Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 5

Table of Contents

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 4

Page 1 – Bart’s Performance Appraisal
Page 2 – Bart’s Response
Page 3 – Bart’s Response (cont.)
Page 4 – Behaviour/Conduct in Atlanta
Page 5 – Adult Content
Page 6 – My Behaviour in Atlanta 1
Page 7 – Bart’s Complaint Finale

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 6

Bart’s Response (cont.)

(Bart) Just after take off, Laurence began his PA. During my eight years in the Police, I am aware that airwaves communication should be short and informative, keeping the airlines clear in case of emergencies. In the year I have been flying I have never heard such a long winded and rambling PA. A passenger commented to me “he likes the sound of his own voice doesn’t he?”


From the witness statement of Anna, Bart’s now ex fiancee

I’ve mentioned previously the Head of Cabin Crew stated she could find no evidence of collusion. According to witness statements the only other crew member to have any recollection of my announcements was Ven.

Laurence then repeated his comment from the briefing stating that todays aircraft is named Emilene Heany, “Who is nobody important” just someone who won a completion. The crew looked at each other in disbelief that Laurence had just said that over the PA. A J-class passenger, Iris (10K) commented to both Katrina and myself that if she were Emeliene Heany, she would feel important, and was shocked by this statement by a manager.

J = Upper Class cabin. Katrina said nothing in her witness statement about being aware of any complaints from customers. All witness statements will be published in a later chapter. Neither Katrina or any other crew member had any recollection of me mentioning the name of the aircraft in my pre-flight briefing.

(Laurence) I have attached my after take off announcement which I read from my iPad.  Since returning from long term sick a year ago I sometimes struggle to adlib my after take-off announcement as I did for many years. I now read it from my iPad.

I have tweaked it slightly to make it sound more natural so it will not be the P.A Bart and others may be used to hearing.  We are permitted to do this providing we include all necessary information.  I’ll let you decide for yourself whether it’s long winded and rambling.

 


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Taken from the initial outcome of the investigation carried out by cabin crew manager Lana

Bart states I repeated the comment from the briefing regarding the name of the aircraft but he’s clearly confused.  Once all customers have boarded and whilst still on the ground with the door open, (which any crew who have flown with me recently will confirm) I make an announcement like this;

“Most of our customers are now onboard.  For those of you interested in aviation I’d like to give you some information about today’s flight.  You’re on one of Virgin Atlantic’s A340-600 aircraft, the registration is G-VYOU, G signifies it’s a British aircraft and V that it’s registered to Virgin Atlantic.  These aircraft have been in our fleet since 2002, we currently have six.  The name of the aircraft is Emmeline Heaney. In case you’re wondering who that is, it’s someone who entered a competition to have an aircraft named after them. We have twelve members of crew onboard today who will be looking after you and two members of flight crew. They’ll be introducing themselves shortly.  Once the aircraft door has been closed I’ll let you know how many customers we have on today’s flight.”


Since we were on the ground for 40 minutes with customers on board, there was plenty of time for me to make this announcement.

(from the appraisal) Shortly after take-off I decided it wasn’t necessary to have three aisle crew in Upper Class so asked someone to move to Premium. Bart volunteered and stayed there for the remainder of the flight.

(Bart) This is not correct. We were crew down and as the standby crew member was making his way to the plane as CM7, the premium cabin was left unattended. Laurence asked for a crew member, to cover premium until he turned up. I immediately volunteered and continued my introductions to the premium passengers as I did in Upper Class. I spent significant time with a lady called Pam who was travelling to see the only family she had left in Atlanta, 3 passengers at the front of the cabin who were connecting to Orlando. I also built up rapport with a lady on the rear right of the cabin, leading to some duty free sales later in the flight.

(Laurence) What’s not correct about my statement? I state “after take-off” yet in his response which begins “this is not correct”, Bart talks about what he did whilst the aircraft was still on the ground.

