And The Gross Flight Attendant Of The Year Award Goes To…

Filed Under: American, Travel

Yesterday I wrote a post about flying on what I think is possibly the most elite heavy day of the year (the last Thursday in February).

My flight from Tampa to Dallas was a smelly one, as the guy next to me basically farted the whole way.

But he had nothing on the (new hire) flight attendant on my connecting flight. I don’t even know where to begin.

On the plus side, my upgrade did end up clearing, thanks to a misconnect. So I had a bulkhead aisle, with a direct “view” of the forward flight attendant jumpseats.

The crew consisted of three older blonde ladies and a younger guy. While totally minor, I found it odd that he was wearing a beanie during boarding. While that’s not an “approved” part of the uniform, I’m not the uniform police. But I did find it a bit strange.

His behavior really started to get weird after the first class meals were served. Suddenly the cabin started to smell like fried chicken.

Moments later he sat down in his jumpseat with a tray consisting of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I don’t think it’s very good etiquette to bring on “smelly” food when you’re a flight attendant, but whatever.

It was how he ate it that really got me. He ate the fried chicken with his hands (as one does), and then kept licking his fingers. The worst part, though, was how he ate the mashed potatoes. He had a fork on his tray, but instead he decided to use his finger as a utensil. He’d dip in his finger to get mashed potatoes, and then would lick it off his fingers.

The even worse part? He didn’t wash his hands after finishing, and proceeded to go into the cabin to continue with service.

Sadly that wasn’t all. Eventually he got back to his jumpseat, and I guess it wasn’t comfortable enough for him, as he decided to use a cart “tray” as a legrest so he could put up his feet.


And then he sat there and bit his nails. For over a freaking hour. I don’t know how that’s even possible. Like he didn’t even hide it. And I had a front row seat to the “action.”

And again, he didn’t wash his hands after doing that, and continued on with service.

As a selective germaphobe and hater of fried chicken (it’s my second least favorite food after bacon — I know I’ll get crap for that), it was borderline traumatic. 😉

I’m absolutely going to send American an email about him.

But I’m curious, should I have confronted him directly as well?

Curious how you guys would handle it.

  1. You are absolutely right to be grossed out by all of that. One of those actions could possibly be overlooked but the laundry list of disgusting behavior should be reported to his supervisor. It’s not that he put his feet up, but personal hygiene is important and was clearly lacking. I don’t want a drink or cup from some grubby handed FA who just had their fingers in their mouth. That’s not just gross it’s appalling.

  2. A lot of your recent posts sound entitled and, frankly, whiny. You’re sitting in first class, take a nap or read a book. You’re really that upset about the guy cooking fried chicken and putting his feet up that you’re going to jeopardize his job? Maybe he washed his hands somewhere in the galley that you couldn’t see? Or used hand sanitizer? Either way, it seems like you are increasingly uppity and nitpick the most minute things.

  3. @Lucky… you said three older blond ladies and a young guy. I see two pictures. One a person standing with face hidden dark hair, and a younger guy sitting reading. Who was the standing (in coat) person ?

  4. A lot of poor behavior. But what is the difference between the smelly food one brings on and the smelly food you are served?

  5. Was his nail biting a bad habit or was he simply trying to remove the bit of chicken and mashed potatoes from underneath them?

    Seriously, IMHO an e-mail is a favor to future customers and maybe even to the employee if they give him some retraining. He won’t last with those kinds of bad habits.

  6. I agree with you about the picking his nails and eating with his fingers, that is gross. And I agree he shouldn’t be sat with his feet up in view of passengers. But just because you don’t like how a food smells he can’t eat it? Get over yourself. Pretty much all food that you put in an oven smells once cooked, and what one person think smells amazing somebody else might not like. Its about personal choice, the guys at work, stuck in a plane all day with nowhere to hide or get away from passengers so let him eat his food!

  7. Oh and taking pictures of him makes you look like an idiot, if you have a problem go through the correct channels don’t post his picture on the internet.

  8. I don’t think you should’ve said anything to him directly. Confronting someone in the manner you describe usually doesn’t end all that well. If you feel like you HAVE to say something, a quick word with one of the other FAs should suffice. If it doesn’t, then there are bigger problems at AA than one FA’s behavior.

  9. I agree that management should be made aware of the issues, and an e-mail or other similar contact is appropriate.

    I don’t see any purpose in also detailing the event, including pictures, on your very public blog. Correcting and disciplining employees is generally done in private. In addition, in our unfortunately litigious society, I’m not sure posting this is the best idea.

  10. @Rhona, I take pics like this all the time and send them to Delta. I pay for my ticket that includes serving and attending me. I understand that their first and foremost job is to keep you safe. Additionally they are there to serve me just as I serve my customers. I fire my employee if I see them reading newspaper reading newspaper their feet up right in front of my customers.

