I joined SWISS 4 years ago, but I have been in the airline industry now for 14 years. It is my passion, all it involves, the customer service, the rush of getting the flight out on time, dealing with all our customers, the pride of being associated with the Airline of Switzerland. Being a Station Manager involves absolute teamwork and you are only as strong as your team.
Motivation is a daily must, as well as open and honest communication to relay the vision and mission of what the airline requires from the handling agent, which in our case is Swissport. It is important to train the staff handling SWISS to our specific procedures, and my job is also to ensure this is carried through, from our onboard catering, to handling of baggage, to cleaning our aircraft, to loading of our baggage and checking in of our valued passengers. Not one day is the same, and this makes this job very interesting and challenging. Important for me though is to have consistency in our good service every day, 365 days a year.
My main duties include a safe, seamless handling of our customers and baggage on our daily flights. Personal Care for our customers forms a very important part of my daily tasks as well, where I personally go and meet some of our top customers, who literally travel on a weekly basis. We do however strive to go the extra mile for all our customers, since we are a relatively small airline, we try to really personally connect to our customers, do small things for them that really count, to make them feel absolutely welcome at SWISS. I also have to maintain good relations with the airport authority and all stakeholders involved in our daily operations. There are quite a number of meetings that I attend here. I need to ensure that every day is a good day for SWISS, even though we sometimes have challenges that include adverse weather, late connecting flights, overbooked flights, late baggage, breakdown of baggage systems, and delays, to name only a few. Handling these irregularities is also a very big part of my daily duties, in most cases to try and foresee them and already having an action plan, and in other cases following up and making sure we learn from those experiences to better them in future.
It’s important that our Premium Customers are well known and recognized by us on the ground, as well as by our crew in the air. This familiarity will bring us closer and our Premium Customers will always come back to where they are truly cared for.
There have been so many nice experiences with customers that I can truly tell you the excitement lies in having one every day. I find a reason to smile every day with our customers, as for some it might be their first overseas trip, and for others just another day en route to a big meeting or a family excited to go on holiday.
The day starts with preparing the arrival flight, getting the correct parking bay, and preparing HON boards for our HON Circle members and First Class passengers, whom we meet and, if applicable, escort them to their onward flights. Before we hold a briefing with the Swissport arrival team, we check the number of passengers in the system who have asked for assistance getting from the check-in counter to the airplane. These could be, for example, very young children travelling alone or disabled or elderly people. The Swissport staff is responsible for taking care of these passengers. After the briefing I enjoy a quick cup of lovely Nespresso to really get the day started. I then go to the arrival parking bay to ensure all the ground servicing equipment that we need is there, and that the FOD check (foreign object damage) is performed by the ramp team. Then I cannot help myself watching in awe as that beautiful SWISS plane touches down, and I stand ready, waiting with pride to welcome our guests into Johannesbourg, South Africa.
After all passengers have disembarked, and cleaning of the aircraft is underway, I make my way to the arrivals hall to ensure all baggage is collected, and to assist passengers with any queries they might have. After the arrivals hall is clear it is time to do the paperwork. Then there are usually some meetings with service providers, followed by a quick lunch. Afterwards, departure flight preparation is done, where we check again if we have HON Circle or First Class guests to meet and greet from inbound flights and take a look at the numbers of special assistance passengers. The departure briefing is done, usually together with a quiz to keep all of us on our toes and up to date with the latest procedures and news from SWISS. This makes the briefing both fun and informative as well. The check-in procedure then commences. Whenever we have Personal Care passengers, I do my best to welcome them individually and introduce myself. We respect privacy and try to be the supportive person in the background. After pushback it is time for the post-flight paperwork, and we wait for one hour after departure to ensure all is OK with the flight. Then it is time to go home, after another successful day.