Tag Archives: customer service

Passenger dominoes

And then there was the time…

That I was working an (in)famous LGA to PBI flight; a flight that is known for it’s (ahem)…seasoned traveler. I always had a great time working these flights and you had to take on a new tone with this group of flyers. It always worked best if you could match their zeal and energy. One day during boarding there was a back up and people were standing in the aisle with no space between them. As a passenger was putting his bag in to the overhead bin he lost his balance and caused a domino reaction; bodies started toppling. When the domino effect reached a certain passenger she began to react in the most dramatic way. “Ooooh!”, she yelled! “He is trying to knock me down!” “Whats going on?!” She was about to really get going when I stepped up, looked directly in her eyes and said, “Ma’am! You know just as well as I do, that was not what he is trying to do. This began a few people ahead of him and no one was trying to do something to YOU.” She looked me dead in the face, completely calm and said, “You’re right.” She then took her seat. She couldn’t have surprised me more.

My thoughts on this situation: Assume the best in people, help them see the real situation and let them rise to the occasion. It always makes your day better when a passenger surprises you with a great experience.

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If I could’ve pulled a DB Cooper…

Then there was a time…

…we were cruising through the beverage service; nice crew, light flight, no troubles, very nice passengers. I say to the customer at the window, “And what would you like to drink sir?” And the LADY with the deep voice and sensible haircut at the window answers, “I’d like a Diet Coke.” Talk about embarrassing.  The fact that it takes a long time to pour Diet Coke added to the duration of my embarrassment. If I could’ve pulled a DB Cooper I would have jumped out of the plane, never to be found again.

Moral: Look people directly in the eye when asking questions. Doing so can save yourself from embarrassment AND of the possibility of having to jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane.

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So much depends on HOW you show up

And then there was a time…

…I was working a LHR to JFK flight and decided to go visit with Joan Collins who was seated at the front of the plane. Yes, THE Joan Collins! I spruced up, checked my teeth, opened the curtain and confidently presented myself at her seat. She was reading at the time and kindly placed her book to the side. “Ms. Collins, I heard you were onboard and wanted to come say hello and see if you needed anything.” With eyes wide open, a friendly smile and an attentive gaze, Ms. Collins asked, “Are you the captain?” I found her question splendid. I chuckled and let her know that I was a member of the cabin crew. After some small chit chat, mostly me telling her how I missed her appearance at a London booking signing and her travels to NYC, I refilled her beverage and returned to tourist class. She was most gracious and kind.

Moral: People can be very nice. Depending on HOW you show up and present yourself, people may think the world of you. You part ways feeling like you’re on top of the world.

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Delta Sky Deck – an observation

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Observation decks are reminiscent of the glory days of flying. There was a time when people would go out to airports for the sake of watching planes from these excellent vantage points. A few airports in the world still have them. They’re definitely a thing of a bygone era.  When we heard Delta was opening “observation decks” at two locations (JFK and ATL) we were over-the-moon with excitement.

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Dramatic red tarpaulins dissecting the blue skies

On June 10, 2013 Delta opened an all-new 1,710 sq ft Sky Deck at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The Sky Deck is an extension of the Sky Club, Delta’s lounge for frequent fliers and is located on F Concourse at the Maynard JacksonTerminal.
We were given the opportunity to visit the Delta Sky Deck and here is our account.
When entering the Delta Sky Club on F Concourse our first impression was modern and clean. Once inside the Club we were greeted by an immense, 2-story glass wall which gave us a bird’s eye view of the taxiways, runways, and the airport control tower. Talk about avgeek heaven! The Club is standard in its look and feel across the Delta domestic system. There is ample seating arranged individually and group seating configurations, business center, work stations, quiet area, high top tables, bar area, espresso/coffee machine, and a variety of snacks (from sweet to savory, from healthy to indulgent). Other amenities included power ports to charge your electronic devices and free wifi. We did notice that the wifi was very slow. We surmised it may have been slow due to the number of passengers in the lounge at this time.
What makes this Sky Club unique, like its counterpart at JFK, is the Sky Deck; a partially enclosed outside seating and gathering place for Sky Club members. Cozy sofas, chairs, ornamental shrubs, and high top tables adorn this oasis. The blue sky was dissected by large red decorative tarpaulins. Members have an unfettered view of all the airport activity going on below. During our visit there was a Delta 747 destined for Tokyo, a 737 parked just below, and we even saw the Delta 767-400 BCRF plane (pink plane) taxiing by. Being on the Sky Deck harkened back to an era that no longer exists at many of the world’s airports. We both agreed that more Delta Sky Clubs should have Sky Decks.

