The Most Incredible American Flight Attendant I’ve Ever Had

Filed Under: American

While I give American its fair share of negative coverage, I also like to share positive experiences. I had one this morning that was unlike anything I’ve had before on any airline, frankly, while flying from Charlotte to Tampa in first class.

American has some excellent flight attendants. When they’re great I tend to think it’s just because they’re happy and passionate people, rather than because there’s any culture in place at the airline that causes it. So I always appreciate those flight attendants who go above and beyond.

But I don’t think “above and beyond” begins to describe James, the flight attendant I had today. He was so over the top that I thought I was in an alternate reality.

What made James good

During boarding James greeted every single person with a big smile and an enthusiastic “good morning.”

Then every other person or so he’d compliment in one way or another. “I love your bag.” “I love that shirt.” “I love your hat.”

We had a delayed departure because boarding started late. So in order to make boarding go as quickly as possible James did pre-departure drinks after the door closed. At American it’s the exception rather than the norm to get pre-departure drinks of choice, and that’s even more the case on delayed flights. So this guy was a rockstar.

What left me speechless

This is where we get to the point where I was sort of in disbelief.

“Ladies and gentlemen in first class, can I have your attention, please.”

He said this while standing at the front of the cabin. I figured maybe James would let us know what the service was like on this flight, which some flight attendants do so they don’t have to repeat themselves 12 times. Nope.

“To our first class passengers, Executive Platinum, and Concierge Key members, I want to introduce myself. My names is James and I will be your lead flight attendant.

I want to thank you, because it was you guys who kept us alive after 9/11, and the frequency with which you give us your business is the reason over 122,000 of us have jobs.

From the chairman down to your Charlotte based crew, we are so grateful for you. I appreciate your business and I appreciate you being the best part of our airline. I’ll be waiting on you hand and foot throughout this 59min flight, and if there’s anything I can do, please tell me.”

I… I… I mean, what do you even say to that? I’ve had some flight attendants say “thanks for your business,” but nothing like this. And I’d note that this sounded so incredibly sincere. Like, you wouldn’t think a flight attendant at a US airline could say that they’re “waiting on you hand and foot” with a straight face, but James did it.

As we descended I just thanked James for being so awesome. He responded with “it costs nothing to be nice… nice is free.” 

I said “that’s a fantastic attitude, I just wish more people had it.”

“There are a few of us out there, we just gotta team up,” he responded.

On the final approach James came around to each passenger to shake their hand. “Thank you for your business, it was a pleasure having you onboard today, and thank you for letting me serve you. I appreciate it.”

At the end of this flight just about everyone in the cabin looked at one another with the same thought — did that really all just happen?!

Suffice to say that while this was only an hour-long flight, he was busy the entire flight, and didn’t sit down once. I’ve never had so many water refills on such a short flight.

Has anyone else had the pleasure of flying with Charlotte-based James?

  1. Sadly or happily, you found a needle in a haystack and your flight was only an hour long. I made EP this year and fly mostly on my own dime. AA management can care less about their premier passengers (which are their cash cows) and 95% of the time, I’ve had less than stellar crews. Their grounded 737 Max aircraft are awful in First Class and looks like the A321 NEO is cut from the same cloth; uncomfortable seats and the tiniest of lavatories. Also, there’s no separation between First Class and Economy except for a flimsy barrier. The only reason I continue with them is their non stop schedule from Chicago to Palm Springs which is better than UA’s. Unfortunately, AA has become the same as bus travel.

  2. I agree this kind of attitude is rare these days from an AA cabin crew member. In my experience it’s not uncommon on a Delta flight.

  3. I also had my best experience with a flight attendant on a AA flight from NYC to Paris in business class. She was so friendly always caring for every single passenger you actually felt bad not to ask her to get you anything! She had to be sent to coach for a while and came back with a relief saying “I’m back with my people”. I will never forget that experience kuddos to these gems out there!

  4. Needle in the haystack indeed. Try checking the attitude of those flight attendants in steerage. 99% are unhappy and openly complain in the rear galley about their jobs, schedule, coworkers and more. I try to sympathize with the long days and difficult customers they encounter but at times you just can’t break the cold exterior of an employee who is just plain unhappy in their job.

  5. I flew AA (or actually American Eagle I suppose) from ALB to DCA a couple of years ago and had a great flight attendant as well. Very positive attitude despite a delayed departure due to weather in DC. She kept us informed and was serving us refreshments the whole time. In the end we managed to get a “shortcut” so our arrival was more or less on time. What could have been a stressful experience turned out to be quite nice thanks to her attitude and service. I was happy to send in a compliment on their online system after the flight. I hope you let AA know that he provided you with a good experience.

  6. Yes, I’ve been fortunate to have him a half dozen times! I live in CLT area and the guy is like this every single time. It’s no act, it’s truly his sincerity. Each time I am more and more enamored.

