Lufthansa chief executive goes 'undercover' as cabin crew on flights to Riyadh and Bahrain

Jens Ritter shares his experience on LinkedIn and addresses customers' queries directly

Lufthansa chief executive Jens Ritter began his career as an A320 pilot. Photo: Jens Ritter/ Linkedin
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Lufthansa chief executive Jens Ritter has had a long career in the aviation industry, but recently got to try out a different role for the first time.

Ritter has taken to LinkedIn to share his experience as an “undercover” cabin crew member – something he has never done before.

“I have been working for the Lufthansa Group for many years. But I have never had the opportunity to work as part of the cabin crew. And honestly, that was so interesting and also challenging,” Ritter wrote.

He worked as an “additional crew member” on Lufthansa’s flights from Frankfurt to Riyadh and Bahrain. He worked in business class on the way to Riyadh and in economy on the way back.

In his post, he said he was surprised by the difficulty of the job but impressed by how cabin crew were able to sort everything.

“I was amazed by how much there is to organise, especially, if something doesn’t go as planned – for example, the meals offered on the menu cards were not exactly the meals loaded on board,” he continued.

Ritter has been chief executive of Lufthansa Airlines since April last year, and he started off his career as an Airbus A320 pilot.

“It was so interesting to address the guests’ wishes individually, to deal with the different energy everyone has,” he wrote. “I used to fly as a pilot and so I thought I knew about the challenges a flight during the night entails. But to be present and attentive and charming – when the biological clock just tells you to sleep – was something entirely different.”

He also commended the crew he worked with saying they had welcomed him right away and were supportive.

“Honestly: I enjoyed every moment,” Ritter concluded. “I was astonished how much I learnt in these few hours. Deciding things in the office will be different after really feeling the decisions on board. Thank you to the amazing crew, the lovely guests and everyone involved for making this experience possible!”

The responses to his post have been mostly positive. Some people have also used it as an opportunity to ask Ritter more about the future of Lufthansa and what he has learnt from his experience.

“What one thing would you like to see improved for your crews so they can continue to excel at their jobs?” wrote a commenter.

“Two things, actually. On the one hand it is all about stability and reliability. Because I think our crews already do a great job. However, the aviation industry suffers from lack of staff, broken supply chains, lack of aircraft and many other problems. If we fix this – their job would be a lot easier,” he wrote.

“On the other hand, I think that everyone likes working if they feel seen and appreciated and psychologically safe. This is something else I am trying hard to improve.”

Another person asked him about what specific actions could be taken that would help the company improve while also pointing out that Lufthansa has a history of delays and unreliable departure and arrival times. Ritter responded using the example of the food not matching the menu cards.

“We will have this fixed,” he responded. “However, I totally agree with you: The aviation industry suffers and as a whole system we will have to fix that in order to regain the full trust of guests (and crews alike). We are working hard on that.”

Updated: August 22, 2023, 7:55 AM