After we boarded the aircraft I asked Bart to start preparing boarding drinks in the Premium cabin because crew member Ven had not yet arrived.  He had been called on standby and was on his way. Therefore drinks needed to be set up prior to customers boarding and nobody was doing it.

Bart says when I asked someone to do Premium drinks he immediately volunteered and continued his introductions to the Premium passengers as he did in Upper Class.  Bart hadn’t started any introductions in Upper Class because he was in Premium from the time the first customer boarded until Ven arrived a short time later.

Once Ven arrived Bart moved to Upper Class.

He states he spent a significant amount of time with a lady called Pam, also with three customers at the front of Premium who were connecting to Orlando and a lady on the rear right of the cabin which lead to her buying some duty free.

There were THIRTY TWO customers in the Premium cabin as confirmed by Customer Relations.  That means there were six spare seats.  With that in mind, whilst Bart was “serving boarding drinks and giving out newspapers” other customers were boarding the aircraft using both aisles. As any cabin crew member will confirm, that can make delivering boarding drinks in Premium quite difficult.


The Premium cabin on a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 600
The Premium cabin on the aircraft we were flying on

As well as doing that he also managed to speak in depth with five different customers and “continued to do introductions in Premium as he did in Upper Class”.  He even built up a rapport with a lady at the back.

It should be remembered once Ven boarded which was only a few minutes after the first customers were on board, Bart moved to Upper Class where he was needed to help hang coats and serve boarding drinks.

Customer Relations have access to past flight manifests so I hope you will confirm the customers who Bart refers to in different sections of this report using their first names, were actually on the aircraft.  I ask this because he mentions numerous times there were nine people in total in Upper Class yet there were twenty so I do have reason to be concerned about what he states as being factual.

(Bart) I gave out drinks and papers, welcoming our passengers and engaging until Ven arrived. I then went back to upper class.

You may not have noticed but Bart uses the word “engaging” many times throughout his complaint. That’s likely to be because of what I said in his appraisal;

“Whilst observing Bart from across the aisle I could see he was being polite and professional but wasn’t really engaging with any of his customers”

(Bart) After take off, Laurence decided that there were enough staff to cover in upper class, and that I should assist in premium, which I agreed. It is at this point that I handed over the aisle order sheet to Claire who was taking over my passengers. This is the first point that Laurence became aware that I had even taken orders and not as he stated in his email.

(Laurence) After take-off I did decide it was not necessary to have three crew in Upper Class so asked Bart to move to Premium.  I asked him because Katrina and Claire were best friends. They had asked to work together wherever it may be on the aircraft.

Lottie was the other crew member in Upper Class. She was the most senior and I was initially going to ask her to work up as Cabin Supervisor. I changed my mind having been told by a Crew Line Manager at the check-in area that Katrina had been a Flight Manager at Monarch for over twenty years.

Bart says the first time I became aware he had taken his orders on the ground was when he handed his aisle order sheet to Claire and not as I stated in my email.  If you refer to my email/assessment on Bart, in paragraph two I have written “I thought he was introducing himself and doing seat introductions however as I realised after take-off, he had also been taking orders.

So “after take-off” when I asked the crew to start taking drinks, Bart handed his aisle sheet to Claire before moving to Premium. That’s when I became aware he had already taken his orders. So what he means by “and not as he stated in his email” I have no idea.

(Bart) Laurence spoke to me in a very condescending manner and would not listen to my explanation. Instead he came out with the following, which I believe is his own version of service delivery, and had I spoke to an upper class passenger in this manner, would have had a negative impact;

“You should never take orders on the ground. You should have said “No”, I will complete a suite introduction, then I will come back and take a drinks order, then I will come back and take your food order. Also, you should only write surnames on your order sheet, as we would never use first names in upper class unless they say to”.

(Laurence) I have never knowingly spoken to a crew member in a condescending manner and the thought I may have done so concerns me. It’s not the kind of person I am. I take a huge amount of pride in my customer service ability and the way in which I manage and interact with my crew.