    Lucky had every right to take pic of him with his face covered. The pictures are nothing more than prof for a complaint and not personal attack on another human.

  11. Last week you had issues with how people ate breakfast and their accents. Today this… Dude stop exaggerating things to earn some attention.
    You didnt post my comment last time, hope you post it this time.

  12. Love ya, Lucky. That’s why I read you. Astounded by the number of people who don’t care for you, keep reading anyway, and then keep complaining. Do I love every post? No. Heck, I don’t like myself sometimes! Whatever.

    You asked a question that you already answered with your behavior. Absolutely no reason to confront the guy. Period. I mean, what could you possibly accomplish? Heck, I wouldn’t even speak to a Head Attendant. That said, I would definitely report to American. You love American, you consider yourself a stakeholder, and there is no way this is approved behavior. If it was my business, I sure as hell would want to know!

  13. @chip @chris @stacky – Why are you here?

    Ben, this is indeed disgusting.

    While I wouldn’t have confronted him, necessarily, I likely would have spoken with one of the other f/as.

    Do you know, did they see any of this, the finger-licking, the nail-biting, the feet on the service cart?

  14. I am not as frequent of a flyer as you (AA Platinum), but I think you’re 110% right in complaining. There’s nothing entitled or whiny about it. Food handlers (this includes FAs) should be held to high standards — doing the things you describe then touching food/drinks of passengers is a short path to getting people sick. That’s unacceptable behavior for any food handler.

  15. Confronting flight attendants over anything these days is a bad idea given how easily they can pull the security card and have you thrown off the flight or arrested on arrival. Not worth the risk.

    Absolutely report it after the fact though.

  16. Love the blog, but I agree, this post is tasteless and appears to make the author seem entitled and whiny. Stick to actual travel posts lucky, not posts about who is the grossest, rudest, or who shows the most inappropriate behavior. We all experience things like this in our travels, we don’t need to experience them here, as well.

  17. I’m also shocked at everyone else telling you you’re acting “entitled” or whatever else. Would anyone accept this kind of behavior from someone in a different service job (say, a stylist cutting your hair, or a waiter at a restaurant)? Of course not.

    This guy’s job, when he’s in uniform and on the clock, is to be 100% professional and provide safety and service to the passengers. (The FAs really provide the “hospitality” part of the job, especially to first/biz passengers.)

    Preparing your personal food that has strong smells that could bother your customers is not okay.
    Chewing your nails is not okay.
    Putting your feet up is not okay.
    Not washing your hands before serving the customers (and after eating– UGH) is REALLY not okay.

    This is just the BASICS of providing good service. Like, “Serving the Public 101.” If you think ANY of this FA’s behaviors are okay… I pray you don’t work in service. 😉

  18. Fredd, you made my day! I am still laughing. Steven S, you are right. I read this blog almost daily because the information (travel specific information) is so useful. All the other B.S., like whether Ben is gay or not, his mother picking up strangers in foreign countries, his father’s birthday trip, his altercation with a gate agent. All his endless commentary and personal rhetoric is self entitled and smacks of elitism. So I admit to a like/hate relationship with Benny/Ben/Lucky. Ben is at his best when he focuses on the core value proposition of his blog: optimizing miles, trends, travel reviews…

  19. You could have just quietly walked up to him and let him know of your concern. Or speak to Flight Manager/Senior FA whoever is the in-charge on that flight. That you noticed he was eating and hadn’t washed his hands prior to servicing the cabin. He likely would have apologized and felt really bad/embarrassed by it. And hopefully this would serve him as a reminder for him. Whether or not he stop his behaviours in the future, other people will find out (including his supervisor) and they will have something to say. You don’t need really need to formally report him based on your one encounter. You should have just addressed your concern with him or his supervisor directly. You would come off so much more respectable. Taking his pictures and all the little nitpicking details just reflect poor takes on your way of handling problem, any problems.

    While I think we all appreciate you’re trying to get the attention to the cleanliness issue but if you had told him directly, you could have helped solve the problem almost on the spot! I don’t understand why some people feel the needs to complicate things. Actually I do, some people just like drama.

    Aside from the above, I must say that you’re starting to sound like one of the RHW (actually a few of them). Maybe you watch too much of this whole TV show franchise and want to be one of them?? You’re starting to sound like one with frequent uninspiring, nitpicking post like this lately. Don’t be one of those please. Your blog is good without these neg posts. I don’t want a reason to start going elsewhere.

    I get it this is your blog so you can write whatever, however you want. You are writing your thoughts and inviting people of the interweb to read, not the other way round; so, fair on that front.

