A memo from United Airlines to flight attendants urges cabin crew members to create a “wow factor” onboard for passengers and offers a number of tips they can use to achieve that goal.
United Airlines Offers Tips To Create “Wow Factor” Onboard
A number of flight attendants shared a memo with Live and Let’s Fly that went out last week on the topic of in-flight service. It was included in a memo on recent catering updates and is relatively short, so I will first share the memo before commenting:
Flight attendants play one of the most critical roles in providing customers with excellent service. A recent study shows, “Service is more important to customers than price.” For our customers onboard this starts with boarding and ends with deplaning:
- Creating the WOW factor when the customer boards with a simple smile and offers a greeter item, is a great way to welcome customers onboard and set the tone for a great flight.
- Offering to hang coats for customers seated in our premium cabin creates a great moment for customer engagement.
- Create a relaxing environment by minimizing galley and overhead bin noise.
- Deliver a welcome beverage in our poly-carbonate glassware (internationally) and ensure all non-disposable glasses are collected and stowed prior to door closure; if a customer wishes to keep their welcome beverage, transfer the contents of the glass into a blue disposable plastic cup.
- “Thanking customers” for flying with us. It sounds easy, but this can change someone’s day during deplaning and help to create lifelong customers!
I would be quite interested in reviewing that recent study: the memo has no footnotes. Is service more important than price? That statement is probably too broad to be helpful, but I do think that we will pay more for the carrier we are loyal to: I certainly will. But always within reason, though. In any relationship between price and service there will reach a point in which price determines purchasing patterns.
Overall, I think these are all great reminders for flight attendants and most United flight attendants I encounter already do all of these things (maybe not the “thank you” part, though I have seen more of it lately, including on my last two flights).
This memo went out before the memo from the union urging flight attendants to “self-report” bad service. Is there a connection?
At some level, the contract negotiations currently underway cannot help but to influence any discussion of service. As flight attendants flight for industry-leading wages, there is more than just hourly wage or other pecuniary benefits at play, but working conditions onboard.
The timing of this memo and the fact that it was almost casually stuck into a memo on catering updates suggests to me that United is priming flight attendants for what may be explicitly increased service requirements in exchange for raises in a new contact. But that’s just a theory.
United wants its flight attendants to create a “wow factor” onboard by offering excellent service, including a smile and warm greeting. These customer service gestures should be a given already, regardless of contract status.
I have no way of gauging whether these memos are effective beyond my own experiences and the comments that you leave. Sometimes a simple reminder is all that is needed and this memo does strike me as a great reminder, though I must also add that more flight attendants than not are already doing a great job in terms of onboard service.
image: United Airlines
I recently flew SAT-IAH-MIA and the service was truly terrific in both Y (SAT-IAH) and Business (IAH-MIA). FAs were very pleasant and gracious, pro-actively helping passengers with tight connections at IAH with up-to-date info and to de-plane first. All and all a nice experience.
I’m not worried about a “wow” factor.
My focus is attitude, service and decorum.
Based on my past experience, the male and the older (yes, I said it) FAs are the ones I would prefer on my flights.
As for the very young (again, I said it), I don’t want to see your tattoo; your obsession with your cell phone during boarding; or discussing which FA you like or dislike while in line for the facility.
IMO, this is all window dressing. Yes, these things should occur, but even if the cabin crew does all of the things listed above, United is not going to have any type of WOW factor until it fixes its premium cabin dining. But since improving the dining will actually cost Kirby $$, I guess we’ll have to stick with the window dressing.
Welcome pax. Hang jacket. Offer pdb. Don’t be too noisy. Thank passenger.
This memo is asking FAs to follow their service guidelines. It’s a shame that following service guidelines on a US carrier means WOW factor.
United recently have me the WOW factor as in are you for real?! Flight from SIN-SFO in business class. No menu, when asked why? Response was “supply chain issues”. When FA came around asking what I wanted to drink, I asked if the had a merlot. Response was “we have red and white wine”. When asked what I wanted for dinner, I said there’s no menu, what do you have? FA pulled out his phone and showed me a menu. PATHETIC.
They have to remind the FA’s to do the minimum of service standards that should already be met.
^^ This times 1,000. Spot on T.
One would think this would have been covered in basic training. Or did they cut this chapter out of their 6 week onboarding training??
Well service training is in fact 2 days of a 7 week training. The entire rest of the time is EMERGENCY training.
So doing the bare minimum to be a decent human is considered “wow” to United? Perhaps also quit smashing the side of my leg with the beverage cart and not even saying “sorry.” It’s not my fault I have to fold like origami to get in a seat because I’m tall.
It’s not the flight attendants fault that you have your legs in the aisle. Those aisles can’t be wider than 24 inches and that’s all they have to work in. You should apologize for thinking the aisle belongs to you.