Bart says I wouldn’t listen to his explanation yet I state in his performance review his reasons for taking orders on the ground were that his customers were giving them to him so he wrote them down.  I wouldn’t have known that had I not listened to his explanation.

Having advised him it’s not something we usually do, I then explained how the service is done. He states “he (Laurence) came out with the following which I believe is his own version of service delivery;”

“You should never take orders on the ground. You should have said “No”, I will complete a suite introduction, then I will come back and take a drinks order, then I will come back and take your food order. Also, you should only write surnames on your order sheet, as we would never use first names in upper class unless they say to”.

If you refer to the Cheat Sheet I gave to Bart with his review, you’ll see what I told him is exactly how the service should be done. That’s not my “version of service delivery”, it’s the way the company have written it in the Service Procedures Manual.

The following screenshots come from my defence. Bear in mind Bart states he has been through the Service Manual “in depth”.


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IFE – Inflight Entertainment System
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J CSS _ Upper Class Cabin Supervisor


So as you can see, how I told Bart to do the service is how it should be delivered.

(Laurence) I hasten to add when I was saying this to Bart I was not being aggressive or unpleasant and was not admonishing him even though I wasn’t happy that he had already taken his drinks and meal orders. I was simply explaining what he had done is not the way the service is delivered.

Both Claire and Katrina were present at the time because Bart had just handed his aisle order sheet to Claire. I then explained he also needs to be given a meal break down from the galley before taking orders so he’s aware of how many meals he has for his side.


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From Claire’s witness statement.


Having seen he’d written his customers’ first and last names on his aisle order sheet I said we only need to write surnames as we would never address someone by their first name.  In my eighteen years as an FSM, four years as a Purser (CSS) prior to that and three years as a Senior, I have rarely ever been asked to address someone by their first name and I use names more than most.

I’ve never seen a crew member write every customer’s full name on their sheet even though both names are on the passenger manifest/iPad. It’s not what we’re taught to do.

(Bart) I know this to not be the case as I have been instructed to take orders on the ground before by FSM’s to be more efficient. Also, the passengers had all provided their first names and asked to be referred by them. If a passenger asks to be called Mr. Smith, then that is how I will refer to them. This is an example of how critical Laurence is when you do not follow his rules. Bullying; intimidating levels of supervision / derogatory remarks regarding my performance / abuse of authority

(Laurence) Bart states he has been instructed to take orders on the ground before by an FSM (Flight Manager) to be more efficient.  I’m certain very few would make such a request on a nine hour flight taking off at 09:20 with nine customers (according to Bart) in the cabin. Or even with twenty as we actually had.

Regarding writing down first names, I have to dispute what Bart has said.  As I’m sure Claire will confirm, his customers first and last names were very neatly written and spaced out on his sheet.

I say this because if Bart had written names on his sheet whilst leaning on a tray standing in the aisle, it’s likely it wouldn’t have been completed quite as neatly. I believed at the time, that Bart had copied names from his iPad onto his sheet before going to speak with his customers. That’s what everyone does.

Bart has worked in Upper Class many times so will know he should copy names from his iPad before introducing himself. He claims they “provided him with their name”.

Why was he asking them their name and how they would like to be addressed? That’s not how crew are trained to do the service. We’re told to address people as Mr or Mrs. He claims every customer he spoke to asked to be addressed by their first name.


From Lottie’s witness statement. She states Bart told her A customer (singular) asked him to use their first name.

We copy names from the flight manifest onto the order sheet so we can address people using their name whilst serving them. It’s much nicer and more professional than asking for their name and then asking how they’d like to be addressed. I’m fairly sure if someone wants to be addressed by their first name they’ll let you know.

Bart is saying he went and spoke to every customer and said something like; “hello my name is Bart and I’ll be looking after you today. Can I take your name please? How would you like to be addressed?”

Any cabin crew member who’s ever flown for Virgin Atlantic and has worked in Upper Class will know this conversation would never ever have taken place.

