Detail, detail

Still on the subject of detail this is what struck me about my flights on United. On the way out to New York the service was fine, but the cabin announcements, as usual, deeply cliched and scripted.

I’m always a bit bemused by the adspeak they get the cabin crew to recite. Especially that ghastly line about the tiddly seatback video being “for your viewing pleasure”. No real person talks like this. I feel sorry for the staff having to do this, and when I feel sorry for the staff it’s a sign of a missed opportunity by management.

Then in contrast, I noticed what a difference it made when the Captain started calling out the sights out of the windows as we followed the US coastline. Not because the sights were so remarkable, but because the intention seemed positive and this wasn’t a script. Likewise his simple updates about what was happening when our taxiing at JFK was held up. It really doesn’t take much to establish some kind of human contact.

A little bit of Improv training wouldn’t go amiss at United.

7 thoughts on “Detail, detail

  1. Rich...!

    Ooh, on that point, you know what I hate just as much? It’s the way every sentence seems to die near the end, it’s hard to describe, but I’m sure you know it, it’s a specific declining tone found only on airplane announcements.

    It kills me every time…!

  2. Steven Pearce

    It’s a shame “scripted” has become such a pejorative term. Any scriptwriter worth their salt should be able to communicate a message in an idiomatic, succinct way.

    I’m constantly dismayed by the lack of attention organisations give to PA announcements.

    Why don’t they hire scriptwriters?

  3. Rich...!

    Steven, they do, it’s just anyone that can string together a sentence these days sells them self as a scriptwriter, it’s often hard to sift through the platitude filled jiz (in my company, in video anyway, we avoid scripted voice-over altogether and have instead devised a system of unrehearsed, unscripted interviews where the interviewee knows only the content we’ll be discussing, but not the specific questions; far less contrived, far more believable – but I digress, sorry).

    Whichever way you look at it, the airlines need a rethink, Southwest understands this, and locally (South Africa) so does, the rest are waiting until the change is necessitated, not optional…!

  4. Johnnie Moore

    Steven: I do have a problem with scripted, whether well scripted or not. There’s a world of difference between a recited script and someone speaking for themselves.

    It’s the difference between mere conformity and genuine engagement, both for the cabin crew and for the passengers.

  5. Pearl

    Try Westjet. They use a script as guiddeline only but riff off it and with their variations in tone and speed make the (legally required for client culpability) drill entertaining.

  6. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks for the comments. I think Pearl’s story about Westjet gets to the point. I find it interesting that just in the safety announcement, there are interesting opportunities to engage with customers that are going begging,


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