Turkish Airlines Allegedly Has Special Flight Attendants To Serve Their Executives

Over the years I’ve flown with my fair share of airline executives. It’s fascinating to see the different ways in which they interact with their employees.

In an ideal world, airline executives would use flights to get feedback, both from employees and customers. Unfortunately that’s probably a bit idealistic. To some degree I get it. Airline executives are on planes because they need to get places, and in many cases it’s important that they’re well rested for press conferences, business meetings, etc.

So at a minimum I hope that all airline executives treat the people they interact with while flying with respect. This includes being polite to the crew and thanking them, and being courteous towards other travelers.

I recently sat across the aisle from Oman Air’s CEO on a flight to London, and he was a delight. He was humble and gracious, and treated employees and customers alike with respect. As you’d expect, he had quite a welcome committee when we deplaned, and despite that, he said “after you” as we were getting off the plane.

So while I don’t think there’s necessarily a “right” way for airline executives to act on flights, I certainly do think there’s a wrong way. If media reports are to be believed, Turkish Airlines executives go about things the wrong way.

Ahval News reports that Turkish Airlines has created a special group of roughly 100 cabin crew to operate flights that senior Turkish Airlines executives are flying on.

I’d note that while some airlines have “promo crews” that often work inaugural flights and the like, that’s different than what’s going on here. Apparently these flight attendants are specially chosen because of their ability to provide good service for executives.

What has caused this?

A Turkish Airlines director’s upset over a cup of coffee has sparked the creation of a 100-person special cabin crew team in order to ensure the company’s top officials are not let down again

The unnamed executive reportedly responded to a flight attendant asking how he liked his Turkish coffee by flying into a rage and asking: “Don’t you know how I drink my coffee?”

Following the incident, a special team was established “in order that the Turkish Airlines top management not experience any trouble and that service quality standards are met.”

You’d think executives at an airline would want to experience the “real” service as much as possible, but I guess at Turkish Airlines they’re too out of touch for that.

Comments

  1. I think most executives could care less how the average traveler gets treated. They just want to get pampered all the way.

  2. Ben,

    Why is this surprising? A while ago you flew with Air India and one of the pilots told you that you were very lucky to have the senior cabin crew looking after you in First because they normally only worked on VIP flights.

  3. @Lucky – I disagree with your last statement. Why would *anyone* (executive or not) want to experience “real” service? With all due respect, look at yourself, for example. You make a living off of painting compelling pictures of aspirational service. No one tunes in to your blog to hear about the basic economy trip from LAX – SFO. lol

    That issue aside, why do you say “if media reports are to be believed”? Is there controversy to this story?

  4. While CEO at Delta, Richard Anderson would almost allways fly economy (at least domestically) when traveling on company business. He certainly didn’t have to, but he would. It gave him an opportunity to experience he service and to interact with customers. I always respected him for that.

  5. That reminds me of my strange experience on an Asiana flight to Delhi. There was this not-so-senior airline representative seated in the Business cabin i.e. the only other passenger apart from our family. An aged cabin crew member , trying to impress her boss , had the audacity to SHRIEK at my dad the moment he opened his window shade for a peek outside , and literally pounced over his table to close it. Minutes later , when he switched on his OWN reading light , she apparted out of nowhere , reprimanding him as it would disturb “other passengers” ( i.e. the gentleman memtioned before ). Hate such type of hysteria & biased service.

  6. @josh – I agree with Lucky’s point, which reflects the sentiment that we should all stay in our guest bedroom every now and then.

    It may not be easy, obviously, to avoid recognition. But their, and Lucky’s, in-flight experience are important to observe issues, negative and positive. His to provide honest feedback to his readers and theirs for striving for constant quality and improvement. A VIP team would lull them into a perception of reality that’s not based in it.

    Lucky’s and their jobs are both definitely “warts and all” ones.

  7. to Debit’s sister,

    That’s super racist what you say! And Ben, I can’t believe you actually let that comment here.
    I’ve interacted with many Turks before, and they’re really humble and generous. You cannot make generalizations based on one incident.

    I’ve flown with Turkish Airlines 68times in the past 4 months (all LR, in J), and I found the service to be impeccable. I can’t imagine what this 100 folks are doing to go beyond that!

  8. all executives need to check out their product, and also serve their product. One of the VP’s I respected the most would spend the last two days of the month (really busy) helping his departments out. He knew what worked and what didn’t.

