United Airlines is cracking down on flight attendants glued to their phones, ignoring customers, and they’re threatening to fire anyone ignoring their duties in this way.
Being a flight attendant is a challenging lifestyle that many people aren’t up to. Passengers don’t often see the shifting schedules, repetitive tasks, low pay and challenging customers they have to deal with. Some though are known for sitting in the galley reading People magazine.
United Airlines is taking a hard stand against flight attendants using their personal devices while in their jump seat (though not against reading People).
A memo went out to employees that was first reported by Live And Let’s Fly outlining the requirement that they provide “visible and attentive service to customers” which can’t be done while using personal devices on board. And since flight attendants are required to be on board by the FAA for safety, United reminds them that they could miss security incidents or safety risks while doing so.
Flight attendants are, of course, encouraged to use their company-provided devices for delivering customized service to passengers and to communicate with other employees about critical flight issues.
Customers look to flight attendants for great service. How comfortable would you be asking someone for help if they were engrossed in their cell phone? What impression would that give you?…Even in public, you should always remain approachable in uniform and display courtesy to customers and other employees.
…Use of a personal electronic device and/or accessories is not permitted while customers are on board the aircraft, with the exception of crew rest. …Any crewmember found in violation will be subject to performance discipline up to and including termination.
Generally Delta and Southwest flight attendants seem friendly and happy – more so than cabin crew at American and United. Most United cabin crew don’t just sit on the galley floor watching videos while denying drinks to passengers, but they aren’t providing the level of service the airline would like to see. And they’ve been on a journey to try to shift that.
- During the pandemic United started collecting customer feedback on flight attendants and sharing it with crew, to offer both kudos and constructive criticism.
- Last year United unveiled a new plan to get flight attendants to provide better service to passengers, pushing new service standards like hanging coats in premium cabins, being quiet in the galley during flight, offering predeparture beverages and thanking customers for their business.
Disciplining crew who don’t follow the airline’s policies is the flip side of efforts to date, and make sense since the CEO believes the industry is 10% overstaffed. Crew have already been warned by their union that failure to follow procedures – something many may wish to do during tumultuous contract negotiations – could get them fired as well.