30 Years a Virgin | The Ugly Truth – Part 4

Table of Contents

The Ugly Truth Part 3

Page 1 – The Ugly Face of Revenge 
Page 2 – The Day That Changed my Life
Page 2 – When It All Becomes Too Much
Page 3 – Shalom Tel Aviv
Page 4 – Great Customer Feedback
Page 5 – Cue Second Disciplinary
Page 6 – Outcome of the Investigation
Page 7 – The Last Page

The Ugly Truth Part 5 (TBA)

Great Customer Feedback

The post-flight customer feedback from the first Tel Aviv was amazing for both sectors. The cabin crew had worked incredibly hard to make the flight a success and it had clearly paid off.

The following screenshots come from the Voice of Customer post-flight questionnaires. As an on-board manager I had access to these surveys. 453 is our flight from London to Tel Aviv, 454 is our return flight on the 27th.

copy of feedback from a customer questionnaire
copy of feedback from a customer questionnaire

The comments and scores we received reflect how well customers were looked after. Having been asked to look after an influential blogger who was travelling in Upper Class, I introduced myself soon after take-off. I had been told he was also a friend of director Jack.

His review of that first flight was outstanding. I’ve included a snippet below but the full review can be read by following the link.

Typical of this airline, the only person I heard from after the flight was “very experienced manager” Hayley and that was to tell me the grievance against me was being upheld.

She would have been fully aware that I had just landed from the first flight to Tel Aviv. Having asked her to be mindful about when she sent me the outcome of the grievance she replied; “I am always mindful of flying duties and intend to send the outcome by email after I have reviewed your roster.”

part of a red lapel from a uniform with a badge of an Israeli and British flag

I’m assuming the greeting he refers to was my welcome on-board announcement which I made in Hebrew and English. He may be referring to the pre-recorded P.A’s which were also in Hebrew and English but from what he says in the second from last line, I’m assuming he was talking about my announcement.

His full review of the flight is here.

In the grievance raised against me by Bart who had never flown as cabin crew previously and had only been flying for eleven months at the time of our flight, he made several complaints about my announcements. Anna his now ex fiancee and crew members Ven and Peter also made some pretty unpleasant remarks. Nobody else on the crew had anything negative to say about them.

Here’s part of what Bart said. Here’s a bit more. This is what Ven had to say.

A private chat room on Workplace had been set up by the Product and Service Delivery team. The airline use Workplace as their communications platform. The room was set up so on-board managers doing the Tel Aviv flights for the first few months could share feedback, ideas and suggestions with the Product and Service Delivery team and with each other.

I didn’t join immediately because I’m not a fan of social media and had stopped using the company communications platform a few years earlier. I did eventually join the group because the information being shared was useful and interesting.

It was nice to be involved and to be able to make a worthy contribution. I was really enjoying operating the route and wanted to make it fun for the cabin crew many of whom were visiting Israel for the first time.

I always made a short welcome and landing announcement in Hebrew and had some great banter with many customers, both Jewish and non Jewish. I often joked with some of them in Yiddish which always went down well.

With many men wanting to pray after meals, finding somewhere quiet to stand can be difficult. Prayers at certain times of the day are said in a group of at least ten men. The group is collectively known as a minyan. On some of my flights it was taking place in the centre of the aircraft adjacent to two emergency doors. The gathering took up a considerable amount of space at a time when the cabin crew were still in the aisles clearing away from the meal service. I therefore explained in an announcement that after the crew had finished clearing in, we would curtain off the back galley area so prayers could be carried out there.

On one of my flights I spoke to an elderly man who wanted to pray. He said he was struggling to find enough men to form a prayer group. On that particular flight there weren’t that many visibly orthodox men. I made an announcement asking for a minyan. The response was overwhelming and everyone involved was blown away by the gesture.