    But as your blog tagline goes “One Mile At A Time…Tips, Tricks, and Travels with Lucky”. Well, lately you are frequently and blatantly deviating from your blog objectives. We’re here to read and learn from you about your expert flying and traveling tips, tricks and useful/helpful travel experience. Most of us are not here for your sarcastic reviews of the people you find less desirable. Your blog tagline isn’t saying “Tips, Tricks and The Drama of travel. And i used the word “most” because you do have some readers who enjoy the drama (evidently from the comments). To each their own.

    But I’m doing to you what I preached in above. I have a small concern of your blog posts so I’m telling you straight up as a feedback.

  20. Shocking to see so many people defending a man who eats mashed potatoes with his fingers. Three year olds don’t even do that! I’m glad you blogged this!

  21. Obviously it’s your blog, so I’m not going to criticize your opinions of what is or is not acceptable for an employee to eat and do on a flight.

    But posting his picture on the internet, in what I ascertain to be a passive-egressive maneuver to get American’s attention, is completely inappropriate. It is shameful.

  22. This is great stuff Lucky.
    You should post more articles about people who’ve wronged you; POST THEIR PICTURES!!
    Shame them into capitulation.
    It’s the only way the poor will learn, Lucky.

    And all you detractors/nay-sayers are likely poor, and therefore, irrelevant.

  23. I hate dirty people including flight attendants who handle cups on the rim. I don’t know if i would confront on a plane. These days the passenger is always wrong regardless of business or first.

  24. Why didn’t you say something to a supervisor? You aren’t shy about chatting.
    What was the purpose of taking his photos and posting them on the internet? (We would have believed you; the “proof” wasn’t necessary.)

    You keep making some questionable decisions. I wonder whether the ‘fame’ of blogging has gotten to your head.

    Please revert to reviews of premium products on airlines and lounges at airports.

    -A (former) fan of this blog

  25. @Rhona— You may work for the government or a company that has “channels” of bureaucracy….but Lucky works for himself, and he can complain to whomever he desires and in whatever manner he chooses.
    The only part that really bothered me is not washing his hands before continuing service. I would have shamed him.
    This isn’t nutrage, it’s outrage.
    Lucky complains like he watches TV—he chooses his own channels

  26. I forgot everything I read before I inevitably read that you didn’t like bacon.

    Bacon is a gift from the heavens. The candy of meats. The divine swine. How can one not love bacon?!

    But, what you witnessed was disgusting. If I saw someone doing that in any setting I’d be freaking out.

    Seat farters are the worst though.

  27. It’s kind of amusing to me all the flack you are getting for this blog from the usual critics or those who find your complain(s) petty…but like Reine, I am having a hard time getting over your dislike for bacon. In our household, sometimes we even have bacon for dinner. If I had the capital, I would want to market a woman’s perfume that smelled like bacon…it would be like a love potion.

  28. Ben as for you complaining about the guy next to you farting, how did you know it was him? Maybe a case of he who smelt it dealt it? I’m guessing the truth is closer to you feeling entitled as an AA Plat to float a few air biscuits in 1st class without excusing yourself to the bathroom.

  29. An email to AA is definitely necessary – I have never experienced something like that, but this is totally unacceptable behavior on the part of a flight attendant.

  30. I think you are absolutely right to report this to American–it sounds truly disgusting and completely inappropriate. They clearly have some problems with their screening and training of cabin crew.

    As for confronting him directly, it’s not something I would do myself, out of fear of subsequent awkwardness. I have difficulty being diplomatic in those situations and would probably come across as condescending and judgmental. But, you might be able to pull it off. I’d say it would have to depend on your reading of him: how he might respond, and whether it might make the rest of your flight even more miserable.

    On the one hand, you could be doing him a favor. If you persuaded him to be more conscious of his behavior, you might save him from being reprimanded (or fired) in the future. You could frame it as “you seem like a nice person, I just don’t want you to get in trouble, and you definitely will if you keep doing this.” He might, in the end, appreciate it.

    On the other hand, his complete lack of basic manners (and any sense of dignified service), makes me think he might not be a particularly gracious recipient of your advice. He was so far out of line, and seemingly so oblivious even the existence of a line, that he probably just doesn’t belong in that sort of job. It’s sort of shocking that any airline, even American, would put him in a premium cabin.

    P.S. Just found your blog via your A380 first class comparisons–very useful!

  31. I would also report a flight attendant to management who did not wash their hands. They are handling food items, and should be fired if they don’t wash their hands after eating, licking their fingers, or after using the bathroom.
    I myself would never take photos of somebody, but then again I don’t have a blog either. I think it’s ok though! I would never confront a flight attendant or complain on the flight, because they might make a whole scene, have me arrested etc. so I would wait until after the flight.
    About the food he was eating and how he was eating it: that is certainly gross, but lots of people like to eat with their hands, that’s ok as long as they wash them after.