At both ATL and JFK, Delta collaborated and partnered with Architectural Digest and designer Thom Filicia to develop the Sky Deck terraces. Many may remember Thom Filicia as the interior design expert in the highly enjoyable, amazingly energetic, Emmy-Award winning hit show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

For those who are not a member of the Sky Club, and want to have this unique experience, there are various ways to gain access. These include, but aren’t limited to: paid membership, using miles for membership, purchasing a 30-day or 1-day pass, and various options through the SkyMiles American Express Card. Please click to see what options are best for you, locations, and amenities offered at Delta Sky Clubs.
We enjoyed our time at the Sky Deck at the Sky Club on F Concourse at ATL. When your future plans take you via Atlanta and you have time, you should definitely check it out.
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Sylvester & Darin

Planes, Trains, AND Automobiles — we’ve got it covered!

As followers of the airlineguys, you have come to know that aviation is our passion. However, we do love other modes of transportation as well. Sylvester has a great appreciation for trains. I, on the other hand, have a love for cars. I love my current car “Ariel”, a Hyundai Veloster. She has become one of those cars that fits me well. If she had more power and maybe a stick shift…well, maybe it’s best it doesn’t have that much power. Looking to the future when time is up with her, I am thinking I would like my personal carbon footprint to have a better impact on the environment. So, my next car will be more environmentally friendly and at the same time will bring me enjoyment when  driving it.

Soooo, recently I had the opportunity to drive the 2013 Lincoln MKZ for two days. Lincoln calls it “Date Night with the MKZ” and it happens to hybrid version. What a great marketing plan! You’re reading about it now. I first saw this car at the Atlanta Auto Show in February. It was the car that really caught my eye.  I love the sleekness, the narrow focused headlights, and of course the sunroof; it slides all the way back to reveal the the sky…beautiful! Something about this car reminds me of a spaceship or a sleek new design of an airplane. The MKZ is graceful and powerful, strong and fluid. It has elements of the initial 7E7 design, which later became the 787. This design feature I find very attractive in this car.  Then there is this: when sitting behind the wheel, it feels like a modern cockpit, with touch screens and touch cabin controls and adjustable mood lighting.  This is truly advanced technology and makes driving this car completely fun.

I truly enjoyed the experience and I would recommend that you take a closer look at this car.  I think Lincoln really did it right with this car and for an aviation and automobile enthusiast to see the two come together so beautifully, will  always be a winner in my book.

Darin

That’s a Purdy Neat story!

Where, on a regular basis, can you meet a movie star, movie producer, actress, father, mother, triathlete, veteran, lawyer, doctor, author, ballet dancer, therapist, or accomplished opera singer? If you’re thinking LA or New York City, you’d be wrong! The hotspot we’re referring to is Crew Outfitters. And it’s not a single location but multiple locations around the US. The well-travelled, successful, very connected clientele who frequently shop at its locations are mostly crew members from many of the world’s airlines. And you never who you’ll bump into. And speaking of movie stars, Denzel Washington and the production crew from the Oscar-nominated film “Flight”, shopped at the main Atlanta location for accessories and props for the filming of this intense aviation film.
Main store location - Atlanta, GA

Main Store location – Atlanta, GA

Started in 1991 as the “Flight Station”, Crew Outfitters (renamed in 2003) is a growing collection of retail establishments dedicated to crew members. Crew Outfitters sells travel accessories, luggage, uniforms, and many other travel-related items.

Crew Outfitters Main Store - Atlanta, GA

Crew Outfitters Main Store – Atlanta, GA

It all began in the garage of Rick Latshaw. Rick was a TWA flight who was determined to build a piece of rolling luggage for flight crews that would be durable, functional, and useful. So, in his garage in Purdy, Missouri, he designed and invented the first “Purdy Neat Things” bag (PNT). It was after the design phase that Rick met Jerry Baker (current CFO LuggageWorks). Jerry was instrumental in assisting Latshaw in setting up what would become the world famous Purdy Neat Things bag.

