In a unique endeavor to gain fresh perspectives and insights, Jens Ritter, the CEO of Lufthansa, decided to don a flight attendant uniform and immerse himself in the dynamic world of cabin crew. The CEO’s revelation of his experience as a flight attendant sheds light on the challenging and multifaceted nature of the job that often goes unnoticed by passengers.
Ritter’s journey from the corner office to the aircraft aisle was shared on his LinkedIn account, where he detailed his adventure as an “additional crew member” on a Lufthansa flight to Riyadh and Bahrain. In his post, Ritter acknowledged that although he has spent many years in various roles within the Lufthansa Group, working as part of the cabin crew was a uniquely enlightening experience.
“The adventure was amazing,” Ritter wrote, “I was amazed by how much there is to organize, especially, if something doesn’t go as planned – for example the meals offered on the menu cards were not exactly the meals loaded on board.”
The behind-the-scenes efforts of flight attendants often remain concealed as passengers relish in the luxuries of air travel. However, Ritter’s stint as a flight attendant allowed him to gain a newfound appreciation for the meticulous organization and adaptability required to cater to diverse passenger needs at 33,000 feet above sea level.
Ritter’s role-reversal experience exposed him to the intricacies of individualized guest service, particularly during long-haul flights when biological clocks are disrupted. “To be present and attentive and charming – when the biological clock just tells you to sleep – was something entirely different,” Ritter admitted. He reminisced about the unique challenges posed by nighttime flights, drawing from his previous experiences as a pilot.
The CEO’s immersion into the cabin crew was met with enthusiasm by the flight attendants, who welcomed him into their team and allowed him to contribute hands-on support to both business and economy class passengers. Ritter expressed gratitude for the opportunity, acknowledging that his brief tenure as a flight attendant taught him valuable lessons that would influence his decision-making process in the boardroom.
“I was astonished how much I learned in these few hours,” Ritter confessed. “Deciding things in the office will be different after really feeling the decisions on board.”
As Ritter transitioned back to his CEO role, he recognized the need for industry-wide improvements. He acknowledged that the aviation sector grapples with challenges such as staffing shortages, disrupted supply chains, and aircraft availability. Ritter expressed a commitment to addressing these issues, aiming to create an environment where airline staff feel seen, appreciated, and psychologically secure.
“The aviation industry suffers from lack of staff, broken supply chains, lack of aircraft and many other problems,” Ritter acknowledged. “If we fix this – their job would be a lot easier. On the other hand I think that everyone likes working if they feel being seen and appreciated and psychologically safe. This is something else I am trying hard to improve!”
In a time when the travel industry faces unprecedented challenges due to global events, Ritter’s firsthand experience as a flight attendant serves as a reminder that the individuals responsible for making air travel comfortable and safe work tirelessly behind the scenes. The CEO’s journey from the boardroom to the cabin reflects a commitment to empathy and a willingness to confront the realities of his industry head-on.
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