  32. AA Give you comment cards, make it there and sent it them, he needs to fly out the door…

    I have seen more than one free loader, but never said a word…

    Just do it,

  33. You’re right, the idiot is wrong. The whole flight crew need to be read the riot act, and the guy needs to be fired. He’s in the wrong line of work.

  34. @Leslie

    Lucky had already said he planes on writing the airlines about the incident, so it is bound to make their attention anyway.

    Not to mention, the original picture had the flight attendants face largely obscured. I highly doubt that most of us readers would recognize him if we saw him on the street.

  35. Once I was sitting in front seat of business class on Turkish Airways and I saw a flight attendant constantly biting her nails as we were descending. My thought was that she was hungry. Totally unprofessional

  36. During my last on AA in first the FAs spent the whole time talking to each other in the galley. The passengers were holding their glasses in the aisle waving ’em to get their attention for a refill. Imagine if you worked in a department store or a busy office and did this same type of behavior while on the clock like Lucky described? Appears to me that the supervisors are asleep at the switch with this airline.

  37. As a retired health professional and with family members in the hospitality industry, I can tell you categorical that what was witnessed is simply unacceptable.
    Cross infection is a major problem with infectious diseases. Can anyone really say that this guy has good hygiene? His whole demeanor reeks of sloppiness and that can flow through to all aspects of his behaviour. His lack of training is revealing. You are right to have drawn attention to this. Without such behaviour being called out, how can there be change.

  38. Can we divide the world already? I’d like to join the side that appreciates manners, politeness, professionalism and good hygiene. And then after the division, I’d like to personally strangle all those on the the other side prior to reunification. It’s unbelievable that some of you excuse such bad behavior. I’m in Jakarta right now. I think those of you that have this stupid “awe, f**k it”, “leave Britney alone” or whatever you call it approach to life need to come and spend some time in JKT. This place is exactly what you get when you stop caring. Pigs belong in a pen, not on a plane.

  39. Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time…….

    Have to say I’m sad that this blog has deteriorated into the rants and first world complaints I’ve been seeing lately. I to have seen such behavior from flight attendants. I’ve taken the time to sit and visit with them and talk about how and why their behavior is offensive. It’s given me the opportunity to share the upbringing I was fortunate to have with others. It takes a mature and non judgmental person, with patience, to assist someone like that. But, instead of information, my inbox is full of this kind of information. I’d be happy to guest blog on how to interact with people and communicate concepts, impressions and basically out the phone down and talk to people. It is disappointing that there is a picture of this FA, but no account of the conversation they had together. Ben, you are an ambassador for people like us who travel 400k + a year. Act like it. This blog has degraded into the rants and complaints frequently seen from reality tv. Very little information is conveyed in a timely manner now. I’m removing myself from the subscription. Sad, just sad. I used to enjoy the timely information from Lucky. And my brother who is an attorney, was very specific in saying the FA should cal him to look at how to file a civil suit in regards to this blog entry.

    And this is a very similar attitude the one time I tried to use

  40. That flight attendant should be fired. The story is also important information for me in considering which airline I want to fly. I appreciate Ben posting it.

    Also, hecklers on this list are becoming a problem. I would support efforts to make it slightly harder to heckle in the comments, such as by requiring email address verification to post.

  41. I am amazed at the number of responses to this post. Truly entertaining. Great job as always, Lucky.

    Of course, the flight attendant has made the wrong career choice but frankly anyone who hates bacon and fried chichen deserves what he gets, germs and all

  42. Ben – you are totally right to post this. How is it that US airlines in general have such terrible inflight service and food compared to other world carriers ? I have always found AA to be the worst and this just underlines it.

  43. “Also, hecklers on this list are becoming a problem. I would support efforts to make it slightly harder to heckle in the comments, such as by requiring email address verification to post.”

    @adam – I have to input my email address every time I comment. I’m puzzled by your comment.

  44. Christopher, 2 points. You win the prize for being the first person to use the over-used, hackneyed and moronic term, “first world problems. ” Also, I hope you don’t get hurt if you ever fall off your high horse. You take after Ben for his post but offer no criticism of the FA’s gross and bizarre behavior?

    To echo some of the other commenters, have our standards for service really fallen this low? How is there even a question that this slobs behavior is even remotely acceptable or understandable? This is an FA serving passengers food and drink! Heck the behavior that Ben described would disgust me even if this was a passenger let alone an FA. Don’t shoot the messenger for the message people.

