LOT Polish Cabin Crew Director Criticizes British Airways Crew Appearance

Filed Under: British Airways, LOT

There’s a story going viral about Katarzyna Richter‎, who identifies herself as Operations Director for LOT Polish Cabin Crew. She has only been in this position since April 2019, but according to her LinkedIn has worked for several other airlines, including Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Etihad Airways, and Emirates. She started off as cabin crew, and then moved to cabin crew recruitment.

She recently flew British Airways and then took it upon herself to do the following on her Facebook:

  • Criticize the appearance of British Airways cabin crew
  • Take pictures of their appearance to reinforce her point
  • To add insult to injury, she has a public Facebook profile, and even used hashtags, as if she was trying to amplify the story

Translated to English, she wrote the following in addition to the pictures:

“Today, my attention was drawn to grooming and appearance of British Airways cabin crew members, unpolished shoes, holes in tights, too tight uniform, double chin, rotten and uneven teeth, messy hairstyle.”

She then goes on to ask that if the crew is so sloppy with their appearance, are they equally sloppy with their other duties? Lastly she says “I am curious if you as a passenger judge cabin crew by the way they look?”

Obviously she got a lot of pushback on her post, and has now deleted it and issued the following apology:

I would like to apologize very much to the British Airways crew and to everyone affected by I regret my behaviour – I should not judge the competence and appearance of employees of another line I’m sorry again.

I’d note that this apology came after lots of negative feedback from the public, in which she continued to defend herself.

Ironically she also claims to be the founder of a company called “Deal With Culture,” which she describes as follows:

Helping individuals and companies explore cultural differences and make their operation more effective. Providing cross-cultural trainings, delivering keynotes on personal brand building and communication.Online courses focusing on career development. Cross cultural recruitment services.

I’m not sure she’s the one who should be providing cross-cultural training.

Bottom line

This is inappropriate on so many levels. It’s one thing if she just wrote those things (which is completely out of line to begin with), but the fact that she also posted pictures of the crew, and also posted all of this publicly, is so out of line.

LOT Polish is now investigating this incident.

Comments
  1. I will be expecting perfect appearance then when I fly LOT Polish in November. Let’s see how they do when the same standard is applied to them.

  2. LOT (Later Or Tomorrow) should care about there own business. Especially about delays and cancelled flights.

  3. Lucky, with the possible exception of the uneven teeth comment, based on what you shared, there is nothing out of line about it. She should not have to apologize for her opinion or factual observation. Your PC hyperbolic outrage is out of line for creating a culture with no accountability. No wonder US and European carriers, and almost all service providers for that matter, lag further every day in customer service and competence.

  4. While Ms. Richter’s comments sound meanspirited and inappropriate it’s odd to find her criticized in an outlet that itself exists to constantly review the “quality” and “sincerity” of the service provided by the same people whose professionalism Ms. Richter is criticizing, and which also has a long history of commenting on the appearance and behavior of passengers as well as crew.

  5. Um….not sure she should be commenting on the uneven teeth of others.
    Maybe there aren’t mirrors over at LOT and Deal With Culture.

  6. My only problem with her statement is that she apologized afterwards.

    She’s obviously not wrong……if she was ever forced to fly a US carrier she’d likely be horrified. My gf is a FA for a foreign carrier and cannot believe the quality of both service and appearance when she’s flies in this country.

  7. Full support for the lady working at LOT Polish airlines.

    When I travel, I always prefer to be served by professionals who take care of their appearance.

    If there are flaws in your external visible appearance you can be sure there will be far more flaws in non visible aspects that are perhaps far more important (… Washing your hands… Etc)

  8. I agree with others about the uneven teeth comment being unfair and across the line, but professional appearance matters when you’re in a client/customer-facing role. My company is generally smart casual, but when anyone is meeting external parties its suits and ties. Appearance standards are set very high and strict at companies like Singapore Airlines for good reason, so its not out of bounds to criticize an airline on those grounds if those standards are weak. Its no different than criticizing an airline for a lack of efficiency, poor branding, poor service etc.

