This Flight Attendant’s Defense Of Bad Service Explains Everything

Filed Under: Advice

A few days ago I wrote about the pitiful service I received in American Airlines first class when flying between Dallas and Hong Kong. With the exception of TAAG Angola and China Southern, it was unlike anything I’ve otherwise experienced in international first class.

The sad thing is that I don’t even think the crew was necessarily below average by American Airlines international first class standards.

The reality is just that American doesn’t have much of a service culture, and they don’t exactly do anything to encourage better service in first class (even though you have one flight attendant for every four passengers, compared to one flight attendant for roughly every 50 passengers in economy).

Anyway, there have been hundreds of interesting comments on that post. Many are from other passengers sharing similar experiences, and many are from flight attendants sharing their takes.

For the most part, flight attendants in the comments are embarrassed by the service I described, and share my take on the state of service at the airline, like this comment:

I have been a F/A @ AA for 33 years and it is humiliating to work there. We were once a decent airline with employees that had pride in our jobs & our company. I am a Purser and your experience was deplorable.

I say I am humiliated because every complaint I hear, every bad article I read, every financial doom & gloom report is true.

Then there’s a comment from one flight attendant trying to “explain” what I experienced, and I can’t help but specifically taking a closer look at that:

What A Flight Attendant Says About My Expectations

AnonymousFA left a really long comment that I find fascinating and that sheds oh-so-much light on the state of premium cabin service at US airlines.

This flight attendant says, “as I read through the article, I pictured myself in each phase of the operation. What do I do/say/think at each step?”

I find this response so interesting because:

  • I think this person is genuinely trying to be helpful and intends to provide good service
  • It’s amazing the lengths this person goes to justify bad service

In so many ways that’s unfortunately the story of service in the US airline industry.

I wanted to look at the way that AnonymousFA responded to some of my service expectations, and in turn respond to those.

Complete Sentences Are A Lot To Ask

I mentioned how I didn’t receive any sort of greeting, and my first interaction with a flight attendant was 10 minutes after boarding, when I got an “orange juice, water, or champagne.” Apparently my expectations are just too high because other passengers suck:

Depending on where the boarding door is, how many passengers in the cabin, and how many FAs are working, that might mean someone offering “orange juice, water, champagne?” I usually try to start with “would you like any-” but sometimes, when the passenger two rows away thinks his coat will catch fire if he has to wait for me to put down my tray, I’m in a rush.

I just timed myself adding “Hi, welcome aboard, would you like” to the front of “orange juice, water, or champagne,” and amazingly enough it only took two seconds.

Imagine if the flight attendant did that for every first class passenger. Where are they supposed to find those 16 seconds during a 50 minute boarding process, or heck, over the course of 17+ hours on the plane?!

Sharing First Names Poses A Security Risk

I mentioned how the flight attendants at no point introduced themselves by name. You’d think they could have said “hi, I’m XYZ, and I’ll be taking care of you today.” But that’s an unrealistic expectation, because sharing first names is a huge safety risk:

For security reasons, a lot of FAs will never give out their name or the name of any other crew member. Think that isn’t a security issue? I know at least two FAs who’ve had passengers show up at the door of their hotel rooms after conning the front desk into telling them the room number. “I know the American crew just checked in. Could you tell me what room Sarah is in? She left her phone with me, so I can’t call her.” You’re thinking that no receptionist would be that stupid, but not everyone is as guarded as they need to be.

I don’t for a moment deny there are creeps out there (though any hotel staff that gives away a room number based on a first name should be fired immediately), but if we have gotten to the point where sharing a first name is a security risk, why hasn’t the union demanded change from management? Flight attendants have badges with their names, so shouldn’t they not be wearing these?

Maybe we should adopt the policy we see in China, where employees at the airport, etc., have numbers assigned to them, rather than names. Then at least she could have said, “hi, I’m #858394, and I’ll be taking care of you today.”

Don’t Expect To Be Greeted By Name

I didn’t even necessarily expect to be addressed by name, though I didn’t even get a “sir.” Apparently addressing someone by name even once is completely impossible (even though many American flight attendants manage to do so on domestic flights when taking meal orders):

Greeting you by name. I don’t. I’m not even going to apologize for it. I say Sir and Miss. Because I do several flights a week, usually in large cabins. Half the time people move without telling us so the manifest is wrong. I know for a FACT, I won’t remember your name the whole flight. I have a lot of other things on my mind.

So it’s great that you usually work larger cabins, but in an eight seat cabin it should be very possible. But in case you’re wondering, on Cathay Pacific they manage to address people by name in business class at almost every interaction. Maybe Cathay Pacific flight attendants just don’t have other things on their minds?

Call Buttons…

I mentioned how when I pressed the call button the flight attendant took a while to respond, and then said “what’s up?” in a way that suggested I was really inconveniencing her. Well:

I try to answer call buttons with “Did you need something?” But if I feel like we’ve built a rapport, I’ll ask someone “what’s up?” I do try reserve that for people I’ve already chatted with and feel wouldn’t be offended.