  7. Yes! James was on my LAX to CLT flight right before Christmas. It was a godawful departure time (nearly midnight) and he was still so helpful and kind. I appreciated the refills too since I was up the whole flight as I usually can’t sleep sitting up. It was a really nice end to my long journey from Taiwan.

  8. There is no reason why AA cannot be more consistent. If mgmt cared, this type of experience would not be an outlier.

  9. 100% agreed! James is one of the best flight attendants I have ever met! He was on a flight 2 years ago from PHL to CLT and he made a lasting impression on me as well! I took a selfie with him to remember!

  10. I suspect he was a legacy US Airways FA. As a general rule, I feel like service is better with US Airways crews. Maybe its a union thing.

  11. Sorry but that’s too much, and typically American.

    You would get staff thanking customers on other airlines without gushing in a theatrical manner

    You can appreciate business and be customer focussed , however alluding to 9/11 etc is too much.

  12. I had a flight with Amanda from PHL to LA. My flight was delayed (obviously) for “maintenance” reasons. Amanda sat with me and helped me find a new flight because I was going to miss my meeting. She went above and beyond to get me to a flight departing from PHL prior to my original flight. She was kind.

  13. Sounds way over the top. But I agree, the LUS crews are typically much better than LAA crews. I did recently have a (LAA) FA on DFW-LAX who greeted every EP in Y and asked them what they’d like to eat and drink BEFORE the actual drinks service. Whenever there was a lull in service in Y, he’d run up to F and help up there. At the end of the flight, he thanked all of the EPs by name as well. I thought *that* was good service, and without the histrionics mentioned in this post.

  14. I saw the comment about the old US Air crews being nicer than the AA crews. My experience has been the exact opposite. The AA crews have always been consistantly nicer and more.professional that the US Air crews! Good for James by the way!

  15. @Lucky — I presume you mean (or he said) “if there is” and not “if things anything I can do”.

  16. Lol – as a European this sounds WAY over the top for me. But I guess it’s a cultural thing 🙂 (this was a domestic US flight after all).

  17. This reminds me of a Delta Connection flight attendant I had 5 years ago on Atlanta-Greenville, SC (40 minute flight).

    She welcomed everyone onboard, then after the boarding door closed, walked through the all-economy cabin on the 50 seater CRJ200, and thanked every Medallion /SkyTeam Elite member by name from her manifest.

    There was a couple behind me who seemed to be connecting off a CDG-ATL flight, and the flight attendant, seeing this, thanked them “for their loyalty to Air France, our transatlantic joint business partner, and their SkyTeam Elite status” in French.

    It blew me away. I never could remember her name, but goshdarnit I keep looking for her on Delta Connection flights I take out of Atlanta.

  18. It’s unique to find any veteran customer service agent, which FA are, in a good mood. Customer service is draining and esp so when the company behind you doesn’t celebrate and reward your effort. If AA management made this a priority, this would change. They are so large at this point good luck getting their attention.

  19. @Nico

    The US *did* get over 9/11. The airline industry was decimated but has come back stronger than before. Obama killed Osama. Kind of the opposite of how other countries, like Greece for instance, have never recovered from their economic failures.

    And FYI, I’m not American but most countries lost people in 9/11 and other attacks since.

  20. “Ladies and gentlemen in first class, can I have your attention, please.”

    Usually this is followed by a credit card pitch. :\

    I try and tune out the FAs anymore because I don’t want to hear about how I can get 60,000 miles signing up for a card that i already have and don’t use.

  21. My father started working with PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) in the 1980’s, and was part of the merger with USAir in 1987. He stayed with USAir later USAirways until his death in 1998. I will always be partial to American Airlines, the new USAirways because of the fact that it was the job that put food on the table for myself and my brother while growing up. I’ve flown on plenty of airlines in my 40 years, while I was in the Army. Every airline has its perks. If this country would get their heads out of their ass’s and quit bitching about everything we wouldn’t have these crybabies. Y’all it’s called life…pack 180 people on an airplane and smell the air around you. It’s a short flight… get over it!

  22. What a great story – made my morning. Passionate people make the world go round.

    People are funny – I don’t get the negativity from some of the comments. If this post is upsetting to you in any way – might want to consider take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why?

  23. You’d expect this level of service on any random Delta flight, but it’s truly remarkable on AA.

  24. I hope American readers don’t assume the all of us non-Americans are negative on the conduct of this FA James. All this trash-talking is way way more cringeworthy than James’ words. “Get over” 9/11? “Over the top”?

    James knows what he’s doing, knows his audience, works hard at his job, appears to enjoy it, probably has a happier life than you do. Cynicism is sometimes more realistic than optimism, but it’s never as attractive. My advice, as official image-coach to non-American readers is: if you found the story cringeworthy, STFU. Look it up, it’s an American Thang.

    If I were in that cabin that day, I’d feel a lot more loyal to American for a while.

    One thing James isn’t is mean. Mean people suck.

  25. Lucky
    When did you wake up from this dream and realize it never happened?
    Everyone at American has to be miserable it’s their horrible CEO
    My seat mate said his friends that work @ American claim 85% have a negative attitude
    from the toxic culture at American
    I’ll assume their is some margin of error !

