Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 8

Table of Contents

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 7

Page 1 – WhatsApp Chat Post Flight
Page 2 – The Joys of Being a Manager
Page 3 – Missing Rave Reviews
Page 4 – Ven’s Witness Statement
Page 5 – Finale Ven’s Witness Statement

Being Cabin Crew | The Ugly Truth Part 9 (TBA)

The Joys of Being a Manager

A few years ago I worked alongside another Flight Service Manager who I’d not met before. He had only been a Flight Manager for a few years. He’d been called from standby and was working out of rank as Purser in the First Class cabin.

It was always nice to work with a colleague of the same rank but it didn’t happen that often.

On the A340-600 aircraft there was a bar at the back of the cabin. It was in front of the galley.

First Class customers could eat there if they wished. With the galley being such a small area with so little workspace service items such as cutlery, serviettes and sometimes desserts were often placed on the bar during the service. It enabled the crew to stay out of the galley as much as possible.

If customers were eating there it reduced the amount of space available for the crew to use. The surrounding area was always busy during the main meal service. When a customer was eating at the bar the crew would try to stay out of their way as much as possible. We all tried hard to make them feel welcome and not as if they were an inconvenience.

On this flight the service was busy as it always is in a full a cabin. A lady had come to the bar to have lunch. Suddenly she slammed down her cutlery and stormed back to her seat.

Not having any idea why she was upset I went to speak with her. She was one of our top flying club members so flew regularly.

When I initially approached her she asked me to come back when she had calmed down. I went to the galley to ask if anyone had any idea what had upset her but nobody knew.

She later told me she works throughout the flight so likes to eat at the bar for a change of scenery. She said she understands we use the area during the service but has never been made to feel so unwelcome as on this flight today.

She said initially she thought it may be her imagination but it wasn’t. She said it wasn’t the cabin crew, they couldn’t have been nicer, it was the other Flight Manager.

I didn’t speak to him immediately because I needed some time to think how I was going to address the matter. Later in the flight whilst the two of us were alone I explained why the customer had been angry.

His response especially considering his time in rank was quite astonishing. He told me he hates it when people eat at the bar. He said they’ve paid for a seat so should use it. He then rambled on about how the crew have to use the bar during the service so there’s no room for people to be eating there.

The customer told me she would be writing in to complain. I documented the incident for Customer Relations but didn’t follow the matter up with his manager.

Prior to landing when I spoke to each customer about the flight, the lady who had been at the bar said the crew had been amazing as they always are. She then had a few choice words to say about the other Flight Manager.

When I told him what she said he really wasn’t bothered.

Whenever I heard his name mentioned subsequently the crew always spoke very highly of him.


Here’s another incident that took place on one of my flights. I was contacted about this by my manager. The notes were taken by Customer Relations.

Sent: 10 March 2016 15:27
Subject: crew complaint – 09MAR16

Notes from call;

Passenger called to complain about the Flight Manager. Has been flying with us for years and never before had the need to contact us. 

He believes his name was Laurence, has given the worst service imaginable.  This was the complete opposite to the outbound experience.  He clearly was not a child person and had no idea the difficulties this entails.

Understands the noise a child makes can be very frustrating for all on a flight and was very happy with his daughter who was really good all flight, no thanks to Laurence.

He was very unsympathetic to difficulties traveling with children and very uncaring.  Seemed to know the job well and been with company for years but had no customer care.

There was one issue with seatbelt signs coming on and passenger trying best to get sorted and belts on.  He came up to them giving a lecture over air pockets.  Pax fully aware of this and experienced before.  His attitude was that of dealing with a drunk Economy pax, very to the point, unsupportive and uncaring.  This could have been handled so much better.

Also issue with wanting to change daughter’s nappy.  This was a reasonably clear nappy so not smelly at all.  Passenger waited for some time for toilet to become free but engaged so long just changed in seat.  Laurence came up to them and shouting it was inappropriate.  Feels situation could have been handled much better.

No other passenger could see and no smell.  Had the toilet been available passenger would have used it.  By this time passenger very upset and just told Laurence to leave them alone.

Asked if we drug test our crew as he seemed to be high on something and very unusual attitude.  He really seemed to be going out of his way to have a go at them and ignoring other people.

At end of flight he made announcement asking everyone to take all your stuff with you as won’t be let back onboard, even this was said with attitude and not friendly.  He was at the door as people got off. Pax was last person to leave cabin. Their pushchair was dumped at the bar area. Passenger asked Laurence if could help pass some items to him.  Very abruptly stated after the Economy customers’ gone I will. 

Contrary to this there was another crew member named Paul.  He provided great customer service, introducing himself and being helpful throughout flight.  He, and crew from outbound, are only reason passenger will fly with us again as based on attitude of Laurence he almost wouldn’t.  He went on to say Paul really should have been the Flight Manager on this flight as much more customer focused.

Customer wanted to ensure this was passed onto the management team so the Flight Manager could be dealt with appropriately.


