|Table of Contents |
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 2
Page 1 – When Cabin Crew Tell Lies
Page 2 – Hideous Bunch of Misfits
Page 3 – Writing Performance Appraisals
Page 4 – Incompetent Middle Management
Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 4
When Cabin Crew Tell Lies
The publication of my blog was first announced on a Facebook group widely used by cabin crew past and present. It attracted a huge amount of interest and the moderators didn’t feel it was appropropriate for the nature of the page which I understood.
Shortly before being removed crew member Peter who was on my Christmas flight to Atlanta in 2018 posted a comment. I responded but the entire thread disappeared soon afterwards.
At the time of our flight Peter had been cabin crew for six months. He was upset at what I’d written and said “a man is doing a blog about being bullied and attacked whilst attacking and bullying people who were only asked to do a witness statement. The situation was nothing to do with me yet he felt the need to slander my name. Things that have been written about me are hurtful and upsetting and I was only being honest and truthful.”
In this chapter I’m going to share sections from Peter’s witness statement as well as sections from those written by other members of the crew. I want to show that he was being anything but “honest and truthful”.
Peter is referring to his best friend Mia. In her witness statement she accuses me of touching her leg. She’s also good friends with crew member T who worked up as Purser in Economy and with Bart’s ex fiancée Anna.
Considering she “mentioned” to Peter I had been “quite physical on a few occasions” you would have thought she would also have said something to T who was not only her friend but also her manager for that flight. Peter, Mia, Anna and T worked together out of the back galley in Economy.
Mia and Anna spoke to a crew line manager together prior to their next flight about “my behaviour”. Having spoken to that manager I was told the only thing they complained about was receiving an email from me on their days off.
The following screenshot comes from Mia’s witness statement;
This is from T’s witness statement;
Regarding placing my hand on T’s shoulder, take a look back at what I said during the first investigative meeting regarding Bart’s complaint. It took place before witness statements had been requested. Here’s the relevant paragraph.
Regarding Mia saying she didn’t find me particularly approachable, she was friendly enough when I did a drinks service in Economy with her on the outbound sector and was also very chatty when she sat across from me at breakfast on Christmas morning in the hotel. On the inbound sector she also felt comfortable approaching me during the dinner service to draw my attention to the portion size of the Christmas dinner.
She could have spoken to Katrina who was the Purser in the cabin but instead approached me.
This also comes from Mia’s witness statement. On the flight on the way out Bart worked in a full Premium cabin. Economy was half empty therefore the crew needed no additional help. I did a drinks service with Mia because as a Flight Manager it was part of my role to oversee the service and I always tried to work with as many of the crew as possible.
Strange how Mia remembers Bart being in Economy yet doesn’t remember doing a full drinks service with me.
On our return flight to London once the dinner service in Economy was finished I asked T to send someone to the front to help us in First Class. The service was very busy and wasn’t running smoothly.
T, Mia and Anna arrived a short while later. With there already being seven of us at the front which included Ven in Premium I didn’t need three additional crew.
I asked Anna to go back to Economy, Mia to help Bart on the right aisle because he was struggling to keep up and T to remove service items customers had finished with.
Despite so many of us working together in such a small area, according to witness statements nobody saw me or was aware of me touching Mia’s leg. She says she thought I may have dropped something or was having a laugh and then says “I don’t wish this to be taken further”.
If this incident happened which it didn’t, why didn’t she mention it to anyone? And if she didn’t want it to be taken further why mention it at all? The answer to that is because I believe Anna coerced her into make up the story to support Bart and her own allegation of inappropriate touching.
If a man old enough to be her father genuinely touched her leg, having learnt he also allegedly touched other crew members inappropriately why wouldn’t you want it to be addressed?
Mia was in First Class helping Bart out on his aisle for about forty five minutes. So she worked alongside him during that time. I was also busy helping in the cabin. Here’s another screenshot from Mia’s witness statement.