  9. One of my few disappointments of flying CX F is that they staff that cabin with their most senior FAs . sigh. Would not mind the FAs in Y ….

  10. Turkish is still, at its core, a state owned airline……Now, imagine if the folks in Washington D.C. ran an airline….

  11. This, yet you fail to mention anything about Emirates and their executives sexually harassing their employees and treating their immigrant ground staff poorly. It would be interesting if someone screenshotted the multiple times you have been notified of this. The times you have rejected postings and screened comments talking about the multiple abuses there. When the story breaks you are complicit just like the people that covered up Weinstein and Spacey. Kevin Spacey is an amazing actor, thats why he got away with it for so long. So you keep sending them money, raving about their product, and complaining about a dog dying on United. That’s more important than human rights. #metoo

  12. @SQFirst – Air India crew who is reserved for VIP is for people like Prime Minister & President of India… I don’t think that applies in this case as here there is a special crew for Airline executive’s..Air India does not have VIP crew for their executive’s.

  13. @Marco, nothing racist about what I said. Thankfully, Lucky understands free speech unlike you. What I said about the Turks is the plain truth. That’s why the idiot Turks keep on electing Erdogan. He stokes their nationalistic egos and boom he gets the votes. Frankly, most Turks are as dumb as most Americans.

  14. I think they are smart to have their own crew. I used to work for American Airlines, then I left. When flight attendants would get mad at senior management some of them told me they would spit in their drink. Two flight attendants told me they had a baggy full of urine. Most AA senior management flew on other airlines, or if flying on AA would not drink or eat. I was shocked by their statements but I know a few militant flight attendants behaved in this criminal manner.

  15. @Complicit — Can you post any links to stories about sexual harassment of staff by Emirates executives? I hadn’t heard about this.

  16. You get special treatment at a ton of hotels and flights due to your public exposure.
    Don’t pretend please that you don’t know.

    You’ve stopped being a real objective reviewer years ago

  17. Until I read your article, I had alot of good things to say about Turkish. Reading this is a total turn off. Will be avoiding them for myself and my clients!

  18. @ Dan

    “all executives need to check out their product”

    Quite right. The hospital’s chief surgeon should undergo brain surgery at least annually – if not monthly – so s/he can be sure the patients are getting the right standard of care. There’s no other way they’ll get a proper understanding of the service.

  19. @Mike
    One of Qantas’s past CEOs did that too. He was usually spotted in one of the windowless economy seats, and when asked why, he responded that he wasn’t paying for the seat anyway, so paying passengers should be prioritized ahead of him.

  20. Lol, most state owned airlines in certain countries do this, one way or another.
    Aeroflot most certainly does it, witnessed it once on LAX-SVO, where the executives (not the board level, I think) were all pampered to the max. And that makes sense, because otherwise the crew would lose their jobs. Russian domestic flights get delayed all the time because some executive is late, when such delay of course would never happen for a regular Joe.
    Yes, I do think it paints a poor picture of these executives’ moral compass, but it is what it is.

  21. It’s disappointing to read this as I like TK and I find their flight attendants to generally be very professional and helpful. But like any other airline you can always get the odd TK crew member who doesn’t measure up. That’s just life at 30,000 feet, I believe.

  22. The danger, of course, is that if an airline sees a prominent travel blogger on a flight that you too might at times be reporting on a VIP service, rather than a more typical one. It’s to your immense credit you don’t take comp flights – it vastly improves the authenticity of the blog – but it’s hard to stop airlines treating you as a PR channel in the background without your knowledge.

  23. FISH OR DUCK
    FISH OR DUCK
    FISH OR DUCK
    FISH OR DUCK
    FISH OR DUCK

    Now that is what special needs to be.

  24. @WP,

    I can be fairly sure it wasn’t James Strong. I remember one flight SYD/BKK/LHR in ’97 where my wife of only a couple of days and I were the only people in the First lounge in BKK. James walked in, took one look at us and proceeded to the other side of the lounge.

    Always thought it was strange – we were either high rev passengers, or a very frequent flyers (this was prior to the current status credits process used at QF). A simple acknowledgement of our presence would have generated a fair bit of good will – particularly as I was the travel policy owner for one of QF’s top five corporate customers (not that he knew that, but he may have found out). I started pushing some business towards Ansett when I got back from the honeymoon – not that it ultimately did them any good.

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