A United Airlines pilot gave a grand speech to passengers. not everyone is going to like it
Airlines haven’t been doing a great job of communicating with their customers lately.
Their chosen method, most often, has been to not communicate with their customers at all. They prefer to tell them that the wait times for customer service will be four hours. Or more. Well, good luck.
So I was moved by the behavior of a United Airlines captain who thinks he has to greet passengers in a very special way.
Captain Dave Tuck is unlike any ordinary captain. He says he would like to do a TED Talk one day on his LinkedIn profile. What could it be? How not to run an airline?
The rules of the tuck
On that same LinkedIn page, however, he posted a video of how he greets passengers. Not on the plane, where announcements from the cockpit can sometimes seem routine and cold, but at the gate.
Turning to the passengers, he said, “I am personally responsible for your safety. I take the time to come out and look everyone in the eye because I want to acknowledge your presence.
Many will appreciate these words. Some, however, may think it looks like a worship meeting in San Francisco. Or, maybe, a TED Talk by a psychologist.
Tuck thanks the passengers for their business and explains that they put money on his family’s table. He implies that they eat a lot. It’s a daddy’s joke, and the passengers laugh.
Then comes a slightly more strident passage. Tuck says he spent 30 years in the military and built “very successful teams.”
Some might think he should be immediately promoted to CEO of United. But then an interesting progression: “Since you outnumber us in this uniform, I need you on my team. Is everyone okay with that?”
Many may find this uplifting. He is a captain who shows that the passengers are part of the experience. Some, however, may question the tone.
Is the thought of being co-opted into a team by a United Airlines captain something heart-warming? Or might one or two people be thinking, “You know what, I paid a lot of money for that flight. I paid for your team to do their job and do it well. I just want you to tell me.” take you there, vaguely on time.”?
Also, before joining a team, I would like to know its strategy, its ambition, if its pilots think that the airline is the worst and if its stewardesses are so angry with their bosses that they start marking them on a weekly basis.
What does it mean, indeed, to be part of a team these days, when too many managers and CEOs have launched team philosophies while reaping too many personal benefits and leaving their employees in their wake – and spying on them while they work from home?
Also: Are you ready for the world’s worst economy class airplane seats?
Be kind. Even if we’re late
At this point, however, Tuck reaches cruising altitude.
“Let’s be nice to each other,” he said. “You have to fight traffic. You get the shakedown when you go through security. You didn’t ask for that, but you still have to deal with it.”
On the plane, Tuck continues, “you feel like you’re alone and nobody cares.” That pretty much sums up what a lot of people think of airlines, especially now.
“Well, not on this one. Not while I’m in charge. Just know that I have your back,” he insists. “So let’s be nice. Let’s work together as a team.”
It sounds both charming and idyllic, except for the team part. He could have stopped at kindness.
But then a controversial topic: “Things are looking up. We don’t have to wear these masks anymore, but if you choose to, you have my full support. I lost a cousin to this disease , so I understand.”
Also: An airline was fed up with baggage chaos at the airport. His solution was brilliant
You had me in your story. You don’t need to sell harder
Now he really has the public. He made it personal. He showed sensitivity.
But his final touch is, well, quite something: “I want this to be the best flight experience you’ve ever had.”
That’s unlikely, considering he’s in a narrow-body plane with, most likely, not a single empty seat. Then again, perhaps Tuck is simply echoing his own CEO, who insists that United’s intention is “to truly establish itself as the biggest and best airline in the history of the aviation”.
Sir, how many flights have you canceled this year?
Still, Tuck concludes that it’s “an experience we all share, and we’re all in this together.” In that he is surely right, and it is good to hear it from the man in charge.
It’s easy to admire Tuck’s intentions. He explains: “As a captain, I make such announcements at the gate before boarding in order to introduce myself, welcome my passengers and set a tone of caring, empathy and hard work. team.”
Yet the way to make passengers really feel like part of the team isn’t just to demand it of them. You have to create the kind of environment where they want to volunteer.
Tuck is trying to set the tone, but the airlines have largely failed to do so for too long. Because, it seems, many just want your money.