Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Role of Service

Another onboard experiment...
We had fewer than 100 customers in economy from Amsterdam to Houston yesterday. Our Amsterdam departure was delayed around an hour by late arriving equipment. Despite the captain's post-takeoff announcement that our arrival would be considerably more timely (only 5-10 minutes past schedule), the closer we got to Houston, the more anxious everyone got about connections.
Because of the light load, we finished our pre-arrival service quickly and had time to spare after prepping for arrival (I was working the aft galley position). I took a stack of customs declarations in one hand (because one copy is NEVER enough!) and my LINK (iphone 6 Plus) in the other and strolled through the economy cabin, "Questions about connections. Extra customs forms. Questions about connections. Extra customs forms."
I was probably stopped by 15-20 customers, most of whom were connecting to Latin America, many of whom had a smart phone or other connectable device in hand. I researched their connecting flights and advised them of status and scheduled departure gate along with the admonition, "Double check monitors in the terminal once we've landed. Gates are subject to change." It was a tedious process.
Just because the technology is available and easily accessed doesn't mean that customers have a common sense ability to use it. As experienced with the process as I am, I encountered a problem or two, so it isn't just customers.
There's a disconnect between all the tech-savvy things we're introducing to our product and the ability of our customers to take maximum advantage of it. We're the "link" (pun intended) between the two. It's an unrealistic expectation to think that airline passengers have some sort of innate ability to use everything we're providing just because it's 2015. Many don't.
What is the role of a Flight Attendant, really? My opinion: anxiety-reliever.  Service begins with intention and ends with a feeling.

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