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Foreign Language Use At US Airlines  
User currently offlineJalalabad From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 5629 times:

For those of you on the job in the US, how often do you use a foreign language with the customer? I'm sure Spanish is up there, but what about French, German, Mandarin, Japanese, Italian, etc? I am applying to one of the majors and listing German, but am nervous should I be hired and begin to employ my skills with real German nationals!

54 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 70
Reply 1, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 5564 times:

Don't worry - a lot of Germans (at least those travelling to the US) speak at least a bit of English, so you probably won't have to rely 100% on German: from my point of view, having a big vocabulary is most important to start with, language usage can - and will - follow.

And anyhow... I've heard some seasoned flight attendants speak German with passengers that really made my blood freeze - an A-Plus for the effort, but a D-Minus for grammar and vocabulary... nonetheless, it helped the passengers, and they were happy afterwards (after all - their English was even less "servicable" than the F/A's German).

If you can, try getting things like "Deutsche Welle TV" to get the feel of the language in everyday-use... back when we moved to the US, watching TV actually helped my mother a great deal: listening to how the language normally sounds, to the words that are used and to the pronunciation is usually a great help.

Don't worry - it'll be a jump into cold water at first, but you'll get the hang of it soon enough.

Regards,
Frank



Smile - it confuses people!
User currently offlineJalalabad From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 5537 times:

Oh thanks for the kind words. I do catch DWTV on occasion and read a few of the magazines online. The position I'm looking at is at the ticket counter, so I suppose there is a pretty fixed set of vocabulary to know. Mostly, I think about being caught off guard and stammering, or saying something awkward. "Ich wuensche Ihnen einen guten Flug!" haha, I guess it is just nerves though.

User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 70
Reply 3, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 5527 times:

You're welcome - I guess your situation is about the way I feel whenever I have to dig up my French... it's not a pretty, and to a French person I'd probably sound like a drunk waking up under a bridge along the Seine... but I manage to get the message accross.

As for important sentences...

Möchen Sie lieber per Kreditkarte oder Bargeld bezahlen?
Nein, ein kostenloses Upgrade in die Business Class gibt es leider nicht!

... are probably two of the most important ones around... Big grin

Good luck!

Regards,
Frank



Smile - it confuses people!
User currently offlineNumberTwelve From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 1431 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (9 years 8 months 2 days ago) and read 5406 times:

... or: "Nein, ich kann Ihnen leider keinen Sitzplatz mit 120 cm Beinfreiheit in der Economy-Class anbieten!"

Jalalabad, it depends where you will work. And for most of the Germans the "good will" is important. If you don't speak German perfectly and only try to say a few words, it's fine because most of us are happy to see when people from other nations try to speak some German.

I guess you will get answers in English language when you talk to German people in German because they are not used to it that other nations speak the German language.

So no worries, just talk and if they laugh about your German knowledge, show them the middle finger - which is an intl. language, I guess  Wink/being sarcastic

Unfortunately we react a little different with Dutch people, we expect from them to speak German - why? No clue.




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User currently offlinePacificWestern From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5374 times:

On two occasions while travelling by airplane in the USA, I was used as a "translator" by flight attendants for French speaking passengers. One was a guy from France who spoke no English at all and the other time was a woman from Quebec who spoke only a few words of English and not well.

In the days when US based airlines were still hiring FAs, I don't know if background in different languages considered an asset to the airline or not. I do recall on several occasions of FAs speaking fluent Spanish.



User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14004 posts, RR: 62
Reply 6, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5368 times:

Numbertwelve,

I´m quite often in the Netherlands and have quite a few friends over there. The funny thing is, esp. when I´m slightly drunk, I can understand what they are talking about, I can read Dutxch newspapers, but due to the wast differences in pronounciation of words, I can´t speak their language except for a few words.
Usually I end up speaking in English with my friends (which is a language all of us are good in).

Jan


User currently offlineGofly From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2004, 1727 posts, RR: 38
Reply 7, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5367 times:
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I think when you work for an airline, (especially cabin crew) any language would be useful. With people coming in from all over the world you never know when you might need it.

Good luck with your application.

Regards



Living the high life on my ex-Airliners.net Moderator pension...
User currently offlineFlymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7147 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5234 times:

Spanish is a very important language for Airlines in the US atleast if they fly to Latin America or MIA. Every flight out of MIA well with AA atleast will have atleast one Spanish Speaking FA. And if it is a international flight to latin America many will speak spanish. If you ever noticed even on a domestic flight like MIA-JFK or MIA-LAX the FA's say everything in Spanish and English and the safety video too.


"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineMtnmanmakalu From Ireland, joined Nov 2004, 515 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5217 times:

If you ever noticed even on a domestic flight like MIA-JFK or MIA-LAX the FA's say everything in Spanish and English and the safety video too.

