• Michael Ruckman posted an update in the group Group logo of Customer Experience CultureCustomer Experience Culture 5 years, 9 months ago

    So I usually praise Virgin companies for having such a great culture amongst their team members, but the other day I was on a Virgin America flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, and I had a first hand encounter with a flaw in their corporate culture.

    Virgin prides itself on the culture of their people and the image of the brand in all of their more than 300 companies, but there can always be one bad apple or someone that just doesn’t buy into the team spirit.

    I was sitting in the first row in a first class seat, which has a direct view of the flight attendants through a purple tinted glass that separates their seating from the passenger cabin. During taxi and take off, after telling everyone that all electronics should be turned off, she spend the entire time texting on her phone while snacking on some food. The real show, however came from the food preparation during the texting, which consisted of spooning out some peanut butter from a jar that was produced from her carry on bag. After the peanut butter was dished out into a cup, she took out some sliced apples and used the apple wedges to scoop out little bits of peanut butter form the cup. When the apple wedges were finished, she used a finger to get the remaining bits of peanut butter from the cup and then sucked it off of her finger.

    Now I am not privy to the exact rules of in flight conduct for flight attendants on Virgin America, but I am pretty sure that this behavior is not consistent with the image that they hope to portray as one of the brands in the Virgin family.

    • While I cannot really say that I have a very strong opinion on airlines (I am not exactly a frequent flyer, nor have I flown with Virgin Airlines) I would agree that from my understanding Virgin tries to promote its image as one of class and sophistication. A flight attendant, or any employee for that matter, should hold themselves in a position of respect and regard, knowing that at every moment they are representing the company and presenting a face for people to associate with, especially in a case where you are representing a businesses founded on quality. To blatantly contradict plane safety measures is absurd, but the lack of table manners is just alarming. She should have realized that someone would notice her eating and at the very least been more civil about it. Definitely an oversight on her part, but also a lack of proper etiquette and responsibility.

    • Michael, while I would usually give an employee the benefit of the doubt and attribute this shortcoming to a lack of experience, the issue in this case stems from the personality of the individual. If she had understood her position and the respect she garners, then she would not have conducted herself in such a sloppy manner. This is not to say that her actions are wrong – in the proper setting such as a home, it may be acceptable – but rather her approach and understanding of her situation are flawed. She should understand that if she is issuing requests to the passengers aboard the aircraft then she, herself, should adhere to them as well. Being an employee does not exempt her from the expectations placed on other passengers. The attendant should also understand that she needs to have poise if she is to represent a business centered on quality, especially since she is catering to a higher class, in this case the first class cabin.
      How I believe this should be handled is that the flight attendants should be expected to maintain their dignity and responsibilities by conducting themselves in a manner befitting those who are constantly under public scrutiny. For this specific situation, she should have regarded her eating habits as if she were sitting in plain view; to trust a tinted glass is foolish considering how the glass itself is probably there to allow her to glance and see if anyone was in need of assistance. Therefore, she should have known that while she could peer out into the cabin, a passenger could peer into where she was seated. I do hope that you mentioned this to her superior or one of her peers. This is an issue that should be resolved to maintain the image of Virgin Airlines.

    • So what is Virgin trying to show themselves as anyways? I can’t tell if they’re supposed to be that budget airline that has really cheap airfare or are they trying to be that trendy, high class sort of deal? Someone posted a video a while back in the experiential branding group and I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be a fancy sort of airline or just a better than average day to day carrier. If it was that plain Jane carrier, wouldn’t you say the peanut butter issue is pretty irrelevant?

      • What they’re trying to do is to show off and say they’re the fanciest airline out there with all the hottest new tech and employees. Still, they’re trying to be like Walmart and keep costs down. The peanut butter thing isn’t even an issue. Virgin is a fancy, low cost airline with regular people who shouldn’t be scrutinized.

    • So you’re telling me that you’re judging a flight stewardess, someone who is constantly on the run serving people and operating across a crazy work schedule, about eating peanut butter and texting? This is so trivial that it’s funny. Why would you care if she’s eating on the flight? She probably didn’t get time to eat before getting on the flight, or maybe she wants to eat a snack. Really now, is that such a big deal? She’s human and she needs to eat. Maybe her manners aren’t the greatest, but no one is perfect.

    • Great to hear from you, Michael! 🙂 What isn’t so great is that flight you had to have on Virgin Airlines. 🙁 Really, how can she do all of that knowing that she’s on the clock and supposed to be a good example for fliers? Some people just need to brush up on your teachings and pick up on the fact that they need to engage the customers and make them happy. Step one of that is doing their job right and not breaking the rules, especially texting on a flight! That could get people killed, you know. Can you imagine if it messed with the electronics in the cockpit? That would have been terrible 🙁 People need to know that there’s always someone watching them.

    • Now Virgin is one of those carriers that I love flying. Nothing beats wifi when you’re on a flight. I mean come on, who wants to sit through a long flight with nothing to do? Not this guy, that’s for sure. Even if the stewardess was texting and snacking during the flight it doesn’t seem all that bad. You can’t expect that sort of perfection all the time, you know. But yeah, it should be better if you’re flying that first class seat. They shouldn’t be skimping on the professionalism, so I don’t blame you for being upset.