Facilitator, Leadership Development & Engagement, Breeze Airways
A More Leaderful Workforce for Effective Passenger Management in the Post-Covid Environment
The post-Covid travel environment is rampant with belligerent and unruly passenger behavior, with airlines reporting incidents on nearly every flight (Al-Arushani, 2021). Research suggests Unruly Passenger Events (UPEs) will continue to increase in frequency and severity (Berti, 2017), despite the cancelation of mask mandates (FAA, 2021). Travelers emerging from the Covid pandemic are prone to hostility and outbursts, rendering the flight attendants’ task of providing a safe and comfortable flight experience difficult. Flight attendants arrive to work full of anxiety, expecting to encounter a UPE, making this dream job feel like a perpetual state of crisis (Jones, 2022).
Passenger interactions are situational in nature, particularly when navigating high-emotion conversations, requiring skilled leadership and authority (Albert, 2016). However, flight attendants who are not trained in leadership skills are not perceived as authority leaders and often leads to negative results (Cortés, 2008). Flight attendants are further challenged by an existing stereotype that dismisses the professional status of the flight attendant profession and depreciates the value of their abilities (Albert, 2016). Intentional leadership on board is needed now more than ever. Research suggests an authentic-transformational style of leadership can help in times of crisis and using emotional intelligence to understand and manage the emotions of oneself and influence others is fundamental to effective leadership (George, 2000).
At Breeze, we are leaning into our culture to affect leadership behaviors and designing research-based supports for our Flight Attendants to establish authority, lead by example, and engage positive influence to re-educate our travelers to fly Seriously Nice™.