  26. There are some incredible AA fa’s out there. Hard to find but they beat qr’s fa’s any day of the week. Good on you lucky for publishing this, I hope you wrote AA to compliment him as well!

  27. I rarely fly AA, they’re schedules from PDX are barely existent. But last time I did, I got a cranky lady 20 years past her use-by date. Everything this guy did was awesome though, with the exception of the handshake. I’m not a germophobe, but I’m sure some of the (at least 8) people in first didn’t want their hand shaken, especially after all those other hands.

  28. AA does have some absolutely stellar flight attendants. We had an unbelievable one on DFW-HKG a few years ago in J – I believe his name was Glenn. We were blown away. Overall, I’d actually prefer a stellar AA FA rather than the robotic niceness you get on CX or QR.

  29. Anybody in any profession that has a customer should take this same attitude toward every customer. Every time. Doing it sincerely like James did will attract repeat business and additional customers that spread the word.

    It’s sad to hear that folks like James are the exception, not the norm at AA. However, I’ve seen many more FAs like him on Alaska flights and more regularly, though will note there are always bad apples.

    Ben – great for you to point this out, and hopefully you do let AA management know that THIS is the secret sauce.

  30. Do you ever reach out to AA to let them know how much you enjoy their best flight attendants? Does AA still have those Recognition Coupons?

  31. @nico @george @brandnote and all the miserable other comments. Cant you just appreciate an employee that likes his job and went out of their way? Nope..have to load it with negativity and snark. God I’d hate to be sitting next to any of you miserable (&*^*& on a plane

  32. You were after all in first class. Needless to say, first class service should always be a cut above the rest (reason for the name!). James does does sound like he was too much over the top, maybe to overcompensate. If you can’t get consistent first class top level service when you paid for first class, you should look for another airline!

  33. I don’t fly very much but when I do, I have chosen to fly Delta. Noticeably much friendlier and helpful flight attendants, every time. Last year I flew American for the first time in many years, and I saw a noticeable difference. American attendants were not rude, but they certainly did nothing to go out of their way with welcome, thanks, and just common courtesy. Only took me that one round trip on AA to make me decide U would try a little harder to got Delta the next time I fly.

  34. I’ve had some great ones too (and recently).

    Last week, the single FA working the First Class cabin from DEN to DFW. Tight turn in Denver, but came out with a tray of water during boarding and said can I get you anything else, soft drink, beer, wine, cocktail before departure? Quick service with a smile. And greeted everyone by name.

    Or the FA from LGA to DFW in January who thanked me (and others in coach) by name for being a Platinum flyer or a Gold Flyer. IN COACH! Or the FA that ends each flight by playing the Lawrence Welk goodbye theme complete with bubble machine.

    Then there is the flight attendant that I “caught” pouring hot water into the coffee cups to warm them first before putting in the coffee. A touch that no one would likely notice but something he does just because he thinks it makes for a better experience.

    I can focus too much on the negative. Thanks for this post!

  35. You give the airlines pennies, you are not even an exec platinum, you expect too much for the pennies you shell over. Other fa should not have to do this or act in this way. get real.

  36. I had a flight attendant in coach between DFW and Leon, Mexico, that this reminds me of. She started by asking proactively if there was anyone that she could try to reseat to sit with travel companions, sorting out a few empty seats and people indifferent to switching to equivalent seats. Before we landed she walked down the aisle and personally thanked each passenger for flying with the airline. And yes, she was over 50, for those of you think older flight attendants are always grumpy.

  37. I am sure James is a nice guy and all, but I personally am not a fan of such over the top thing. I mean, is it necessary to shake each person’s hand? why? and the exaggerated or ? why? I mean, it’s great when people are nice, polite and competent. but what you described is just theatrics. no harm in it, well maybe a little annoying, especially to those germophobes who hate shaking strangers’ hands. but I personally find it weird.

  38. I had just as great an experience with Philadelphia based (I think) Lisa on a PHL-LHR flight. In economy. Wrote a letter to that effect and mailed it in. It went in her file. Next time I saw her while boarding she called me by name while coming across from the other side of a wide body to thank me and hug me. Yeah.

    Take as much time to recognize great service as you would to complain about poor service.

  39. I am a low maintenance person so I find that most AA crews are pretty good as long as they are not based in Miami. Something about MIA brings out the worst in AA staff. L-US crews are much more consistent with the PDB’s, I will give them that.

  40. My very first flight on AA… was a status matched 1K to ExPlat flight right after the CO/UA merger debacle. I had an ORD based flight attendant named Patrick who is pretty much exactly you described as above. I was like WOW American Airlines is AMAZING. I never did end up sticking with AA despite the status match because I was really worried about the merger with US. It was all downhill from there.

    But it does prove that there are hidden gems who work with the US3.

