The first Flight Attendant Promoter Score (FPS) is out and the results are not pretty for United Airlines. But the echo chamber in which these frustrations are vented is really not helping the airline or flight attendants.
At United Airlines, The Comically Bad “Flight Attendant Promoter Score” Will Not Be Taken Seriously
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) union has come up with a new system in which flight attendants will rate management each week, using a new tool it hopes will hold United accountable in addressing flight attendant concerns.
United heavily relies upon a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to track customer feedback…we’ve detailed that here. In the same vein, the Flight Attendant Promoter Score is determined by asking flight attendants to offer feedback on numerical basis on a number of issues. Those include:
- I feel my contributions to our airline are valued
- I am able to trade my pairings/reserve days with open time/pool
- I feel supported by management
- My contact with crew scheduling is timely and my issues are resolved
- Management is responsive to my needs during irregular operations
Each week, flight attendants are invited to assess those five statements on a scale from 1-10.
Flight Attendants who rate 9-10 are seen as promoters, those who rate 7-8 are seen as neutral or passive, and those who rate 0-6 are seen as detractors.
The first results have been released and it is not pretty…for United. The score is -95%. That means for every 2.5 flight attendants who are promoters (rating United a 9-10), 97.5 are detractors (rating United 0-6). Those “neutral” flight attendants who rate United between 7-8 are not factored in nor do we know how many (perhaps even the majority) rated United neutrally.
The union is proud of the results:
“With this newest approach tailored to show management their internal customer, Flight Attendant satisfaction levels through FPS, our goal is to strengthen your voice and to show management just how well they are doing in addressing your concerns and issues.”
But there just seems to be a disconnect from reality in this whole exercise.
I speak only as a (true) customer here, but I’ve experienced pretty darn amazing flight attendants all year long. I traveled on United last week and all the flight attendants were not just good, but great. Attentive. Cheerful. One even joked Southwest Airlines style, which may have been a bit over-the-top but to me showed that morale is high.
And then there is this survey that paints a horrible picture (even though it might not, depending upon how many neutral responses there were). I don’t excuse United for keeping flight attendants waiting on the phone. United should not insist upon contract concessions to address problems of its own making. But goodness, these survey results invite public ridicule, not sympathy.
The very point of the union is push, push, and keeping pushing. The very design of this new FPS is so stacked against expressing contentment that every week United will be pummeled and once the hold time problem is fixed, the union will move on to the next problem. And once every problem is solved, it will be time to extract new concessions.
Flight attendants, do you not realize the union thrives and survives by fomenting discontent?
That’s not to say this is always a bad thing. In theory, unions serve a critical function in ensuring a proper balance between management and the worker. We just saw in the case of Lufthansa that a strong union showing resulted in a strong pay increase for workers.
But FPS represents an echo chamber of flight attendants, especially when they already have an enviably sweet deal with their pay, working conditions, and quality of life. Put in the time to get through the reserve years and you have a remarkably flexible schedule with a high wages and great perks like pass travel for the entire family. And don’t forget how quickly the government came to the aid of flight attendants on three different occasions during the pandemic through payroll support.
Instead of buying into the lie that management sucks and cares little for the flight attendant, the flight attendants at United would do well to see that their union can serve them best by proposing meaningful changes instead of wasting time with childish gimmicks like FPS that show a spirit of pettiness, not teamwork.
The first United Airlines FPS score is out and it is bad…really bad. But it’s frankly so bad that most will not take it seriously. While the AFA can do an effective and admirable job of holding management accountable, I look at this latest tool and laugh. There is no incentive to express satisfaction…so it won’t happen.
image: United Airlines