  45. @Christopher Beaubouef: Does it take a “mature and non judgmental person” to say “I’m sad that this blog has deteriorated into the rants and first world complaints”. LOL. Look up the word “hypocrite”. I absolutely would want to know if unsanitary conditions exist as much as I would like to know how comfortable a seat is… and I’m definitely not a germaphobe.

  46. Hey Lucky. Not that you will, but I hope you don’t buy into the accusations of entitlement or whinyness that some are leveling at you. I understand how it may seem overly picky if you are on a public bus or something, but on an airline in first class, it seems reasonable to me that you would expect a little more of the service.
    It would be like someone saying you are being too picky if you paid $50 for a dinner and were disappointed that the food was no better than a fast food meal you could have gotten for $5. This is the very reason people pay more for first class – to have a better quality experience. The people that don’t get that likely never will.
    Why would they even be interested in information about how to maximize points to get upgrades on flights and in hotels if they don’t care about getting a better experience? If they think this is too picky, they can just stay in economy.

  47. I have to agree with Nate Ramsdell above. This flight attendant violated decorum, assuming your narrative is true. Did any other flight attendants witness his behavior? What about other first class passengers?

    I will depart a bit from Nate’s sentiment and say that your posts on the whole are increasingly frivolous, but that may be a good thing — readers come to your blog for entertainment, to live vicariously through your travels, even the minutiae. It is just as important as the bread and butter news about miles and points.

  48. I wrote: “Also, hecklers on this list are becoming a problem. I would support efforts to make it slightly harder to heckle in the comments, such as by requiring email address verification to post.”

    Colleen wrote: “@adam – I have to input my email address every time I comment. I’m puzzled by your comment.”

    @Collen – By “verification”, I meant that the blog would send a mesage to your email address asking you to confirm that you wanted to post the message, thereby confirming that the email address really is one associated with the poster. It’s easy to circumvent, of course, but I think it might reduce casual heckling.

    As a test, I am giving an email address of mine that I believe it has never seen before. If you reading this sentence, it means I did not confirm the email address.

  49. I bet you are surprised at the amount of readers who seem to support a complete lack of manners.
    “Lack of manners” is putting it mildly. This guy was disgusting and should be fired. I hope I don’t have to sit next to any of his fans.
    And these are readers who want to sit in first class. No, no, no, please take a bus.

  50. Ben, I love your blog, rants and all. But I was just wondering, do you do posts like this one just to see how many cages you can rattle. Because, in view of the comments above, boy oh boy, some people get really antsy don’t they!!!!!!! Keep up the good work, I will never be able to travel first class and will never have enough frequent flyer points for an upgrade – one travel a year Sydney to Paris to visit my elderly parents – but you allow me dream. Catherine

  51. Why are some people here mentioning “entitlement” all the time!? Excuse me, such a behaviour of a FA during work is gross and definitely not what one should expect. And yes, we all do happen to have accepted the low standards already of American based airlines in general. But you wouldn’t expect such things from any service provider at all; and if one of my employees behaves llikes this during work when facing clients, this would be a reasons for serious re-training or termination of contract. That FA is representing AA during work hours and as long as he wears his uniform – so such things are unacceptable! Period.

  52. The lack of corrective action from the FA co-worker witnessing the mentioned behavior answers your own question. It would have been more informative to the blog to share any comments or reaction provided by said FA when approached by you. A simple conversation asking a little about their life story could shed light into what has caused such a breakdown in professional standards. Just FYI states like FL allow patrons to ask for the latest health inspection report before sitting down to eat. You’ll be amazed how often luxury restaurants are cited for pest droppings, infestations, improperly kept foods, cross contamination and so forth. Bon Apetit!

  53. @Christopher Beaubouef- if your brother really thinks this is lawsuit worthy, he must be one of those sleazy attorneys who will sue for anything. Ben blacked out the face in the photo. Show me a law that says complaining about piss-poor service is illegal. Americans need to learn to deal with things without screaming for a lawsuit. I have lived in Russia now for two years, and I guarantee no one would even think of contacting an attorney over this. People get offended so easily in the US, it’s ridiculous. I bet you sue regularly over frivolous crap. Truth is the truth, so quit your bitching and go elsewhere if you dont want to read the complaints. I am glad he told us. I will avoid AA because of this.

  54. What is wrong with some of you people? Lucky was absolutely correct… This is totally disgusting behaviour. I worked as international CC for the worlds safest airline (not [email protected]:) . If any of the crew did this we would be disciplined severely. It just proves that this individual has no manners, does not respect himself or others around him. Get rid of him..

    All ye naysayers stay off here and learn some manners. How I hate the great unwashed ..