Bart had been flying for eleven months and according to his own statement, had worked in Upper Class “many times”.

This comes from the outcome of the initial investigation carried out by crew manager Lana.


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From outcome of crew manager Lana’s investigation

When each customer allegedly gave Bart their first and last name, having said they wanted to be addressed by their first name why didn’t he indicate that on his sheet? Otherwise how would he remember who wanted to be addressed by their first name and who didn’t?

Bear in mind he was only taking each person’s name and asking that question as he was introducing himself. How did he know everyone was going to ask to be addressed by their first name?

When I advised Bart it’s only necessary to write surnames on the aisle order sheet why didn’t he tell me or Claire who was taking over his customers they all wanted to be addressed by their first name?

Claire mentions the conversation between Bart and I in her witness statement yet says nothing about being told how his customers wanted to be addressed.

As crew we’re used to passing on information to colleagues about customers we’re serving. It’s something we all do before leaving the cabin to go on a rest break.


Being cabin crew, the best job in the world!


The following screenshot comes from the outcome of Lana’s initial investigation. So by advising Bart it’s not necessary to write customers’ first name on his aisle order sheet it was bullying and harassment.

Bear in mind he was a new crew member and part of my role was training and developing.


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From outcome of crew manager Lana’s investigation

She says “from my understanding” yet this is a cabin crew manager who asked why I felt it necessary to copy in Bart’s manager on his performance appraisal when it’s company policy and always has been.

It’s interesting she says it depends on the Flight Service Manager for each flight. I was the Flight Service Manager and was advising Bart the correct way to complete his aisle order sheet. I didn’t have an “issue” with him completing first names, I simply advised him is wasn’t necessary. I advised him because it’s not what crew are taught to do hence nobody does it.

Furthermore she mentions data protection. Once aisle order sheets have been completed they’re stuck up in the galley. In recent years the company have asked us to be aware of doing this because they can be seen by other passengers. On the vast majority of flights the aisle order sheets are still on the galley wall for the duration of the flight even though they’re not meant to be.

Not only did Bart have every customers’ surname written on his sheet he also had their first name. I think that’s more of a data protection breach than just having their surname.

(from the appraisal) Just prior to the last service I asked Bart to clear in rubbish on the right side of Premium, I said I would do the left side.  He was talking with another crew member in the galley.  I cleared a few rows then returned to empty my tray and went back out to finish off.  When I returned for the second time he was just finishing his conversation. When asked to do something by a manager providing he’s not doing anything more important, he needs to do what he’s asked straight away.

(Bart) This is not correct. Laurence came thorough to Premium were both Ven and I were working. A cart was in the isle as galley two as I had been using it to clear in and a passenger was standing up in the overhead locker, so I could not get through. I stood patiently waiting for the passenger to finish, Laurence was out and back into the galley within 30 seconds. I was not talking to another crew member or deliberately ignoring Laurence instruction. This is an example of Laurence micro management style, not trusting his staff to complete their jobs, and given that we had not established a good rapport, Laurence would not speak to me at the time to address his concerns. Excellent verbal communication is essential in an effective team and this was considerable lacking on this flight. Laurence written communication is obviously his stronger point, however I find it excessively long and rambling, as displayed by his email and now my subsequent response. Bullying; overbearing levels of supervision.

(Laurence) What Bart says is untrue and makes no sense.  He states I came through to Premium where both him and Ven were working.  A cart was in the aisle in galley two as he had been using it to clear in.  For clarification, both afternoon tea service carts were standing in the aisles either side of the galley prepped and ready to go through the curtain into the cabin to begin the service.  I have three questions;

  1. What was Bart clearing in prior to this service that needed him to use a cart instead of a serving tray or rubbish bag?
  2. Why was he clearing in with a cart that was about to be used for afternoon tea that already had boxes on top with tea/coffee pots, juice/water?
  3. If he had just cleared in why was the cabin still full of rubbish?