Enter Steve Merritt, Delta flight attendant. Steve was the catalyst who assisted Latshaw in establishing and solidifying the connection with Delta and its crew members. Through their dedication, Delta became the first major airline to offer, the popular and now discontinued, payroll deduct (think shop now, pay later) for PNT rolling luggage.

During the initial rollout phase of the luggage, Delta pilots began purchasing, and traveling with, Purdy Neat Things bags. It was through word-of-mouth and a great piece of rolling luggage that word began to spread about how useful, durable and amazing these bags were. One of the instrumental Delta pilots to buy and use the bag early on was Tal Fogg. The rest as they say is history. (Remember the name Tal Fogg, you’ll hear it again when we conduct an interview with the current President of Crew Outfitters, April Krantz).

As is the story of aviation, there have been many changes since Rick Latshaw designed the first PNT bag.

Many may not be familiar with LuggageWorks. LuggageWorks was founded in 1989 under the name of Purdy Neat Things. LuggageWorks opened Flight Station as a way to sell the PNT bags. Its mission was to manufacture superior rolling bags that would be preferred by airline crew members. They did this by providing the highest quality rolling bags and accessories. In fact, the “Stealth” Pilot Bag is the only metal frame rolling bag in the industry and is preferred by tens of thousands of airline pilots. Denzel Washington’s character, Whip Whitaker, can be seen sporting a Stealth bag in the film “Flight.” The Stealth Pilot Bag is one of the top-selling items carried by Crew Outfitters.

Captain Whip Whitaker sporting PNT "Stealth" bag

Captain Whip Whitaker sporting PNT “Stealth” bag

Crew Outfitters locations include:
• Atlanta (3 locations)
• Cincinnati
• Dallas (2 locations)
• Detroit
• Houston
• Miami
• Minneapolis

Many crew members have expressed a desire for Crew Outfitters to open locations on the West coast as well as the NYC area. Please know that Crew Outfitters is listening and is continually looking for growth opportunities. Crew Outfitters is dedicated to offering quality products and outstanding customer service to meet the needs of flight crew members, airline personnel, and enthusiasts all over the world.

We invite you to visit their website for luggage, accessories, and some really cool aviation-themed gifts: www.crewoutfitters.com

The airlineguys partnership with Crew Outfitters began in 2006 when airlineguy Darin worked directly with April Krantz and Crew Outfitters providing swag/accessories for a flight attendant tradeshow. The relation has blossomed into a close working relationship including designing and implementing team building activities, product research/development, instructional videos, and friendship. You can even catch us at the airport location on A Concourse in Atlanta. Like all of our partners, we do our best to provide the best in customer service in a fun, engaging way.
 
Now, that’s a Purdy Neat story!
 
Sylvester & Darin
The airlineguys

Following a Dream…liner (on the hunt for the 787 Dreamliner)

The 787 is taunting me. Teasing me. In fact she’s being downright elusive. Ever since the 787 Dreamliner was introduced by Boeing it has been our goal, as the airlineguys, to fly on this revolutionary, highly technical airplane. After years of delays and issues with the lithium-ion batteries, which grounded the entire fleet worldwide, the 787 made a triumphant return to the skies on April 29, 2013 with Ethiopian Airlines.

IMG_2670Currently, United Airlines is the only US-based carrier flying the 787. When United introduced the Dreamliner they were flown on domestic routes to test its reliability and serviceability. After the much talked about grounding, the 787 was re-introduced to the domestic sector, again to test reliability, serviceability, and to monitor the lithium-ion battery fix. As planned from the outset, United’s 787s were designed as an international long-haul product.

So, it was with excitement when United announced that the Dreamliner would fly domestically until the summer schedule went in to full effect, at which time the 787s would fly their intended routes, international. It was our chance to fly this magnificent plane. Unfortunately airlineguy Darin couldn’t join me on this adventure (we gotta get him on a 787 soon!).

The first attempt to fly the 787 was a bust! I didn’t make the flight out of Atlanta to make the connecting 787 flight in Houston. Talk about being majorly bummed. Not wanting to take any chances on the second attempt, I flew to Houston the night before and got a hotel room.