From: Laurence | Sent: March 11, 2016 4:24 PM | Subject: Re: Crew Complaint – 09 MAR 16

Hi David (my line manager),

The comments from this customer are completely untrue. Him and his girlfriend were in 1D and 2D. Please also speak with the Purser in the cabin who was Gemma who was fully aware of the problems with this customer.

As well as Paul you can also speak with Sean who also had dealings with him. Jason (another Flight Manager) was travelling as a passenger and was sitting a few seats along from him. Please also speak with him. He witnessed my conduct throughout the flight as did the customer sitting opposite this man in 1A.

This customer is a nasty liar who’s looking to stir up trouble.

He was travelling with his partner who appeared to be in her early twenties. He was mid to late sixties.

I spoke to him during boarding but didn’t speak to him again until the seatbelt signs went on during the dinner service.  Once the crew had secured the cabin I noticed he was holding the infant above the partition between the two seats. She was looking at her mum in the next seat. Being quite bumpy I asked politely for him to fasten the baby in using the infant seatbelt.

He rolled his eyes and muttered “really?” and then began fastening the baby into his own seat belt with him.  I explained she couldn’t be in the same belt and had to be in the separate infant belt which they’d used for take-off.

Whilst I was looking for the infant seatbelt he said in an extremely rude manner “If you can’t find it I suggest you go find me one”.  The spare infant belts in the stowage above his seat had both been used (one had been given to him for take-off) so I had to go to the other aisle to get one.

He then said “Is this really necessary, you’re serving hot soup for God’s sake, that’s more dangerous.  It’s so important to use one of these belts yet you can’t even find one”.  I replied we have many throughout the aircraft and would get him one now.

I returned and handed him the belt and then explained why babies have to be fastened in separately. I said should it become very bumpy or were we to fly through an air pocket the two of you could be squashed together. We therefore use a separate belt that’s attached to yours.

I apologised for the inconvenience and said I appreciate how difficult it can be travelling with a baby but procedures are in place for everyone’s safety and must be followed.

He replied sarcastically “yes the rules are set in stone and are non negotiable, you made that very clear in your announcement.”

Before playing the safety demonstration video I say “at {airline name} we boast an exemplary record with regards to safety and it’s one we’re extremely proud of.  Procedures relating to safety are set in stone and are non-negotiable.  If you have any questions please speak to one of the team”.

He was struggling to attach the infant belt to his own because he didn’t know how to use it. I explained his own seatbelt goes through the loop on the infant belt and is then fastened as normal.

In the same rude tone he said, “I know what I’m doing you don’t need to supervise me. Now go away and leave us alone”.

I left him to it as I didn’t want to irritate him further. Not long afterwards the Captain asked the cabin crew to sit down. On my way to my seat I noticed his partner didn’t have her seatbelt fastened. I said “Ms XXX you need to fasten your seatbelt please”. She laughed at me sarcastically before fastening her belt so loosely it wasn’t worth fastening.

Shortly afterwards I went on my break. Whilst away the seatbelt signs went on and off several times. When I returned I said “I bet the guy in 1D has been happy”.

Gemma said every time the signs go off he undoes his seatbelt and every time they go on again he has to be asked to fasten it. Each time he huffs and puffs.

As I passed him on my way to see the flight crew he was asleep. His girlfriend was also sleeping in her bed alongside the baby.  None of them had seatbelts on.

Each time the seatbelt signs went on she had to be woken up and asked to fasten her belt. She also tried to fasten the baby into her own seatbelt. As soon as the signs went off she removed both belts. She was asked repeatedly to keep the belts fastened so we didn’t need to disturb her.

During breakfast I was in the galley just in front of where they were sitting. The customer’s partner came in to ask me to fill a bottle with hot water.  I obliged and she thanked me.

A short while later Sean told me “the lady in 2D has just changed the baby’s nappy in the suite even though he told her before she started it must be done in the toilet. He said it smelt really bad and people around are complaining because they’re eating breakfast”.

I went to 2D and said “Ms XXX we have baby changing facilities in the toilet just behind you. Nappies must be changed there especially when food is being served in the cabin.”

Mr 1D replied “well it’s done now”.  I didn’t say anything else and returned to the galley. The toilet was just behind where they were sitting. It had been free for some time. All customers were in their seats eating breakfast.

After landing I was at the disembarkation door. Their pushchair was on the bar in two pieces. It was there with other bags belonging to customers in the cabin. During the flight it had been stored in the wardrobe at the back of the Premium cabin.

As 1D left the aircraft we all said goodbye. He was the last customer to leave the cabin. Customers from Premium were then allowed to disembark.

Mr 1D shouted from the jetway there was something missing from the pushchair and told me to get it. I said I couldn’t get to the wardrobe at the back of Premium where it had been stored until everyone was off but would ask someone to look as soon as they could.

We only had sixty one people in Economy so it really wasn’t going to be very long. In the meantime Gemma managed to get to the wardrobe and found the missing seat cushion. She got off the aircraft and gave it to Mr 1D.

