Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 7

Table of Contents

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 6

Page 1 – A Royal Commendation
Page 1 – Lana’s Investigation Continued
Page 2 – More from Lana’s Investigation
Page 3 – Yet More from Lana’s Investigation
Page 4 – Almost Finished but not Quite
Page 5 – That’s It for This Chapter

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 8 (TBA)

Almost Finished but Not Quite

At the meeting with Lana I was asked whether I felt I was better at delivering feedback in writing than verbally. I said I can express myself well in writing but always address performance issues with crew at the earliest opportunity or at the time of delivering an appraisal.

My comment regarding employing people with great personalities is fact not my opinion. The following comes from an interview given by the company’s Chief People Officer;


The personalities of Virgin Atlantic crew have always set the company apart from other airlines. This characteristic was once referred to as “Virgin flair”. In mandatory performance reviews Virgin flair was for many years a competency the crew were marked on.

Bart had been aloof and unfriendly from the second we met although I didn’t know why. Here’s what I wrote in his performance review;

VoC – Voice of Customer post flight feedback

The problem with society today is everyone’s so easily offended. My comment may be difficult for Bart to take in but it’s valid and needed to be addressed.

Admittedly I should have spoken to him about it at the time. I may not even have remembered the incident had we not received feedback in a Voice of Customer survey that said “the stewardess was professional but not very engaging”.

The customer was sitting somewhere in Economy so could only have been referring to Anna, Mia or a third crew member who didn’t return her witness statement.

Had Bart been a nicer person I’m certain I would have spoken to him about it after the service. The fact he was cold and unfriendly and had recently ignored me when asked to clear rubbish from the cabin was the reason I chose not to.

I even ask the crew during my pre-flight briefing to engage with customers whilst serving them.

What is it people say nowadays? My bad!

On any other flight his unpleasant behaviour would not have put me off but being Christmas Eve I didn’t want to create a bad atmosphere. This was explained at every stage of the grievance process.

Lana asked me whether I felt my review would jeopardise Bart’s twelve month review. This was someone who had no idea what he was doing despite telling me he had worked in Upper Class including the galley many times before.

Let me recap on his failings;

  • Took drinks/meal orders prior to take-off during a short delay which is not how the service should be done
  • Copied customers’ full names from his iPad onto his aisle order sheet. Irrespective of what he says, this is definitely what he did
  • Having seen both names on his order sheet I said we only need to copy their surname. He offered no response
  • In his complaint he claimed he had asked each customer individually for their name and how they would like to be addressed
  • Stated all customers asked to be addressed by their first name which is why it was written down

From Lottie’s witness statement

So it seems ONE customer asked Bart to use their first name, not every customer on his side. Furthermore I didn’t tell him off or even speak to him about addressing a customer by their first name. Whilst Bart was taking orders prior to take-off I was standing at the open aircraft door.

Soon after take-off Bart was moved to Premium so didn’t speak to anyone in Upper Class once we were airborne. Katrina and Claire were present at the bar area when I learnt he had taken orders on the ground. I then explained it’s not necessary to write first and last names on the aisle order sheet.

Although he told me people had started giving him their orders so he wrote them down, he didn’t say he had asked everyone for their name and how they would like to be addressed. He didn’t say that because he knows customer names are on his iPad and that he needs to copy them onto his order sheet before introducing himself.

From my Performance Review on Bart

You may recall during the pre-flight briefing when I said he was looking at the floor, he said he was reading his iPad checking for any special meal requests or frequent flyers. He would therefore have been looking at each customer’s name because that’s where that that information is stored.

When you tell so many lies you end up catching yourself out.

I think Bart was working hard to turn the crew against me. I think the conversation with Lottie is likely to have taken place on the inbound sector. That’s when Bart was being vocal about not being impressed with my performance and the way I was managing the flight.

  • Ignored me when I asked him to clear in rubbish from Premium
  • Asked me to reset an entertainment screen for him because he said he didn’t know how to do it. In his statement he says when Katrina showed him he remembered he did know how to do it. I didn’t ask Katrina to show him, she offered because she was standing next to me at the time.

My text is in black and red. Bart’s is blue and green.

