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Thread: Visible Airline Culture When Flying

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    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    Visible Airline Culture When Flying

    No matter what an airline does as a company in terms of planning, what you experience from the crew, I think, has the ultimate effect on your flying experience.

    I think it's a big turn off when I see things like airline crewmembers wearing their union lanyards, or when a pilot announces that the flight is being operated by a [enter formerly merged airline here] crew. I want to fly an airline whose employees want to work for that airline...I don't want your labor disputes or your merger resentment to be a part of my lying experience.

    Is there anything else that you have seen or experienced that has negatively affected your view of an airline's culture?
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    Old flight attendants. Not to discriminate age, but bumping your ass into my shoulder when you're pulling the beverage cart up the aisle is only as attractive as the people who are doing it. And WAY too many of them are cranky.
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    There was one SWA flight I was one where when the pilots were in the middle of flying the pattern on approach into KBNA, they took it upon themselves to sing to the passengers over the PA system. Sorry, but I'd rather have my pilots FLYING THE PLANE instead of entertaining the passengers. Thats the flight attendents job! That definitely made me realize that SWA does not take flying and safety seriously.

    Kinda makes you wonder if the SWA pilots were too busy entertaining the passengers on final approach into LGA to remember to land with the Mains before the nose gear..
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve1840 View Post
    Kinda makes you wonder if the SWA pilots were too busy entertaining the passengers on final approach into LGA to remember to land with the Mains before the nose gear..
    Here we go with the Southwest bashing again..... There's actually a youtube video of someone filming out the window the last minute or two of that fateful LGA flight and there's no indication that the fa's or the pilots were saying anything over the PA system, inapropriate (sp) or otherwise in those final seconds before impact. Whatever the final NTSB report of the LGA incident determines, overall WN still has a very good overall safety record, and I, for one, have no problems flying them on the several flights a year I use WN for, including a trip I'm taking bright and early tomorrow morning on WN.

    [MODERATOR EDIT: Removed all bold text. -Phil]
    Last edited by disco stu; 08-20-2013 at 11:55 AM.
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    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil D. View Post
    No matter what an airline does as a company in terms of planning, what you experience from the crew, I think, has the ultimate effect on your flying experience.

    I think it's a big turn off when I see things like airline crewmembers wearing their union lanyards, or when a pilot announces that the flight is being operated by a [enter formerly merged airline here] crew. I want to fly an airline whose employees want to work for that airline...I don't want your labor disputes or your merger resentment to be a part of my lying experience.

    Is there anything else that you have seen or experienced that has negatively affected your view of an airline's culture?
    Employees don't have say in what their airline does when it comes to merging with another carrier and they can't just up and leave and find a similar job. Especially in this economy. I kind of think you are trying to make hay here where it really isn't. Is it appropriate? Probably not but these are professionals doing the same job they would regardless of a merger or not. Just because they are accessorizing with a union label I don't think it's time to panic.
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    Administrator Landing Lights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil D. View Post
    I think it's a big turn off when I see things like airline crewmembers wearing their union lanyards...
    Given that the collective bargaining rules governing airline (and railroad) employees are far more restrictive than those covering just about any other industry in this country, I can understand the crews, especially flight attendants, wearing union paraphernalia. A very large portion of bargaining power is dependent on public support of either the union or management. Therefore, things that can relay the union's message to a captive audience can be very valuable. I have absolutely no problem with a union lanyard on its own. Other "embellishments" relaying the union's message ride a line between good and bad taste and I have seen examples that go both ways. Getting on the PA and using that as a tool to relay the union's message is a bad idea as far as I am concerned. Ditto for anything from the pilots sharing something other than where the crew is based. I really don't care which airline you used to work for, I'd rather you be focused on the airline that you are working for and I am flying on today whether you really want to be there or not.

