Skip to main content

Product Review: Transpacific Flights

I'm not sure exactly when it was that my brain "broke", but I find it nearly impossible to view products or services without thinking about why they don't work and how they could be made better. It's a constant obsession of mine, but I like tinkering, so it's all good.

Case in point: I flew ICN-SFO yesterday on one of my least favorite airlines for long flights. Let's call it Airline X. I chose Airline X for this trip specifically because it was significantly cheaper for my multicity itinerary. I usually like to fly Singapore or Asiana, both of which are fantastic, but it was a bit too pricey this time around.

Anyway, the experience on Airline X is consistently poor compared to the market leaders. What strikes me the most about it is that every time I fly them, it seems as if it's the crew's first day on the job. That is, they've clearly done the job dozens, hundreds, or thousands of times, but nothing is smooth. For instance, it's a common site to see two attendants bickering about where to stop the food/drink cart as they're going down the aisle. Haven't you done this before? Isn't there a very specific, set protocol for doing everything?

It's almost as if the crew are told what they're supposed to do, but were never taught how to do it. If I were to imagine a flight attendant training program, it would go over all responsibilities of a flight attendant, along with instructions for the safest, most efficient, most customer-happiness-focused way of doing it. But on Airline X, it seems the execution is just left up to the whims of the crew.

Some fun examples on the two recent transpacific flights:

- Flight attendant comes by with water as I'm watching a movie on my laptop. She literally drops it into my hand a few inches below, spilling water all over me and my laptop. Then she laughed.

- I asked for tea, and was handed a cup to hold, while the flight attendant poured hot water into the cup. This is just some light turbulence away from a lawsuit. Watch how they do it on Asiana (and all other Asian airlines, for that matter): tea cup (reusable rather than styrofoam) goes on tray, flight attendant fills up cup on tray, customer takes filled cup.

- At dinner time, I saw a flight attendant shuttling armfulls of 3-4 dinners from the cart to the row 10 feet away. Who thought this was a good idea, or would even save time? There's a reason most airlines stop the cart at the row and then hand out trays.

- The more fun part of the above is that as a "courtesy" to the passengers, she was removing the plastic cover from the entrée. Of course, this meant that she would drip condensed water over everyone else in the row.

- On the same leg and airline but a different trip, I almost had my legs sheared off in the exit row as a flight attendant attempted to turn around a food cart. This falls under the above category - hadn't he ever practiced it before, and isn't there a set protocol for it?

- The little details: Airline X flight attendants don't lightly place meals down, they drop them without looking. This leaves a bad impression for the customer.

- Timing: Dropping off dinner and coming by for garbage 5 minutes later is just dumb. Coming by with cups of water and not coming by for garbage until 5 hours later is even worse.

- Foreign language training: Seriously, if you're flying to/from Korea (or Japan, or China, whatever), you can take the time to learn a little bit of that language. At the absolute bare minimum, learn the names of the meat in the meals. It's only two words. Since Airline X describes their dinners merely as protein delivery vehicles ("Beef or chicken?"), you can learn those two words in the non-English language. It's not up to the customer to know them.

I'll be waiting for my consulting gig to improve the service on Airline X. In the meantime, next time I'm going back to Asiana.

Comments

  1. It truly is the little things that make a big difference.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pretty sure you're not talking about JAL or ANA.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pretty sure you're not talking about JAL or ANA.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I quite like both JAL and ANA, as they've mastered both the art and science of service.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why Korean Is Hard For Native English Speakers

A couple of days ago, as an experiment, I wrote my first blog post ever in a non-English language. It was an attempt to explain some of the reasons that Korean is hard to learn for native English speakers, so I figured I might as well try to write it in Korean. Those of you who actually read Korean can see how awkward the attempt was =).

In any case, the post came from an email conversation I had with The Korean from Ask a Korean, a fantastically well-written blog about all things Korea from the perspective of a Korean who moved to the United States during high school. Since I tend to geek out on language things, I figured I might as well post part of that conversation. An edited version follows.

---------

Out of the languages that I've attempted to learn so far, Korean has been the hardest. I've done a lot of meta thinking about learning Korean, and I think there are a number of reasons it's difficult for non-Koreans (and especially Westerners) to learn:

1) Obviously, the…

영어가 모국어인 사람들은 왜 한국어를 배우기가 어려운 이유

이 포스트는 내 처음 한국어로 블로그 포스트인데, 한국어에 대하니까 잘 어울린다. =) 자, 시작합시다! 왜 외국사람에게 한국어를 배우기가 어렵다? 난 한국어를 배우고 있는 사람이라서 이 문제에 대해 많이 생각하고 있었다. 여러가지 이유가 있는데 오늘 몇 이유만 논할 것이다.

1. 분명히 한국어 문법은 영어에 비해 너무 많이 다른다. 영어는 “오른쪽으로 분지(分枝)의 언어"라고 하는데 한국어는 “왼쪽으로 분지의 언어"이다. 뜻이 무엇이나요? 예를 보면 이해할 수 있을 것이다. 간단한 문장만 말하면 (외국어를 말하는 남들은 간단한 문장의 수준을 지낼 수가 약간 드물다), 간단한 걸 기억해야 돼: 영어는 “SVO”인데 한국어는 “SOV”이다. “I’m going to school”라고 한국어로는 “저는 학교에 가요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I’m school to go”이다. 두 언어 다르는 게 목적어와 동사의 곳을 교환해야 한다. 별로 어렵지 않다. 하지만, 조금 더 어렵게 만들자. “I went to the restaurant that we ate at last week.” 한국어로는 “전 우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당에 또 갔어요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I we last week went to restaurant to again went”말이다. 한국어가 왼쪽으로 분지 언어라서 문장 중에 왼쪽으로 확대한다! 이렇게 좀 더 쉽게 볼 수 있다: “전 (우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당)에 또 갔어요”. 주제가 “전"이고 동사가 “갔다"이고 목적어가 “우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당"이다. 영어 문장은 오른쪽으로 확대한다: I (S) went (V) to (the restaurant (that we went to (last week))) (O). 그래서 두 숙어 문장 만들고 싶으면 생각속에서도 순서를 변해야 된다.

2. 첫 째 점이니까 다른 사람을 자기 말을 아라들게 하고 싶으면, 충분히 …

Don't Take Korean Language Advice From Kyopos

I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure this out, but the last people you should take Korean language advice from are kyopos (foreign-born or raised Koreans). That being said, if you do follow their advice, you will get many laughs from Koreans. Some of my personal favorites, all of which actually happened to me:

- When I first got to Korea, I was at some open-air event, and during a break I started talking to one of the hosts. He said he was only a part-time host, so I asked him what his full-time job was, and he said "백수" (which is slang for "unemployed guy"). I asked him what that was, and he replied, "Comedian". So then the next few people I met, I proudly told I was a baeksu. (Edit: Actually, this guy was Korean Korean, not kyopo.)

- Next, a kyopo who lived in the apartment I moved into back in 2010 asked me what I was doing in Korea, and I told him I was starting a company, and asked how to say that in Korean in case people ask. He told me…