  • Struggled to keep up during all services
  • Took off his tie before walking through the cabin to the rest area
  • States in his complaint he told the Cabin Service Supervisor he would need help with the breakfast service because everyone on his side was eating
  • Missed a customer out because he didn’t do the service correctly
  • Claimed in his statement Katrina told him to wake everyone up and then to go back to start serving them
  • Didn’t check on the flight crew once during either sector despite it being a safety requirement. Claimed he served them their food but it was impossible for him to have done that. They had no recollection of him
  • Didn’t secure his cabin to an acceptable standard for landing
  • Ignored me when he left the aircraft and the carpark bus at Heathrow

Having addressed several issues with Bart verbally during the flight and subsequently documenting them in my own time in an assessment that was sent to him and his manager, I was now being asked whether I felt it would jeopardise his twelve month review!

With regards to sending it to him more than twenty four hours after we landed, the fact he may not be rested or in a good place is absurd. I wasn’t rested when Hayley sent me the outcome of her investigation.

Bart says he felt I was being patronising by giving him a cheat sheet which I believed would help him when working in Upper Class. The only reason he felt that was because it bruised his ego.

Most normal people in a new job want to learn and are happy to be mentored by someone with more experience. Being the narcissist that he is, Bart believes nobody could be any better than him.

I did concede my cheat sheet could be seen as patronising. I was up against crew manager Lana and Employee Relations Consultant Pedro. Standing my ground was really very difficult. I didn’t ask a union rep’ to be present because I believed the company would see through his lies.

I’m someone who loves to learn new skills and am always happy to be coached. I learnt many new skills whilst being a Flight Service Manager and most came from Cabin Crew, Cabin Service Supervisors or other Flight Service Managers with whom I flew. In many cases they were younger and less experienced than me.

I was trying to mentor Bart and assumed albeit incorrectly that it may be appreciated. Millenials are a different generation and I’m clearly out of touch.

Just like the Head of Cabin Crew Lana says she would expect me to deliver feedback verbally which I did for several issues. She also expected me to discuss Bart’s performance with someone who was working up and who had been in the company for a similar amount of time. I should also have told him I would be emailing his manager.

At no point throughout this entire investigation was I given one iota of credit for what was an extremely challenging flight. I know of a Flight Service Manager who a few months after my Atlanta refused to take a flight with no Cabin Service Supervisors.

That person who had been in the company for around the same time as me was taken off the flight and served with a disciplinary. From what I heard they fought it and won.

Not only was I the only onboard manager but I had an extremely junior crew. Apart from Lottie, Ven and Bruce (in the galley) everyone else was classed as JR90. That means they were new to the company.

T who worked up as Cabin Supervisor in Economy was on his first operational flight after being away for a year.

No complaints were received by Customer Relations after the flight and Voice of Customer questionnaires returned for Upper Class on both sectors stated the crew were “excellent”. That’s the top mark a customer can give.

Lana closes this section by saying “I am of the view that Laurence’s choice of words was poor when he delivered his feedback to Bart. Bart felt ridiculed, intimidated and uncomfortable when reading Laurence’s feedback.”

He felt ridiculed, intimidated and uncomfortable because it’s not always easy to hear the truth. I wonder what would have happened had I written and delivered the appraisal during the flight?

Had the company crewed the flight correctly in the first place with two Cabin Service Supervisors the service in Upper Class may have been led very differently. A trained CSS would also have completed Bart’s performance monitoring after discussing it with me because that’s what we’re supposed to do.

I would also not have been as tired because I would have taken a break. Being stupid and far too loyal to the company I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the cabin. You get nothing for loyalty in Virgin Atlantic.

If the flight was crewed as it should have been it may well have changed the entire course of events.

I even believe that had I asked Lottie who was the most experienced crew member to work up as Cabin Supervisor in Upper Class it wouldn’t have made any difference.

The problem was Bart and him having no idea what he was doing and having no sense of urgency. I don’t have a problem with someone never having worked in the cabin before, there’s always a first time.

Had he been open and honest instead of saying he had worked there many times before including the galley, we could all have given him the support he needed.

And this is someone who took a dislike to me before we had even spoken because he wasn’t given the opportunity to give up.

Continuation from allegation 6 (c)

So I basically hurt Bart’s feelings!

I’m the one being accused of being condescending yet despite discussing many of Bart’s failings with him and writing a performance assessment that could not have been any more courteous, professional and to the point, I’m being told my manager will offer me support on how to write and deliver effective feedback.

There really are no words.

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