Flying The Unfriendly Skies – Unplugged

In lieu of my podcast this eve…. I’m ending my very long day flying to the left coast with THIS…

I wasn’t asked to leave my flight

or subdued resulting in my screams through the isles of my flight, but it was an experience worth noting nevertheless.

The flight from the ATL to La La Land isn’t exactly a picnic as it is, but imagine being trapped in a silver bullet with three flight attendants who could have used a serious lesson in customer service and gratitude.

Gratitude? Yes. Any of us blessed enough to have gainful employment should be saying thank you and showing up with a smile. Always. It’s work. And without customers, you don’t have a reason to show up.

Back to my lesson. I should refrain from mentioning the ethnicity of the three flight attendants in lieu of being accused of bigotry, but that wouldn’t be me… and it’s pertinent.  Some would say it doesn’t matter. Oh, but it does. Because this culture is widely known for familial ‘hierarchy’ where women are concerned. Maternal. Grandmotherly. Giving orders. Demanding respect. Think Madea. 

See, I learned a lot about the importance of separating ethnic culture and professional culture.  An entire plane of adults who paid money to fly across the country in hopeful anticipation of three snack choices and a soft drink or cocktail selection, were treated like the plane of misfits.

As in, ten year olds who just couldn’t seem to get it right. Take my own seventy-something mother who had some recent physical issues who was instructed by her physician to get up and take a turn about the silver bullet. Seems reasonable as long as the seatbelt sign is not ‘illumined’. But the reprimand she received as she was sternly directed back to her seat by one of  three women entrusted with SERVING over 200 souls for 4.5 hours at 35,000ft, was nothing short of disheartening and in Monica terms, unnecessary.

Maybe you can see why this would have been enough to warrant a swift shaming for having made it past the 10th row in her attempt to thwart a life altering clot. But it was just beyond me.

Having my own run-in with the In-Flight PD was enough for me to ask for a cocktail and nothing else for the remainder of the flight lest I too, was captured on television being escorted from our aircraft upon our arrival.

I’m a grown a** woman and I know what appropriate behavior is on an aircraft, but one more snide reply as if I was putting someone out of their way to walk a few isles, was about as much as I was gonna take.

Who knows how the others felt who were constantly chided via the INTERCOM (remember the principal’s office?) but the general attitude of most passengers felt like… well, damn.

My lesson:

Your customers are not your kids.

They aren’t family. No matter how many times you preface a directive with ‘baby, sugar, or darlin” I’m your customer, not your kinfolk.

Now, being a Southerner, that’s rough for me to write. Because that’s how I see most people in my proximity. But most of them aren’t paying me to show up and be professional when my southern mama comes out.

Having flown the skies just about all over the world, I can tell you firsthand, my most appreciated flights are with those who understand service. It’s an artform. Truly. Take Lufthansa or KLM or Korean Air. Want to feel like your life savings to take that flight was worth it? Book any of those airlines and you will never see an American based carrier the same again. Truly. This is my gospel.

A valuable lesson indeed. One I will not readily forget. Professionalism, servitude, a smile and respect go a long way for this frequent traveller. Anything short of that is just a waste of precious time, energy and money.  A horrible reminder of just how entitled all of us have become. But, am I wrong for expecting a smile, professionalism and a sense of hey! we’re glad you chose us!?

Is it too much for me to think that your crew squabbles, hormonal moments and frustration with the last flight (or 3) really aren’t my burden?

There’s no substitute for professionalism.

American based airlines would do well to spend extra time reminding ALL staff, that their customers don’t OWE them anything but returned gratitude & respect  for a job well done.

Maybe Dan Cathy (CEO Chick Fil A) could send over some of his managerial staff to show em’ a little somethin’ about second mile service (his corp/Scriptural motto). I mean, if he can train 15 year olds to say “My pleasure!” as they hand you a chicken sandwich and with a smile, anything’s possible.




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