She’s right I was stressed because the service was a shambles and the galley was chaos. I had Bart on one aisle who was struggling to keep up and a crew member in the galley plating food like it was school dinners. Despite being a night flight, with it being Christmas Day it was unusually busy.
Katrina who was working up as Purser was working hard but was trying to do everything herself. The role of Purser is to lead and direct the service, it’s not just about being an extra pair of hands.
This was her first time working up and she hadn’t been with the airline that long. It was just very unfortunate the service was much busier than normal and there were so many challenges to deal with. Although I was supporting her as much as I could which she confirms in her witness statement, I didn’t want to take over completely.
Whilst all this was going on Mia claims I touched her leg and thought I had “dropped something or was having a laugh.”
T was also helping in the cabin at this time yet was unaware of any inappropriate touching.
The following photo is the First Class cabin on the aircraft we were flying on. You can see the width of the right aisle that five of us were working in during the service. Those people were Bart, Mia, myself, T and Claire.
Bart and Mia were serving customers in the window seats on the right aisle, Claire was serving the centre seats. T and I were helping in both aisles. By this time Katrina had moved into the galley to help out.
Towards the end of the service once Ven had finished in Premium he also helped in First Class. According to witness statements nobody other than Anna who was working at the opposite end of the aircraft and Bart, saw me or was aware of me touching anyone inappropriately at any time.
At the back of First Class is the bar area which is also a tight space. The galley which I don’t have a photo of is also very narrow. The galley wall can just about be seen in this photo. I’ve included it to show how narrow the walkway is behind the bar stools.
This is where I was sweeping the carpet prior to landing when I touched Ven’s ankle. He was sat on the middle bar stool talking to Katrina who was sat to his left. Lottie was standing at the end in front of the toilet.
In Bart’s witness statement he says “Laurence constantly touched me and other crew members on or below the hips. Excessive and unwanted touching especially by a manager who has not created good rapport was not welcomed and was commented on by many members of the crew.”
In Anna’s statement she said “I witnessed Laurence touch crew member Bart below the hips while negotiating a tight work place (I think she means workspace). Crew member Bart looked uncomfortable with Laurence’s hand placement as his posture straightened and he looked surprised. Laurence also touched me below the hips and it made me uncomfortable.”
Take a look at what Ven said in his statement about me touching his leg. It’s here.
Having arrived at the front of the aircraft with T and Amy, Anna was present for a few minutes before being asked to return to Economy.
With seven of us working at the front nobody saw me or was aware of any inappropriate touching. Anyone who has ever worked as cabin crew will know you continuously have to squeeze past colleagues or physically move them out the way to get by.
The nature of this working environment makes working alongside malevolent and devious individuals like Bart and Anna very dangerous. In fact their fictitious allegations cost me my job.
Both of them used the situation to their advantage and colluded with other members of the crew.
Not one other crew member was able to confirm in their witness statement that they saw me touch anyone inappropriately at any time. T, Lottie, Katrina, Claire, the First Officer and Captain all stated they were not aware of any touching. Lottie, Katrina and Claire worked alongside Bart and I on two long sectors.
Despite eight out of ten crew members confirming in witness statements they didn’t see me touch anyone inappropriately or were even aware of any such behaviour, the allegation was upheld by both crew line managers who investigated Bart’s complaint and by the Head of Cabin Crew who heard my appeal.
Two crew failed to return their witness statement. One was Bruce who worked the First Class galley, the other a female crew member in Economy.
I even supplied a letter from a doctor of clinical psychology who stated it’s “unlikely” I would touch anyone inappropriately. He was able to say that because of things we had discussed in the months prior to this flight.
What makes this situation even more damning is that Bart was a serving police officer for eight years. Anna also came from a police background.
With regards to Ven’s allegation of me squeezing his waist, take a moment to think about that. How do you squeeze someone’s waist?
In Ven’s witness statement he accused ME of being “touchy feely”. In this photo Ven is on the left. Peter who’s standing next to him has his arm around his waist. I wonder whether he’s squeezing?
