Monday, September 10, 2007

The five love languages of airlines

After reading a substantial book, I thought I'd try to get through a couple of easier reads in my queue, including the Five Love Languages, a quick and easy read. Overall, the concepts are simple and I found the different examples for activities pretty practical for all readers... very quaint. :P

Well, not that I have flown on many different airlines, but in my reflective analytical ways, this is a hypothesis on the nature of service on airlines within the framework of the five love languages. :P

It's evident that north American airlines know nothing about service.. but why? [All 'cost structure' discussions aside.] One reason why I think Asian airlines demonstrate service is because they demonstrate their love to the passenger through multiple love languages.

Singapore Airlines is regarded as one of the best airlines; they provide courteous service (kind of like words of affirmation, perhaps quality time), give you things as you need (acts of service), and ice cream even on short flights (gifts)!

I fly Cathay quite a bit, and they are similar. When you're sleeping and you need to put the seat backs, there is a right touch on the shoulder. Plus, I haven't experienced too many delays with them which is the very basic act of service for an airline!

When I flew Cathay back to Toronto in May, I was most impressed by the head purser in helping passengers fill out their Canadian customs forms since many people on the flight didn't speak English. She treated every case personally, seeming to show that she understands that everyone has a different background with different paths of life. I'm sure her role was huge in helping perhaps some new immigrants on their first journey over to a foreign country.

In flying the other direction on British Airways, another airline that is regarded as higher class with better service; I think they have a different love language. Their planes are all newer and pretty well fitted. Their business class is known to be 'cool' and comfortable (the pods). They pride themselves on the gourmet quality of their meals. On the transatlantic leg, since many people sleep, I was slightly surprised at their way of providing snacks... they just out all their different snacks and people can help themselves. Here, BA provides you with the things to feel like you are well served. The flight attendants don't necessarily put in the quality time (or, any time at all with the self-help snacks), but for some, this may appeal for the 'gifts' or a different way of acts of service.

In contrast, Westjet (Canadian discount airline) does relatively well without many amenities (though the new planes do have personal TVs) because they add a personal touch. The flight attendants have told jokes and are personable in their time with the passengers.

And how about something like United Airlines? Well, there is no love. It's just duty. :P


I always have a bad feeling whenever I get on a United Airlines plane, even though it's been a while. When I boarded this time, I instinctively flashed back to the last flight on them... I think it was a few years ago going back to Toronto from Chicago, which was a transit from Lincoln, Nebraska.

It was a memorable flight because I really needed to go to the bathroom as we were landing/taxi-ing. Of course, the seatbelt sign is on and you're not supposed to get up. The taxi-ing took too long and I said to my coworker beside me, "I'm going to make a run for it."

I dashed to the washroom and as the flight attendants semi-yelled "ma'am..."

My automatic response was a blurt, "Sorry but I feel really sick" and then closed the washroom door.

The flight attendants were right outside the toilet in the aft and I could hear them chatting amongst themselves, "Is she okay?" "are you ok?" "should we call someone? An ambulance?"

I prolonged the closed door after a few minutes and said I was ok, and went back to my seat after we had finished taxi-ing. I figured that it was better to just stay contained within the toilet stall than walking back on the still moving (taxi-ing) plane. Hahaha... anyway, I'm thankful that in the end, they didn't call an ambulance. :P

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