A German airline is turning its cabin crew into comedians in a desperate effort to cheer up the sour-faced, sober-suited businessmen who fill most of the seats on domestic flights.
Deutsche BA, a subsidiary of British Airways, has hired a radio DJ to teach staff how to tell jokes and engage in running banter during short flights."We're not forcing them to be funny. But we have told them to be themselves and, if there's a good atmosphere on board, to be more relaxed and creative. It depends on the individuals, but some of them love doing it,' " said Anja Janke, a communications executive at the airline's headquarters in Munich.
The idea of friendly, funny staff is almost revolutionary in Germany, where service usually comes with a scowl - if it comes at all. But passengers are lapping up the airborne comedy and one pair of stewards in Cologne have achieved cult status.
Safety announcements are sacrosanct, but everything else is satirized, from the snacks served on board to the pilot's accent. One steward has introduced juggling into his act, and passengers applaud the cabin crew.
Deutsche BA is engaged in a cutthroat competition with Lufthansa for passengers on internal German flights.