the complaint submitted by crew member Bart

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From the complaint submitted by Bart


I appreciate reading a performance appraisal on someone you don’t know is not particularly interesting. I feel however that because of the subject matter of this blog it’s important to share a couple of examples with you.

Not having looked at my old performance management for many years I had to laugh when I saw I was once given a “Needs Improvement” for not wearing my tie.

Thirteen years later I addressed exactly the same issue with Bart. Lower down I’ll include a screenshot of what I said and his response.

The following screenshots come from two performance reviews written on me by my line manager in 2005 and 2006.


copy of a written performance assessment


copy of a written performance assessment
NI equates to “Needs Improvement”

copy of a written performance assessment


copy of a written performance assessment


Regarding the situation mentioned in the “Ensuring Effective Relationships” section of the second screenshot, I had recently flown with a Delhi based crew line manager. She was working as cabin crew but was there to assess the performance of the Delhi based national crew. She was working with them at the back of the aircraft.

During a busy meal service the Economy Purser complained to me the manager and a crew member with whom she was good friends were messing around in the galley and it was affecting the service. She had tried to address it but they weren’t taking any notice.

I spoke privately with the manager but it didn’t go down well. She subsequently reported me.

When my manager flew with me it was on a flight to Delhi. He arranged for her to once again be part of the crew.


Regarding me removing my tie whilst on the bus to the hotel, I learnt from that and never did it again.

The performance management that included this comment was written in 2005. When I flew with Bart in 2018 I noticed he removed his tie before waking through the cabin to the crew rest area (CRA) to start his rest break.

I didn’t address it with him at the time not because I was avoiding doing so but because by the time he returned from a two hour rest break I had forgotten about it.

In the following screenshot you’ll see my comment from the performance management that I wrote on him (black text) and the reply from his complaint.

The crew are always woken up ten minutes before the end of their break. This is to ensure they’re back in the cabin and ready to work before the remaining crew go on their break.


copy of written correspondence
From my review on Bart and the response from his complaint


By 2012 I had been a Flight Manager for eleven years. Having flown with a cabin crew line manager and raised an issue with her about the uniform shoes I received the following email from her following the flight;

OBM is an abbreviation for onboard manager.


copy of an email
Email received from a ground based cabin crew line manager. OBM – On-Board Manager


Combining the Rank of Junior and Senior

Since joining the airline in 1990 there had always been a Junior and Senior rank. Juniors worked in Economy, Seniors in First Class.

The length of time spent as a Junior varied greatly and was dependant on whether more Senior crew were required. Once advised you were being promoted you would attend a First Class service training course.

Around 2012 the system was changed. Instead of being a natural progression Juniors now had to apply for promotion.

This had long been the case when moving from Senior to Purser and from Purser to Flight Manager. That was because both were onboard managerial roles.

Working as cabin crew is pretty much the same irrespective of which cabin you work in. The main difference is the way the service is delivered in each cabin.


A Japanese and British Virgin Atlantic stewardess eating noodles in the galley
Juniors in Economy | 1994 ish

two stewardesses serving on a first class afternoon tea trolley during a flight
A Senior crew member working with the Flight Manager. 1997 ish


Completing Onboard Appraisals

Onboard managers have always been required to complete a short performance assessment on their crew at the end of each flight. For many years a simple tick box system was in place to grade performance and ability.

In 2014 the system changed so that cabin crew and onboard managers were both required to complete written feedback on each other. It was no longer just a tick box exercise. One crew member from each cabin was selected to write upward feedback on either the Purser or Flight Manager.

The Pursers had to write feedback on each crew member in their team and on the Flight Manager. The Flight Manager wrote feedback on the Pursers and one other crew member.

The company shared all feedback with the crew once every three months. The system was designed to be anonymous so no details of the person who wrote the feedback were visible. Flight numbers and dates were also removed.

As well as written feedback the crew member or on-board manager writing the review also had to give the person being assessed a score out of 5.

Feedback was completed on each crew member’s newly issued company iPad. There was only room for about two short paragraphs. Having raised a concern regarding the amount of available space I was told if a more detailed review was required it should be completed on paper instead.


Along with a newly introduced “Voice of Customer programme” the airline believed they now had an accurate tool for assessing the performance of crew members in all ranks.

The purpose of a Voice of Customer programme is to collect feedback about a product or service. Armed with this information the business can work towards creating a better customer experience.