    The biggest turn-off for me in recent memory was that one particular soon-to-be-merged airline had uniform jerseys for some of its gate agents. It struck me as a highly unprofessional uniform which matched the attitudes of some of the gate agents. I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to airline uniforms, but there needs to be an easy way to differentiate between employees and passengers. Another, more recent turnoff was while sitting out a short maintenance delay and sitting in the back of the bus, I noticed that all of the flight attendants had congregated in the galley where they became embroiled in their own conversation. It would have been nice if they spent some of that time explaining the customs forms for Mexico that they had just handed out.
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    Senior Member Mateo's Avatar
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    I flew an airline in the Middle East recently that had no safety culture at all. Lights dimmed only slightly for takeoff and landing, ads playing on the video screen during the takeoff roll, no cabin crew checks of seat belts, etc. This was a quickly growing airline operating brand-new aircraft with a very widely multinational crew makeup, and if the cabin crew SOPs show little regard for safety, then I wonder if the pilots' and mx are similarly unfocused. It feels like this airline is starting off with a couple of holes in the swiss cheese already.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil D. View Post
    I think it's a big turn off when I see things like airline crewmembers wearing their union lanyards, or when a pilot announces that the flight is being operated by a [enter formerly merged airline here] crew. I want to fly an airline whose employees want to work for that airline...I don't want your labor disputes or your merger resentment to be a part of my lying experience.

    Is there anything else that you have seen or experienced that has negatively affected your view of an airline's culture?
    I was on a United flight soon after the Continental merger was completed and the crew was all wearing "Ex-Con" pins (including one FA who had bedazzled it) and included the fact that they were a Continental crew in most of their PA announcements. I get that they are proud of their heritage with Continental, but the plane says United. If we were on the Continental retrojet, I wouldn't have an issue.

    Union pins/lanyards I've only seen a few times and nothing too obnoxious.

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    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NIKV69 View Post
    Employees don't have say in what their airline does when it comes to merging with another carrier and they can't just up and leave and find a similar job. Especially in this economy. I kind of think you are trying to make hay here where it really isn't. Is it appropriate? Probably not but these are professionals doing the same job they would regardless of a merger or not. Just because they are accessorizing with a union label I don't think it's time to panic.
    No one panicked. Just shared my opinion that I feel it is completely unprofessional and is a big turn off to me as a passenger.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

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    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mldoc View Post
    Given that the collective bargaining rules governing airline (and railroad) employees are far more restrictive than those covering just about any other industry in this country, I can understand the crews, especially flight attendants, wearing union paraphernalia. A very large portion of bargaining power is dependent on public support of either the union or management. Therefore, things that can relay the union's message to a captive audience can be very valuable. I have absolutely no problem with a union lanyard on its own. Other "embellishments" relaying the union's message ride a line between good and bad taste and I have seen examples that go both ways. Getting on the PA and using that as a tool to relay the union's message is a bad idea as far as I am concerned. Ditto for anything from the pilots sharing something other than where the crew is based. I really don't care which airline you used to work for, I'd rather you be focused on the airline that you are working for and I am flying on today whether you really want to be there or not.
    I can see the benefit but I think it's just unprofessional to get your customer base involved in your union squabbles.

    To me it's like going to visit the home of a couple that is arguing in front of you. Who wants to hang out around that?

    A key lanyard might not be too terrible, but I just find it a tad tacky. If you care about the company you work for (even if you disagree with them, it's usually in your best interest if they do well and attract customers), you'd want to show that you, as an employee, support and like where you work. Even if you gotta fake it.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve1840 View Post
    There was one SWA flight I was one where when the pilots were in the middle of flying the pattern on approach into KBNA, they took it upon themselves to sing to the passengers over the PA system. Sorry, but I'd rather have my pilots FLYING THE PLANE instead of entertaining the passengers. Thats the flight attendents job! That definitely made me realize that SWA does not take flying and safety seriously.

    Kinda makes you wonder if the SWA pilots were too busy entertaining the passengers on final approach into LGA to remember to land with the Mains before the nose gear..
    Update:Flew WN yesterday LAS-BWI-ISP. Both Segments ontime, professional crews, and I made it in one piece. My connecting flight out of BWI arrived to the gate a few minutes late, and the Captain even went out on the ramp to help the ramp rats load a cart of baggage in the forward bins to help expedite our departure for the quick flight to ISP. Despite all the WN bashing popular on the net, they will keep getting my business.
    My name is Disco Stu and I love disco music.

