Day In The Life Of A United Flight Attendant: Hmmm…

Filed Under: United, Videos

A few days ago United uploaded a video to YouTube entitled “a day in the life of a United flight attendant.” I was briefly excited when I saw the title, because as an aviation geek I generally like these types of videos.

Cathay Pacific did one a while ago for flight attendants:

They also did one for pilots, and they were fun to watch:

Well, United uploaded a video that I thought would be a similar concept, but it’s… well… not. In this case I think the video is worth posting not because it’s actually interesting, but because I can’t quite figure out what United is going for with it.

Here’s the video, to start:

This video is obviously extremely scripted. There’s nothing wrong with a scripted video, but this is scripted to the point of bearing little resemblance to reality.

All of the flight attendants featured are young new hires who make everything sound really glamorous, like:

“Working weekends and holidays is a reality here at United Airlines, but the best part, for me, I got the chance to work for 4th of July and experience the fireworks over New York City. What other job gives you that opportunity?”

A job that doesn’t make you work on July 4th?

Or they talk about how United customer experience is at the center of everything they do:

“I get a thrill knowing that I made a lasting positive impression on a customer.”

“The minute I step on that aircraft, I feel like it’s my party. My job is to make sure everyone is taken care of, that they enjoy our great customer service, and that they want to come back and fly with us.”

“At United we put our customers at the center of everything. I try to treat them as if they’re guests in my house.”

Anyway, maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s all just a bit much. I’m sure all of these new hires are lovely people, and I’ll assume they really enjoy their jobs. But the way United scripted this really makes it come across as insincere, and I think most of us would agree that this doesn’t reflect the customer experience you get most of the time on United (or most other US airlines).

Having them say they like their jobs? Sure, that’s great. Having them fist-bump in the crew room and having them wave goodbye to planes? That’s a bit much.

I think Andrew B. got it right when I messaged him about this:

Does anyone have a different take, and think United actually did a good job with this?

Comments
  1. Painful. Just part of a wider trend of corporations becoming increasingly unable to communicate in a natural, authentic way. “Our customers tell us” style corporate-speak and spin is all they can do.

  2. I have to ask: are these *actual* United FAs or are they paid actors? Seriously, I have never met or encountered anyone working for United that ever seemed happy, let alone display whatever emotion the folks in that video are purporting to exude. This looks far more like an advert for the airline than a day in the life. As you rightly point out, customer service on US airlines, in *general*, is rarely above ‘OK’ – and it CERTAINLY isnt what that video shows in my experience.

    The Cathay FA video, however – seems to be most Cathay FAs I have ever interacted with.

    Just my $0.02

  3. Wouldn’t “diversity” be showing 4 flight attendants who actually reflect the age of labor force at United?
    It’s amazing this propaganda didn’t come from Air Koryo.

    —JRL

  4. Instead of trying to be friendly, warm, fun, polite and cool on a fake production, maybe UA should try to apply all that on a daily basis in the real world, inside the planes, at the airport.
    United, stop pretending, we know you!

  5. It lost me when Vanessa says that coming to work isn’t like work it’s like hanging out with friends.

    Mmmmhhmmmm

  6. ” My job is to make sure everyone is taken care of, that they enjoy our great customer service, and that they want to come back and fly with us.”
    I thought they were there for our safety?

  7. The flight attendant working on 7/4 was probably collecting garbage before landing while passengers and pilots were enjoying the firework from above

  8. I do know that they are actual FA’s, as I am friends with one of them. And he does really love what he does. I’ve been on a flight he worked, and saw how he is, and he really was smiling and friendly. I knew that he was doing this video, but this is the first time I’ve seen it. And it is cringe worthy. I get what United is trying to do here, but this just isn’t good.

  9. I just got eye cancer. What are the odds of meeting such young FAs on any given flight? I usually get US3’s old, grumpy grannies who hate their jobs and us passengers…

  10. @Patrick: You win the internet today with that comment.

    I’d suggest United make it a bit more realistic, by having as their four flight attendants:

    1) This smiling (and slightly deranged) woman who is thrilled to work on July 4th;
    2) a 65-year old, angry FA who rues the day that evil United Airlines stole her pension in the 1990’s;
    3) a millennial who hangs out in the galley for an entire flight, chit chatting away with her co-workers and showing off cat videos on her phone;
    4) a flight attendant who explains to the 1st Class passengers that their 1st and 2nd meal choices are unfortunately not available, the wifi is broken, and that “we’re sorry” that the seat power outlet is not working either. He instructs passengers to email: [email protected] and that United will respond within 2 to 3 weeks.