As long as it remains a Wow and not a WOAH!! I guess we’re good. In the flights I’ve taken right before this memo was released, all the FA’s were lovely, and if anything, they only dropped the ball by not offering to hang up my coat, as it still cold in here in the NE. It is true, I agree, with the premise that service will be more determinant in the airline we choose to fly and not price…up to a certain point. In the end, it’s up to us which airline we choose to fly and sponsor or patronize. As air clients, that’s our given choice. While it’s true that United catering isn’t the best, and at this point by the way things are looking probably never will, I still choose to fly them. They have a whole other stuff going on that in my opinion, certainly beats the food served. Yes, again I know, up to a certain point. However, in the end it’s our responsibility and we have to assume it as such who we choose to fly and I will always choose United over the other 2 for a myriad of personal reasons and good memories. We can’t be whining all the time because the catering or the this or the that…blah blah blah didn’t turn out to be the way I thought it would be. Assume your responsibility and choose the carrier that best fits your needs and wants, at this point, we all know what each one of them stands for.
Everyone on this blog (myself included) love to complain about the catering, but really when you think about it are we really choosing airlines because of the food?
It’s a valid question. The reality is that we are mostly choosing for convenience and comfort of seat. And there United delivers. But it seems reasonable that for $5K one might get a properly presented and decent meal that is served with some sort of dignity. At least not the second coming of a TV frozen meal or a microwave 7-11 item: It’s a ride, sure. But at the prices of J one might appreciate a bit of effort. At least something that doesn’t make you feel like you are in prison.
All the points you raise Stuart are very valid and accurate. True, sometimes they make you feel like a second class citizen.Indeed, like I mentioned in my post, United does fall short when it comes to catering , however, things appear to be changing, hopefully for the better. But let’s face it, United will continue to being United, whether we like it or not, they’ve acquired over time the United style and approach. I just hope they shore up their catering department to be at least a little bit more consistent and competitive.
So basically, CO prior to the merger.
How about this-
“Wow, this meal is crap!!”
“Wow, I wouldn’t feed this to my schnauzer!”
“Wow, we don’t get food in first on this 2 hour flight??”
“Wow, the wi fi doesn’t work AGAIN??”
“Wow, the citizens of Leningrad got more rations during the siege than what’s in the pathetic snack basket “
“Wow! I haven’t gotten a drink in40 minutes because there are two flight attendants working the back of a 737 with 150 people….”
“Wow, I didn’t get a pre departure because catering screwed up again!”
That’s just getting started. Trying to make chicken salad out of chicken lips!!!
Wow is only 2 letters away from woke, so I hate this. In fact I’m so anti woke that I am going to petition Ron DeSantis to eliminate the letter “W” from the alphabet in florida
What is the definition of woke? Everything a republican does not like.
Go easy on Tiny D – he just got de-pantsed by Disney
When on substitutes the word accountability for woke, it is interesting to see who is so anti.
The memo seems to contain the sort of standard “do’s” and “don’ts“ one would expect of a credible FA, regardless of which cabin a pax is flying in.
If United management are hinting that these standards are not being met, then it’s their failing training regime and on-going overseeing that is responsible
Exactly – what is even happening on UA these days if this is what they’re focused on? I can’t even remember a recent DL flight where all of the above didn’t happen. This is absolute minimum table stakes here.
Wow factor is UAL lingo for “crew, do your job you signed up for because all the training you got, you must have forgotton or refuse to do it.”
…actually the quality of crew as of the last 15 yrs has gone downhill. They are the generation of it’s all about me, i want it all without having to work, and i’m able to skate thru life…..these ppl had family who graced false praise on them, gave them too much slack growing up, and no supervision, responsibility or accountability. Their no work ethic didn’t help either. I know, i was purser for 30 yrs at UAL since 1991 and saw them come and go.
if you are a member of a union, what incentive do you have to provide more than the bare minimum? As long as you don’t misgender someone, you have a job for life and are paid according to scale that rises with seniority. Nothing else matters except time in your position.
The incentive I have for providing more than bare minimum? A good flight. If i’m providing good service, then I usually have happy passengers. It’s easier for everybody. I had a passenger who came to the back galley yesterday who pulled me aside and thanked me for “amazing customer service” — it’s so much easier to be kind than to be moody/cold. Being unionized doesn’t make me complacent or stolid at my job.
If you cant be considerate of your passengers who pay your wages through the ticket price. If you cant hang up a jacket or engage in short conversations with passengers? Maybe you should work in the offices. Some FA push the “ we’re here for your safety first” mantra. I’m thankful there have been no emergency evacuations recently.
WOW. It must be nice that you know everything about my job. You try to smile when a passenger is mad that he didn’t get his drink fast enough because I’ve just been physically assaulted by a fellow passenger. WOW would you like me to save your life in an emergency? Ask the family of the guy whose life was saved with 90min of CPR /AED administered by Flight Attendants in the middle of the Atlantic. It’s easy to criticize but walk in the shoes of a Flight Attendant. and maybe you’ll think twice about some of your comments. If you want things to change advocate for better staffing on planes, FAs working domestic schedules are working 15 hour days and 11 hours layovers that start when the break is on. NOT at the hotel. Not happy with food and drink advocate for better not the cheapest vendor to caterer. Flight Attendants are humans first and foremost. They are your Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, husband, wife, siblings, significant other.
