Small or Great?  United flight attendants will start rating the airline on how it serves them

Small or Great? United flight attendants will start rating the airline on how it serves them

United flight attendants have found themselves locked in a battle with airline management over long periods of phone on-hold. With so many last-minute schedule changes, flight attendants have to call the airline to acknowledge changes to their schedules, resulting in wait times of up to four hours.

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) has been pushing United to reduce these long wait times, but the airline’s in-flight service chief John Slater was unimpressed with the union’s campaign on the matter, alleging that the AFA was doing more of the problem than necessary for “political expediency”.

This criticism did not deter the union, and flight attendants responded by bombarding Slater with letters and emails about how long wait times were affecting their quality of life.

The union has tried to argue that flight attendants are internal ‘customers’ of the airline and the United branch of the AFA says it’s just ‘common sense that, to provide a great experience for passengers United, the people who provide the experience should feel valued and supported.

Thus, the AFA wants United to measure flight attendant satisfaction the same way it measures passenger satisfaction.

In recent years, United has begun using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge passenger satisfaction with the airline. Across a range of industries, NPS has become an incredibly popular tool for measuring customer satisfaction, and airlines have truly embraced NPS as a key measure of success.

If you’ve ever received a survey asking how likely you were to recommend a business to a friend or family member on a scale of 1 (being least likely) and 10 (being very likely), then you have participated in an NPS survey.

A score of zero means you definitely wouldn’t recommend United, while a score of 10 means you definitely would. Passengers who score 9 or 10 are considered promoters, while a score of 7-8 is neutral and 0-6 are detractors.

The NPS is then calculated with a simple sum: % Promoters – % Detractors = NPS

The beauty of measuring NPS is that you can experiment with small changes to see what will provide the greatest improvement. It’s no surprise to learn that airlines often report an NPS spike when passengers have flown on the carrier’s last plane, but a change can have a ripple effect that completely changes a passenger’s perception. .

Several years ago, for example, Portuguese airline TAP discovered that passengers rated food and drink better when flying in planes connected to WiFi. The logical explanation was that the addition of in-flight Wi-Fi had a “halo effect” on other aspects of the passenger experience.

In the case of flight attendants, the union will start judging how valued flight attendants feel through its own “flight attendant promoter score.”

Flight attendants will be asked a series of questions such as how valued they feel their contributions to the airline are and whether they feel supported and the results will be compiled in the FPS.

At the end of each week the union will then publicly release the FPS and over time we can see if the internal changes make a big difference to how flight attendants feel about working for United. .

FPS is not supported by United, but the union says changes made to improve FPS could “have a significant impact on our working environment and have a correlative impact on United’s NPS scores”.

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Mateusz Maszczynski


Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the Middle East’s most important airline and flew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centered stories. Always on the cutting edge, Matt’s knowledge, analysis and news coverage are often used by some of the biggest names in journalism.


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