Amazing service in first class from Washington to Seattle

OK, I just flew from Washington to Seattle in first class on an A320, and I had the best purser I’ve ever had. Period. Terrence, the Washington Dulles based purser, just couldn’t have done a better job. I’m not quite how to describe his service, but it was the little touches that made all the difference.

Where can I start? He literally smiled the whole flight. And this was nearly a six hour flight. Every time he spoke to a passenger he would just have the most contagious smile on his face that couldn’t help but make the passenger he was interacting with smile as well. His service was simply textbook perfect. Meal orders were taken by name, and the way he phrased everything was just so classy – “and Mr. Lucky, would you care to join us for lunch today?” At no point in the flight did he say “you want a refill” or “mhm” when I said thank you. Instead, he anticipated the needs of everyone, and asked everything in a very professional manner, such as “may I top that off for you” or “would you care for some more soda?”

When my seatmate asked for some red wine he brought by the bottle to show it to her. It’s a small touch, but it makes a big difference in perceived service level where there’s so little you can do to differentiate yourself. When I asked for water during the flight my request was met with a big smile and “of course, let me get that for you,” not “yeah, sure.”

Also, he basically made this a “dine on demand” flight. As each passenger finished their main course, he brought them out the dessert, instead of waiting for everyone to finish. He just couldn’t have been more professional.

Towards the end of the flight I couldn’t help but give him a “Going the Extra Mile” certificate and comment that his cheekbones must hurt. He laughed it off and said that he loves what he does. He said he did everything his parents wanted him to do, including going to graduate school, but this is what he loves. He said his goal in becoming a flight attendant was to see the world, and for 14 years he flew mostly internationally and accomplished that goal, and now he loves doing domestic flying. He said there’s nothing he’d rather do than be a flight attendant. I told him that it showed that he enjoyed his job and once again thanked him for doing such a phenomenal job, and he simply responded with “it was an absolute pleasure.”

So if you’re ever on one of Terrence’s flights, you’re in for a treat. I honestly felt like I was on Singapore Airlines.

Comments

  1. You didn’t mention what airline this was. Your only clue was “going the extra mile.” It gives all of us hope that we’ll enjoy someday, that 1 in 100 exceptional FA on one of our long flights. It’s rare to find Singapore Air-type service on a US carrier, don’t you think?

  2. Lucky,

    Thanks for sharing. I wouldn’t quite say the odds of finding a FA on this level on UA are 1 in 100, but it’s probably somewhere close to that. Hearing stories like this always make me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, if not a wee bit jealous, too.

  3. When UA’s in-flight service is good, it can be VERY good, although the comparison to SQ is clearly hyperbole. Also, UA management are clearly paying more attention to their in-flight service, with a particular focus on service aboard international aircraft with the upgraded cabins (e.g. horizontal flat-bed seats). I have also had some good experience with in-flight service recently aboard US domestic trans-cons (IAD::SFO; IAD::SAN; IAD::LAX), which bodes very well.

    If UA could eliminate the bottom-performing ~20% of cabin crew, their in-flight service ratings would soar, not to the levels of SQ, but certainly up to the best of the European airlines. The big challenge for UA is that the “bottom feeders” among their cabin crew make their in-flight service quality very very erratic at present.

  4. @ Ken Warner — Sorry, I figured my general airline preference, the route, and the aircraft type gave it away. It was indeed United. It’s definitely rare to find that kind of service on a US airline, so when I do receive that level of service, I do everything in my power to recognize it.

    @ IADSIN — Very well said.

  5. I recently had an excellent crew SFO-HNL. I was so impressed I figured they had been trained at another airline. The entire crew was ex-Pan Am and they spent a moment remeniscing about the “old days” on Pan Am. They were still trying to put that 1970’s Pan Am culture in to my present-day United flight. I really appreciated it.

    I have noticed a bit of an increase in service level over the past 2 months or so. I wondered if it was just me, or if I just had good luck, but maybe the airline is trying to improve.

  6. …. if only the rest of the industry’s flight attendants lived by Terrence’s standards.

  7. The long-gone troll is back!

    Have four CO segments coming up next week – will see if I’m drinking any of the COol-aid after 7,000 miles. UA crews have been excellent lately.

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