I look very tired in that photo. I had just spoken to my dad who was extremely poorly. I knew he was in the last days of his life and hoped he’d still be alive when I landed home. He passed away just over a week later.
My dad had lived with me since my mum died in 2010. I was his carer for almost nine years. He was now living in a lovely care home but it had been a long and difficult fight to get him a place.
Little did I know when leaving Atlanta on this Christmas afternoon in 2018 with this seemingly happy bunch of cabin crew, that my life would never be the same again.
In Ven’s witness statement he says when he arrived for our flight he didn’t know anyone on the crew. Less than twenty four hours later him and Peter are extremely good friends. Whilst that’s common for cabin crew I have a good reason for mentioning it.
In his comment on Facebook regarding my blog Peter said, “I would never lie maliciously to hurt someone.”
The following comes from his witness statement;
“Laurence spent a lot of time in the flight deck”.
Were this to be true it would have been extremely damaging. My role on the aircraft was to be in the cabin and not to be spending long periods of time chatting with the pilots in the flight deck. By making this statement Peter knew what he was doing.
The comment can only refer to the inbound sector because the outbound flight was half empty and very quiet. He’s basically accusing me of skiving.
Peter didn’t come to the front once on either sector. He states several times in his witness statement we saw very little of each other during both flights. Therefore he can’t possibly know what I did with my time.
This comes from Ven’s witness statement;
It seems very clear why Peter wrote what he did in his statement. So much for “only being honest and truthful”.
Ironically this comes from his social media page;
Ven worked position CM7 (CM = Crew Member) which looks after the Premium cabin. He worked from the front galley alongside me, Bart, Lottie, Katrina and Claire. We were all in First Class.
I asked him on the inbound flight once he finished his service to help us in First. Katrina was the Purser in First Class so I don’t understand why Ven believed he was doing that position.
According to his witness statement, on our inbound flight as well as working in a full Premium cabin looking after thirty eight people, he not only helped out in First Class but actually ran the service. He also claims to have done some aspects of my role which was Flight Manager.
Anyone who has ever flown as crew for this airline and particularly with me, will see through his ridiculous lies. His rank at the time was Cabin Crew which is the same as the other eleven crew members on this flight. Furthermore he wasn’t even the most senior member of crew.
Ven’s lies contributed to me losing my job.
The following screenshot comes from documents submitted as part of my defence. The blue font is the question being asked by Lana the grievance investigation manager. The orange is Ven’s response. The black is my response.
Maybe he thinks he worked the First Class Purser position because I asked him to show Katrina how to do the drinks bar paperwork.
I asked for Ven’s help because he was a competent crew member and I was extremely busy. Unknown to me at the time he was also irritated at not being able to work up in the rank he was told he would be working when called on standby.
Regarding his comment about making a seat belt sign P.A, each time I read that it makes me laugh. The onboard managers make all PA’s and always have done. They can if they wish delegate them to one of their crew.
During the flight the seat belt sign announcement is usually made by the Economy Purser. It’s mandatory at least one announcement be made so if not done within a few minutes the other Purser or Flight Manager will do it.
With there being three onboard managers on our flight even though two were working up, Ven claims he made the announcement because “due to lack of experience it wasn’t made.”
Each time the seat belt signs are illuminated a mandatory chain of events kicks in. The crew check customers in their section have seatbelts fastened. The crew then pass their “checks” to their Purser. Each Purser then advises the Flight Manager who in turn advises the Captain.
Ven also stated I didn’t make a welcome announcement after take off. That’s odd considering Bart criticised my after take-off welcome announcement. This is the reason why as part of the witness statement requested by the company the crew were asked;
“Please share any observations on Flight Manager Laurence’s PA’s.”
