Aircraft cleanliness

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  • canucklad

    All this chat about cleanliness brings to mind the business mantra of the legendary SAS boss, whose name has slipped my mind at the moment

    Before taking over he covertly flew on tan SAS flight where he found a browning lettuce leaf when using the tray table

    Relating the story when introducing himself to his new workforce he simply said ……..

    “I wonder how they look after their engines? “


    It must have been Jan Carlzon.

    He wrote that book “Moments of truth” which defined how airlines would take more care of their customers.

    One must remember that this was in the mid-1980s when IATA was still responsible for high fares and before liberalisation arrived Europe.

    At that time what SAS was doing was like a breath of fresh airline compared to the likes of Air France and Lufthansa.

    I always remember the time when the French authorities forced an SAS flight (it was travelling between Scandinavia and Paris CDG) away from French airspace (it had to land in Brussels and passengers were taken by bus to Paris) simply because SAS was not charging the same business class price as Air France.

    Hard to believe but that’s how bad it was in those days.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Canucklad, me thinks that you are referring to Jan Carlzon who’s book ‘Moments of truth’ was very influential in the 1980s. His office overlooked the apron at, i think Copenhagen, and if an aircraft was late pushing back he would call down to the gate and the pilot to find out why!! His attitude to service was also important, talking about the inverted triangle with the customer at the top and the mantra, ‘if you (including the CEO) are not directly serving the customer, you are serving those who are’.


    It must have been Jan Carlzon

    Indeed, as soon as I hit the submit button the name popped back into my head : )


    His office overlooked the apron at, i think Copenhagen,

    In the mid-1980s I was returning CPH-LHR with SAS (in those days SAS used a DC-8/62 on its teatime flight) soon after “Moments of Truth” had arrived.

    The flight was delayed by some 30 mins.

    After having made the announcement one of the gate team left his post and walked to a nearby tax-free shop. He emerged with several large boxes of chocolates which he then proceeded to distribute to the waiting passengers.

    Today some readers might belittle this but you have to remember this was the 1980s when there was little if any competition within Europe, fares were very high (compared with today) and airlines pooled their revenues.


    Today some readers might belittle this but you have to remember this was the 1980s when there was little if any competition within Europe, fares were very high (compared with today) and airlines pooled their revenue

    I’d argue the exact opposite Alex.
    On another topic on the forum TOH2 praised BA staff for creating an impromptu memorable moment.

    With so much competition in the aviation industry, I’d suggest that an airline that invests in small touches are in actual fact investing in a very effective ROI programme at minimal cost.
    As long as its done with sincerity and not seen as part of a process , the goodwill created is more valuable than any mimicky marketing campaign.

    However, back on topic, its about attention to detail , all the memorable small touches won’t sustain a business if that business isn’t paying attention to the detail.

    And cleanliness is detail .


    You are correct canucklad in that I can recall that experience at CPH with SAS after all these years.

    As as for attention to detail is it any wonder that some Asian carriers score highly ?


    I believe all full service Airlines uses cleaners at each stop. The main waste might not be sucked by Super sucker at each stop for short haul but for long haul it is done at each stop.

    Agree with some posters that passengers are also responsible for maintaining the cleanliness.
    AMcWhirter indicated attention to details of Asian airlines, totally agree – the top rated ones like SQ, CX, ANA has procedures/task for air crew to maintain cleanliness of toilets for long haul flights. Travelling in economy is generally bearable in these flights.


    I know i’ve been on a flight recently where there was a sign in the loos requesting that customers wipe down the sink after use….

    I have seen several such signs on at least a couple of different airlines. And personally I always wipe out the sink and surrounding area. And then I wipe the floor with used paper towels if it’s at all wet from water I have splashed from the sink or taps. I just hate the thought of someone coming in the toilet after me and finding it less than clean.

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