Wouldn’t you assume that someone needs something if they pushed the call button? The call button is the equivalent of saying “excuse me” to the flight attendant. So shouldn’t the logical follow up question be “hi, what can I do for you?” and not “do you need something?” Of course I “need” something, or else I wouldn’t have pushed it!

“Thank You” — Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

I mentioned how at no point was anyone in first class thanked for flying American. Not that it’s the most important thing in the world, but even on domestic American flights, flight attendants are supposed to (but usually don’t) hand out mints in first class and say “thanks for flying American” towards the end of the flight. Why is that unrealistic?

Another issue was being thanked. Will you get a personal thank you? Probably not. The end of the flight is a pretty busy time. Safety has to be the priority and putting everything away falls into that category. It isn’t meant to be rude. We’re just honestly very busy.

Look, I’m very pro-flight attendant, and I think they have a hard job and deal with a lot of idiots. I have so much respect for flight attendants who show up to work with a good attitude.

But I’m sorry, I think it’s complete garbage to suggest that flight attendants in first class on a flight to Hong Kong are “very busy” to the point that saying “thank you” to eight passengers isn’t feasible.

They work for the first and last two hours, they get a break, they occasionally have to check on the pilots, and then they literally just sit there and chat for hours on end.

I know that because they weren’t coming into the cabin to perform any service, and I certainly heard them chatting for hours on end in the galley. A nearly 17 hour flight might be exhausting in terms of the impact on your body, but on a per hour basis I certainly wouldn’t call it “hard work” in first class.

People Who Want Turndown Service Are A$$holes

This one is my favorite:

Finally, I saved the best for last. Turndown service. I know that airlines offer it. I know we are expected to do it. And I will do my job if it is requested. But any person with fully functioning limbs who asks for a turndown service on a non-luxury airline is an ASSHOLE. The luxury airlines (like Emirates) have sheets and extra pillows to go with extra staff who make up the bed. Domestic carriers, there is usually a fluffy mattress pad that can be added. So you’re asking someone who is already covering either multiple cabins, or a galley, or the pilots’ needs to lay it down and unfold your blanket all pretty for you. You feel such a need to be served that you’re asking someone else to come over and lay out one single blanket.

LOL! Just as a reminder, American Airlines specifically advertises this service on the menu:

Ready to relax? Ask for our premium turn-down service

And I think that perfectly gets at the massive disparity because the product that management promises, and the product that flight attendants expect they have to offer.

My Three Big Takeaways

Based on all of the comments on the post, and in particular the comments I quoted above, I have a few takeaways I wanted to share.

I Can’t Even With The Number Of Excuses

I appreciate the above flight attendant trying to provide his/her take on things, but to me a vast majority of this seems like nothing but silly excuses.

As mentioned above, American has some fantastic flight attendants. Somehow they manage to do an amazing job and tick all the boxes, and they don’t have to work any longer than other flight attendants, and don’t have to forgo their break.

Kindness costs nothing, and the little gestures that differentiate a great flight attendant from an unmemorable one aren’t huge time investments. Practicing basic manners shouldn’t be a burden.

So I find it rather outrageous the extremes that some flight attendants go to justify bad service. Haven’t we lost the plot when we suggest that someone introducing themselves by their first name is a security risk or that a passenger is an a$$hole for asking for a service that they’re encouraged to ask for on the menu?

American Airlines Has Some Great Flight Attendants

I want to once again emphasize that I appreciate the hard working flight attendants at American (and other airlines) who come to work every day with good attitudes. I’ve had some really spectacular American flight attendants (just see the posts I’ve written here, here, and here), though unfortunately they seem rarer by the day.

Unlike some others, I don’t think this is a problem with “old” flight attendants. Quite to the contrary, some of the best flight attendants I’ve had have been senior ones who remember the “good old days” of service where everyone took pride in their job, and they still try to bring that good attitude to work.

And I also want to point out that a vast majority of the flight attendants in the comments section of the previous posts have awesome attitudes, and share my dismay. For example, here’s another one:

I am a flight attendant at American. I am very sorry you received such treatment. Some of our flight attendants wouldn’t know good service if it slapped them in the face and they shouldn’t be here. I am a purser and I fly that position 98% of the time JFK to LAX. Personally, I take lots of pride in my job always using names, trying to assist my passengers in anyway I can, accommodating any special requests that are asked for. As I’ve told many passengers during their time with me I am there for them. I hope one day to have you on one of my transcontinental flights so I may show you what a good first class service is all about and treat you like the valued passenger you are!

I Blame Management

Some people were surprised and strongly disagreed when I said that I don’t think the flight attendants I had should get in trouble. I stand by what I said, and the perspective from the above flight attendant is exactly why.

Just look at all the comments on the post from other American first and business class passengers sharing similar experiences to what I had. What I had was more the norm than an isolated experience.

That’s why I don’t think these flight attendants should get in trouble. Should American improve service by individually calling in all of their flight attendants and reprimanding them for not speaking in complete sentences and yelling “woohoo?” No, of course not. That would be as effective as refueling a 777 with an eye dropper.