  41. I would distinguish nice talk from worthy actions. Too often nice talk is used in substitute for worthy actions and good performance, the latter of which is usually more costly for the service provider to fulfill. I would also prefer minimum talk from the crew, unless it is necessary to explain a delay, etc. Although the flight attendant in question was a lovely, hardworking chap, I wouldn’t expect that degree of emotional output from every crewmember. It’s hard and stressful enough for them to deliver good product, why expect them also to proverbally get on their hands and knees to you while doing it? Why are you so insecure and unsatisfied with your life that you feel you need this?

  42. Does James happen to be a tall Asian guy? I had an equally excellent CLT based flight attendant a few months ago who sounds like this guy.

    I also want to give a shout out to a great PHX crew from about a month ago. I flew BWI – PHX and had pre-ordered the cheese plate in economy because I knew I wouldn’t clear upgrades. Unfortunately catering only supplied 3 cheese plates and there were 4 pre-orders. Since I was the furthest back (exit row), I lost out. The flight attendants were so apologetic!! They brought me back a bowl of nut mix, a cheese plate/side, and proper wine all from first class. I really appreciated how much they did to make it right even though they had nothing to do with the catering error. So there are still some AA crew that care! 🙂

  43. James, please bring your good attitude and good example to AA182 / AA183, LAX-PVG. It is needed.

    I’ve commented to AA on surveys that they should consider mandating a mix of less senior and more senior FAs on long-haul flights. There’s a strange inversion of quality that happens on AA’s longest haul flights, as senior FAs compete for the flights that consume the most flight hours. There have been delightful exceptions, but too often I’ve been on flights where the service is almost deliberately sour, incompetent, and unsmiling. My most memorable experience on AA182 involved a Jewish customer who consumed a ham sandwich which had been described as “turkey” by the FA, and when the customer pointed out the mistake to the FA, she simply said “oh” … and walked away. Wow.

    The longest-haul flights often have customers who have the greatest current and future value to AA. They should work to get the customer service piece right.

  44. I can count the number of AA flight attendants with similar presence in 4 million miles on AA on one hand. One old timer went though the wine list (as much as it was) suggesting pairings and describing the FC meal choices as you might expect in a fine restaurant. Several of my FA patients knew of him – he apparently was legendary, but he sadly passed away last year. Another old timer reminded me of the days when you got dressed up to fly and looked forward to each flight. She exuded class and made FC feel like First Class. Those days are long gone. The reality of today is the jerk FA who saw but intentionally ignored my sport coat folded on my lap in an aisle seat in FC. A embarrassing (for the airline) slob, his dirty white shirt hung out of the back of his rumpled pants and after one quick service on a 3 hour flight, spent most of the rest of it sitting on the jump seat reading a magazine.

    The problem with AA FAs is a reflection of an airline that doesn’t have a clue to what its best or, for that matter, any of its customers actually want. Would you expect more of anyone working in an environment where management could care less about the customer experience? The fish rots from the head down and the only way AA will change is after a complete change of upper management.

    By the way, the best service I ever experienced was business class on the now defunct Kingfisher Airline in India. I was stupefied as the FA came and carefully hand cleaned every customers eye glasses and did a great job of it too!

  45. Since I am most often a coach passenger flying on my own dime, American Airlines fits my flying needs the most for price & where they fly. My opinion- Their fa’s are most often mediocre at best whether in coach or first class. They just do not seem to like us or their jobs. Also, coach is just as entitled to good friendly service & attitude as first class. “My people” is cringe worthy.

  46. Nico … really, get over it?? 9/11 isn’t something you can or should “get over”!

  47. Brilliant and hats off to James. I had a terrific female F/A on a flight from DCA to TPA and she gave everyone in 1st a hand written personalized note thanking them for being a great customer. I was floored! Of course I always tell AA when I have that kind of experience but of course no replies. Echo a few others who are mostly fed up though….letting my AA EP status lapse this year bc of their ridiculous policy that gov and mil can’t use systemwides on tickets, which by the way are usually twice the rate of a regular economy ticket. For shame…

  48. American Airlines is very special to me.
    I loved What James did, it brought tears to my eyes. James is giving his all to his job.
    Bravo James.
    How nice it would it be if more people in other business’s not just Airlines, gave there all every day at work. We would be a happier People

  49. James in a CLT treasure. I have been in his cabin several times as a CLT flyer and he is 100% consistent in this level of service. Even when I’m not flying in first, if I have a sport coat on he takes it from me at the cabin door, hangs it, and returns it to me prior to landing. He really sets the bar.

  50. @Lucky…

    Has anyone else had the pleasure of flying with Charlotte-based James?

    YES! Hands down the best FA on US/AA and maybe any airline.

    He is a rockstar!!!!!

  51. So you are commending James for Violating FAR’s by doing pre-departures after the door is closed. And you are doing so publicly so he can get fined!!

  52. Thanks so very much, Ben, for sharing this with us; I thoroughly enjoyed reading of your experience…sincerely!

    (Sadly this used to be the norm – not the exception. A fact which deeply grieves me…)

  53. Last American crew member I had was useless and completely unpleasant in every way.

    Shows the two extremes of American travel.

