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This is one aviation geek that everyone can love.
The LEGO Pilot has built a considerable fan base on social media thanks to his clever series of “selfies” depicting his everyday life as an international pilot on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook since he started sharing his adventures in March of this year.
We wanted to get to know the LEGO Pilot better, understand what made him take to the skies and the web with his miniature perspective on the life of an aviator. The LEGO Pilot was happy to answer our questions, even the tough ones.
As Skift is the only travel intelligence site in the world with a resident writer in LEGO’s home-base, we thought we’d ask LEGO what they thought of this too. What we learned from LEGO reveals how effectively (or ineffectively) even the largest brands in the world manage their social media engagement.
But first, here’s a transcript of our conversation with the LEGO Pilot.
Skift: What was your motivation for taking off with the LEGO Pilot on Social Media?
LEGO Pilot: It was actually a LEGO set from my parents as a ‘joke’ present when I first started at an airline for my first commercial airline job a few years ago. But I was inspired to start my own project this year after seeing the work of another person ‘LEGOgraphy’ who also has his own page on Facebook. I just wanted to have fun and snap some pictures as I travelled. I never expected to get the reaction and coverage that I have had and continue to get. Its been crazy.
Skift: You take some nice pictures, very well framed. Have you trained as a photographer?
LEGO Pilot: Thank you. Photography for me is just a hobby, never taken any classes or anything like that, I might do in the future. I am very patient with taking pictures and a bit of a perfectionist, but its mainly trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t.
Skift: Do you actually build the models for the scenes you stage yourself?
LEGO Pilot: Yes, all models are built by me, an art that I’m still perfecting. The LEGO collection has grown considerably since it all started.
Skift: Have you been approached by any destinations or travel brands about becoming a spokesperson?
LEGO Pilot: There have been a few, most are still in discussions. I have been approached by a Canadian regional airline about doing a promotional picture, last I heard they were still working on a picture for the collaboration. A simulator company in Germany said I’m welcome to visit and do some photos with them. Also Flyer magazine sent me some LEGO versions of their magazine which I just posted about. I am open to collaborations and any promotional work people or companies want to do.
Skift: What inspired you to become a pilot?
The LEGO Pilot: As a child, flying over the Atlantic, I was allowed to visit the flight deck with my dad, and that view, the buttons. That was it. I was hooked and addicted to aviation.
Skift: Let’s talk about the big issues for pilots. IATA has made addressing the problems of unruly passengers a priority. Can you share any thoughts on this issue and how it might best be resolved?
LEGO Pilot: Its a tough area, ideally those that are likely to escalate and cause problems during a flight shouldn’t be allowed to board and fly, but its a fine line. Crews are trained to diffuse situations and take appropriate action when needed. I know there have been studies in to behavioural patterns of passengers. Treating passengers as individuals rather than numbers or part of a crowd usually helps and calms people. I always try to go the extra mile for passengers and just hope they can see we are trying to help and make it the best experience possible.
Skift: What makes an ideal passenger?
LEGO Pilot: Well, I don’t have much direct interaction with passengers, but drunk and abusive passengers are the worst. Nice quiet, appreciative and calm types are the best. I think all crew would say they like ‘low maintenance’ passengers.
Skift: One of the big controversies in aviation is over the cutting of salaries and benefits for and increased outsourcing of crew from other markets. What are your thoughts on this?
LEGO Pilot: Its tough, I have been subjected to it myself as I started flying. Its not as glamorous as it used to be or what people think, but I do not do the job because of any prestige, the salary or the ‘glamour,’ I simply love to fly and travel. I think you just have to bite the bullet sometimes and make the most of it all, but at the same time not be walked all over by others.
Skift: You’ve said you’re an Airbus guy. What equipment do you fly?
LEGO Pilot: I currently fly the Airbus A320 series.
Skift: Airbus has indicated that they’re working on developing a special glass to deflect laser attacks on the cockpit, and the FBI are actively investigating incidents to prosecute criminals who flash lasers on planes. What can you tell us about this problem?
LEGO Pilot: It is a big problem, I myself have had a few laser incidents over the last two years, mainly abroad rather than here in the UK, depends on the destination and the areas being flown over. Tends to happen more in the ‘party’ types of destinations. I have never understood why people think its a good idea. It is stupid and irresponsible.
Skift: What makes a great flight attendant?
LEGO Pilot: A great personality and willing to go the extra mile for the passengers experience, and a great supporting nature towards your colleagues. At large airlines its possible you have never met the crew your are flying with. You have to be able to make new friends daily and create team bonds. Essentially the passengers should never be able to guess that the crew had not met each other before that working day. And a great smile.
Skift: Let’s talk travel tips. People are fed-up with passengers over-packing their carry-ons and have started the #carryonshame campaign to expose offenders. What’s the ideal carry-on bag?
LEGO Pilot: All depends on the airline you fly with. Of course there is a standard size, but some airlines do use different sizes which can catch people out. I personally have several bags which vary from small trolley cases to small hold-all types. Compartments and zip pockets are always handy for tickets and passports, etc.
LEGO Pilot: Too many. The classic Airport movies and Airplane would be high up on the list though.
Skift: If you weren’t a pilot, you would be …
LEGO Pilot: No idea. I could not imagine not flying for a living.
Skift: Where is the LEGO Pilot headed next? Will you continue to grow this social media platform?
LEGO Pilot: At the moment, I am not sure where next, just have to see where things take me. Growth-wise, again I shall see where time takes me, some friends have suggested merchandise, an app and a website, so we shall see. Hoping to make some stop motion mini movies soon too.
Skift: Have you been approached by LEGO about your Social Media activities?
LEGO Pilot: Nothing yet.
Skift reached out to LEGO for comment on the adventures of the LEGO Pilot and whether they considered engaging with LEGO fans like him on Social Media. Here is what LEGO told Skift:
“We are aware that the LEGO brick is truly a medium for the message of creativity. This is evidenced by the many ways in which it is used by children and adults alike all over the world to make creative and even artistic models or projects – such as the ones you refer to here.
“Naturally a result of that creativity is also sometimes models or projects that we would never produce or endorse.
“In relation to our interactions with fans of the LEGO Group and LEGO products, a growing number of adult LEGO enthusiasts have been setting up “LUGs” (“LEGO User Groups”) in which to share their LEGO hobby. They call themselves “AFOLs” (“Adult Fans of LEGO”). The LEGO Group has actively developed relations with approx. 200 “LUGs” with a total of more than 200,000 registered members. The groups have their own websites, blogs and discussion forums. The most popular LEGO fan blogs have more than 300,000 unique visitors each month.
Skift did discover that, in its own social media engagement, LEGO follows very few AFOLs on Twitter, and opts to use its Twitter feed for a one-way distribution channel of its product promotions. There is no significant conversation with LEGO’s 158K followers. The same can be said of its Facebook engagement. Even though LEGO’s facebook page has more than 8.5 million likes, only 119,014 are “talking about this,” and LEGO is not talking back.
As for the LEGO Pilot, he’s happy flying the LEGO brand all on his own.