The Voice of Customer programme was not designed as a performance management tool for employees.

The airline created an algorithm which enabled them to produce a score to rank the performance of each crew member and onboard manager. The score came partly from Voice of Customer feedback and partly from reviews written anonymously by the cabin crew.

Voice of Customer feedback is an optional survey completed by passengers after their flight.

This is an example of passenger feedback received after one of my flights. These customers could have been sitting anywhere on the aircraft. It’s highly unlikely they had any contact with me personally at all.

The “poor” and “very poor” marks would have brought my performance scores down considerably.


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Scores from these Voice of Customer surveys were used to decide who would keep their job and who would be made redundant in response to cutbacks following the outbreak of Covid-19.

In the months after the Voice of Customer programme was launched the cabin crew scores and uncensored feedback comments were made available for onboard managers to share with their crew.

Some of the comments were incredibly offensive. Customers were also blaming the crew for issues that were completely out of their control.

One “very poor” I received came from a customer sitting at an emergency exit. He had been told by a crew member that he couldn’t keep his laptop for take-off and landing. This is not permitted in line with UK Civil Aviation Authority regulations.

Another was from a customer I had spoken to personally about a dietary meal that hadn’t been loaded. Despite spending extensive time with him and resolving the problem as best as I could, he marked the crew as “very poor”.

The following screenshot is my scorecard for the first period after I returned to work in March 2018. The new system of feedback had only recently been introduced.

My score from Voice of Customer (VoC) is 66.28%. The score from performance management (PM) which is upward feedback written anonymously by the crew is 8.91. That makes my total score 77.67%.

The combined average score for my base which was Heathrow and my rank which was Flight Manager was 72%. That means my performance was well above average.


copy of performance monitoring scores for a staff member


In the next period my scores dropped slightly but were still well above average. Everyone’s scores fluctuated depending on the destination, type of aircraft and problems encountered during the flight.

Having been notified in June 2020 I was going to be made redundant, I was told that apart from having a final disciplinary and written warning on my file, my performance scores were below average.

When compiling performance scores for the purpose of deciding who should be made redundant, the period used by the company was 1st April 2019 to 30th March 2020.

When redundancies were announced I was on long term sick as result of dealing with the grievance raised by Bart. I had been off since December 2019. That means the period used to assess my performance was 1st April to December 2019. The scorecard above covers October, November and December 2018. It shows I was well above average. In my scorecard for January, February and March 2019 I was also above average.

Yet from April to December 2019 my scores were below average, or so the company claimed.

From September 2019 I had only operated flights to Tel Aviv. With it being a new destination cabin crew performance scores were slightly lower than on many other routes.

According to the manager of the Product and Service Delivery department customer feedback is always lower on a new route for the first few months.

I also had three significant periods of sickness during 2019. I was off for about eights weeks in total.

The company stated if they were unable to collate enough feedback to produce a fair score (due to sickness absence), they would go back further than 1st April 2019.

Printed scorecards like the one above confirm I was an above average performing Flight Manager throughout 2018 and until at least March 2019.

I had been an above average performing employee for the best part of thirty years. That could be seen from performance appraisals written on me throughout my employment. Suddenly within a space of a few months I was being told I was under performing and that was part of the reason for making me redundant.


Just a few weeks after learning I was being made redundant I received this plaque in the post. It came with a golden lapel pin to wear on my uniform. I also received a “congratulations” card from the CEO. The same CEO who reported my tongue-in-cheek comment to the Head of Cabin Crew which led to a second disciplinary.


ceremonial clear perspex plaque for 30 years of service
Sent to me a few weeks after learning I was being made redundant


I couldn’t believe what was printed in the bottom left corner of this “award”.

They clearly use these at award ceremonies and just change the text to suit the event. As if sending this to someone who had just learnt he was being made redundant wasn’t bad enough, above my name was the word “winner”. That’s not appropriate even if I wasn’t being made redundant.

After what I had been through over the last twelve months I was anything but a winner.


gold lapel pin commemorating 30 years of service
Golden lapel pin to wear on my uniform even though I would never be putting my uniform on again

This was the card that accompanied the plaque. The name of the CEO was printed in block letters at the bottom of the card. The card could not have been any colder or more clinical.

The plaque, this card and my P45 is what I received for 30 years of service.



To end this chapter I want to include some screenshots from upward performance feedback that was written on me anonymously during my last eighteen months as a Flight Manager.

Scores are out of 5.



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