A couple of weeks ago I flew from Chicago to Anchorage to San Francisco, and had a downright awful crew. I won’t get into the details of that here, other than to say that it made me realize how good service usually is. Of the 150+ segments I’ve taken this year on United, this was the first time I remember having bad service. I’ve had indifferent service and I’ve sure had excellent service, but nothing memorably bad.
Yesterday, however, I saw the greatest contrast I’ve seen between two pursers in a single day. The rest of the flight attendants were excellent on both flights, but I had two extremes of pursers. Both segments were on 757s, and actually, both segments were on the same exact aircraft.
On my first flight I had an awesome purser. He was smiling the whole flight, had a great presence, couldn’t have had more professional announcements, and all around seemed to love his job. I don’t think he sat down once during the flight. The audio at my seat wasn’t working, and as soon as I made him aware of this he showed up at my seat, knelt down, and sincerely apologized as he handed me one of those “appreciation” cards. He explained it was only a small corporate apology token, but that he would be sure to report it and make sure it was fixed. It was a short enough flight, but he honestly made it memorable. He was easily one of the ten best pursers I’ve had on United. I of course wrote him a “Going the Extra Mile” certificate, which he seemed to be very familiar with.
Then I hopped on a transcon, where I had an awful purser. While the flight attendant working the aisle was quite friendly, the purser’s announcements were monotone and came off as indifferent. I don’t think I saw her crack a smile once during the five hour flight. Not even a fake one. As she took meal orders, she simply said “salad or sandwich?”
I try to be one of the more overly friendly passengers, by saying “thank you” and “please” literally every time I interact with crews. Usually that results in good service even from a not-so-great crew because most passengers just aren’t friendly, but not once did she say “you’re welcome” or ask “may I get you anything.” Towards landing she came around to offer drinks again. As she came to each passenger, she simply said “drinks?” Towards landing, instead of asking passengers to please lower their headrests, she’d tap them on the shoulder and just say “headrest.”
It just pains me to see someone so disinterested in their job working in a customer facing position. And at the same time, after flying with the first purser, I’m happy to be reminded that there are still some great customer service professionals out there.