I’m a pretty simple person. I don’t indulge in many luxuries. I’m not big into fashion. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry. I don’t partake in a lot of fine dining. When I travel, I typically choose to fly coach.
Occasionally, however, a client will book me a flight in first class or the airline will randomly bump me to first class. The latter happened recently, and the experience reminded me of a good teammate tenet.
I’ve heard people say that once you fly first class, you’ll never want to go back to coach. I don’t know that I entirely buy into that way of thinking, but I can certainly understand why someone could feel that way.
First class is nice. It’s more spacious. The seats are a little more comfortable. There’s a little more leg room. The drinks—even the adult ones—are “free” and you can have as many as you want. And they serve you real meals—on actual plates with actual silverware.
But in my experience, those amenities aren’t what make flying in first class special. How you are treated is.
Flight attendants treat first class passengers differently. They smile more, speak in a kinder tone, convey greater empathy, and generally go out of their way to make you feel special.
At one point during my recent first-class excursion, I needed to use the restroom. The captain had turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, which meant passengers were supposed to remain in their seat. But I couldn’t hold it any longer (probably because of all the free Cokes I had downed) and got up to use the restroom.
As I approached the restroom near the front of the plane, the flight attendant sitting by the door looked at me curiously. I felt compelled to provide an explanation, so I apologized and told her that I really needed to use the restroom.
She just smiled and said, “No problem. I completely understand.”
I am certain that interaction would have played out much differently had it occurred in coach. I wouldn’t have received the same level of compassion. The flight attendant would have yelled at me and told me to immediately return to my seat, or maybe worse.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share that I’ve seen flight attendants extend similar courtesies to coach passengers from time to time. I’ve even written about it past blogs. (*See The Flying Lullaby.) But those occurrences are the exception, not the standard.
However, they could be.
It costs nothing to treat others with respect and understanding. Providing friendly, cheerful, empathetic service is within everyone’s capacity, especially members of a team.
Good teammates extend first-class treatment to all members of their teams because they realize it’s not about the amenities; it’s about the service. They realize that kindness matters and that kindness is always at their disposal.
Good flight attendants, whether they’re assigned to first class or coach class, make you feel welcomed, valued, and special—good teammates do the same.
Their commitment to do so is what propels their teams’ journey to success.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.