I guess we all focus on different things on our business flights. Some just want transport, some want a little bit of luxury, or at least comfort, some want nubile flight attendants and some, like me, “just” want a nice flat bed.. oh, and some TLC for me too please.. On a recent flight with AA the needs of different customer types became apparent as challenges arose. So what customer types are there based on my recent trip? I identified 4: the entertainment system aficionado, the lover of nubile flight attendants, the lover of the flat bed and the impartial imbiber.
So how did American Airlines meet their needs?
Entertainment system Aficionado. This passenger was identifiable on my most recent flight, as our entertainment system stayed obstinately offline for 45 minutes, by displaying severe irritation, especially with flight attendants, who didn’t twig to the fact that if all the monitors are showing blank screens, then fiddling with individual screens is not going to help….
We did get Bose Speakers, but let me tell you: they are no good if you cannot actually use them with anything.
How did American Airlines do? Delivery on entertainment system? I’d have to say – disappointing for the first 45 minutes, at some point the system started to work, I watched a movie, my headset didn’t work and the screen was tiny. So I guess they rate 6/10 – I am easy to please at this point, because being a veteran British Airways in-flight entertainment system failures expert – I am used to the system not working for an entire flight, and finding solace in books/magazines/IPAD with movies I brought with me or on one occasion chatting with my seat neighbours: Brits – loadsa fun, retired and downing vodka tonics at an eye-watering speed …(more on this traveller type further down)
The lover of nubile flight attendants: Never crossed my mind before – as long as the flight attendant welcomes me with “oooh, you must have had such a tough trip, let me bring you a nice glass of bubbly” I am happy. I don’t care if they are young and goodlooking, but then I am a woman. However, as the AA attendants tried to figure out the in-flight system, and one of them told me, she takes DVDS with her on her flights, because the systems never work……bad thing to hear from a flight attendant, the Russian guy a seat over leaned over to me and said “they are all SO old…not one under the age of 70” I looked beyond the face-lifts and blonde hair and realised he was right – the flight attendant did indeed look a lot like Dolly Parton. The guy went on to say he usually flies East and on those airlines the staff are more to his liking, all this communicated, despite his not being totally in command of English. His expressive disappointment reminded me of the first scene from the Big Fat Greek Wedding first 30 seconds of this video:
How did AA do? Nubile flight attendants? Niet – on this AA flight. A friend whose husband is a pilot with BA told me that apparently AA has a strong union and they cannot get rid of older flight attendants – good for the flight attendants I say. Personally, I won’t rank this one, any company that doesn’t get rid of their workforce based on age, deserves to be given some gold stars in my book, there is too much of that going on in every industry at the moment. All I can say is, if you have James Bond type hankerings when it comes to the flight assistants who decorate your cabin, then maybe unless it’s M you are looking for, you won’t find it on the flight I was on.
The lover of the flat bed: I love love love a flat bed – which is one reason I don’t fly with Lufthansa or Swiss. Also while both take care of you with germanic style efficiency they lack both warmth and charm. BA may be a bit run down, but they make you feel welcome, and if I am going to be stuck on a flight for hours, then hey I like to feel welcome. BA has tiny cubicles so you are encased by the wall and the cubicle, it’s a bit claustrophobic but you have your own space and that is nice for sleeping in. If you are very large then it might be a tight fit..BA also makes sure you have a flat bed, and frankly on a long trip that is all I really care about-
How did AA do? Bed model a friend of mine calls the dentists chair – although in general dentists chairs don’t have you sliding off the bottom. The AA bed reclined into a slide – i.e. it reclines but not fully so you keep slipping down……I woke the next morning with a neck so stiff that I would have killed for an ibuprofen – I also discovered about a million buttons that i had missed the night before…however, none of them made the seat go flat. Apparently they are upgrading their planes but if you are scheduled to fly on a boeing 767-300 (763) V1 – you might want to reevaluate whether you want to fly business (it’s pricey) or fly on a different plane in business, or go eco +. I am not alone in my rating as two comments on seat-guru prove:
A comment on seat-guru says: I wish British Airways would run a flight to compete – they would hand American their &@#$, another commentor: Worst business class seat I’ve been in for years. Seat very hard, does not adjust easily, and cramped. Food slightly better than Arby’s.
My rating 4/10
The impartial imbiber aka the happy drinker of free alcohol: Dehydration be damned, this customer just cannot get enough alcohol, easily identifiable by the frequency with which the flight attendant stops at the seat to fill-it up. I flew with a lovely English couple on a BA flight where the entertainment system was down for 10 hours, the couple just kept on downing vodka tonics, I was surprised at the amount they were able to put away, amazing!
How did AA do? Well fill her up they did – as you can see above, the red wine, a syrah perhaps I think it was, was a served too warm, so the flavour was really heavy on the alcohol, also for me personally a glass that full kind of puts me off. But If you like your booze I am sure you would be well served! I had my suspicions they were trying to detract from the missing entertainment system, or to anesthetize me before I tried to fall asleep on the substandard bed – however if that was the goal, it didn’t work!