  9. I think it’s a fair point. Cabin crew on BA and all US carriers are so sloppily groomed that it conveys a message of indifference. These people are the faces of the airlines’ brands. To me, it is reasonable to expect them to be well groomed and tidy in their appearance.

    It is one thing to discriminate on the innate characteristics of the people themselves (e.g. age, weight, height, etc). Fair enough that that is faux pas in anglo saxon societies. But criticizing their grooming standards and general sloppiness seems like fair game to me.

    The points she is making are certainly both true and also indicative of a general indifference to their job. Sloppy in appearance and sloppy in how the service is delivered. Flight attendants are NOT there “primarily for your safety.” Yes one of their job responsibilities is ensuring your safety, but they are primarily there as ambassadors of the brand and to deliver customer experience.

  10. I dunno, me thinks the criticism (bar the teeth, what can they do, crappy salary and dental not covered by national health service) is spot on. She should have gone further and describe the rubbish bins that are BA planes. They probably thoroughly clean them once in a decade. Not to talk about the broken equipment in plenty of their planes, from tiny monitors that fall apart when you look at them to flat bed seats that have no power coming on. Meanwhile the blogosphere chases their one plane featuring a new business class… nuff said.

  11. I agree with a lot of comments here. The western based airlines especially U.S. based airlines do lack sincerity in service and they are more interested chatting amongst themselves in the galley. Very unpolished and not as professional as the Asian based carriers.

    She is not wrong to criticize their sloppy appearance, but it is wrong to critique their teeth. And Larry is right. OMAAT does a lot of reviews where service and appearance are often praised or criticized. Nothing wrong with what she said. Instead of being so sensitive about it, it is a learning opportunity and an open platform for constructive dialogue. All feedback should be acknowledged. That is the best way to learn and improve for the future.

  12. When I flew LOT last year, I actually thought that their uniforms were quite sharp looking. Even the female flight attendants’ makeup was synchronized.

    Although Richter’s comments are inappropriate, US carriers and I imagine most European carriers don’t have a culture of pride in appearance.

  13. On my last flight, BA cabin crew looked great but it was training A350 flight, so I guess, they chose cream of the cream for that flights. I never noticed low standards of BA CCs.

    What I didn’t like, BA male crew member hitting on passenger sitting beside me. He was almost camping at his seat. If passenger was female, it would probably be classed as harassment.

  14. She is right & public stupidity won.
    Exterior appearance DOES reveal inner excellence, that is why no middle eatern or east-asian airline will tolerate unkempt FA nor crooked teeth, however inhumane that may be.
    The polish woman voiced an opinion many have, it is only because people lag behind that they prefer to criticize whistle-blowers. Admittedley, there are better ways, which I can’t say, but hushing is the worst solution.
    Politeness & respect are often outspoken, let the herd duck their head while continuously driving quality down. I usually fly OneWorld because of JA, CX and QR, but I do shun cheap BA and even more cheapo AA as much as I can. To the point I am considering switching to Star.

  15. Interesting. Just had 6 flights with LOT during last 5 days, and apart from one lady all cabin crew is borderline rude, never smiles, service is on the line “here is your food, why are you here at all”.

    So really funny thus comment is coming from LOT cabin crew director.

    And, 4 of these flights have originated or departed London, so I did see a number of BA cabin crew, and I can not agree less with her statement.

  16. Entirely unprofessional for an executive of another airline to write like this. She could have been in a rebated ticket
    LOT. hardly the shining light of customer service And I could say the same of their employees on my last flight with them. Rude unkept and lacking any interpersonal skills. The purser has a triple chin

  17. Her only mistake was to issue an apology. It’s sad that in this day and age when being PC and “fair” is society’s expectation, that same society wishes to muffle any dissenting voice. That’s life, pure and simple, and it’s NOT fair. The truth hurts sometimes and if the BA crew displayed shoddy appearances, her comments were well-deserved. A cabin crew represents the airline and should be held to higher standards, period. If not, why not simply allow them to arrive at work in pajamas or sweat pants? Your article is a disgusting example of today’s PC “journalism”. She should have been applauded instead of vilified.