So, now here was my dilemma: standby for the early (7a) IAH – ORD flight, or take the mid-morning (11a) IAH – ORD flight. Against everything I know when it comes to standby travel, I chose the mid-morning flight. (@FriendlyStew and @NonRevAdventure I’ll take your advice next time). All seemed fine until I woke up the next morning to find out that the 11a departure had an equipment swap from a 787 to a 757. Oh, the horror! Again, majorly bummed.

I’m an optimist.  I did some research, made some calls, and sent a few frantic text messages. Much to my delight there was a late afternoon (4p) 787 flight from IAH – ORD. With camera in hand, a positive frame of mind, I headed to IAH for a day of people watching and planespotting. Besides getting on the 787, could you ask for anything more entertaining?

In the hours (about 5) spent at IAH here’s what happened:
• took loads of airplane pics
• was fascinated people watching (amazed how each airport has its own “personality”)
• bumped into 3 aviation professionals who attended a customer service training class I helped facilitate (besides being #avgeeks, the airlineguys are aviation consultants specializing in customer service)
• recognized and reconnected with a high school friend who is an RN and who now is a United pilot (I’m still reeling from this chance encounter and so happy to be reconnected with Mark!)

As you can see, my time spent at the airport waiting for the 787 was well worth it. Yes, she was being elusive, but I had come so far and was not about to give up now.

When I received my seat I was beyond excited: window, exit row.

Here are my thoughts on taking my first United 787 flight:

• First impression — gorgeous
• Mood lighting upon boarding —  soothing (there are 6 settings: boarding, meals, relaxing, cruise, sleep, preloading)
• Layout of FC – spacious (this is where I want to be on my next 787 flight!)
• E+ — roomy, relaxing hues of blue and grays throughout the cabin
• Windows — most were darkened already, customers began experimenting with the window “shades”, impressed with how the tint changes from transparent to opaque with the touch of a button, the size of windows (30% larger according to infographic card in seat pocket) was very noticeable — when seated you had an unobstructed view of the horizon (no craning of neck to look up or down)
• Sound — very taken with how quiet this plane was at takeoff and cruise altitude (60% less noise than planes of comparable size), it was so quiet I could clearly hear the crying kid a few rows back, noise-reducing chevrons on engine nacelles contributes to reducing noise levels of the engines
• Wing — loved the wingflex, sliced right through the air even in mild turbulence
• Crew — friendly and efficient, had nice conversation with Edwin who too is from South Florida, and Sandy was kind to take my picture
• Food — ordered the Tapas snack box, Bloody Mary, water, crew were proficient with handheld devices
• IFE — full selection of films, TV, music, moving map, UA services/amenities, a full system reset was completed on at least 2 occasions
• Landed on time, to gate after short delay due to ramp congestion

A special thank you to ticket agent Heather P (great eye contact, smiled, knowledgeable in job duties) and gate agent Ms. Matthews (smiled, accommodating, calming announcements). They made the check in and boarding process pleasant.

Overall, an awesome passenger experience and a wonderful introduction to the Boeing 787! Would love to take a long-haul flight to experience the 787s feature of increased oxygen and humidity of the cabin air (lessens the effects of jet lag we hear). Hint, hint 😉

Thanks United for an awesome experience!

airlineguy Sylvester

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Preserving the wonder of flight – American Airlines CR Smith Museum

As we know, many airlines have come and gone. Change is a constant in the airline industry. Because of all the changes, the details of the past can quickly slip away. It’s great knowing that airlines have set up shrines to avgeeks the world over in the form of airline museums. One such place is the American Airlines CR Smith* Museum located near DFW Airport. We had been wanting to visit this museum for quite some time and the opportunity arose to visit.

Opened in 1993, this interactive museum chronicles the storied past of American Airlines.