It should be done on International flights, but this is America and if you live here you SHOULD learn and know English!!!

Most US Airlines have done away with interpreters due to pay cuts.... Only seen them consistently on Asia flights....



I do, I don't, whatever.......
User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5197 times:

In my experiences on CO, flights to destinations where there will be pax that only speak the destination language will have F/A's speaking the language of the destination country. However, on leisure flights to other countries where it will be all American tourists, you will not find language-qualified F/A's.

For example, when I flew from EWR-SJU, there were a substantial number of Puerto Rican pax that did not speak English, and the gate agent spoke Spanish as well as one of the F/A's, who had a separate name tag that said "Yo Hablo Espanol". However, when I flew from EWR-PVR, there wasn't a single pax that was Mexican in either direction. I looked in the gate area and it was all wealthy tourists. Therefore, the gate agent was not Spanish, nor were any of the F/A's. Oddly enough, on the EWR-PVR segment, one of the F/A's had a name tag that said "Ich sprechen deustch". I would have to guess that she was on reserve for the flight - there weren't any German tourists on board.


User currently offlineAC345YYZ From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 55 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5087 times:

This brings up an interesting topic, should flight crew ect.... Have to be able to speak the language of the destination city? I believe that if the destination city speaks a language that is different of the origin, and is still not an official language of that country, the language of the destination should not have to be spoken. Several times while traveling throughout Europe on different airlines (Alitalia, SAS, Lufthansa, Malev) English was not spoken on these flights, to me this was very supriseing. Me being a Canadian am quite open to different races and languages but when I am in there country I expect the same from them!


AC345YYZ
User currently offlineL1011Lover From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 989 posts, RR: 14
Reply 12, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 4999 times:

On every DL flight between the US and Europe you will find at least one F/A able to converse in the destinations country language.
I´ve never been on a DL flight out of or into Germany without a German speaking F/A, also on one flight into CDG two of the F/A´s spoke French. Seems to me DL has language speakers on all or at least most of their international transatlantic flights. And all anouncements are made in English and the destination language. I remember DL´s service STR-AMS-ATL were all anouncements were made in all three languages.

On a DL flight from FRA to CVG in 1995 for instance, all of the 9 F/A´s (of the L1011 TriStar, flt. 49) though CVG based were German. I think that DL is the US carrier that employs the most German F/A´s, first of all due to the fact that it´s been the first former US domestic carrier starting US to Germany flights after the deregulation act, and also because of the fact that they took over PA´s European network together with many, many JFK based Flight Crews! Many of them spoke German and a whole lot of different languages.

PA used to operate crew bases in Europe that were mostly staffed with European nationals. They used to have TXL, LHR, WAW and IST to name a few.

NW also used to operate an interpreter base in LGW, but closed it soon after 9/11 and since then fired all their interpreters.

The only US carrier left with crew bases in Europe is UA. LHR, FRA and CDG are their bases. 80 of the 250 F/A´s based in FRA are German nationals and even more do speak German. Even the LHR base from which language qualified F/A´s are not necessarily needed as UA (at the time) does not serve any nonenglish speaking destinations from there (DEL has been abandoned), has a huge amount of language qualified F/A´s some of them were new hires to UA, others also came from PA when UA took over their LHR rights.

Best regards,

L1011Lover



User currently offlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12242 posts, RR: 35
Reply 13, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4936 times:
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FORUM MODERATOR

I know that on domestic Norwegian flights, both English and Norwegian will be used, IF, any pax does not understand Norwegian. Having jumpseated on WF, I remember the F/A coming into the cockpit saying "32 pax, all Norwegian". On that case, all announcements were done in Norwegian only. This leads me to believe they would have done them in English had it been necessary. Onboard SK, it always seems to be announcements in English, and on one occasion, even three languages. The flight that comes in mind, was OSL-TOS-ALF, where on the TOS-ALF leg, the announcement was even done in Saami (Laplandish for those of you that aren't familiar with the proper terms..). That really surprised me, but I thought it was kinda cool, given that there no doubt was Saami pax.


911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlineRIOJANEIRO From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 121 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4924 times:

At HP, we so far have only one LOD (Language of Destination) route, which is PHX-MEX. On this flight it is required that both the 1st and 3rd FA be proficient in Spanish, as all announcements and service are done in both languages. This also includes gate agents, who make boarding announcements in both languages as well. FA's also recieve higher pay for these routes as well.

I know that, although not required, many FA's/agents will make announcements in Spanish as well to flights to GDL, PVR, ZLO, MZT, etc who may have spanish speakers on board. Just from my experience, there are usually a handful of pax on board these routes that only speak Spanish, but the large majority are indeed American, English-speaking tourists.