  55. Love this entertaining post, however it is sad. I don’t even want to imagine how some of the people live who defended the flight attendant in this post. Are you some of the same people who clip your toenails in flight? Or come onboard smelling of old booze, cigarette smoke and lack of a shower after a night of partying? The FA’s behavior on this particular flight was abhorrent and lacks any sense of professionalism. Posting his picture is a positive as it may get AA’s attention that some of its FA’s need additional training on how to act like a professional. And since when does a FA need a luncn/dinner break on a 3-hr flight when such FA needs to be available for your safety? Lucky, keep posting things like this as it is TOTALLY relevant content.

  56. Ben,

    Of course you should report this to American management. According to Wikipedia, In the United States, using FoodNet data from 2000–2007, the CDCP estimated there were 47.8 million foodborne illnesses per year with 9.4 million of these caused by 31 known identified pathogens. 127,839 were hospitalized, 3,037 people died.

    I’d bet the trolls defending this FA’s disgusting and quite frankly, dangerous behavior are sent to a hospital, they probably won’t change their minds or their habits either (you think THEY wash their hands after using the head?). Idiots.

  57. I definitely would not have confronted the attendant. He could have you booted off the plane on your next step. I know from experience! I was on a July 4 flight on Delta Airlines. Upon boarding, there was no one to greet us, which I thought odd. We sat and waited for someone to offer drink service prior to take off. One of the perks of first class. Nobody ever came. Finally after 15 minutes out flight attendant came out of the restroom. Walked right by all first class passengers and visited and giggled with his crew mate. This went on for awhile where I finally turned around and said, “excuse me…” To which the flight attendant turned around and said I will be right with you. He continued to visit and giggle. I again turned around and he comes up and asks me what I need. I told him that I was unhappy so far as we had not been greeted, even said hello or a good morning. No drink service… To which he replied, ” I am under no obligation to get you a drink. There is a water next to you.” I replied, I didn’t ask for a drink I was simple…cut off. Flight attendant said, “if you are going to cause problems on this flight, I will have you removed.” I asked for his name and he started freaking out, yelling, “get him off this flight!” Everyone sat and stared at him…other attendants as well. He continued to yell, stating we were not going anywhere as long as I was on the flight. I was escorted off the flight. Needless to say, Delta handled the situation very poorly. Notes from other Delta employees stated I had done nothing wrong. Four of us were traveling and upon arrival they went directly to the Crown Room to see what was being done to correct this misjustice (Diamond level). Several also wrote emails to Delta.The agent read the notes and said, wow. That’s exactly what happened. Other Delta employees wouldn’t even stand behind him. For my humiliation, embarrassment and delays, Delta reluctantly game the four of us traveling around 10,000 Skymiles each. They wouldn’t do anything more. I dislike Delta for this reason and use any other airline when possible. The airlines have way too much power and have done away with customer service.

  58. “But I was just wondering, do you do posts like this one just to see how many cages you can rattle.”

    Posts like this = lots of views & comments = more ad revenue = ka-ching!

  59. I’m shocked at all of the dissent over this. Sitting in first, you’ve earned or paid for the right to sit there. You deserve to have a first class experience. The behavior of the FA is disgusting and he most certainly should be reported to American. His behavior in no way reflects the new brand that management is trying to achieve for AA.

    Secondly, this is my favorite:
    “I’ve taken the time to sit and visit with them and talk about how and why their behavior is offensive. It’s given me the opportunity to share the upbringing I was fortunate to have with others.”
    Share your upbringing with the rest of us? Are you joking? Your pretention shows your true lack of class.

    Finally, we read this blog because it’s a blog. Blogs are OPINION tools. You have every right to post your experience and opinion along with the picture. But I agree with other posters, reporting the issue during the flight is a bad idea. Only report problems in flight if it jeopardizes passenger or crew member safety. Otherwise get the details and speak to a supervisor on the ground.

  60. As someone that works in a pharmacy, you have every right to be upset. Want me to count out your medication after I licked my fingers after eating in front of you? No?? Then why is this okay??

    Hello, people: infectious diseases are also spread through saliva! Flu, Ebola, Hepatits, etc.

    THIS is exactly what you should be posting. In a service industry, one expects a certain level of human behavior.

    It is not a first world problem- it is an entire world problem. Want to end the world of several diseases??? Wash your hands, people!

    For all you people that are bashing Lucky- what if this flight attendant had served you?

    If the FA doesn’t wash his hands after eating, what about after using the bathroom? Want fecal matter with your drink, sir? Honestly, people- stop and think!

    This behavior would never “pass go “in a restaurant- it shouldn’t “pass go” on a flight either.

