United Encourages Crew to ‘Show Personality’ in PA Announcements

Mar 7, 2019

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It’s a moment many frequent flyers dread — just after takeoff, the flight attendant activates the PA, pausing the in-flight entertainment and immediately waking anyone lucky enough to have dozed off after boarding “to share more details of today’s flight.”

Typically, it’s a mix of a rehash of previous announcements and some additional info, including the flight time, meal service, drink options, lavatory procedures — and, if you’re especially lucky, a “special offer” for a co-branded credit card, often incorporating some creative marketing claims.

If you tend to stick to one airline, and travel often, you may have even memorized these announcements word-for-word. How’s that? Well, flight attendants frequently read a script, either from a company-issued mobile device or old-fashioned paper printouts.

Now, United’s hoping to shake things up a bit, even encouraging crew members to work some “personality” into their announcements. Among the changes:

  • United’s trimming the length of announcements by 20%
  • Announcements can be flexible, “allowing you to make it your own by showing your personality.”
  • The airline’s making its script easier to read, creating “a better listening experience for our customers.”

United acknowledged the change, adding “Our new onboard announcements are a result of feedback from our flight attendants. They reflect a lighter and more conversational tone, as part of our larger effort to improve the customer experience.”

Personally, I’m thrilled that United’s trimming the announcement length — currently, they can take several minutes to get through, especially with translations on international flights. As for the option to add “personality,” while Southwest’s funky PA videos can be fun to watch online, in the moment I think I’d prefer that crew members use these new creative freedoms to make their announcements as short as possible, leaving the beverage list for the seat-back pocket rather than reading options aloud, for example.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/TPG.

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