It's often a joke that we'll be starting LOD flights to ELP very soon as well...hehe


User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4756 times:

Any US carriers doing introductions on the plane in two different languages?
I would suspect if so, they are all international flights. I've been on KL and LH flights bound from the US to Europe and the captain came on and did information regarding the flight in both English and Deutch. I've also been on AF flights bound to CDG where information was done in English and French consecutively.

AA777jr


User currently offlineErj145lr From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4624 times:

I was on an AA flight from CostaRica to MIA and all the inflight announcements were in spanish FIRST than... in English. I found it interesting.

User currently offlineAa767400 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 2360 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4591 times:

Flights like JFK-MIA,MIA-LAX, have Spanish speakers because there is a lot of connecting passengers from Spanish speaking countries. Just because we are in The United States, does not mean that everyone who speaks a foreign language lives here. They can be visitors, and as visitors they appreciate the language spoken to them in their native tongue.


"The low fares airline."
User currently offlineFlymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7147 posts, RR: 9
Reply 18, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4504 times:

Aa767400: Yes I know that because it is the US that not everyone that speaks a foreign landuage lives here but the domestic flights I noted where from MIA with more that 50% of the residents of MIA speak spanish. Actully I think it is 75% speak it and something like 55-60% are latin. Not really sure. Also yes all the latin American connections from MIA. When flying DFW-ANC I did not have spanish spoken or when flying CVG-BWI


"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineArgonaut From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 2004, 422 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4475 times:

"It should be done on International flights, but this is America and if you live here you SHOULD learn and know English!!!"


Oh dear. I suppose we should feel sorry for all those people who do not live in America (sic) and who happen not to speak English. What bad luck for them.




'the rank is but the guinea stamp'
User currently offlineSpike From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 1170 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4378 times:

Sorry, but American's don't actualy speak English. They speak a stange mix of incorrect words and grammaticaly incorrect sentences. Plus a huge amount of BS.

User currently offlineElPelon From Mexico, joined Jul 2003, 127 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4373 times:

Last year I flew from MEX to CDG with AF. I was sorry that none of the announcements (Including safety instructions) were in spanish, also none of the FA spoke spanish, everything was in french and english. I think that if they were flying out of MEX, they should spect a lot of spanish speaking pax. I couldn´t believe that not even the safety instructions were translated into spanish.
In every international flight, there always should be at least one member of the crew that speak the language of origin and the language of destination, for two reasons: SAFETY (not only to give the safety instructions before take off, but to give instructions in an emergency situation), and also for COSTUMER SERVICE. I don´t know how a crew would be able to give a good service, if they can´t even communicate with their costumers.
I have to tell that in the return flight to MEX, instructions were translated into spanish in the video tape, but Im not sure if there were a FA that spoke spanish, at least I didn´t see any..
P.S. Next March I will fly from MEX to FRA with LH, let´s se if the story changes.. I hope to find some spanish speaking crew on board..

[Edited 2005-01-03 06:45:00]


ElPelon
User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 22, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4333 times:

Spike - Sorry, but American's don't actually speak English. They speak a stange mix of incorrect words and grammaticaly incorrect sentences. Plus a huge amount of BS.

 Big thumbs up

I would ask "Are you sure it isn't the other way around?" but it would seem you had the language first...

I had a great professor (US History, no less) a few semesters back who had immigrated from England like 20 years ago... We used to joke about needing someone to translate from English to English so we could understand her lectures.

Lincoln



CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlinePhxinterrupted From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 474 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 4305 times:

"Sorry, but American's don't actualy speak English. They speak a stange mix of incorrect words and grammaticaly incorrect sentences. Plus a huge amount of BS."

Just consider yourself lucky to be part of the American Empire.



Keepin' it real.
User currently offlineNumberTwelve From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 1431 posts, RR: 9
Reply 24, posted (9 years 8 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 4293 times:

Mtnman: "If you ever noticed even on a domestic flight like MIA-NYC or MIA-LAX FA's say everything in Spanish and English and the safety video too.

It should be done on International flights, but this is America and if you live here you SHOULD learn and know English!!!"

First of all: the passenger is customer and if there are lots of passengers with another native language (f.e. flights to Florida) it would be good service to speak another language too. Search for an inner-Spanish flight or inner-German flight where they only speak their language! How would you react if they don't do? "...but this is Spain..." .

I flew with AA from FRA to DFW and no single flight attendent spoke German, I flew EI from FRA to DUB and the pilot spoke fluent German - I flew QF from SIN to BNE and the flight attendent spoke German .

