Crash Landing

So I’m on a Flybe plane back from Belfast t’other day and the woman sitting next to me is dressed in British Airways (BA) uniform. You know when you fly, the crew always rightly say that primarily they are there for your safety – so please listen to the safety briefing. I always do, and I observe that a lot of folk don’t. I guess they don’t want to be reminded of how they just might survive an air crash, weird huh?

Anyhoo – the briefing starts and the BA woman just keeps reading her Heat (ouch!) magazine, the whole way through. Afterwards I asked her whether or not her choosing to ignore the briefing would a) encourage fellow passengers to pay attention or b) encourage fellow passengers to follow suit and keep reading their magazines. She was clearly too busy thinking about which snacks to order and which duty free gift she was gonna buy me and declined to answer.

I’ve long felt that BA has an arrogant swagger about it, and this little tale left me wondering: what goes on inside a company (in this case, BA) that leaves employees feeling so disengaged that they openly display a total lack of care for both their brand, and their industry. Whatever it is – it certainly leaves me feeling less confident about them. How about you?

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Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

8 thoughts on “Crash Landing”

  1. Hi Doug

    Nice one.

    OK, first question. Why was a BA cabin crew member flying another airline in BA uniform? That was the first Brand Disaster, IMHO.

    2nd question, how was the Duty Free she bought you?



  2. Hey Al – great to hear from you 🙂

    Good point re: Brand Disaster, I’m guessing she didn’t wanna pay extra weight allowance for a change of clothes!

    I reckon if duty free had been purchased, I’d have gotten a wallop round the head with it.

    1. Hi Tony

      I agree – exciting it is not, and so I can’t recall it from flight to flight, well not in detail at least. For sure it could be done better but until then I reckon airline folk owe it to each other to tune in. Sadly I can’t get the link you posted to work just now – but I found the animation elsewhere – it’s great!


  3. Hey Doug & Alan

    I think BA own a significant chunk of Flybe so whilst to us it appears a brand fail to the individual flying home it was probably the same as ‘dead heading’ back on any other flight. No excuse but maybe explanation.

    Doug to your core point about how this person represented her brand I think it’s easy to reduce a complex organisation like BA to a single amorphous culture when I imagine internally there are several different cultures operating from different acquisitions, functional groups, contractural terms, unions etc and whilst this shouldn’t be settled for my perception is that changing it is an ongoing challenge and not an easy fix.

    As you will remember in 2010 BA lead by Willie Walsh had some significant challenges with respect for employee relations and their cabin crew and without wishing to rehash all of that it strikes me that BA have since tried to position themselves around their flight crew rather than their cabin crew. This doesn’t change your perception but appears to me an effort to challenge the attitudes and perceptions of the cabin crew to be more focussed on customer and less focussed on Ts & Cs….

    Don’t often do this but I wrote about this last year in this:

    and for the record had a great flight (on BA) last Sunday 😉

    1. Hi Rob

      I can find a code share arrangement with BA but no other link to them in the Flybe accounts – and that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

      I recall your post last year and I enjoyed it at the time. I just popped back and the post and the comments it attracted remain interesting and relevant. Most, if not all of the comments are from people who have struggled to buy the ‘To Fly To Serve’ message, so there is a balance to the overall piece.

      I’m of course pleased you had a good flight and I hope you paid attention to the safety video 😉

  4. Interesting point Rob makes – mental ownership is showing at least. Siobhan and I have used flybe weekly on that Belfast route and its noticeable that 2 things have occurred in the last wee while since the code share. a) BA bought flyby and the prices went up steeply b) Ive got irritated when previously v satisfied because they align with BA , show BA logos – I avoid BA like the plague.

    Not least because they flew me out on last plane before the Icelandic volcano without mentioning anything to passengers- see

    On safety I have been through an emergency landing with BA and they ignored everybody – no eye contact, no reassurance. I found it irritating at the time. But it was put to me afterwards that they totally focus on the job in hand and ignore the customers. Interesting statement.


  5. Nice comments and links to other blogs from Peter and Rob. I have great empathy with the customer service themes in both blogs – or more accurately, lack thereof.

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