Highlights of the museum include:

• a flight simulator where you can pilot your flight (there was a line, so didn’t get the opportunity to experience this exhibit)
• FA uniforms from different periods (the “Astrojet” period FA uniform was a favorite)
• an interactive kids area (being a kid at heart, I did pick up the crayons and created my own work of art)
• a 15 minute, heart-warming, patriotic film about American (the air-to-air visuals are spectacular)
• and the pièce de résistance – a fully restored DC-3 (Flagship Knoxville)

Another highlight of the visit: The Volunteers

It was such a pleasure to meet Betty, Foster, and Kyle. They made the visit exceptional. Betty greeted me as soon as I walked in and proceeded to give me a personalized overview of the museum. She asked question of me, used my name often, told me about the history of the museum, and shared with me her time as an American employee. Lovely lady. Then there was Kyle. A young student intern who felt very “fortunate” to be working in this particular museum. And I can’t say enough about Foster. He started with American in 1943 as a mechanic, became a flight engineer, and retired after 50 years. He was so kind and shared snippets of what it was like to work for an airline in the golden era. A true gem.

Perfect for a day trip or for those who may have a few hours layover at DFW. We highly recommend!

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The museum is opened Tuesday – Saturday 9a – 5p, and seasonally on Sundays (1p – 5p From Memorial Day to Labor Day). For further information it’s best to visit the museum website at:

www.crsmithmuseum.org

*CR Smith – Cyrus Rowlett Smith (in case you were wondering)

It’s all about the music

You may wonder why we occasionally post and comment about music, music videos, and the latest musical acts. No Doubt and Lana del Rey have been two musical acts on our radar lately.

No Doubt

Lana del Rey

Little do most people know, we used to program boarding music for our former airline. What? That’s right, program boarding music. You may think, oh there’s nothing to that. Well, let us tell you, there was plenty of thought and consideration that went in to it.

Einstein used a formula E = mc2. So did we! We used the bell-shaped curve to guide us in our musical selection (more on this later). And we also had the good fortune of collaborating with a lovely woman named Danette Christine who is founder and president of SoundTrack Marketing. As a musician and singer, she has a way with music. As a entrepreneur, she understands the ins and outs of the music business. We connected on so many levels.

You can’t deny the transformative nature of music. Music has a way of influencing people, places, and situations. Think about the last time you were at a bar, restaurant, club, or store. Did you take the time to listen to the music in the background/foreground? Chances are it wasn’t haphazardly put together. Lots of consideration is given to creating the “right” atmosphere. The right ambiance.

When programming music for boarding we were considerate of the atmosphere we were creating. In years past many airlines had no boarding music at all or used classical music. The thought behind using classical music was that it had a  calming effect. Where this may be true, it’s not very contemporary in today’s environment to play classical boarding music. Our assignment was to make a difference in the boarding experience. We were given creative license to create the best boarding experience for the customer through music. So, we chose contemporary tunes (Gwen Stefani, Luther Vandross, Beyonce, Celine, Jason Mraz, etc), oldies-but-goodies (Spinners, Jackson 5, etc), as well as an “ambient mix” of groovy sounds.

During our assignment we constantly, and still do, listen for new music. The app Shazam has become our friend. Each month we would add songs to our list for possible boarding music choices. On our monthly conference calls with Danette we would discuss the selections for a possible playlist. We would present our list and suggestions and Danette would present hers. Each song would then be reviewed for sound, lyrics, and placement in the lineup. Each playlist lasted between 30 and 45 minutes. Here’s where the bell-shaped curve came in. The “science” was to begin the boarding music with a mid-tempo. The mid-tempo would welcome on the first class and elite customers. Once general boarding began the tempo would increase a bit. The rationale was that as the majority of customers boarded the boarding the music would get them moving expeditiously to their seats. As boarding came to an end the songs in the boarding playlist would return to a mid-tempo.

Bell-shaped curve used for boarding music

Besides creating an experience for the customer, we also had to be cognizant of the cabin crew; they would be listening to the music playlist for a complete month. So, we made sure to choose tunes that didn’t grate or irritate them. The term that we used to describe this condition was “music fatigue”; hearing the same tune over and over again to the point of exhaustion. Definitely not the experience we wanted to create for our fellow cabin crew.

Our collaboration with SoundTrack Marketing proved very popular and lasted for 1 and 1/2 years. We received (and still do receive) positive comments from flight crews and from customers on a consistent basis. They really enjoyed the “freshness” of the music, the selections we chose, and the diversity of those selections. On occasion we’re asked by cabin crew to come back and program the music again. We’d gladly do it all over again!

Is there anyone listening?