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Today I flew with British Airways from London Heathrow to Malaga return.
I was frankly uncertain what the experience would be like – or even if there would be an experience.
That’s because the airline cabin crew concluded the first-stage of what looks like protracted strike action yesterday, and many flights were cancelled today due to the knock-on effects.
While I was able to check in on-line last night for my early morning flight, BA’s website warned of possible disruption.
I had no cause for concern. Both flights departed on time and it was very much a case of business as usual.
The strike has been something of a public relations disaster for the airline and, to a degree, for the cabin crew and its trade union. So British Airways, under fierce financial and competitive pressure, frankly needs all the good PR it can get.
And good PR is exactly what it got on the return leg from Malaga to Heathrow today (BA 495) with two of its cabin crew staff, Michaela (pictured left below) and Michelle.
On that flight I had the privilege of sitting next to a delightful senior couple from England, who had spent the past three months in Malaga.
On their return journey they took particular interest in BA’s excellent ‘High Life’ inflight shopping magazine (in my view a role model of its genre). I listened with interest as the woman opted to purchase a YSL Radiant Touch Duo (Touche Éclat) and her husband a Braun Mobile Shave M90.
Michaela and Michelle, who were working the duty free trolley, were not only happy to help but eager to please. “You can tell they like their job,” said the lady next to me as she eagerly awaited her purchase.
Alas the Touche Éclat was out of stock, though the Braun shaver was not.
However, that was not the end of sales to row 16. My interest in High Life now piqued, I noticed (it was impossible not to) the new Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne launch, featured on the magazine cover (below), a favourite brand of my wife’s. And while checking out the Braun shaver that my new-found friend had chosen, I spotted an unlikely British Airways exclusive – a Sonic Mosquito Repeller.
Having been dive-bombed to distraction in Haiti during my recent visit for travel retail’s Hand in Hand for Haiti school-building project, I decided to buy a couple for me and my colleagues for our next visit there in June (I suspect not many other passengers have opted for a Jo Malone fragrance and a mosquito repeller in a single purchase but I may be wrong).
That curious choice prompted Michelle’s interest, and she asked for more details when I told her about Hand in Hand for Haiti – coincidentally Jo Malone is owned by The Estée Lauder Companies, whose Travel Retail Worldwide President Olivier Bottrie is the driving force behind the Haitian initiative.
“It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happened out there,” said Michelle. “Is there a way we can donate online?”
I told her there was, via www.HandinHandforHaiti.com
“They’re an absolute joy,” said the lady next to me, as Michaela and Michelle completed our transactions. And she wasn’t far wrong.
“I need a favour,” I said to the dynamic duo. “Could I take a photo of you both for my Blog?”
Like everything else on this journey, that was no problem for Michaela and Michelle. “But first we need to put our Bobbi Brown lippie on don’t we darling?” shrieked Michaela to Michelle. “We’ll be right back.”
And indeed they were. British Airways, I know there are two sides to every story. But some of your cabin crew are your airline. And those special jewels, such as Michaela and Michelle, are such assets they should feature on your balance sheet.
This is a wonderful story,and a fabulous coincidence, Martin, especially as you may remember,that the Bobbi Brown lipsticks that these two charming ladies put on just for the pictures, are part of The Estee Lauder Companies portfolio of brands too!