By the time she got back on I had left the door area but she told me he had been very rude to her. He also shouted “what’s the bloody point of paying all that money to be last off the aircraft, worst flight ever and terrible crew”.

After he disembarked twenty one Premium customers got off followed by sixty one Economy. The flight was not even half full.

As you may be aware the passenger was a silver card flying club member.    

With kind regards,

Laurence


Here’s another situation I encountered where a crew member complained about the way I dealt with a performance issue onboard. When I spoke to my manager he didn’t tell me who it was.

The crew member said they felt my comments were targeting them. They said I should have spoken to them privately instead of addressing the matter during a pre-flight briefing with all crew present.

During my inbound pre-flight briefing I had spoken about the scores given to the crew in customer satisfaction questionnaires (called x-plane questionnaires) on our outbound flight.

I said “one side of Economy received great scores, on the other they weren’t quite as good. Let’s see if we can get “excellents” throughout the cabin on this sector.”

Here’s my reply to my manager;

From: Laurence | Sent: Thursday, October 9, 2014
To: David | Subject: RE: Wonderful X-Plane Scores for August

I’ve just seen your email about X-Plane scores for August. It’s great to see your team is in second place, hopefully next time we’ll come first!

By “your team” I mean my manager’s team of Flight Managers.

Thanks for bringing this complaint to my attention. I certainly didn’t mean to offend or embarrass anyone and will bear it in mind the next time I speak to my crew about customer feedback comments.

I’m assuming the complaint came from Christian but of course can’t be certain. If it came from Suzie who was working with him, she was outstanding and I was really impressed with her performance. Although I did speak with her I wanted to also do some written feedback but didn’t get a chance. We were on a 747 so there were eight crew working in Economy, four from the back, four from the front.

I spoke with Christian before taking off from Heathrow. Whilst doing my walkaround instead of being in his crew seat ready for take-off he was in the galley writing seat numbers on special meals.

I asked him to put the cart away and to sit down. He really should have known better especially considering the length of time he’s been in the company. We all know where we should be whilst the aircraft is taxiing to the runway. The Economy Purser was in the cockpit for take-off so he was the only crew member sitting at the left side door.

This is a blatant disregard for safety procedures. When I spoke to the Purser later in the flight she said Christian is more interested in helping with her duties than concentrating on his own.

As I mentioned when you called me about this matter, I first flew with him a few months ago. I had been called out as Purser and was working alongside Christian in Economy. During the flight I had to address several issues with him.

He brought a raw steak with him which he cooked in the oven. (The ovens on the aircraft are not suitable for cooking cook raw food especially meat).

He was completely disorganised and unable to understand basic instructions when the service had to be changed due to an issue with Kosher meals.

I took over from him in the aisle and asked him to stay in the galley. I said as soon as the meals are hot enough put them on the trays so we can give them out when we return.

Special dietary meals are usually given out before the main meal service begins.

We had seventy Kosher meals and many were still frozen even after being heated for the required time. Despite putting the oven on for another ten minutes they still weren’t hot enough. I decided to get on with the meal service and give these meals out afterwards.

When I returned to the galley after the service it was chaos. Christian was faffing around doing other things, there were carts everywhere and he hadn’t checked the meals were hot enough when the oven finished. The meals had to be cooked for a further fifteen minutes before they could be served.

Christian is totally disorganised and more interested in joking around with the crew than creating a good atmosphere in the cabin. He genuinely lacks the ability to offer a warm and friendly service.

On the flight we’ve just done together I worked with him on the tea/coffee trolley on the outbound sector. I noticed he was only filling the cups half full. When I addressed this with him he said if you pour less the tea/coffee pots last longer.

Despite being on the cart with the Flight Manager he made no additional effort at all. Christian works very fast and virtually throws things at people. I sense he wants to get the service finished as quickly as possible to get back to the galley. He doesn’t appear to enjoy interacting with people or make any effort to offer a high standard of service.

Regarding saying the scores for one side of Economy were not as good as the other, I also said that’s NOT just down to the crew working on that side. I said we ALL work as part of a team so anyone could be serving or responding to a customer who then completes an inflight questionnaire. I never made any reference to which side got the lower scores or whether it was the front or back of the cabin.

The Economy Purser did a service with Christian on the inbound sector. She also spoke to him about the way he served in the cabin and about not having given a customer with a baby on her lap an infant seat-belt. She (the Purser) gave it to the customer when she checked the cabin prior to take-off. Her comments were recorded in Performance Monitoring completed on him.

I am aware he’s not happy in the company as I’ve seen comments on Facebook which say he’s looking for alternative employment. He was on the same training group as my partner.

During my briefing I never drew any attention to him or the side of the aircraft he was working on. I was addressing the entire crew.

I would have preferred it had he addressed this matter with me or with the Purser instead of feeling upset or annoyed about it for the duration of the flight.

Best wishes,

Laurence


Christian left the company a few months later.


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