  18. I don’t think it’s out of line for her to post a criticism regarding the general appearance of the cabin crew. It was her observation, it does not appear crude in any manner. The dental issues, that is the one area she should not have mentioned.

    This is what happens when you allow current thought trends to permeate the work environment; a made-up female FA is sexist, a tidy uniform pressed and creased is too much to ask of employees. Yes you are free to do as you please including not work for a corporation because you choose to disagree with their standards. Many companies, BA included, have lowered their Dress & Grooming standards to appease a generation.

    While the following may be cliche they hold mush truth: When you look good you feel good; If you want the part dress for the part; Dress to impress. If you as an individual fail to take pride in your appearance at work, cannot be bothered to show up for work and represent your company in an appropriate manner, that speaks toward a rebelliousness that spills over into how you work.

    This is what happens when we start to allow employees to dictate uniform policy. The real reason has less to do with sexism or any other -ism and more to do with a lazy, self centered, what about “me and my feelings” view.

    I know my stance is quite unpopular, but, standards should not be lowered as we get what we see today.

    Just my $0.02

  19. I see nothing wrong at “taking a dig” at your competition, as long as what she did is legal. All is fair in love and competition IMHO. Having some “class” is a whole other issue though.

  20. The reason quality everywhere is worse year after year is because of the western culture of “no judgment”. Nothing gets better without criticism, and sometimes criticism isn’t pleasant.

  21. I’m half Polish and have lived there for 4 lives and this statement is very true. Physical appearance is held to a much higher standard in mainland Europe. I personally prefer European airlines over US airlines when flying to Europe because I know I will be assisted by well appearing flight attendants rather than american attendants who were hired on the basis of “equal hiring practices”.

  22. Personally, I don’t think most of her comments were inappropriate except for the crooked teeth and double chin observations (BA doesn’t pay well so it may not be possible for some crew to afford dental services and even some skinny people have double chins). However, LOT’s cabin crews are often more unpolished and unprofessional than BA’s so the LOT Cabin Crew Director should take a closer at her own team before criticizing other airlines.

  23. @Sam:

    Agree with almost everything but will add this (very unpopular opinion) to your statement: it is perfectly acceptable to be professionally critical of cabin crew age and weight. As US/European carriers LOVE to remind us, cabin crew are there primarily for pax safety. I’ve recently had two experiences on a US3 carrier in which an FA was so…Rubenesque…she had to turn sideways to walk down the aisle, and she still rubbed the seats on both sides. I have serious concerns about her ability to perform “safety” procedures in the event of an emergency or evacuation. This has nothing to do with fat-shaming, and everything to do with legitimate safety. Would I post pictures and and pithy comments on Facebook/Instagram? Never. But it irks me that political correctness has supplanted common sense – and this is from a super-liberal gay dude.

    The same applies for an FA that is pushing 70 years of age. Sure, there are some super-fit septuagenarians, but I doubt that tiny fraction are flying the friendly skies as cabin crew. Do we honestly think someone of that age would be able to scream instructions and help passengers in a cabin being quickly consumed by smoke?

    Again, this isn’t about going on some cabin crew-bashing tirade on social media, but about the taboo nature of plainly stating that there is a size/age above which FAs instead pose a threat to the safety of pax in the event of an emergency.

  24. Spot the lie.

    I avoid BA, but when forced to will fly them or AA. It’s horrifying. Nothing bothers me more than the mish-mash of “uniforms” on American flights.

    There is nothing uniform when each crew member wears something different!

  25. Ms Richter‎ should not be criticised for speaking the truth. It may have offended some people but there is an old saying that ‘the truth hurts’. In this case it clearly did but from my own observations what she says is quite often, but not always true.