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    Senior Member NIKV69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by disco stu View Post
    Update:Flew WN yesterday LAS-BWI-ISP. Both Segments ontime, professional crews, and I made it in one piece. My connecting flight out of BWI arrived to the gate a few minutes late, and the Captain even went out on the ramp to help the ramp rats load a cart of baggage in the forward bins to help expedite our departure for the quick flight to ISP. Despite all the WN bashing popular on the net, they will keep getting my business.
    Flown that route many a time to get back for Christmas. They are good. May do it this year too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil D. View Post
    No matter what an airline does as a company in terms of planning, what you experience from the crew, I think, has the ultimate effect on your flying experience.
    You are exactly right, however what the upper management does in terms of planning affects the quality of life for the employee and unfortunately employee morale has a way of trickling down into the service the customer receives. Not every employee lets it affect their level of customer service, but I think if you were to to take the organization as a whole and put it on a graph, you would definitely be able to correlate overall employee job satisfaction with customer service satisfaction. Probably the best example would be to compare and contrast Continental during the 83-93 "Lorenzo/CEO a year" period with the 94-2010 "Bethune/pre-merger" years. Bethune used common sense, empowered his employees and treated them well, and customer service improved dramatically. A classic example of the "Hawthorne Effect" taught in basic management classes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil D. View Post
    I think it's a big turn off... when a pilot announces that the flight is being operated by a [enter formerly merged airline here] crew. I want to fly an airline whose employees want to work for that airline...I don't want your labor disputes or your merger resentment to be a part of my flying experience.
    I have a lot of friends who work for the airline you're talking about. According to what I've been told, the legacy airline announcement was put out by the union to emphasize to the customers of the airline whose name disappeared that they were going to get the level of service they were used to from the "pre-merger" days and to let the customers who were used to the service from the other legacy airline know that they were in for a new and hopefully better experience. Not everyone made this announcement, of course. I have to agree with you though; if you want to differentiate yourself, let it be through the demonstration of customer service. As my former creative writing teacher used to say: "Show the reader, don't tell the reader..."

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    Hey now, I am airline crew for a major carrier and I wear my union lanyard, doesn't for a moment mean that I am not super proud of the company I work for and how humbled and excited I am to be in the position I am in... If anything I get excited when I know a passenger is also excited to be on the aircraft too... Most of the people I encounter are casual or disinterested, or maybe the excitement of travel left them long ago. I'm only 28 but I have been flying for almost 4 years and even though a flight may be routine, I frequently feel like I am the only person on board who has a love and passion for aviation.... If I do have airline enthusiasts as passengers, they rarely make themselves known to me. And that's a shame! They might get a free cocktail out of it!

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    although i never wore the union paraphernalia, i was very proud of the the job i did and that i was a union member.

    prior to the FAA, ALPA was the leader in aviation safety. they say the regulations are written in blood, which is basically true. and it was ALPA that penned many of those regulations and continues to do so. one of the reasons air travel in the united states is so safe is because of the demands made by both pilot unions and air traffic unions. the other thing the union does is that it empowers employees. this can have undesirable drawbacks, but it gives them the legal backbone to stand up to unsafe practices.

    the complaint that a union protects weak workers is valid, because the union protects everyone. if usair decided to park the embraer 190 fleet, the 190 crews would need to be retrained on other equipment and the most junior pilots would be furloughed - they will be rehired in order of seniority when economic conditions allow. if jetblue were to to park the 190 fleet, they could (legally) dismiss all of the 190 crews without regard to their seniority to avoid the retraining costs. these pilots would also not have any legal right to return to work when hiring resumed.

    a similar situation happened at the regional carrier i used to work for after 9-11. the union took the company to court and was able to get financial compensation for the dismissed crews and well as their right to recall without a loss of seniority. if it was a non-union carrier, they would have been SOL.

    i've always taken pride in my work and have appreciated being in union shops. i still maintain an associate membership now that i've moved to a position that is considered management.

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