  54. Karl- nailed it. The Miami-based crews (besides the “London Mafia”) are the absolute worst.

  55. I have thr pleasure of flying with James. I watched as he greeted everyone with a compliment. I watched him the entire flight in amazement.

  56. I have not had bad experiences with AA, so seeing how folks in this group trash talk them really surprises me. I am nice to the FA’s and they are nice back to me. When they say hello as I’m boarding I look at them and say hello back. I treat them as fellow human beings and have not had the negative experiences that others here talk about. Maybe it’s more about your attitudes rather than theirs?

  57. Genuinely awful, verging on puke material. He should focus on his great service and leave the hokey patter at home.

  58. I believe I’ve flown with James CLT-LHR last year, I remember the compliments and handshakes. I also had a flight attendant named Luke on PHL-LHR earlier this year who was just as superb. He even knew about the wines and was able to recommend them. A true gentleman and truly passionate about his job. I’ve also had another fantastic experience on CLT-SFO two years ago (forgotten the name) – 110% effort, remembered everyone’s name in F, somehow had time to serve two PDBs in a few cases!

    There are also a lot of cabin crew going through the motions – I’ve had the worst experience with those based in ORD and JFK so far. But also there are those that care – and I don’t think it’s fair to dump on the merger – my best AA cabin crew experiences have all been from former US bases.

  59. I had the opposite of the James experience. I am not a regular flyer of American, so they charged me extra to make a change, then put me in group 8 to let me know how much they didn’t care about me. Now I fly Southwest and drive 2.5 hours rather than take an American flight that is within an hour’s drive. Happily.

  60. Lucky, how did you reward him? Does anyone still use those AA ‘In Recognition of Outstanding Service Excellence’ (Above & Beyond) coupons/certificates they use to give to elites each year with their new card?

    You were invited to give them to AA employees as a reward for great service and I believe they in turn could then use them to enter a monthly employee lottery for bonus rewards (free flights etc.).

    I still have a stash of these coupons (which says a lot). Are they still used??

  61. Thanks for the update. I’d been wondering where James (Ben S) landed after leaving OMAAT.

  62. The best flight attendant I ever had was 5 years ago on Swiss first class from zrh to lax which would normally be expected but I flew lh fc lax to fra on the way out and the German airfrau was openly hostile.

    Unfortunately 90% of my AA flights involve my transiting in mia which is a special kind of hell with regard to American crews.

  63. We caught James on an RSW to Charlotte flight. My wife and I looked at each other and thought is this some new deal? Sadly it was not, but AA needs to promote Jane’s to Head of FA training. Amazing dude, the feel good vibe he exemplified made us feel good about life, not just our flight.

  64. thank you for sharing Ben, I always love it when a flight attendant goes above and beyond in niceness. so cool. 🙂

  65. My best FA experience. I was seated next to a woman flying with three children, two boys (about 4 to 5 years old), plus an infant on her lap. The boys were perfectly behaved, but the baby was screaming the whole flight. I could tell the mother (who was from Africa and spoke little English) felt horrible, knowing the whole cabin pretty much hated her. I did all I could to help her out (entertain the boys, take the screaming baby for a while). The FA came around for drink service. I helped the boys with their drinks and ordered coffee for myself. The FA asked if maybe I would like a beer, wine, or cocktail. I asked how much would that cost. He smiled and said “For you…No charge”.

  66. I don’t know if it was James, but there was one FA I had out of ORD, I think flying to ROC on an E145, that had an incredible spiel he did. I remember him talking almost the entire ascent up, and the key phrase that I remember was that American Airlines was “something special in the skies”. I wonder if it was the Patrick that Jerry L mentions; it was certainly unique enough that someone else should have noticed.

  67. I think this is a great way for someone to achieve recognition in a positive way, and given that Ben felt as he did regarding the service, the post is appropriate and well stated.

    For myself, however, I wouldn’t be impressed with this sort of service. In my view, elite service is invisible and present only when you desire it. I’m the same way with restaurants and retailers; if I want assistance, I’ll ask for it, and I expect to be able to easily find it. Being approached or proactively offered anything is the surest way to irritate me, because now you’ve placed me in a position where I feel like 1) I have to engage with you; 2) I need to “match”, your level of enthusiasm or level of politeness in that engagement; and 3) I feel disengenuous, fake, and dishonest when doing so, because it’s very often not the mood I’m in. Why? Because simply ignoring such efforts is rude, and I’m not someone who enjoys rudeness (dishing it out or receiving it).

    So when it comes to airline travel, I’d appreciate walking into the aircraft without needing to be greeted by (or maneuvering past) the crew. I listen politely to the safety presentations and announcements, as these are important components of FA work. Beyond that, I’d prefer quiet and uninterrupted flying, with mindful use of the call button when I’d prefer otherwise.