  61. How could people consider this post to be entitled and whiny? Eating food with their hands, laying back using a cart tray, biting his nails (or in this case, flavor savers) for an hour? Doing it behind the scenes is one thing, but in full view of anyone paying for this service is just repellent. Would these same people complaining about this post feel the same way if they were in a fancy restaurant, and one of the waitstaff sat down in view of them and did the same thing? Hell, care to see them gnaw at their nails while they order a combo meal and McDonald’s? I don’t think so.

    I think you’re a better man for just letting it happen and not causing a scene. I might’ve given him some major disgusted-face at the very least. Maybe given him a little Phaedra Parks “Fix it Jesus.” 😉

  62. Picky, no. In fact putting in on a blog is the only way a company will accept feedback, without “handling” it with some script they have on hand. It’s unprofessional, and the airline can do better. Perhaps the US mainlines should go after this kind of opportunity, and stop complaining about the unfair subsidies given to the Gulf carriers. Service professionalism is really is one of the big reasons the Gulf Carriers do so well.

  63. Yes, you should have demanded that he wash his hands. All of you in first class got his gross germs from licking his fingers. What else does he lick and touch when no one is looking? And, everyone knows how dirty planes are to begin with. Ewww. I would have died watching that.

  64. I’m really tired of the haters calling you a whiner. They need to get a life and do something positive rather than jump on you all the time. Apparently they don’t care about hygiene or professional service. I enjoy your posts and don’t find you whiney at all.

  65. how can you confirm he did not wash or sanitize his hands? How can you love India where most people eat with hands? Isn’t KFC’s tagline “finger licking good”

  66. Lucky, I totally support you on this post and am really stunned at how many people on here have criticized you. It’s bad enough some of the behavior of passengers these days but when the crew crawls in the gutter with this type of behavior we’re definitely in trouble. Not quite the same, but my partner and I had the same bulkhead seats a couple years ago on a transcontinental flight and watched as the FA became more and more symptomatic with flu-like symptoms as the flight progressed. Unfortunately, by the time we really noticed him the meal service was over and it was too late; of course 48 hours later we were both sick as dogs in bed. You are not being a germaphobe; it’s (very) basic food safety. Sorry, I have no sympathy for the guy; he’s in the wrong line of work.

  67. What people do in the privacy of their own home, provided they aren’t hurting others, is their own business (they can lick their fingers, bite their nails, dress and relax however they want). When people are, however, at work being paid to do a job they are expected to adhere to their employers standards as specified in their policy manuals and directives (and if they aren’t happy with that, they are free to leave their jobs to find somewhere else).

    Suffice to say, for an employee at American Airlines working a flight attendant service job in the glare of the public eye, there is ABSOLUTELY no chance this employee’s behaviour was in line with the behavioural/service standards set by AA for it’s cabin crew (and that would apply whether he was in Coach or First cabin). Therefore that employee has opened himself up for adverse administrative action – not Lucky. Neither is it Lucky’s job to performance manage said employee, or be his advocate/adviser. If Lucky felt that employee’s behaviour was seriously in breach of AA’s employee performance standards, he has every right to lodge a complaint with AA for investigation/feedback, and then it is up to AA to decide whether it has any merit and act accordingly (because it is their employee, not Lucky’s, and it is up to them decide what action if any to take about it). Lucky is free to blog about his experience, and give his opinion, and given that he has neither released his name nor published images or other material that would readily cause him to be identified by the general public (which could lead to prejudgment by others on a complaint not yet formally investigated and dealt with by AA – and that employee is entitled to a presumption of innocence until AA concludes any investigation and rules on the complaint) I can’t find any wrong-doing on Lucky’s actions here.

    After all, that employee could have just closed the curtin or gone behind the bulkhead out of passenger sight lines to do some of the poor behaviours engaged in, but given he put it all out on public display, he only has himself to blame. About the only thing unreasonable with Lucky’s expectations of service standards was not to be exposed to the smell of fried chicken and mashed potatoes (or bacon for that matter, if it had been present) – I accept he may not like it, but it cannot be classified as offensive or unreasonable exposure, nor is it likely to be prohibited by AA for consumption by cabin crew onboard (again, it’s what is the employer’s standards here, not Lucky’s or anyone else’s).

    This employee’s actions fell below the standards required by AA, and this occurred entirely through his own poor judgement. If you continue to accept payment to perform a job, it is a condition you meet the performance standards set within that contract, otherwise you can be subject to review on notification of a complaint.

  68. I don’t think the word “entitled” means what many of you seem to think it means. Criticize Ben for being annoyed by small matters if you like. Or if matters seem too trivial, find a blog you like better.

    But it is hardly “entitled” to expect a person who serves food will refrain from sticking his fingers in his mouth repeatedly in plain view before doing so, whether on an airplane or anywhere else.

  69. @Christopher Beaubouef: You pompous lump.

