In December 2012, an official e-mail was sent to all United Airlines flight attendants with the following instructions–
Benefits like bonus award miles, upgrades, priority airport services, fee waivers and discounts help us deliver a distinct and memorable level of service to our most frequent business travelers, especially our valued Global Services (GS) and Premier 1K customers. They tell us they appreciate being recognized for the value they bring to United.
Understanding this, to ensure that we properly recognize our elite customers seated in our premium cabins, we are expanding the meal order preference to include 1K customers effective Nov. 30, 2012. This amenity is currently offered only to our Global Services customers.
In the premium cabins, take meal orders front to back, without skipping around the cabin. Using the Inflight Final Report to identify customer status, manage main course entrée preferences out of customer view in the following order, ensuring Global Services customers receive their first choice:
- Global Services (GS): our invitation-only membership program exclusively for our top members.
- Premier 1K customers (1K): 100,000 Premier qualifying miles or 120 Premier qualifying segments.
- All other revenue customers
- Pass riders
But nearly 10 months later, are FAs complying? In my experience, particularly on domestic flights, the answer is unequivocally no.
What I cannot figure out is why. We are not talking about the hopping around the cabin legacy United FAs used to do–we are talking about taking meal orders from front to back, asking for first and second choice for all but Global Services members, then sorting out the orders in the galley, giving prefrence to GS and 1K customers.
That is five minutes of extra work–at the most.
Going from front to back usually works just fine–but on my last trip I was left with no selection: only the hot choice for breakfast and only the salad for dinner. While that worked out nicely in that it was what I would have chosen anyway, that most crews simply proceed from front to back taking meal orders with no regard to the directive above suggests a lack of management control.
United states, “They tell us they appreciate being recognized for the value they bring to United,” and that is true. Though the smallest of first world problems, it is nice to be asked what you want rather than be told what you are getting. All FAs should start abiding that procedure.
Any thoughts on why so few do?
Stop asking question you don’t want he answer to….
Matthew, do you notice a difference between pmUA and pmCO crews? And is the information as easily discerned on the manifests now as it used to be pmUA?
I do. I did not want to seem like I was always attacking PMCO, but meal sorting never happens on PMCO and of course that was the CO way. On Legacy United, though, the number of FAs taking meals orders by status seems to be diminishing.
It may be just me, because I tend to see problems from a technological perspective, but it seems like a lot of the issues coming out of today’s United, from upgrade issues to the lack of status acknowledgement are caused by two issues:
Of course, there’s something to be said for the idea that every FA should be held to the highest standard – that of the ones who actually do all the little things that make our trips amazing (fixing problem 2).
However, I don’t think that’s really the sustainable way of going about it. Instead, it’s United IT and station operations that need to make it nearly impossible to do the wrong thing – have printouts sorted by status, make more information available to the front liners in a user-friendly format, and of course empower those front liners to use the systems to flex around problems when they occur.
I mention this because you noted that it was five minutes of extra work – and it just shouldn’t be. Not only do FAs have so much to do in limited time, but five minutes per trip adds up in a hurry when you do hundreds per month. Make it so easy to do the right thing that’s harder to do the wrong one, and maybe problem #2 will fix itself.
Chris, I think your analysis is excellent–I hope someone at UA sees this.
in my past experience, i would say half of the time, FAs follow this rule. not i really care about the food, i still would like to be asked with more than one option
As a subCO f/a, I did get the memo and I do follow this rule. However, in reality this works in theory not in real life. Example: IAD-ORD 5 salads, 10 chicken surprise sandwiches, 9 GS and 4 1Ks all demanding the salad. Who gets it? Who spent the most?
My solution? Board crew meals that are the same as pax meals = 6 more choices on a 737. Pre order option maybe. Maybe make the GS/1K program truly exclusive. I’m not really sure how to solve this issue. 60% of the time, customers are usually satisfied with the option that remains, but come on! Getting my ass chewed out 40% of the time for something beyond my control is a bit much.
It’s not that healthy and it really doesn’t taste that great. Seriously! No lie! Do what I do, take something on board that you really like, enjoy the aptz, salad and dessert. Skip the entree. Your gut and doctor will love you for it.