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When you put tired, angry people in front of passengers who are tired and angry, hell ensues. It’s like mixing gin, tequila and bad ideas and taking shot after shot. For the first time in history, airlines are making more negative headlines than presidents (and that’s not easy to do these days). There simply has to be an explanation…

Flight Attendants And Airport Staff Are Uniformly:

1) Over worked.

2) Under appreciated.

3) Put forward to deal with people acting irrationally, as you do when you travel.

Air Travel Passengers Are Uniformly:

1) On edge.

2) Fearful of the worst.

3) Wanting to reach a destination on time.

4) Not well versed a large majority of their rights, lack thereof or airline protocols.

But Passengers Are Not “The Enemy”…

Passengers are NOT easy to deal with. Passengers get mad, take anger out on people who more likely than not DID NOT CAUSE THEIR PROBLEMS, demand unreasonable solutions and threaten action they have no means of delivering. However, they are not the enemy. They are people who paid money for a service to be rendered and just want to get from place to place, the service they paid for. They appreciate kindness and effort and just want to feel loved.

And Many Passengers Are Wonderful, Polite People…

It’s not easy to avoid becoming jaded, but as an airline employee, you must. Not everyone is out to get you, not everyone is a threat to cabin safety and everyone with an opinion is not automatically a problem. Being argumentative, threatening and spiteful to customers does nothing to revive a situation, and only converts more passengers to the difficult category.

You Can Blame Management, But It’s Really Bad Apples…

Flying almost every week I see people far too often who should never be put in front of passengers. They are mean, jaded, intentionally argumentative, completely uninterested in human issues, such as the kindness of lending help, or expertise to a novice. They are shameful. They almost enjoy turning their internal anger, hatred and pain into frustration for the people who pay their salaries. I see them on planes, behind desks and I hear them over telephones. They don’t deserve their jobs.

But Management Should Train Their Employees Better Too…

Too many airline employees are poorly informed, poorly trained or flat out wrong on many issues. Culture is everything at any work place, and a culture of knowledge is always the best. You need airlines where employees can ask questions and where they are held to standards of knowledge. I should not know more than a given employee on a given policy, but I often do. Just saying…

File Complaints And Compliments Regularly, Equally…

If someone gets enough bad marks, they are reviewed. With any luck, if deserved, they are fired. Arguing with the person at the desk or on the plane does very little other than get a passenger threatened, as we’ve well seen recently. What gets results is: using the online customer complaint form, sending physical mail to executive offices and using social media post trip. If you can complain, you can also compliment. TOO FEW PEOPLE TAKE TIME TO COMPLIMENT GREAT SERVICE. A quick note, email, tweet, whatever about a great employee makes a direct impact on that person, and the quality of people an airline puts forward.

Make Flying Great By Being Great Yourself…

My favorite bar in Tokyo (Bar High Five) has a list of rules. One of them essentially states that if your bartender looks miserable and disinterested, you should take a look at yourself in the mirror. What are you putting out there? A.K.A no miserable people allowed. Though I don’t expect anyone else to do it, I take time to bring a gift on almost every flight I take to the check in agents and flight crews. It can range from some chocolates on up to some bubbly, if there’s a good deal in duty free. I look them in the eye, I thank them always. It’s not that hard. Be the person to the airline agent that you’d like them to be to you. Simple.

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