Hopefully you remember your post when you are in a foreign country and want to talk to the people in English language.
I had the experience that lots of English native speakers didn't even ask people if they speak English and just talk. And that wasn't in the US. Just think about it - and a plane is not just "within a country", it's a transport system with lots of intl. customers.


Mtn, in Germany we would say: put down your right hand! It's already stiff

[Edited 2005-01-03 07:17:01]


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25 CO7e7 : From experience I can tell you that CO has F/A's that speak hebrew on their TLV routes. (I fly this route at least 2 times per year roundtrip).
26 Post contains images Atmx2000 : Sorry, but American's don't actualy speak English. They speak a stange mix of incorrect words and grammaticaly incorrect sentences. Plus a huge amount
27 Swisskloten : This brings up a recent event. I was flying to ZRH from DFW. I have done this three times in the past and they never gave the information in any other
28 Jalalabad : american and british went their separate ways several hundred years ago. our linguistic ancestors spoke just as valid forms of british as yours. the r
29 Post contains images Andz : One additional language is okay, but last time I flew Swiss all the announcements were made in German, Italian, French and English! Good job the fligh
30 QuestAir : In 1999 I flew ORD-SFO on American and the safety briefing was in English and French. On the return leg, the safety briefing was in English and Spanis
31 FlyLondon : At least some Americans know how to spell "actually" and "strange" and "grammatically." Moreover, one who uses the possessive form "American's" instea
32 Starlionblue : It should be done on International flights, but this is America and if you live here you SHOULD learn and know English!!! While I agree with the sent
33 Spike : Sorry, I thought I was spelling it your way for you actually. Maybe I should have just stuck to centre on that! Still, if the US continues to bombard
34 Jacobin777 : "Just consider yourself lucky to be part of the American Empire." you mean the FALLING American Empire... also, our English is substandard and patheti
35 Starlionblue : It is a constant source of amazement (and amusement) to me that my English is better than that of about half the "native speakers" (US and UK) that I
36 Aa767400 : NunberTwelve, Are you sure no German on DFW-FRA? Because that route has a 777, with three German speakers, one in each cabin. Plus, the safety announc
37 Afay1 : On DL's JFK-SVO route, annoucements are made in Russian and English and the menus are bilingual. I pity any foreign tourist arriving at many US airpor
38 Flpuck6 : I'm American, I speak French everyday at work ... Spanish too ... but then again, I'm working for a European carrier ...
39 AMS : Also I am a U.S Citizen, and I am Fluent in Dutch, German and Japanese!!
40 WingnutMN : My favorite was when I was in Europe last spring, and my flight from AMS to VIE, the pilot first spoke in dutch, then German, then English. I took 3 s
41 Post contains images NumberTwelve : Spike: "Sorry, but American's don't actualy speak English. They speak a stange mix of incorrect words and grammaticaly incorrect sentences. Plus a hug
42 Panamair : OK, back to the topic, here's a rundown of which airline has what: On all US carriers serving internationally, 99% of the time there will be English a
43 Post contains images FLY2LIM : At least some Americans know how to spell "actually" and "strange" and "grammatically." Moreover, one who uses the possessive form "American's" inste
44 Post contains images NumberTwelve : Well said, Christian, it's the behavour ("they have to speak our language") that makes some people arrogant. And not only in their own country, but al
45 NYCAAer : For the record, at AA we have one foreign language speaking flight attendant assigned to each cabin. So if you're on a 2-class 767-300 to CDG, there w
46 Ltbewr : Many times the safety videos shown on the IFE systems will be available in several languages, just change channels for the appropiate language. Some E
47 KateAA : Hey, As many of you know I work for American airlines. I tend to speak to passenger's in their home language, I can speak English, French, German, Swe
48 FLY2LIM : Kate: I added you to my respected users list. Any AA crewmember who works as hard as you do gets my respect. (I am a loyal AA pax) Where did you learn
49 Post contains images Starlionblue : A lot of crew members feel that if we have a passenger flying with us, they should be spoken to in English - I strongly disagree with them! On a US ca
50 Adriaticus : I know the thread is about foreign languages at US airlines (albeit it turns into an entertaining philological debate every now and then). I thought i
51 Post contains images FLY2LIM : Adriaticus: Where have you been? Good to see your very insightful comments, as usual. I agree with you. I believe that even in Peru there are carriers
52 Aa767400 : The best flight is JFK-GRU, because on my AA flight I switch between English,Portuguese, and Spanish. Now...I Am learning Italian now as well. It is a
53 Northwestair : If I'm checking someone in that's going to Poland or a Polish Citizen then I usually talk to them in Polish. It's always nice to see the other psgrs l
54 Jonty : I know that obviously Go didn't consider it important coz I was on a flight from Bilbao to London and the F/As were using a tape or something to make
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