Thursday, December 4, 2014

"I can't do that..." Ch 1

"There's no way I could ever/would ever do that!"  How many times has that thought crossed my mind when someone has suggested I try some new concept or approach at work?  We get into our routine, into our comfort zone and it becomes very easy to say, "I can't".

Over the last few years, I've been making a more conscious effort to get OUT of my comfort zone.  The more common question for me these days is, "why can't I?"  If you've followed me for a while, you've read about some of my little theories and experiments; some more successful than others.  But the underlying theme is always, "Make our customer feel welcome and valued in the first few minutes and the rest will be easy."

That's a little easier said than done from the B-zone galley of a 777!  Working that position successfully is all about planning and setup.  The key preparations are accomplished during that critical first few minutes of customer arrival onboard.  It's generally unlikely that the B-zone galley Flight Attendant would ever have much face-to-face interaction with customers but especially not during boarding.  Besides, there are 2 Flight Attendants in the aisle whose express purpose is to get folks settled in.  Who needs a third?

A week ago, as our crew gathered for the departure of flight 58 to AMS on our Thanksgiving 5-day trip, I noticed two very nattily dressed gentlemen approach the gate podium, looking anxious and excited.  They consulted with the agent and took spots in the queue for Boarding Group 1.  (Our plane had arrived on-time but was still being cleaned and catered.)  Something about their appearance and energy told me that it wouldn't be the last time I'd see them that afternoon and evening.  I was right.  They were seated in 8D and E, B-zone front and center.

Once the lion's share of boarding was complete, we learned that a seemingly minor maintenance item on one of the cargo doors would likely delay departure for up to 30 minutes.  That lessened my own anxiety level because it meant I would have more time to get things in order.  But as often happens, the "update in 10 minutes" proved not to be promising.  Since most of my tasks were complete already, I put on my jacket and set out to say "hello" to our customers.

When I work premium galley, I'm actually able to do this about 20-30% of the time, circumstances allowing.  "Hi, my name is Tony and I'm the Flight Attendant that you won't be seeing very much this evening.  I'll be working for you in the galley.  If there's anything special that I can do for you, please let me know.  I'm happy to do what I can."  The responses I get can be interesting:  a smile, a laugh, a "thank you" are the most common.  8D and 8E surprised me.

8D was so gracious, his body language was relaxed, he had a smile on his face when he said, "Nice to meet you Tony".  8E was the polar opposite.  His face was red and drawn up in a look so sour it would curdle milk.  "We have pre-paid reservations for the opera in Vienna.  Do you have any idea how long this will be?"

"I don't but this captain is very good about keeping us informed.  I'm sure he'll let us know."

"Well, the Global Services desk has already sent a message that they're protecting us on a flight from AMS to VIE that's 2 hours later than what we booked.  We're not going to make it and our trip will be ruined."


No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your thoughtful comments, whether or not they support my message. If I didn't, how could I continue to grow?