A few days after returning home I received the following email. It was copied to Chief People Officer Estelle Hollingsworth and Head of Cabin Crew senior manager xx. A customer from my flight had commented in his Voice of Customer post-flight survey about the announcement.

email correspondence

Just before I get onto the exchange between myself and Jack, I want share a photo with you. I love this picture because it’s a really happy photo. Despite everything I had been dealing with for the past year, I loved being in Israel and always felt happy and relaxed. I also loved flying with this Cabin Supervisor.

two happy smiling Virgin Atlantic crew members

The weeks and months after losing my dad should have been a time for reflection. I had really struggled with my mental health over the previous nine years. With my dad having passed away very peacefully at the age of 96, I believed the time had finally come for me to make a fresh start.

I had swapped onto the flight to Atlanta over Christmas so I wouldn’t be away from home longer than necessary. I was aware before leaving that my dad was coming to the end of his life. I considered calling in sick but with everything my manager had done for me in recent years, I didn’t want to let him down. Sickness was always high over Christmas which made it difficult to fully crew flights.

On that trip to Atlanta I met five of the most vile and despicable people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. What happened in the weeks that followed ensured my “fresh start” was not going to happen any time soon.

As if defending myself from false allegations made by these vile degenerates wasn’t bad enough, things were about to get even worse.

Like many on-board managers I always read Voice of Customer feedback comments after each of my flights. The cabin crew management team used these post flight questionnaires to rank our performance. The scores were also used to decide who would keep their job and who would be made redundant in response to the restructuring that took place in response to Covid-19.

Customer feedback on a new route is often not great for the first few months. This tends to be because of a wide variety of teething problems. Within a few weeks of the launch of the Tel Aviv route, the Product and Service Delivery team told us the scores overall were the highest the airline had ever achieved on a new route. The cultural training day along with an enormous amount of work from many people behind the scenes had paid off.

As well as reading feedback comments from my flights to and from Tel Aviv, I also read those from flights operated by my colleagues. This enabled me to see what customers liked and what they didn’t.

In the weeks following my first flight I read many post-flight surveys. Whilst people generally seemed happy with the standard of service from the cabin crew, a whole host of other issues were being raised.

These included the aircraft not being clean, toilets being a mess, the cabin being too hot and the cabin being too cold. There were comments about prayers being carried out in front of people who had paid for extra legroom seats, comments about children wandering into Upper Class and complaints about them being allowed to run around the aircraft. There were complaints about the noise in the cabin and people cutting across in front of passengers who were sitting at bulkheads.

Some complained the meal service was delivered too quickly whilst others said it went on for too long. There were numerous comments about entertainment screens which at certain times could not be switched off. From one of my flights there was a complaint about the blankets being too thick, on a flight a few days later someone complained they were very thin.

Many of the issues were totally out of our control as cabin crew. There were loads of negative comments in relation to food. Just a few days earlier someone from catering had been on one of my flights. He’d spent almost the entire time talking with the crew about what customers liked and what they didn’t.

With me being Jewish and having grown up in a Jewish community I know we’re not always the easiest people to please. I’ve become more aware of that in recent years because my partner is not Jewish. British Jews often share very similar traits so as a community, we’re all quite similar.

Kvetching is typically Jewish. The word which literally means “squeeze” in Yiddish, commonly refers to the way Jewish people in particular, complain. On Chabad.org which is a website about Judaism they state “to kvetch is Jewish”.

I read an article online by an American Orthodox Rabbi called Mitchell Wohlberg that really made me laugh. I found it funny because what he says is so true. I see this behaviour in myself and it drives my partner nuts.

In an article called “kvetching” Rabbi Wohlberg says “we just can’t help it, we’ve been like that since the start.” He says there’s a Jewish story about the miracle of Moses parting the Red Sea. As the water parted and the Israelites passed through, they complained the seabed was muddy. He goes on to say, there’s always something to kvetch about.

Since the launch of Voice of Customer post-flight surveys I had read hundreds of customer feedback comments from flights to and from various destinations. Whilst there was no shortage of negative comments, they weren’t the same as those written by people on the Tel Aviv route. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on why they were different but then realised, it was Jewish people being typically Jewish. We’re all the same and it’s something many of us do. It was en masse kvetching. Despite all the complaints the cabin crew were still being marked “very good” or “excellent”.

