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Lufthansa’s CEO tried being a flight attendant—but there was one challenge he wasn’t ready for

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German airline Lufthansa had a new cabin crew member aboard one of its flights last week—none other than the company’s CEO.

Jens Ritter served as an attendant on a flight between Frankfurt and Bahrain, which stopped at Riyadh for a layover, Lufthansa told Business Insider. He helped attend to business class passengers during the first leg of the journey, and manned the economy class on the way back. 

“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,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post. “And honestly, that was so interesting and also challenging!”

The Cologne-based airline’s chief had previously worked for several years as a pilot at Lufthansa as well as its now defunct low-cost subsidiary Germanwings, as per Ritter’s LinkedIn profile. He took over as the company’s boss last April

Despite his time in the aviation industry spanning over two decades, one aspect of his new role particularly challenged him. 

“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,” Ritter wrote. 

The experience, the Lufthansa boss said, will influence how he makes decisions in the office going forward. 

In response to a comment on his LinkedIn post, he gave two examples of things he hoped to change.

First, Ritter said he wanted to work on improving conditions in the aviation industry, which has been fractured by a slew of problems including worker shortages and supply-chain constraints.

Second, he said he wanted to improve motivation among his staff so they felt “seen and appreciated.”

Ritter argued that addressing such problems would make the crew’s job easier.  

Lufthansa didn’t immediately return Fortune’s request for comment.

The airline group posted record results at the start of this month, pointing to a rebound in travel following a prolonged period of depressed activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lufthansa has responded to the increase in demand, especially for its more lucrative premium classes, by expanding capacity in the first half of the year.

It still hasn’t quite recovered from the pandemic, however, which was catastrophic for airlines.

For the August to December period, Lufthansa anticipates bookings to climb to an average of 90% of pre-pandemic levels.  

Moonlighting CEOs

Ritter is the latest top boss who has tried to walk the walk at their companies to better understand day-to-day challenges.

Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of ride-hailing giant Uber, has lent a hand as a driver and courier for the company on multiple occasions. He recently described a “nightmare scenario” while trying to navigate the maze that apartment complexes can be.

Starbucks chief Laxman Narasimhan told the company’s employees when he took over in March that he planned to work as a barista at least once a month to stay “close to the culture” and customers. 

Elsewhere, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky spent six months living at different rentals listed with the company in a bid to identify problems plaguing customer experiences.



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