Considering Ven believes he was working as Purser and also did parts of my position as Flight Manager, I’m surprised he didn’t claim to have made the after take-off announcement himself. Afterall in his deluded mind he believes he went over the head of all three onboard managers and made an announcement regarding the seatbelt signs because it wasn’t made.
Part of my responsibility as a Flight Manager was to ensure safety procedures were followed. According to Mia’s witness statement I was a very strict Flight Manager.
If Ven had genuinely made an announcement because it wasn’t made by me or one of the Purser’s you can be sure it would have been mentioned by Anna and Bart in their correspondence. Needless to say it wasn’t.
Even Peter makes reference to my announcements in his witness statement. He says his travelling companion thought they were “were really long and didn’t need to be”.
Ven cites “lack of experience” as being the reason why this announcement wasn’t made. He also said I should have taken charge but didn’t. That’s a strange comment to make considering Bart accused me of being a bully and of overbearing supervision.
I had been flying as cabin crew with this airline for 30 years, my last 22 as an onboard manager (first Purser then Flight Manager). Katrina and Claire had both flown previously for another airline for thirty years, twenty as Flight Managers.
Lottie was the longest serving crew member, she had been with the company for eight years. Making an announcement regarding the seatbelt sign is not only company procedure it’s a requirement laid down by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
The most junior crew member in First Class was Bart who had only been flying for eleven months. According to minutes taken during his meeting with the crew manager investigating his grievance, he complained he wasn’t given the opportunity to work up as Purser.
As you’ll see from his performance appraisal he wasn’t able to do his own job properly let alone run the entire service in the cabin.
I even had to compensate one customer because Bart had woken him for breakfast but then didn’t go back to serve him. He was completely missed out. He subsequently complained to me mentioning Bart by name.
I spoke to Bart there and then about why the customer had been missed out. Having asked how he did the service he told me he first woke everyone up on his side who was having breakfast, converted their bed back to the seat position and then started serving breakfast. I explained that wasn’t the way the service should be done.
I wasn’t present in the cabin for most of the breakfast service because I am required to do the service in Premium.
In his complaint Bart told more lies about why the customer was missed out. Needless to say he refused to take any responsibility and blamed Katrina and Claire.
The next screenshot comes from evidence submitted as part of my defence. It’s regarding the dinner arranged for us in the hotel on Christmas Eve, the day we landed in Atlanta.
Three tables had been set up. Bart, Anna, T, Peter, Mia and their two companions sat at one table along with another two crew members from our flight. I sat on a separate table with the Captain, First Officer, Lottie, Katrina and Claire. The third table was occupied by the Manchester crew.
The crew member I was asked to speak to by the Captain was Peter.
Despite having seen so little of me during both flights and the entire trip according to his witness statement, Peter says “he (Laurence) came across professional towards customers but to crew I feel he came across unapproachable and not so professional, his attitude made me feel awkward around him”.
On our outbound flight whilst half the cabin crew were on their rest break I went to the back to check on Peter. He was in the galley alone and we spoke for about ten minutes. He told me he was best friends with Mia, that she had persuaded him to apply for the job as cabin crew and that he also worked in a gym.
Making conversation wasn’t easy which I put down to the age gap and him still being very new. That was the only time we spoke one-to-one or spent any time alone.
In response to another question he says “I don’t feel he took his time to engage with his crew”. In another, “If I’m honest I didn’t find Laurence approachable in the slightest, mostly because of his (pre-flight) briefing and he didn’t take much time to engage with myself.”
Here’s his answer to another question;
“Please share any other information you feel may be relevant to the performance and behaviour of Laurence and crew member Bart on this duty.”
“He (Laurence) also sent an email to all the crew regarding the flight and Voice of Customer which was very unnecessary and long”.
Bear in mind he’d only been with the airline for six months and had never flown previously.
The email he’s referring to was only sent to the four crew working in Economy plus crew member T who worked up as Purser.
