Have you ever encountered an airline pilot who liked to show off his language prowess? I sure did on my last United flight.
While flying on Middle East Airlines from Beirut to Frankfurt last Friday, I was impressed that the pilot greeted passengers in Arabic, English, and French. I suppose that’s hardly a surprise considering that all three languages are widely spoken in Lebanon, but I appreciated the effort.
From Frankfurt, I connected to Washington Dulles on United Airlines. In all my years of flying United (well over one million miles), I can count on one hand the number of times I have heard a pilot offer greetings or flight updates in a language other than English.
The captain began by greeting passengers in English. Upon completion, he made the same announcement in German. He had quite an American accent, but I was impressed by his smooth delivery and effort.
Then he made the same announcement in French. His French was flawless. I thought, wow, this pilot is impressive. It was the first time I had ever encountered a tri-lingual pilot on United.
Then came the announcement in Spanish. I just laughed out loud. Now he was showing off!
I’m sure there are quite a few polyglot pilots out there, but this is the first one I have ever encountered. You could argue the French and Spanish announcements were unnecessary on a flight from Germany to the USA, but I’d want to make Spanish and French-speaking passengers more comfortable as well.
The first officer took over for the rest of the flight and made all announcements in English only. But the captain left his mark. Kudos to him.