Passenger happiness depends on many factors, particularly those that immediately precede a flight. A guest who missed their connection and had to wait for 10 hours at the airport will definitely not be the happiest person on the plane. It is a lot easier to please a carefree guest going for a long-awaited holiday than someone who missed their previous flight. Of course, comfort and the product are important but, in my opinion, imperfect products can be easily ‘covered up’ with a spontaneous, timely gesture from a flight attendant. It is the personal touch that each of us brings into the cabin that makes all the difference.
I try to avoid boilerplate sentences. Yes, I have to ask the guest what they want to drink and eat because that is what I am here for, but I always try to squeeze in a small joke or a casual comment, even in those two minutes of conversation. If you can manage to get a smile from them, you are halfway to making them feel happy.
I always treat my guests as human beings with their own individual needs. For example, if I know where they are going, I write them a note with recommendations of where to visit. Also, since we have a list of guest names, I sometimes randomly choose several names which I will try to use during the flight; those people will feel special when you address them by their name in a cabin with over 300 guests.
Families appreciate it when they see that an airline really cares about their needs and those of their children. I once had a little girl on a flight who wanted to become a pilot, and I answered all of her questions about flying. Who knows, after this gesture, which was a pleasure for me, that child will want to become a pilot even more. The experience I gave her might really make a difference in her life.
Rada Kopivica is a flight attendant at Etihad Airways. You can read more about Rada, and further secrets to passenger happiness in our March 2016 feature HERE.