When you are working as a Flight Attendant, the requests coming from your passengers are very diverse. Each passenger has different expectations from you, and each time, he/she will want to be treated as best as possible during the flight. Excellent customer service should be the expression to characterise best the activity on board. There will be many occasions when you will need to solve some conflicts on board, and you will also have to display a genuinely care for the comfort and safety of your passengers.
In my career as Qatar Airways Cabin Crew for 10 and a half years I encountered so many situations on board in which I had to come up with new solutions in order to please my passengers, that a single book will not be enough to write them all. I share with you in this article 3 situations through which I went in order to understand a little the way in which the cabin crew must think when we are on board.
When you are making a cheesecake with what you have on board
- The flight DOH-IAH(Houston) on 30 June 2011, on a Boeing777 (QR77), with a duration of 16 hours and 58 minutes – from Cabin Service Director position.
After the first service was offered in the cabin, a Qatar passenger at Business Class, place 5F, was extremely unhappy with the service of one of my colleagues towards his daughter. He accused her that she didn’t do the service by the book, because she did the description of the dessert when she took the order for the hot meal and not after, like it was normal to do, and the dessert asked, or some alternatives of that dessert, never arrived to his daughter (because a colleague already ate the last piece of cake, thinking that it was in addition). Alongside my colleague tears, I had to calm down the passenger as well, which I saw that he was a regular client of our company, if he knew exactly the procedure of taking the dessert order. Later, from the discussions I had with him, I found out that he was the manager of the purchase division of Qatar Airways Private Jet Department, meaning the right hand of our CEO! I tried to repair it with a combination of some desserts taken from the captain tray in order to please his daughter, but because he only wanted Cheesecake, I took from my economic class colleagues trays some cheese triangles that I mixed with some mashed forest fruits. I put this paste over some digestive biscuits, mixed as well with some honey in order to have some sort of dough. I melted 2 Godiva chocolates, that I put over these piece of “cake”… I prepared a cheesecake on board in some minutes! The client was of course very impressed of this Service Recovery method, the way we named this procedure of thanking our passengers in every way at Qatar Airways.
The passenger with whom I shared my salad
- Flight DOH-LHR (Londra Heathrow) in 2008, on an Airbus 330, duration of 6 hours and 30 minutes- from the position of First Class Kitchen Manager
During the first service, after we served the Mediterranean buffet and Arabic salads, in the moment an Arabic client asked for a salad, we realized we didn’t have any more of it. Usually, in these cases, we take a new casserole and we go to our colleagues from business class and take a salad. If not, we were going to the economic class to check the menu, and if even then I was not lucky, I will check the crew trays and still could manage to find some salad, for example the one that is at the base of hummus. But, on this flight, the catering didn’t bring food to contain too much salad. I was needed to offer the passenger all kind of vegetables from first class (grilled), business class (steamed), or economic (in curry sauce). The passenger was somehow pleased. But, at the middle of the flight, when we were relaxing and I was eating my salad purchased from the supermarket, the exact passenger passed by me, throwing me a look of: “You didn’t want to give me salad, but you are eating one…?” I felt immediately that I could receive a complaint unfairly, and because of that, when the passenger returned from the lavatory, I was in my feet, with a plate of salad alongside me. Simple and very natural I approached him, asking apologize for not serving him the salad, but the one I had was from a supermarket because I am on diet. Without letting me to get another plate, he asked me a fork and ate all my salad. It seemed like he loved the Monte Vibiano dressing used on board, with all kind of tastes. At the end of the flight, he said goodbye to me and he also make it up for my gesture of sharing my salad with him.
When is the birthday of a passenger
- Many times, the passengers do not declare that they are celebrating a family event when they are travelling (honeymoon, marriage anniversary, and so on.) or the airline company forgets to bring on board cake for the passengers who are celebrating their birthdays on board. Because of it, every time we found about this kind of events, even if we don’t have a written rule in our Service on Board manual, we tried to surprise our passengers with a dessert prepared on the spot, with a glass of champagne from the superior classes, with paper written message that we put on the tray or aluminium figurines used to cover the casseroles. Here are some examples of surprises we prepared for our birthday passengers:
- croissants in melted chocolate for a birthday
- a muffin transformed in a birthday, with a Sponge Bob toy made out of paper on a tray
- aluminum Figurines
- buffet organized in the economic kitchen with the food remained from the business class for everyone who wanted a second portion.