Although I occasionally wrote performance appraisals from home after a flight, I had never contacted a group of crew in this way. I did so on this occasion because they were all relatively new and I was disappointed to see a customer on our inbound flight had marked them “Good” on their Voice of Customer questionnaire. An accompanying comment said “the stewardess was professional but not engaging”.
In my pre-flight briefings I always asked the crew to engage with customers whilst serving them. This was something I also addressed in Bart’s performance review.
The following screenshots come from my pre-flight briefing. These sections come from evidence submitted as part of my defence;
Cabin crew management had been putting huge pressure on onboard managers to achieve high Voice of Customer scores so being marked “excellent” was really important. Anything less pulled our scores down.
With the outbreak of Covid these scores were used to assess our performance in order to decide who was to be made redundant.
I had always taken a keen interest in my performance and was concerned my scores had dropped slightly in the previous month. Even though I was still above average I wanted to get them up as quickly as possible. I always wanted to perform at an optimal level.
During the inbound pre-flight briefing the Flight Manager shares with the crew the scores from the outbound sector. I therefore felt there was no reason why I shouldn’t share them with this group of crew from our inbound sector. Only on-board managers have access to the scores and comments.
My reason for doing that on this occasion was because three out of the four crew working in Economy had been with the company for less than twelve months. Crew member T who had recently been turned down for promotion was also working up as Purser.
I was initially only going to email him because I thought he may be interested to know the scores for the flight but then decided to include Anna, Mia and Peter as well. I also copied in their line managers plus my own. Only one out of the four Crew Performance and Development Managers (crew line managers) replied.
So Mia was the only crew member to reply. The same Mia who said she didn’t find me approachable and who accused me of touching her leg.
Crew member T who worked up as Purser didn’t bother replying. As you’ll see lower down, I even said in the email “T did an outstanding job working up”.
Mia and T are still employed by the company.
As I share more extracts from Peter’s witness statement you’ll see how his tone changes when he speaks about Bart. They worked at opposite ends of the aircraft and Bart spent almost no time at all in Economy. On the outbound flight it wasn’t necessary and on the inbound he was far too busy.
You’ll be surprised how much Peter knew about how he worked and how highly he spoke of him. Peter didn’t come to the front of the aircraft where Bart and I were working once on either sector.
Anna who had been with the airline for less than eleven months complained about my email to a crew line manager whilst checking in for her next flight. Although she says she spoke with Julie on the 27th it was actually the 28th.
Guess what the name is of the CM (crew member) whose name I’ve obscured? It’s Mia. Now scroll up and have a look at the date on the email Mia sent to me thanking me for my feedback. Don’t bother I’ll save you the time, it was the 28th December 2018.
The emails Anna refers to were not included with the paperwork I received as part of the outcome to the initial investigation. Therefore I don’t know the content.
The following screenshot comes from evidence I submitted as part of my defence;
This next screenshot comes from crew member Lottie’s witness statement. She worked alongside me and Bart in First Class. After me she was the longest serving crew member on the aircraft.
Her statement was very honest. Bart had not colluded with her, Claire or Katrina. The three of them worked alongside Bart and I in First Class.
From what she has written you can imagine what Anna and Mia said about the content of the email. Her comment about me laughing and joking with the crew is a reference to me touching Ven’s ankle whilst I was behind him sweeping the carpet. The only crew members present at the time were Lottie and Katrina.
I want to end this page by sharing the email I sent to the Economy crew.
I know it’s longer than it could have been but at the time of writing I wasn’t in a great place. Losing myself doing something I enjoyed was a good distraction.
The purpose of the email was to share some of my experience with four crew who combined had been flying for less than ten years. Three out of the four had been flying with the airline for less than twelve months.
VoC is the Voice of Customer programme. These surveys are sent to customers after their flight.
Peter and Mia thought my email was totally unnecessary whilst Anna claimed it had a negative effect on her mental health and was a further attack from an overly critical Flight Manager.
Peter had been in the company for six months, Mia for just over a year and Anna for less than a year. Peter and Mia had not flown before.