Don’t call me by my name, like Mr. ____.
That is creepy.
Why would it be creepy? This is respectful.
Big negative: bringing the trash bag around in the premium cabin to collect cups before takeoff and sometimes in flight. I’ve had UA attendants put a bag beside me expecting me to put the cup in the bag like in coach.
Are you joking? Since Covid, I wouldn’t want to touch your dirty napkins, tissue and trash. Get over yourself. They can bring a garbage bag to me in First Class because I then know the flight attendant didn’t touch someone else’s trash before stopping by my seat.
Here’s a thought!! how about staffing the airplanes properly so that crew can spend some time with you…United cut staffing during the
pandemic when the service was cut to bare minimum..they have slowly brought the service back but not the crew!!!how about giving the flight attendants the tools they need to do their jobs…constantly having to make do with the bare minimum supplies and lousy portions for food and drinks…it’s absolutely disgusting how UA treats their crew… it’s toxic and the scare tactics are a daily reality!! take a pic of a fellow crew member and turn them in and get them fired…it’s a reality!!!!! In the 33 years i’ve been a flight attendant i’ve never been so sickened at the way this company treats us.
I love my pax and my job but United Airlines is not Continental and i can only apologize so much …
Sounds like United wants their flight attendants to do more during boarding and deplaning despite the fact they don’t get paid during either of these times. Doesn’t help that inflation has increased over 20% since their last contract expired. Good luck trying to implement any of these improvements any time soon
This comment here! I was thinking the same thing. Pay them for the entire time they are working
This is hilarious!
UA wants FAs to create the “wow factor” while UA headquarters are TOO CHEAP to give them the tools (catering, etc) to get it done. Totally priceless..
@ Troy. Yes, they call that gaslighting in the real world
No the best was when idiots at the top like Kush Patel created these service guides that are similar to filing a tax form when looking for information and right plop on the first page on how to greet customers —- no not wow factor it says
“Speak in complete sentences “
Here’s on you Kush – everything you have ever written is recorded – have a nice day – see you soon
United FA’s in my experience have been great. American and Delta, on the other hand have room for a WOW factor.
It’s a bunch of nonsense. If United wants to “Wow” people, they need to remove seats and have the seat spacing like it was in the 70’s and 80’s.
Yes but are you, and the general public, willing to pay the prices from the 70s and 80s!! The answer would be a resounding no!!
Another one who wants something for nothing!!
I am a UA loyalist, but I have to say that it has been a long time now since I’ve had “great” service on a flight like I used to on so many flights – I haven’t had a PDB in my last seven Polaris segments, and service has been slow and tense, basics like drink refills hard to come by. This is completely down to reduced staffing levels, as it has become the norm rather than the exception. Domestically is more stable, where staffing has been less affected and service requirements largely the same.
I’m surprised about the PDBs, as I cannot think of a flight in which I did not get one.
I have had a few wow flights on United over the years but the number of wow flights pales in comparison to the number of flights in Polaris where FAs were hostile, spoke in one-word sentences (food?) and were unwilling to help with even basic requests.
My wife asked me after one such flight last year – you spend so much money on United to make 1K for what? So we switched to European and ME airlines (in coach a lot of the time). I gave up 1K for Gold. Amazed at the difference in service (no status on any of these European/ME airlines). I can understand staffing levels cause stress at United but don’t understand the hostility.
My latest ‘Wow factor’ with United was more of an ‘oops situation’ where they were doing the refreshment and food service during a very bad time with turbulence happening. The flight attendant was holding on so she wouldn’t Fall! For safety’s sake, and passenger comfort, they should not do this even though they want to get the refreshment service ‘over and done with.’
Stop handing out the TOXIC sanitizer packets at boarding. Anything that burns your eyes and nasal passages 2 aisles back is wrong in the cabin. Next class action suit for 1000%sure and perpetuation of the Covidiots crazy times
Ken, lay off fox news, you weirdo. It’s a damn alcohol wipe, not a chloroform saturated cloth. It’s called isopropyl alcohol, babe. We’ve been using it for decades. It’s probably under your bathroom sink. Many passengers have been bringing these types of wipes onto aircraft for years before covid, you know, to sanitize and clean the seats that they’re going to be sitting at during the flight?
Have you seen what the traveling public does in-flight and how they behave? Changing babies on tray-tables, picking their nose and wiping it on the seats/walls, sneezing directly into their hands and immediately going to touch the air vent, etc. Get a grip.
United wants to create a wow factor???
UPDATE THEIR UNIFORMS!!!!!!! THEY ARE “GOD-AWFUL” AND UNFLATTERING!!!!
This is the easiest change and would make a huge difference! Your staff needs them to create your WOW factor.
Hard to pull off WOW in a “potato sack”!!