United Airlines is adding a flight attendant to its 767-300 (76L) fleet operating domestically. Why does this matter? It will meaningfully improvement the premium cabin experience and represents an important investment in soft product.
United Airlines Adds 767-300 Flight Attendant
I don’t usually write about my domestic flights, but I’ve been a regular guest onboard United’s new 767-300 service between Los Angele and New York JFK. The seat is great. The food is getting better (hot bread is back and there is even a pre-arrival meal now). Even the internet and IFE have been working fairly well.
But the service is so…so…slow. And it’s not because the flight attendants are lazy or even slow themselves. Rather, it’s because this subfleet of 767s has 46 seats in business class and only two flight attendants are assigned to the entire cabin.
It’s really a sad sight when meal service takes two hours if you are sitting in the rear of the cabin, especially considering everything is served on one tray. Frankly, it has been frustrating at times if I am trying to work or sleep and you have no idea when the meal will come because it takes so long.
I typically book last minute and prefer window seats, meaning I’m already in the back of the cabin, though lately I’ve been choosing center seats closer to the front precisely to avoid the long waits for food.
But effective October 30th, United is adding an additional flight attendant on this aircraft type, no matter the domestic route. In a memo to employees, United said:
Because our 76L staffing ratio will be better aligned with the rest of our fleet, we’ll more efficiently support future enhancements and added service in providing a truly exceptional customer experience.
Customers may not see this extra flight attendant, but they will certainly appreciate this extra flight attendant who will be stationed in the front galley preparing meals. That will free up the other flight attendants to actually attend to guests in the cabin and deliver drinks and food within a more reasonable time frame.
Now I still except that meal service will be a bit slower on this aircraft than others: after all, one person preparing meals and drink for 46 passengers will still take time. But there is no doubt this will help speeds things up and the flight attendants I speak to are thrilled for the extra set of hands. Hopefully this aircraft will return to the JFK route next year…
Certainly, United will incur a higher labor costs on 767 flights with the addition of one flight attendant, but it will lead to happier flight attendants and happier passengers. Nothing spoils a comfortable seat and nice flight like having to wait hours to be served breakfast. Well done, United. This is the sort of pound-wise, penny-foolish move that will pay dividends in the long-run.