  11. I wish United would put as much effort into actually improving their terrible product as they do in trying to convince us their product isn’t. I’m mostly curious, though, as to the intended audience. Certainly it’s not frequent flyers who see through the nonsense. Maybe first-time flyers who are looking for an airline to be loyal to? Or maybe millenials who are looking for a first/new career and whom United thinks are idiots and that this saccharine, pandering nonsense could persuade that United isn’t bottom of the barrel? I’m waiting for American to follow-up with their own version.

  12. Folks, this is a recruitment video. Of course it emphasizes the positives of the job (like being able to take a family member to a far away country). It is directed at young people who United hopes will apply as flight attendants.

    Hundreds of big companies do this in all fields to attract employees. They always present “fun” current employees, who could become future co-workers, as kind of ambassadors. Nothing new, and nothing to be outraged about.

  13. My last few flights on United have been totally fine. Not friendliness /eagerness to this degree, but the flight attendants have been courteous, solicitoius, and have kept my beverage full for the duration of the flight (I’ve been in F). Overall, I wouldnt consider UA bottom of the barrel – it’s fine. This is a recruitment video, as others have stated. And that’s fine.

  14. I did not see any United “wide-body” flight attendants in the video. The grumpy ones that only care about getting to their layover hotel and then back home.

  15. @Chris K. Exactly what I thought it was, a puff piece recruitment video. Looking for young (and naive) millennials to join their work force.

    Having said that, any candidate that thinks that’s is reality has another thing coming….

  16. Yeah, customers are not the target audience. This is for recruitment. Did you notice how all the young FAs talking about their wonderful foreign travels are clearly multilingual? Reality check for any young would-be FAs: you’ll be flying to Cleveland not Paris until you learn fluent French.

  17. I personally know United flight attendants and none of them feel like this.

    They treat their flight attendants like garbage, especially new hires. Always looking for reasons to fire them.

  18. When I was a flight attendant for Pan American Airlines back in the 6 days this would have been an actual goal of the Airlines and the flight attendants who waited on nervous Travelers. Today’s frapping world flight attendants look like wet nursing mothers and treat their passengers as if they were in labor and it was all their fault that they got pregnant in the first place. The airlines has seriously falling as an industry.

  19. I liked the old flight attendant video United had with Katie Nolan. It was much more funny and way less scripted.

  20. would be great if they said how much they enjoy trying to cut off drunk people from drinking more, stopping people from getting handsy (and more) with each other, fending off unwanted advances, and trying to have parents be, well, parents and monitor their child and not act like attendants are baby sitters.

  21. I think both videos have a slightly different purpose. CX is clearly meant to make us “discover the life of an FA” whereas UA is, as some of you pointed out, a recruitment video. We would expect these videos to be somehow overly positive but the UA video is just waaaaaay over the top. So much that it’s not credible anymore. And I agree, you encounter quite a few FA who look like that girl on the CX video but I never saw a young FA on my UA flights….

  22. I think it is just a United Airlines commercial to encourage people to apply to work for them. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. Horrible.

    I agree with you the Cathay video was quite interesting.

  23. @Ben and @Charlene
    Ben/Lucky I would just like to comment on my appreciation of OMAAT. When I signed up, I expected an email from time-to-time, but now I get one daily, and I really look forward to it because it’s amazing that you are able to produce so much info in such a short time. Critics are critics, but keep up the great work as I believe the majority of us appreciate your work. Yes, more info on PE would be great for many of us.

    Charlene: Pan American in the 6 days? Must be in the 60’s. Name familiar, might have met you on a 707 from Tokyo to Guam. Nothing personal here…just a comment on professional service back in the day. As a sendoff, my friend’s father in Tokyo started us on drinks at his house in Naka Megro and then at the airport hotel in Haneda. We were loaded and walked on the plane with hi-ball glasses. It was a kinder and gentler time back then. Maybe it was you that said we cannot bring drinks on board, and that you would have to serve us drinks. I handed my glass back to you, and asked that you serve it to me. You were flustered and didn’t know what to do. The senior purser came by and gave us a hard time by saying that we would be escorted off the plane unless we cleaned up our act. We gave him the glasses and decided to wait until we were in the air. When seat belt lights when off we rang for service. You? came over and we asked for French 75’s. You? said you didn’t have any. I asked if you had champagne and cognac. Yes, well bring them. You came back with champagne glasses. Oh, oh, senior purser came up the aisle and spotted the glasses. I thought we were in big trouble. He asked if we were having champagne? Yes, I replied, but didn’t add d–k head. He said, “If you are having champagne, may I chill your glasses?” This is how a professional handled a situation back in the day. We calmed down and had a nice flight. Those were the good old days folks! I apologize to OMAAT and all of you, but as an old guy I have lots of interesting flying stories, and most of them involved pre, predeparture drinks. Happy Holidays to you all!

  24. “I get a thrill knowing that I made a lasting positive impression on a customer.”
    -> Like knocking their teeth out and causing permanent injury!

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