Question for Readers: What is Good Service?

Instead of the typical answering reader questions, I’m instead posing a series of questions for readers to share their thoughts on this week.

I appreciate good service. But even as I write that, I think it’s ambiguous what I mean by “good service”. Is good service unobserved and unobtrusive? Is it fawning and obsequious? A service experience that I might enjoy another might find underwhelming for exactly the same reasons.

For me, good service is effortless and gracious. By effortless, I mean that service is so ingrained into the mentality that every request is considered and attended to (but not necessarily fulfilled) without hesitation. In the best examples, service is effortless because your needs are predicted and attended to even before you realize them. By gracious, I mean that there’s a sort of courtesy and pleasantness that makes every interaction a delight.

Here are examples of bad service that come to mind:
1) A flight attendant physically pushing people out of the way during meal service. She clearly made sure everyone knew how much of a burden her job was that she had to push people to finish it, and pushing people is definitely not gracious.
2) Flight attendants reading magazines/books or just chatting away with each other in the galley. They’re making it clear that any sort of service they provide takes so much effort because they have to interrupt themselves from whatever else they’d rather be doing instead of serving you.

Here are examples of good service that come to mind:
1) On a Cathay Pacific flight, the flight attendant noticed that I kept ordered Hong Kong style milk tea, so she proactively gave me some of the mix that they use to make the drink. This was already much appreciated, but at the end of the flight, she gave me even more as she had scoured the other galleys for their leftovers.
2) I once went to the United First Lounge at NRT instead of the ANA Suite Lounge so I could take some pictures for a lounge review. Upon checking into the United lounge, the lounge dragon told me that I was welcome to the United lounge, but I should really go to the ANA lounge instead. I made up some bs reason about wanting to use the United lounge because I liked the showers there better, and when I took the elevator up one level to the United First Lounge, the agent there greeted me and immediately offered me to take me to the shower room.

So I’m curious, what does good service mean to you? What examples come to mind of particularly good or bad service?

One thought on “Question for Readers: What is Good Service?

  1. RH

    Good service would be American Airlines offering the same vintage amenity kits and fully flat seats in first class on their DFW -HNL route as on their transcontinental routes. Bad service is not doing this.


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