For point of reference, the crew only use carts to clear in from main services like dinner/afternoon tea/breakfast. All other times they use a tray or bag. You would never clear in with a service cart in Premium to remove rubbish.

As stated in my review, Bart only went into the cabin after I returned to the galley for the second time having cleared in a considerable amount of rubbish.  I say considerable because it took me two runs to clear it all in using a large service tray.

If Bart had just cleared in using a cart as he states, surely there would not have been much else left in the cabin to clear away. When he did go out to clear in I was in the galley when he returned with a full tray of rubbish. He then went out for a second time. Strange considering he says he just cleared in with a cart.

In the paragraph above Bart says “a cart was in the isle as galley two as I had been using it to clear in and a passenger was standing up in the overhead locker, so I could not get through. I stood patiently waiting for the passenger to finish”.

Does that mean he finished clearing in or couldn’t start clearing in because he couldn’t pass the passenger who was “standing up in the overhead locker”?

If he was already using a cart to clear in whether he had started or not, why did he then go into the cabin with a serving tray and return with loads of rubbish? Why didn’t he just go back out with the same cart he had been using previously or start using the cart to clear in if he hadn’t started yet?

Bart is a nasty, vindictive and malicious liar. He’s every manager’s worst nightmare.

This is someone who states on his LinkedIn profile “excellent communication and leadership skills, educated to Masters Degree level, can solve a Rubik’s cube.”

He goes on to say as we had not established a good rapport I wouldn’t speak to him to address my concerns.  I had no problem with him and never realised he had a problem with me. I’d only spoken to him regarding taking orders on the ground and writing first names on his aisle order sheet. The discussion was neither unpleasant or heated.  I then asked him to clear in one side of Premium whilst I did the other. That was about five or six hours later. Other than that we really hadn’t spoken that much.

Bart states “excellent verbal communication is essential in an effective team and this was considerable lacking on this flight.”   I think my performance appraisals for the last nineteen years will confirm what kind of a leader/communicator I am.      

Regarding my report being long and rambling, I’ll leave that for you to decide.  It should be mentioned however that I do write reports post flight on crew occasionally which XXX (my manager) will confirm. If you compare the length of Bart’s report to others I’ve written you’ll find they’re very similar.  I have copies of all eleven assessments that I’ve ever written from home if you’d like to see them.

(from the appraisal) I did the afternoon tea service in Premium on the left aisle with another crew member.  Whilst observing Bart from across the aisle I could see he was being polite and professional but wasn’t really engaging with any of his customers.  This is a complaint that comes up time and time again on Voice of Customer feedback and in fact, a comment that accompanied a ‘good’ that we received on our inbound sector said that although the respective crew member was professional, they weren’t very engaging.  The customer who left the comment was not being looked after by Bart but it demonstrates how important it is that we all build a rapport and engage with people instead of just methodically serving them.

(Bart) Bullying; dereogatory comments / abuse of power’ – I am now aware that this comment states specifically “hostess” and could not have been me, yet Laurence blames me for it.

(Laurence) Bart has written “this comment states specifically hostess and could not have been me, yet Laurence blames me for it.”  In paragraph 5 of my appraisal I have written “a comment that accompanied a ‘good’ that we received on our inbound sector said although the respective crew member was professional, they weren’t very engaging.  The customer who left the comment was not being looked after by Bart but it demonstrates how important it is that we all build a rapport and engage with people instead of just methodically serving them.

(Bart) This comment is not correct. As earlier stated, I had built significant rapport with a number of passengers in both Upper and Premium, engaging with them and finding out about their journeys. Can Laurence confirm exactly what seat the passenger who made the comment was sat in? And confirm specifically that it was me who they are referring to? Three cabin crew including Laurence worked in that cabin?

To specifically blame me for a voice of customer comment is ludicrous. Until recently, voice of customer scores solely referred to the FSM but they now form part of the cabin crew performance scores. It does not surprise me that Laurence will now use this fact to argue against any negative comments, blaming the crew or whoever he has decided to target on the flight instead of taking responsibility himself.