  26. Yea she should if she comes as a head of cabin crew from an airline where cabin crew is rude and unprofessional

  27. Any person criticizing appearance should post their own DL/passport pic or stfu.

    Wagering most of these people aren’t looking so great themselves.

  28. I’m a first generation Polish-American, both my parents and my brother were born in Poland, I was born in the US, so I have familiarity with Polish culture.

    Unfortunately, I am not at all surprised with Ms. Richter’s comments. Polish people can be brutal with comments regarding people’s appearances behind their back and right to their face. There are a lot of great things about the Polish but in my opinion this is not one of them.

  29. Who wouldn’t want a Austin Powers like flight attendant after all the frumpy, surly US crews…

    Interaction with TSA agent checking carry on baggage…”No seriously its not mine…someones playing a prank on me…”

  30. The LOT manager that took and posted the photos was fired today for not adhering to company social media regulations as well as ‘bringing LOT into disrepute’.

  31. The woman was an idiot. So unprofessional. By all means, have your opinion. But can you imagine the manager of say, Marriott staying at a Hilton hotel, taking photographs of the Hilton employees s/he encountered and then uploading them online mocking their teeth and ‘double chins’? Or a manager from Saks doing it at Macy’s?

    Nooooooo. It’s unprofessional and it’s frankly unacceptable for her in her position.

    By all means, if you hold those opinions have a laugh with a friend about it or if you HAVE to get it online do it anonymously. She obviously does not have the intelligence to serve the role she was recruited for.

  32. @Dan she did post her appearance, and even her identity! She criticized unprofessional cabin crew and looks and you can look at her and her identity.

    So since people got offended and upset, she’s wrong for what she said? This PC culture we live in is ridiculous, and it doesn’t exist in Poland which I’m sure played a part in her post. They don’t live in fairyland where you have to lie to everyone because someone’s feelings might get hurt.

  33. It is not just dress and looks, it is also their presence that counts. For example, I recently witnessed a Korean Airline crew first approaching their gate to board. The crew waited up terminal until the pilots arrived, once all the crew werw present they began their “parade” with the pilots up front, senior cabin crew and then regular crew behind all in sync with each other as they proudly strutted their image toward the gate.

    In contrast, this was followed by some Delta Airlines crew randomly approaching their gate drinking coffee texting on their mobiles with the pilots wore their brownish white wrinkled white shirts.

    The difference was startling to passengers watching this.

  34. Abe. It’s not her expressing her personal opinions that has cost her her job. She expressed them as a representative of LOT against a competitors staff.

    I don’t get how people don’t understand that that is corporate world suicide. ALL corporations these days have strict regulations regarding what staff can and cannot post online especially when it reflects poorly on the company. This poor fool obviously didn’t read the regs.

    Yes, agree or disagree with her personal views. But she CANNOT post stuff online about a competitors staff as ‘Katarzyna Richter – Operations Manager LOT Cabin Crew’. Well actually she can post…and suffer the consequences.

    It has nada to do with ‘PC culture’ in Poland and everything to do with responsible corporate culture. She made a massive mistake and is paying the price.

  35. I see nothing wrong with her post. If you can’t take criticism, too bad. If this was Lucky making the same post, nothing would be said.

  36. Bottom line is – she was absolutely right but she shouldn’t have published her opinion as airline manager – as a private person – yes! Personally I travel often BA and the crew always wear horribly worn dirty shoes, far too tight uniforms, shiny with dirt etc. But like airline – like the crew I suppose.

  37. Geez can she take pictures of cabin crew on the US carriers? If she did, she would use up the entire storage on her phone and/or camera.

  38. And she didn’t even take a swipe at their catering which borders on roadside kill……The Brits should expect every European country to unleash wrath on them every chance they get after their boorish behavior on BREXIT………..They are rude imperialists who view themselves higher than the rest of the world so they just don’t care about others………And she nailed it as they are social misfits led by the likes of Prince Andrew! Comical you want me to get a BA Chase card so I can pay those onerous fuel surcharges? Not going to happen!