    I fully recognize that I’m in the minority, and that the service industry does not cater to me. Thus, I cannot (and will not) criticize James for rising above the defined standard of his profession. But I will refrain from offering encouragement or praise for doing so in the way that he does, because it imparts a level of discomfort with me personally that I’d rather not have.

  68. I fly out of American Airlines out of Charlotte all the time. I have found the flight attendants to be thoughtful , kind and polite . I have never had any complaints or problems. I have seen them go out of their way to help passengers . I can think of one flight attendant who had a particularly calm, quiet demeanor and I commented to her on how great she was throughout the flight . She thanked me profusely and told me that I just made her day.

  69. @Brian

    I’ve had the Lawrence Welk “Good Night” with the bubble machine guy too last summer getting into DFW around midnight. I couldn’t help thinking I was on Southwest. But he provided great service and I thought he was hilarious, the bubbles were not too surprising after the way he acted the rest of the flight. I think about half of F loved it and the other half were embarrassed which sort of meshes with many of the comments here. If it happened on every flight I don’t think I would like it, but a little silliness never hurt anyone.

  70. As a former flight attendant I can say that passengers don’t keep an airline afloat. All the cargo in the belly of the plane is the money maker. Singling our first class passengers and saying that they saved his job is a far stretch. First of all 90% of first class are upgrades. Those people bought a coach ticket just like everyone else and used points etc to sit up front.
    Some of the best flight attendants I’ve seen are those that help passengers off the plane. Pointing them to the right gate, helping with baggage, finding a wheel chair, etc. glad you enjoyed your compliment but actions speak louder than words.

  71. My cousin Kenny Lewis and his wife Jennifer were flight attendants on flight 77 on 9/11. They were headed to CA for a 3-week vacation so their boss allowed them to fly together, which was against policy. My mom who watched the plane fly into the Pentagon from her office in Arlington called me early afternoon on 9/11 telling me that her sister, the youngest of 13 siblings, had called her to tell her that she was concerned that her son Kenny, their only child, hadn’t called her when they landed, which he always did. My mom told me that she couldn’t deal with figuring out what the status was and asked me if I could call AA and find out what was going on.

    I called AA many times before reaching a human. When I gave this person the name “Ken Lewis” she said he was not on the list. I was elated! I tried calling my mom to give her the great news but the call didn’t go through. I headed to a local gas station, bought a 6-pack of beer and headed home very relieved. A short while later I was able to get through to my mom to give her the good news and she asked me if I had mentioned that he was a flight attendant. I had not.

    I called them again and eventually got through and ultimately found out that they were both on flight 77 and had perished.

    (As I cry…) I called my mom to give her the news. She then had to call her sister Aunt Joanne to give her the news.

    My aunt passed away not too many years later and my uncle Jean never recovered. My emotions are still very raw but I’ve done a good job avoiding thinking about Kenny and 9/11. At one point I had over 30 cousins (mom was one of thirteen) but Kenny’s house is where we always stayed when we went to Farmville VA so he’s the one cousin we knew really well.

    When I fly I always thank the crew for a safe flight but most of them are too young to share our story with. That said, your story moved me and I can’t thank you enough for sharing a positive story about someone who still remembers 9/11.

    All the best,

    David Coakley

  72. Never had the pleasure of being on a flight with James but appreciate the posting. When Tiffany rests her head and goes back to hibernation this blog becomes quite jaded and boring. This tale of James has brought me out of a deep One Mile with Lucky is quite enough slumber.

  73. I think a kind attendant in economy is much more impressive. It’s like comparing a waitress with ten customers to one with one hundred. And all of those one hundred are sitting in horrible seats for the comfort of the business and first class passengers. I always fly non-American airlines because they haven’t reduced the space to sardine can size nor used bad quality plastic seats I expect from playboys.

  74. I remember him! He was on my flight from CLT to JFK last month.
    First thing I told my husband when I got home: what a great flight attendant i had in First Class!
    All smiles, and don’t forget his speech either!
    AA should be proud to have James!

  75. @Neo you are not alone. This is why CX F is so special. I compared with JL F and enjoyed the free WiFi and other “hard” features but the engagement was much higher and I missed the telepathic service I’d enjoyed on CX.

    Best restaurant meal ever was one in which the service was completely invisible. The waitress had (strangely, I felt) interrogated us at the outset (will you want refills? Do you like sauce on the side? etc) but after taking our orders never spoke again. Cups never empty, cultery always right, plates cleared without comment, empty things replenished before we noticed, etc etc. Not a word. Bliss

    Still on this James story I think we’re dealing with a different matter. The service described is exemplary. What people seem to be reacting to is the soliloquy at the end of the flight, after the service concluded. Some would rather not be engaged in this way, but in the circumstances I think it was wonderful and likely pleasing to the majority, if hearfelt.