As displayed in my performance reviews, my level of customer engagement is regularly described as “exceptional” and “one of the best ever seen” on board. Both Iris and Mark commented that they were disappointed when they found out I had been moved cabins. It does not surprise me that Laurence has an opposing view to this, as he blatantly did not like me, and only reports on what he believes and not facts.

(Laurence) The previous three paragraphs are irrelevant because I have not blamed Bart for ANY Voice of Customer comments. He should also know by now that we do not know the name or seat number of customers who complete these questionnaires.

He only learnt the response in the Voice of Customer questionnaire had said “stewardess” when he was told during his meeting with crew manager Lana. You’ll be amazed what she said regarding this allegation in the outcome to her investigation. I’ll share that with you in a later chapter.

I can say unequivocally over the last 24 years of being an onboard manager I have NEVER been accused of bullying or victimising a crew member and performance appraisals written on me will confirm that.  You will not find a single word on one of the many, many reports that have been written on me that states or even implies I am unpleasant, unfriendly to work alongside or a bully.

I treat everyone the same and do not discriminate in any way because of colour, creed, age or sexual orientation.  It’s not in my nature and not the kind of person I am. I am a manager however and that means I have to manage which sometimes means giving instructions and advising people when things are not being done correctly.

(Bart) I don’t mind negative feedback but appreciate it told correctly, I wasn’t talking to anyone. Again I was very intimidated by your manner towards me specifically throughout the flight. I was demotivated as the more I tried to do the more it was frowned upon. Bullying; overbearing supervision

Laurence constantly touched me and other crew-members on or below the hips. I’m not a touchy feely person and this action made me very uncomfortable. I understand that the A/C and galley area can be tight and brushing into each other is part of the job however, excessive and unwanted touching, especially by a manager who has not created good rapport was not welcomed and commented on by many members of the crew. Harassment; Unwanted physical touching.

(Laurence) This paragraph regarding excessive and unwanted touching is an abhorrent lie and I expect statements regarding this vile accusation to be obtained from each and every crew member.  I do not believe I touched Bart once, it’s something I’m very aware of when working in a tight space especially in today’s environment.

(Bart) Laurence was unprofessional as he was discussing other crew’s performance openly. It was commented to me that Laurence stated “This crew is very in experienced” to another crew member (Lottie). This is not acceptable behaviour. Harassment; offensive and intimidating comments. Bullying; inappropriate / derogatory comments about my performance.

(Laurence) I never discuss a crew member’s performance with anyone. Saying someone is inexperienced is not discussing their performance.

Someone may be inexperienced for a variety of reasons and there’s nothing wrong with being inexperienced.  I make it clear during my pre-flight briefing the reason I allocate working positions in advance is so crew with less experience of working in Upper Class can gain experience. Likewise, more senior crew can share their experience with those working in Economy.  

(Bart) In addition, Laurence had asked a JR90 member to work up as CSS.

JR90 is a code used by the company to identify crew who are still relatively new. It helps when the Flight Manager allocates inflight working positions.

CSS = Cabin Supervisor.

I have worked with Katrina before and she has years of experience from Monarch, but around the same amount of service at Virgin as I do. There were other crew members with four, seven and eight year’s experience who were overlooked and not asked to work up as CSS. I believe that Katrina did a great job, but it appears clear to me that Laurence plays a very clever game when picking and choosing which staff he likes, and who delegate responsibility to. I have over 12 years management and leadership experience, however, I have no doubt he would not have picked me. Harassment; deliberately excluding staff

(Laurence) I sense from this paragraph Bart is aggrieved at not having been given the opportunity to work up.  I have no intention of explaining in this statement why I chose Katrina and T but put a great deal of thought into my decision. It was only finalised after speaking to both of them at length.  My reasons have been explained in full to Lana (crew line manager who conducted the initial investigation) and I am happy to document them in detail should it be necessary.


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