There were 48 people in the Workplace chatroom set up by the Product and Service Delivery team. The vast majority of those were on-board managers like myself. Most of us had known each other for many years. Someone from catering had also joined the room. I noticed one director had also joined but hadn’t noticed another who was much higher had also joined. That person was Jack.

Having spent an hour or so reading Voice of Customer feedback I posted a comment. Part of it was regarding complaints about food and I tagged the person from catering. I had spoken with him extensively and had recently raised a concern about about PG Tips tea bags. At my dad’s care home they didn’t use them apparently because they weren’t kosher. As it turns out they’re absolutely fine.

The person from catering responded quickly. Having gone back into the room to acknowledge his response, my partner read my original post. He told me to delete one line because he said someone will probably take it the wrong way.

I’d written something that I saw as harmless banter that poked fun at my own community. I agreed it could be taken the wrong way and tried to amend the post on my phone. It wouldn’t allow me to make any changes so I just deleted it.

Whilst returning home from a social event some days later, whilst on my phone I found a private message from Jack. I remember it clearly because with everything I had been dealing with in the previous months, we very rarely went out. The event was a Filipino cultural event and many of partner’s friends were dancing there.

two smartly dressed men smiling for a selfie at some kind of indoor event

part of a text message

Having received the first message I signed onto Workplace to see what I could have said that had caused offence. I really didn’t post that often so it didn’t take long to scroll through my posts. I couldn’t find anything that could possibly have caused offence. I had however completely forgotten about the post I had deleted a few days earlier. I thought maybe it was something from the article I had written on Judaism to share with the cabin crew on my flights.

With the Jewish New Year being just a few days earlier, I wished Jack Shana Tova. It’s a New Year’s greeting in Hebrew. It literally means “good year”. People usually respond with the same greeting.

New Year is an important period in the Jewish calendar. It’s a time for doing good deeds, reflecting on past mistakes and making amends with others.

copy of text from an article

Later that evening Jack responded to my message.

part of a text message

His message shows the importance of context and what happens when it’s removed. I couldn’t believe what I’d just read. I said to Laurence (my partner) someone has posted something about “bloody jews” on Workplace, that’s outrageous.

Then came the rest of the message;

part of a text message conversation

VoC refers to the Voice of Customer post-flight surveys. Darren was the person from catering who I tagged in the post.

The context of what I had said had been completely misunderstood. Everyone in the group knew me, my humour and that I was Jewish. They were also well aware of how much effort I had put into making this route a success. The emoji’s further confirmed the nature of the comment and that I was just being cheeky. This line was the reason why I tried to amend the post but ended up deleting it.

part of a text message with emojis
Screenshot from my phone

I didn’t hear another word from Jack and he certainly didn’t return the New Year’s greeting.

Understandably with me having upset a senior executive the matter was playing on my mind. A few days later still not having heard anything from him I decided to send him an email. I then changed my mind because I knew he was on the press launch flight in a couple of weeks. I was rostered to work out of rank on the same flight.

The UK press launch flight for the Tel Aviv service was taking place on 23rd October. Richard Branson, director Jack and many other important people were on the flight. Knowing I’d see Jack meant I could also apologise once again for what had happened.

I completely understood why my comment had been taken the wrong way and felt really bad. The way he would have read it would have been nothing like the way I would have said it, especially with him not knowing I was Jewish.

In the days that followed I operated two further flights to and from Tel Aviv. Whilst on my layover in Israel during the second of those flights, I participated in a group conference call with the Product and Service Delivery department. All on-board managers who were part of the Tel Aviv “core crew” had been invited to participate if they were at home.

The Cabin Service Supervisor on my flight and I decided we would go back to the hotel to dial in to the call. There was absolutely no requirement for us to do that. Just an hour earlier we had been sitting on the beach watching the sun go down.

the sea with the sun setting in the sky. View from the beach

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