  76. There are James’ all over, it just takes a Lucky to recognize a positive attitude and a desire to please. They are in the aviation business, all centers, grocery stores, post offices and gas stations.
    A thank you and a “job well done” will go a long way to make someone’s day. Civility and kindness is contagious. Let’s give thanks to those you serve us with a smile and a caring purpose.
    Thank you Lucky

  77. I was so delighted to read this article. I believe, in a matter of speech, I may have met James’ sister. I had returned from London on BA and the flight had been in a holding pattern due to bad weather in Houston. My connecting flight to Dallas had been delayed twice. While boarding, the first class attendant greeted every passenger entering the plane with a beautiful smile. I was carrying a package with an umbrella I had purchased in London and she went out of her way, during boarding, to ask if she could place it in the Attendant’s luggage compartment to secure it’s safety. I was amazed she even noticed the package. Once on the plane and the door was shut we had a good hour wait before the plane pushed off. We were treated as if we were in a 5 star restaurant. Everyone in first class received a drink of their choice and without having to ask, a second drink was delivered. She never set down and visited with each passenger. Her personality was so delightful. Before taking off the pilot announced that due to bumpy conditions the flight attendants will be seated during our short 45 minute flight to Dallas. Not our Attendant. Once the plane reached 10,000 feet she was up continuing her amazing service with a smile and kindness. When leaving the plane I expressed my gratitude to her and told her she will achieve “Greatness” with American. I hope America Airlines notices what an amazing employees they have in the Attendant on my flight, James and many more hard working American Airlines Attendants achieving greatness for their company.

  78. Way to make us regular folk who plan, save, budget and look forward to the well deserved vacation or whose company can’t afford those first class wonder tickets, feel like sh*t. Let me guess that wasn’t your intention. Oh and before you ask yes I have flown first class, on more than one occasion and on flights longer than 59 minutes.
    The crew behind the curtain is just as fantastic as James

  79. I’ve been flying into smaller markets lately and started picking AA over DL for schedule. (I gave up on UA a couple of years ago.)

    While I haven’t had anyone that over the top, i would describe all of the FAs I’ve flown with on AA this year as pleasant and professional. They’re doing something right.

  80. I had a stellar GA at LaGuardia the other day. Successfully got 9 people to gate check their bags and got the plane boarded and out early with his positive attitude towards everyone. I thanked him for doing a good job and he said “don’t be good…be great!” His positive attitude rubbed off on everyone…especially at Laguardia

  81. Kudos to James for attitude, but as Lynne alluded by performing PDB’s after door closing he violated a FAR and put himself in jeopardy of a fine. The FAA scrutinizes crews and gate agents for the slightest discretion and this is one of their pet peeves. As a passenger your reply should be “no thanks, I’ll wait till after takeoff”.

  82. Kudos to James for attitude, but as Lynne alluded by performing PDB’s after door closing he violated a FAR and put himself in jeopardy of a fine. The FAA scrutinizes crews and gate agents for the slightest indiscretion and this is one of their pet peeves. As a passenger your reply should be “no thanks, I’ll wait till after takeoff”.

  83. I’m an American Airlines flight attendant and assuredly I will tell everyone who’s reading/following this, most AA flight attendants are kind and caring. 9 out of 10 will go out of their way to do something extra or special for any passenger to make their flight memorable.

    We commiserate with our passengers who are faced with less leg room, tiny bathrooms, ridiculous fees, crazy jacked up prices on everything from tickets to onboard drinks. Flight attendants often feel like we are the advocates for the passengers when faced with a huge corporate entity only concerned with the bottom line.

    The uncaring, griping or indifference flight attendant is nowhere near the norm yet unfortunately she is the one most likely to make the lasting impression on the passenger.

    James sounds like a great flight attendant however he DID violate a FAR (federal aviation regulation) by serving first class drinks after the boarding door was close. When the plane is taxiing only saftey-related duties are allowed to be preformed.

  84. Wonderful Positive experience!

    I just love how some people really enjoy their jobs and inevitably this kind of energy and passion spreads in some way to us, customers. To a level that I was expecting the replication of other readers also commenting of their experience with such a wonderful FA. One could think and expect that this kind of jewels can reach to upper management.

    I remember a airport counter agent of Copa, in my South American country were you rarely expect any level of customer service. She was so kind and helpful that I always remembered to mention her outstanding service in any customer service survey I received.

    Fast Forward a couple of years and now I see her with the really well deserved red jacket! I congratulated her (interrupting her while she was kindly helping customers, what she does best!) and mentioned that i’m sure she received many compliments from customers via the surveys, she humbly said that her promotion was based mainly on the customer compliments.

  85. @Noah I haven’t read your comment before posting mine

    ” I thanked him for doing a good job and he said “don’t be good…be great!” His positive attitude rubbed off on everyone”

    You couldn’t said it better! I was struggling in my second tongue to say what you already wrote.

  86. Although encountering a nice, or even half pleasant AA crew member is in itself an event worthy of comment, I wonder how sincere James’ lengthy spiel is considering it is given numerous time a day, day in day out. It is also in need of serious editing to maintain plausibility.

