Behind the scenes at Harrods Aviation

It is fair to say that the relationship between Harrods Aviation with Victor is more than just business; it is also a partnership built on mutual respect and a shared goal of exceeding client expectations. This synergy allows both teams to offer tailor-made experiences that sets a new standard for even the most discerning of clients. 

At Stansted, Harrods Aviation have the advantage of two facilities – ‘The Knightsbridge’ and ‘The Brompton’. These facilities offer various size lounges to accommodate different groups including a self-contained lounge that can be branded if the client wishes. For our dedicated group charter department who organise travel for 18+ passengers, Harrods Aviation are always a great option for clients travelling in or out of London. 

To uncover the magic behind the seamless operations at Harrods Aviation, we recently spoke with Heidi Prentice, their dynamic Customer Service Manager, who offered an insider’s view of how their exceptional service is crafted. 

‘Presidential’ customer service and ‘intriguing’ requests 

Heidi has had a fair share of career highlights, but she explains there is one client who always requires slightly more care and attention, “Probably the flight people always ask about most is how we handle US Air Force One. I first looked after the President of the USA (POTUS) back in 2009 for the G20 summit when we had seven world leaders all on the ground at the same time. It’s mind-blowing the level of detail and planning involved surrounding this flight. If we don’t get it right, it’s not only in front of our executive team, it’s in front of the world press.”  

“Having looked after Potus nine times now with three different presidents I know what they are going to ask before they ask. It’s quite humbling to think your name is in documents in the Pentagon (luckily in a good way) and that the Advance Agents know of you and trust you and the team to look after one of the most important people in the world.” 

As well as looking after presidents, Heidi reveals that it isn’t uncommon to receive intriguing requests from clients who are looking for something a little different. “We like to offer bespoke experiences and tailor the flight to suit the client and the event. Over the years, I have had many requests, including “Medieval Minstrels” serenading passengers with lutes and red roses for Valentine’s Day, turning a conference room into a creche, using other rooms for Indian head massages and games consoles, providing mini afternoon tea for 200 people, and our sister base at Luton even launched a speed dating flight so the daters could speed date while in the air. Nothing surprises me nowadays.” 

While Harrods have always prided themselves on providing top-tier service, they recently sought to enhance this even further by collaborating with the Harrods Store to upgrade their lounges to the highest standards.  

Overcoming challenges in style 

As an FBO rather than a commercial terminal, managing large groups presents certain challenges despite their range of lounges with varying capacities and amenities. With the growing popularity of accommodating larger groups, they have adapted their approach to meet these needs effectively. 

Heidi explains, “Security screening, I believe, is a good thing as it means people travel safely, but it’s important that this is as pleasant an experience for the passenger as it can be. We employ an accredited third-party security company. Within that company, we have a core team that understands the ethos of what our customers expect. We are aware that security screening with the 100ml regulations and restrictions on electrical items in bags can be the “pinch point” for large groups. We are investing heavily in next-generation screening equipment, which lifts many of these restrictions and will vastly speed up the process.” 

To minimise queuing, the team uses a separate lounge where passengers can relax with refreshments, calling them forward in small groups for screening when needed. Similarly, upon arrival, they will disembark passengers in smaller groups, ensuring a smooth and efficient process. 

Working alongside Victor 

When flying large groups, it always helps to know that the team looking after you has the necessary relationships to ensure a seamless service. Fortunately, our dedicated Group Charter department is well acquainted with the exceptional Harrods team. 

Speaking on our relationship, Heidi said, “On our most recent trip together we staggered arrivals at the building using both facilities, making the best use of our lounges along with help from the Victor Team, which was invaluable. We also provided valet parking, so the passengers stepped out of their vehicle and into the building on departure and on arrival out of the Terminal and straight into their cars. We then had a VIP caterer to provide a selection of delicious ground catering suitable for all dietary restrictions.” 

Heidi concluded the conversation with a worthy final note, “I must mention Tom Hill (Victor’s Director of Group Charter) – his mum’s cakes are legendary among the Harrods Aviation Team. We very much look forward to having the opportunity of working with Victor again…. Not just because of Tom’s Mum’s cakes (although they are pretty special) but we appreciate your professionalism and attention to detail and that really makes all of the difference.” 

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