  39. Lets put up ANY Aeroflot crew against LOT…
    Simply the best. Who needs WiFi when you have a Russian crew to socialize with….

  40. @dave s — “… once all the crew werw present they began their ‘parade’ with the pilots up front, senior cabin crew and then regular crew behind all in sync with each other as they proudly strutted their image toward the gate.”

    Yes! “Pomp and Circumstance” is alive and well with East Asian airlines! I often see these flight staff (attendants and pilots) travel through the airport departure and arrival halls all lined up, as well — not just at the terminal gate areas! It’s fortunate that their airports have separate lines to accommodate these flight staff during departures (security) as well as arrivals (immigration), or else their “parades” have great potential to clog up passenger lines, bad as those always are!

    With USA airlines, even overseas, I most often just see their flight staff straggle to the terminal gate area, often individually and randomly … no signs of pride in their “team” image at all! So I’m guessing that, with all of the pervasive Political Correctness Insanity and anti-USA attitudes that control everyone’s lives and behaviors within USA, it’s now become a “shame” to show *any* pride in being affiliated with USA, even while in foreign countries?

  41. I’m mostly with her. It’s the rare US carrier cabin crew that looks truly great and emotes “Hey, we’re glad you’re flying with us today!”.

    Many are overweight. Some are almost surly in their demeanor, like they’d really rather be somewhere else than take of passengers. One male FA on a Delta flight this summer had bitten his fingernails down to the quick-really nice to see when serving us food and drinks.
    The headline of one of my travel newsletters today read, more or less, despite the changes in rules regarding appearance, gender, weight, hair, make up, hygiene, etc. since the 40s and 50s, US airlines have a long way to go in letting even more individualism show through in how cabin crews express themselves. Really? They are there to provide friendly, knowledgeable, and competent service to passengers, not to express themselves by how they wear their uniforms, etc.
    Our cabin crew on a AA flight from LHR to RDU this past June was excellent, service above and beyond. I wrote a letter to the AA CEO and received a response stating our praise would be passed on to them. So I’ll give good feedback when I experience really good service.

    I hope “someday” to fly Singapore Airlines to experience the service of the Singapore Girl before the feminists crack down on that last surviving instance of beauty, friendliness, and competent proactive service.

  42. Considering this woman is now onto her fifth airline (plus any non-airline related jobs) at a young age speaks volumes about her overall employability IMO. Next time we hear from her it will be at some new gig I suspect.

  43. Turns out LOT Polish actually fired her today for that. And employees will get some learning sessions about their presence in social media.
    A busy day for LOT, especially considering that the pilot who famously landed a 767 without landing gear is suing LOT for unfair dismissal (due to his age).

  44. I must wonder, would you have been as sympathetic and understanding if the critique had been towards an AA crew?

  45. LOT airline has one of the most beautiful and professional female flight attendants in the world. As a frequent flier, I always appreciate honesty and strive for excellence because we be benefit from it as consumers. And please Ben (Lucky) stop this political correctness rubbish.

  46. She is absolutely correct in with her opinion, but perhaps became “a little emotional” about it, or overenthusiastic.

    Many ME and SE Asian carriers exhibit exemplary standards of dress.

    Personally, I have never seen one hair out of place on EK crew.
    They are uniformly displaying their uniform with uniform makeup and uniform hair styles, which instil confidence that you will receive exemplary (if “uniform”) service and uniform attention to safety procedures.. EK520 evacuation proved that uniform efficiency.

    In case you’ve missed the point. Staff are supposed to be wearing, guess: A Uniform!

  47. The maybe correct with her observation but public posting comments on competitor by someone affiliated with competing airline is highly inappropriate.
    I’m glad LOT sacked her on the spot.
    BTW LOT is hardly a champion of customer service or appearance.