  87. You’ve reminded me of a USAir FA I had back in 2010. I was flying my 86-year-old mother First CLT to SEA, her final move to where I could take care of her. The FA treated us graciously to start, but ended up responding instantly to all my urgent whispered requests. I felt very supported in a hard job, and my mother felt like royalty.

    On the other hand, I can not remember a single AA FA I could say anything nice about in at least 30 years flying them. Including international first class. I’m glad you met someone different, and hope James can inspire someone else, too. But, as another reader suggested, maybe he came from USAir.

  88. As a business owner, this customer service is what I want everyone in my company to do. We are working hard on our culture to instill this attitude and appreciation of our customers. People forget who pays their salary. James gets it plain and simple. Thank you for sharing a good story.

  89. I am a retired CEO and longtime AA passenger, Airpass holder with over 4 million miles. Without any doubt, the deterioration in customer service and common courtesy is entirely a management responsibility. The tone is set by a company’s leadership and it is obvious to all of us that have flown that the US Air merger has been negative to the flying experience. The amount of management indifference to it employees and customers will continue until the board demands changes or continue to govern an enterprise with ever declining value.

  90. The behavior is ridiculous and over-the-top. I would be uncomfortable with those self-centered, obsequious theatrics from anyone. Good service on in the air or on the ground is friendly and attentive but not intrusive and gushing. I’m sure the world’s more professional airlines would not even allow a flight attendant to make such self-styled monologues, especially any invoking the worst aviation terrorist attack in history. This man makes an utter fool of himself each time he performs his little show and I think his mental state is questionable. Just another example of the extremes we see in a society that has lost its mind. Airline service so bad on an average day that the self deprecating ravings of lunatic flight attendant appeal to some as great service. It’s just weird- even if he was trying to be nice.

  91. @Toni Bruc: You’re joking, right? There is no possible way you actually interpreted this post in that way, correct? If that is not the case please get some professional help for yourself right away. A lot of mental health issues are treatable.

  92. I am an AA flight attendant and wondering if these theatrics is what is expected of me in order to impress a passenger or a blogger?

    – I greet all my passengers when boarding.
    – I offer full pre-deps on 99% of flights.
    – I introduce myself and use passengers’ names when taking meal preferences.
    – I constantly refill drinks without being asked.
    – I remain available without being intrusive throughout the flight.
    – I pass out mints before landing and personally thank each passenger for joining us today.
    – I stand by the door when we arrive and say goodbye and thank you with a smile.

    I am lucky if 10% of passengers acknowledge my service or attention when exiting the airplane. When passing out mints, most passengers are on their Bose headsets and do not even bother to look up but simply grab a mint. I am not talking about receiving an Above & Beyond certificate, a 10 page letter or a blogger writing a piece gushing about me but a simple nod, wink, tip of the head or verbal thank would be nice. Anything.

    Are some of my coworkers slackers or not necessarily up to the standards many expect? Perhaps so, but all I can worry about is my flight and the service I offer. I will keep on doing what I do even if most passengers do not bother or care to acknowledge my service and I will let James be James and impress his audience.

  93. That’s wonderful that James was so great! If you really appreciated him you may want to edit your post to remove the information about the FAR violation. It might not be an issue with AA, but crew members can (and do!) receive personal fines from the FAA and you’ve included all the information they would need to do that.

  94. This article is a great example of how self important a lot of people are. Sadly, the comments are even worse. James got sent back to coach with all of the people who don’t have a fortune to spend on plane tickets; poor him. It must have been difficult providing service to the average American. Good thing he was able to get back to “his people”. By the way, first class did NOT keep the airlines running. Subtract coach and those planes never would have taken off. Some of the comments below this article are equally as ignorant. People quit flying AA because there is no separation between the classes? Really? Do better.

  95. As a Flight Attendant myself, James seems to be genuine, BUT serving customers after we’ve left the gate is AGAINST Federal Air Regulations. At that time we are to pick up drinks and only be in cabin for SAFETY reasons. Staying at your assigned exit in case of emergency.
    Please do not expect to be served as you leave the gate. thank you!

  96. hmmm… that comment only calling out first class passengers, exec Platinum, and concierge key members sounds more like a humble brag by this author. Passengers in cattle class pay their dues as well – get over yourself!

  97. On July 9, 2019 we were on American Airlines flight 866 from Chicago to Phoenix. The group of flight attendants was exceptionally professional, courteous and friendly. Based on the flight attendants’ stellar performance, we are resolved to use American Airlines whenever possible.

  98. I have had the pleasure of being on a flight with James twice. The first time was MCO to CLT in first class and the second time was just last night, ORD to MCO in coach, and he was just as genuine and friendly to use mere “peons” as he was when my Platinum status got me the first class upgrade. When he stopped to ask if I wanted a drink I mentioned having flown with him the previous month and how terrific I thought he was and that I’d given him an appreciation certificate (to those in other comments who asked about the certificates yes, some of us happily hand them out) and he remembered that.

    I travel frequently for work and AA is my preferred airline going back to the USAirways days. James is a gem and I hope to be lucky enough to be on more of his flights.

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