    “We”, are customers. You and Oprah can sit down and have gentle, enlightening talks with unprofessional employees while the rest of us simpleton squeeze past your massive buttery bottom to get out of that bloody tube.

  70. @Endre
    You don’t need to take a photo of somebody to make a complaint. You can’t go round taking pictures of people without their permission! Would you do that anywhere else? Imagine going into a shop and taking pictures of the employees, you just can’t do that! You have paid for a ticket, that entitles you to an acceptable level of standards and the right to complain and discuss issues you have with the company, not to take sneaky pictures of people. A picture paints a thousand words, but they are not always the right ones which is where things get nasty.

  71. For what it’s worth I strongly support posts like this @lucky

    Your blog of your travels means your to blog about anything you want that is relevant to said travels. It can’t be considered any pthing besides a travel post if your indeed posting about your traveling. It also adds a sense of originality and personality to the otherwise robotic trip report vibe within the niche.

    Can’t wait to hear the response email from, AA!!

  72. @Rhona
    “You can’t go round taking pictures of people without their permission! Would you do that anywhere else?”

    1. If the people are on public property then, yes, you can photograph them without their permission because legally there is no expectation of privacy if someone is in a public place, &
    2. You can photograph people on private property with the permission of the owner.
    In both cases, you can’t use such photos to sell a product without the permission of anyone who can be identified by their photograph because this is commercial use.
    In Ben’s case, it would seem to depend on the airline’s policy with regard to allowing or disallowing photography on board.

  73. It’s posts like this that make me regret “ever” getting involved in this, so if that was your goal.

    Congratulations. You hit the nail on the head.

    I have a hard time deciphering who works for whom, and so on, but it’s posts and comments sections like this one that lead me to believe that what you have here is failure to communicate and a Grand Ole American ClusterF .

    Aren’t a lot of flight attendants and gate agents and support personnel former participants in this so called hobby? As I laugh, I remember the statements of gate agents rattling off upgrade prices in miles and other useless jargon , pretty much like you see in the blogosphere.

    Have a great week and a nice new year.

  74. I see nothing wrong in writing this article. I dont see it as whining, but it enable us to discuss where the line should be drawn. And that is interesting.

    Actually, usually there are no people better at whining than the people whining about others whining… Not only on this blog, but everywhere on comments all over. Dont they see the irony themselves?

    But to the handling of the situation, a talk with the purser of the flight would be appropriate. Also a request to be served by other crew members. Not in any way as a protest, but Im not sure I would want food served by a person like that.

  75. there’s a lot of useless BS on this blog these days, but I’d be pissed about most every one of these incidents. FA is a professional and should be acting like it. Nothing the FA was doing was professional.

  76. Always good to see you working hard to live up to your self-description of “non-judgmental”.

    That said the behavior described — if it happened as reported — is pretty egregious. So egregious, in fact, that it’s a little hard to believe. Especially that three senior flight attendants would all have failed to put an end to it. Are you sure that your self-diagnosed mysophobia did not color your view of the events? I’ve seen other apparent victims of that syndrome describing in anguished tones what was to them a terribly unhygienic and repulsive situation while an entire room full of people stared at them uncomprehendingly.

    Not saying it didn’t happen just as reported, just that it’s odd that the senior crew didn’t put a stop to it.

    No doubt a letter to the airline will result in disciplinary action, or perhaps termination so that’s something to feel good about. I guess.

  77. Wow. Two things. First, I have no issue with calling out gross actions of flight attendants who are supposed to be there for safety and service. Second, Ben how can you not like bacon AND fried chicken. Do you think it’s a genetic issue…

  78. I’d just like to add, we are having bacon for dinner tonight. I asked my husband if he would like bacon or hamburgers and he said bacon. He also said for future reference if the choice is between bacon and anything else…that he’s going with the bacon.

  79. How any of y’all can think that it is ok for a “service professional” attending to passengers paying hundreds of dollars for a first class flight to eat anything at all in front of customers, much less eat with his grubby “licked” fingers then serve food is beyond me. I would of emailed them on the flight before we landed. All of you who think this is ok need to fly southwest and stay away from the rest of us. With your profession Ben I’m almost disappointed you said nothing.

  80. At least the smell of the fried chicken helped to cover the smells coming from your stink seatmate? Hopefully?

    None of this would have happened if you would just enjoy bacon like a real American.

  81. So much vitriol over a report of serious hygiene transgressions! Can’t believe that proper food handling isn’t part of AA’s training. Beyond mere hand washing, most states require food prep to be done wearing gloves. I’m not especially squeamish, but this FA would make me refuse the food and I would definitely report him.

  82. First thing I thought of is all the passenger shaming pictures put out there by bitter flight attendants. Now, flight attendant shaming pictures! The battle is on.

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