European Airlines :
Recently I took a trip to Lisbon. I flew TAP of Portugal. The outbound leg was OK, as much as OK could be on a 6am flight.
The return leg, oh dear….
I entered the Airbus A320 and announced to the waiting cabin crew that I was on the 'Starboard' side. After repeating myself to blank stares and an "Excuse me?"
I told them that they had better ask their captain what 'Starboard' means ?
Unimpressed I made my way to my seat. The aircraft was over an hour late with the usual excuse of, "Due to the late arrival of the inbound aircraft……blah blah blah."
I asked one of the crew for a second wine, the look of shock on the face would have been the same if I had asked for the Crown Jewels or something similar. I did get my second wine…eventually. The bread role they provided as some sort of food had a smear of something unidentifiable with bits of green in it, a thin smear of whatever it was. It reminded me of 1960s margarine.
From September TAP will be charging 80 euros to put baggage in the hold, instead of the current 20 euros. Also, they will be charging for food and drink. The cabin crew seemed pretty surly as well, very un-Portuguese.
My last flight with TAP was 25 years ago, a totally different experience, they couldn't do enough for you. Big smiles and attention all round. Apparently in 1974 they were one of the best airlines in the world. Then came a little revolution. Still in 1992/3 I still thought they were pretty good.
Over the past two years there has been a seesaw battle between employees, the new Left-Wing Government and the new owners, The Atlantic Gateway Consortium. Originally Atlantic Gateway owned 61% and the Government 34%, with 5% owned by employees etc. Apparently, now the Government has a 50% stake.
American/Brasilian David Neeleman is one of the owners of Atlantic Gateway, he has claimed that he likes to sit at the back of the aircraft of one of his airlines, to experience and know what the service is like, then improve it if necessary. Obviously, he no longer has any input to TAP?
What is/has happened to TAP has happened pretty much across the board in Europe. A Ryanair, Whizzair or easyJet experience from most airlines.
British Airways now serve Marks & Spencer sandwiches at a cost of twice as much in the M & S in Terminal 5. All very well but they often run out of food on the outbound leg, including some of the drinks, the crew obviously on the receiving end of some very unhappy passengers, or should that be customers? Run out of food, then go on strike. Then have a computer crash with BA passengers saying "Never again!" What a way to run a railway, or airline, or whatever.
easyJet do a nice line in getting out the micrometer to measure your hand-baggage, it's too big sir, it will have to go in the hold, that will be £XX's extra ! This is called a stealth tax, they are all doing it. Why cannot they charge a realistic price for the ticket, give a good service and be done with it. Oh no, that is not the style these days.
On receiving his brand new Boeing B787-9's. Sir Richard Branson was asked by his accountants to remove the bar, "We can get another five seats in there !"
Sir Richard said, "The bar stays, I am not about bean-counting, I am about the flight experience!"
Good on you Sir Richard. I have had some very good reports about Virgin Atlantic.
For the last twenty years I have been used to flying, EVA, Etihad, Qatar, Thai etc. I have yet to fly Emirates but I have heard they are pretty good as well. Singapore are superb I understand.
As for the cattle truck EU airlines ? OK if you can afford Business or First Class, otherwise, welcome to the sardine tin !
It's just a trend like any other trend. Monkey see, monkey do. At the moment the bean-counters are all copying Ryanair, Whizzair and easyJet.
How do airlines like Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, Qatar, Singapore etc. Motivate their staff to give a great service ?
It is a good question, but unfortunately, I do not have the answer.
Here is my pitch……..
I believe in bucking trends, not following them.
1) First make sure one has enthusiastic staff. Good on treating their source of employment......the customer.
2) Get some decent food and IFE. Branson has been very strong with IFE and always has.
3) Passengers are clueless about aircraft types but they do know about seat pitch and comfort.
4) Don't worry about charging more to cover these extra costs. People will pay extra for a good service. Word gets around.
5) Awful service on airlines is a major topic.
6) Get rid of the bean-counters.
7) Keep the passengers fully updated at all times. When BA had the computer problem last month. Their staff went into hiding !
Bad move !
Most of this is common sense. Sir Richard Branson knows nothing about aeroplanes but he employs people that do know about such things.