  48. Hey Upperdeckjohnny. I used to fly for EK. As we would enter the crew centre we would have a going over by an ‘appearance monitor’. Not a physical stop everyone followed by a head-to-toe check but someone that would be ‘in position’ and monitor the standards of those coming in. It’s still the same system today.

    Alas, the strict uniform standards didn’t carry over to us providing excellent customer service. The majority of us arrived in DXB excited and full of energy. For the first six months we were full of smiles on board. And then the reality hits. We were overworked, constantly on minimum rest and would be given written warnings for the most trivial little things. Hence why you see most of the crew on middle eastern flights looking pretty but miserable as sin.

  49. There is nothing wrong about her comments
    BA crew are definitively below par in terms of appearance compared to other leading airlines. Even the teeth comment is not completely wrong. Not well kept teeth mean low hygiene.
    Who wants to fly BA anyway. I stopped flying with them after getting no reply to complaint emails sent after 6 hours delays in first class on a Miami flight. Of course now I understand why they didn’t want to acknowledge the issue being afraid of having to pay me EU fines..naive that I am. Since then they lost 50 intercontinental first class fares. Their bad.
    When I started working in mid 90’s there was a website called british*** which was so funny to read and so true. Cabin attendants were called prison guards, cabin manager warden etc maybe some of you old enough remember this site. Ciao BA.

  50. ‘Who wants to fly BA anyway’? Errrm someone must. They are the most profitable legacy carrier in europe with profits in the billions. And doing considerable better financially than most of the asian airlines as well.

  51. Comment on teeth and posting pics uncalled for but other criticisms are fair game in my view. I don’t go for political correctness BS.

  52. She should not post comments on FB , but I also judge people by grooming . I know it is sometimes wrong but if someone cannot be bothered to look smart in their job then they will never impress others . I bet these people pay attention to grooming when they go for a job interview .
    I agree with others comments , this political correctness thing has a lot of BS and different cultures have different approaches to it .

  53. Of course she’s not wrong but the appearance of some US FA’s is pretty bad as well. Example: on a flight this year I had a senior FA whose backside was so wide she scraped the armrests on both sides of the aisle. In addition to being a possible safety issue, how is this allowed?

  54. While I don’t disagree with the gist of her comments about sloppy crews, one problem is that these comments disproportionately are used for female crew.
    Even though male crews are, of course, expected to dress well too, we rarely see the same standards of impeccability applied to men.

  55. It’s articles like this, showing supposed outrage at the woman’s comments that has got her fired. It’s pathetic, you comment on people’s appearance yourself Lucky. Why the fake bandwagon outrage?

  56. She thought she was promoting LOT Polish Airlines in the most ethical way ….by bashing a competitor airline’ staff.
    Lot Polish Airlines (which has a big Chinese investor” did well firing her for God Knows what nasty other comments she could have said in the future about Chinese people.
    “I’m not sure she’s the one who should be providing cross-cultural training.” Right but actually her comments have nothing to do with Polish Culture.These were just nasty comments that’s all.

  57. #Duck ling

    There’s nothing more pleasing to my eye than a well dressed and groomed crew, and yes, I am aware of the “appearance monitor” in Dubai. In my view, it works.

    As for a reality check after six months, this is not exclusive to EK. As a former BA FA (yes…!) I did the job alongside crew who if they had been doing the job more than 18-24 months were disillusioned and wanted to leave but could not replace the life style and income.

    At least over the years I’ve dined out on many of the events that happened during that time, which I can’t say for any other occupation I’ve had over a similar period of time.

    I can’t say I have ever encountered an EK FA who is “as miserable as sin”. Perhaps I interact with them in a different way. An example that springs to mind is when I asked the galley steward for a green tea (I was seated bulkhead) instead of just saying “yes” (or perhaps “I’m busy, I can do it after the meal service…” MH, BA, AA and others’ response) said “of course you can” enthusiastically.

    Bottom line. It’s not the job anyone envisages when they join and it does take some concentration to focus on what can make it better. Not pushing a trolley, but some dialogue with the guests.

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