I had a great weekend in Chicago. I’m in Philadelphia or Los Angeles, my brother is in San Francisco, and we do not get to see a lot of each other anymore, but we both made time to meet in Chicago on Saturday. Our time together was memorable–a nice hotel, nice meals, great fellowship and good flights. That last point is the subject of this brief post.
As a disclaimer, I flew standby on United. The trip came together at the very last minute and the price difference between a standby ticket and revenue ticket was far too great to justify. But that is not the point–the point is that I was reminded by the service on my two short flights between Philadelphia and Chicago of the United I once loved and still do. If you think flying non-rev clouds my judgement, just think that I fly well over 100,000 miles per year on United metal as a 1K flyer.
Chicago O’Hare is fast becoming United’s A319 hub and both of my flights were operated by A319s, which meant legacy Untied crews. And what great crews they were! They were smiling. They were smiling! Did I mention they were smiling?
If you fly on United, you know this does not happen on a regular basis anymore. Sure, you can still receive good service and be generally well taken care of during any given UA flight, but forget about a smile from the crew. No, many FAs are just “doing their job” and cannot be bothered with a smile. And I don’t mean that as an attack–they’ve endured much and I concede that many would argue it is unreasonable to expect a big grin and warmth rather than simply efficient and courteous service.
Except that I like a big smile. In fact, it makes all the difference for me.
When a crew goes out of its way to be friendly–to greet each passenger warmly upon boarding, smile at passengers while offering drinks, and even (gasp) engage in a bit of small talk if warranted–I feel like a valued customer. That makes me willing to pay a bit more for United even if American is cheaper. Honestly–smiles matter.
And it is not just me. Check out what Jeff Smisek wrote in this month’s Hemispheres magazine-
Both crews were “motherly” types and I particularly liked that. Older FAs often and unfairly get a bad wrap. Age matters little to me–it is all about attitude and these older crews were wonderful. So see, even in coach service can be great (three flights in a row now on United) and a little smile and greeting go a long way toward making the flight a good one.
And could it be that Mr. Smisek too finally understands that little things like smiles actually do matter?