With economies in Asia growing, air travel in the region is booming. Japanese airlines are playing up Japan’s unique hospitality and working to enhance the customer service they offer to flyers. This is exactly the role performed by today’s Japanophile, Jorge Cabeza Fernandez. Fernandez joined the company in 2003. He did very well becoming the first foreign employee to be both a flight attendant for the first-class passengers and a parser. He was eventually assigned to teach trainee flight attendants the art of Japanese style service. And the company management thinks highly of him as an instructor too. “He’s so energetic, he’s such a good communicator. He sets an example of excellence”. Already a consumer professional, Fernandez is diving deeper into the heart of hospitality as he works and lives in Japan. “One thing I like in Japan is that it happens everywhere. Everybody kind of makes the effort to make customers feel good”. This time, we’ll learn how Jorge Cabeza Fernandez has mastered service, Japanese style.

Hello, welcome to Japanology Plus. I’m Peter Barakan. With foreign tourism on the rise and fuel cost falling, Japan’s airline companies are aiming to expand their international businesses. The competition is intense. And at the moment, they’re making a concerted drive to refine the service that their cabin attendants offer to global passengers. This, behind me here, is the training center of ANA, All Nippon Airways, where our Japanophile for today works. It’s all very hush-hush, but I’ll try to be terribly unobtrusive as we get a peak of what happens behind the scenes of the airline service.

B: First of all, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been here? What is it that you do here?

J: OK. Came here, 13 years ago, in this training center, that’s where I was trained to become an ANA cabin attendant. And now I’m working here as a service instructor. For one year.

B: OK. So, when you say, “service instructor”, what does that imply?

J: “Service instructor” implies… well, actually, we do here the first-class training, business-class training, economy-class training for international flights. I’m mainly in charge of overseas-based cabin attendants. So, we teach them from the very beginning about ANA and how to serve on our aircrafts.

B: OK. And that all happens in here.

J: Everything happens here. This is quite big like ANA’s university.

B: Should be an interesting day!

J: Yeah. I will show you around. This way please.

The training center’s facilities are impressive. The safety training is held in here.

B: Look at the size! That’s inflated, right?

J: It’s inflated when necessary. Reaching the ground, and not extremely steep, which is what we need to check before we evacuate the aircraft.

J: Wow, that must be fun! Of course it’sonly used in emergency, but it looks like a lot of fun. So, I mean… there must be a lot of advantage in using these models.

B: Yes. You’ll never what it’s going to be like on the real situation because…thank god, t’s never happened before. But at least you can get to experience what it is like, I mean, you have passengers that, for example, would be really scared of jumping and they wouldn’t want to jump and would block other passengers from jumping… and we kind of create this situation so that cabin attendants can get used to every single possibility on board. Of course it’s hard to practice everything, but as much as possible.

J: This way, Mr. Barakan.

B: Wow! Whole plane in a building.

J: This is where we have several trainings. This one is business class training that is happening here. The cabin attendants are trained of how to welcome passengers onboard, how to take care of the jackets, to offer the first drink… the welcome drink, newspapers, magazines, etc.

B: You would never dream of people were doing this kind of training. Looks like role-play.

J: I know! We always do that. Roll-playing. To get used to different situations that might happen onboard. And then we have the… little bit further down, we have economy class. Actually, the equipment that we use for this kind of training is the real equipment we use onboard so that our cabin attendants can get used to touching and working with the equipment they’re going to be using on the real flight. So, it’s very useful, actually. I experienced it when I was a trainee myself. And once you get onboard your first flight, “Oh I know this! I’ve seen this before!”.