Flight attendants aren’t aligned with any mission of the airline, and that’s management’s failure, because management hasn’t given them a vision. The airline has a well documented identity crisis.

If flight attendants don’t have strict service guidelines for operating on international flights in premium cabins, then can we really blame them for treating it no differently than any other flight?

The people who need to be reprimanded about American’s international service are Doug Parker (for leading the airline without leadership) and the people leading inflight service (for not having any standards). Parker & Co. need to decide if lackluster service in premium cabins on international flights is a problem, and if it is, what’s going to be done to make employees care about changing it?

And right now the answer to that is simply… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  1. Interesting piece and very similar to something that I am currently grappling with at work.

    We have a long time crewmember, a personal friend of mine who I’ve known for around 15 years, who has gradually adopted an attitude similar to that of the person responding. Not an obstructionist attitude per se, but one of disillusionment. It breaks my heart to see passenger (and colleague) complaints about her come in because I know she is capable of so much more, but circumstances at work and in her personal life have somehow conspired to make her a toxic presence on an airplane. Her technical performance is fine and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with her for an instant, but I no longer look forward to my flight when I see her on the roster.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the world has changed and the job has changed since these crew signed up. They no longer want to do the job in the form that it has evolved into. And they probably don’t have options (or at least don’t have the drive to pursue the options they may have) to go elsewhere. They aren’t happy, the company isn’t happy and the customer isn’t happy.

  2. Most common complaints heard in the US:
    “Other company/merchant/landlord/government are charging too much.”
    “My employer/customer is too demanding.”
    “But I deserve higher pay.”

  3. Some people aren’t that good at their jobs. The flight attendant who made excuses either can’t, or doesn’t want to, execute great service. So many of the little things that make good service are easy and free and take minimal time.

    Let’s face it, AA, and the other big airlines, have 10,000+ FAs in their ranks. You have to think like any profession that size, you’re going to run into the bad apples occasionally.

    I think it’s more sad to think a person just refuses to improve themself. Anyone can get by being mediocre…but why would u want to?

  4. It’s absoLUStely Douggie’s fault from America West. The FAs at J/F have been greAAt for all the JFK-LHR/GIG/BCN/CDG I’ve flown. Lots are exactly the CX standard. That said, more feel that they don’t have the tool to deliver the services they would’ve wanted to (based on chats with other FAs in DFW/LGA/LAX)

  5. It’s the whole culture in the US:
    Shareholders just want short-term increases in shareholder-value.
    Executives get contracts that are closely tied to these short-term increases and make decisions accordingly.
    Most new flight-attendants just want to see the world for free and can’t be bothered with servicing customers. Once they have seen all the interesting destinations they will just quit and get another job. No pride in their work at all.

  6. I did read this comment when it was posted under the original article. I was quite shocked by it. I’m glad you’ve taken the argument all apart.

    “What’s up?” is acceptable? Really??

  7. You can’t blame only management. If labor unions protect lazy and arrogant FAs, management can’t do anything about them. If management could fire those lazy ones and hire some young, hungry and hard working fas that are willing to go the extra mile, things would be quite different.

  8. It is management. If employees arrive at such a mindset management got it wrong countless more times before. Seems the comms dept and marketing just make up stuff and then expect operations to deliver without any support. This is politics and FAs got in the way of it. Speaks to poor leadership imo.

  9. I think the other comment made by a flight attendant (in the original article) around what do you expect when you upgrade was appalling. I have been fortunate to fly SQ suites many times. Not once have I paid. The first time I flew suites I was so excited and made it abundantly clear that I was flying on points. The flight attendants joined in my excitement levels and made it part of the experience. When I could not decide between the champagnes, they offered to bring me one of each! They did not care at all that I was flying on points. I am PPS and thanked me onboarding for my loyalty, again before take off and just before landing.

  10. @Max, it has nothing to do with shareholders. Shareholder value would increase if FAs provide good service as more people would spend and fly the airline. It is the labor unions that protect the lazy flight attendants. If they could fire a few of them, the rest will quickly get up to spend.

  11. I blame management for sure. But where are we as people that we can’t be bothered to address a paying customer properly? Please and thank you don’t cost anything and go a long way in the service department. I worked at a Michelin starred restaurant for a number of years and being “too busy to properly do your job” would have landed you in unemployment. Don’t like your job or can’t do it to the best of your actual ability? Find a new one. Laziness and making excuses is disgusting.

  12. It’s very definitely an AA problem. For all the slagging of UA in the past few years I’ve never once had bad or even indifferent service on United metal, even in coach or Premium Economy. Sure I don’t get personalized service in the back — and that’s fine — but UA’s FAs are to a fault smiling or friendly on the flights I take and quite frankly that’s all I’d ask of them during meal or drink services.

    Mainline AA is always different, and in a way you found in the front of the aircraft. Indifferent, tick the boxes, only do what has to be done and nothing more. PE back to Kennedy from Heathrow I regularly experienced blasé attitudes. One drink service, ‘here’s your meal, now don’t bother me again until I’m ready to serve your snack (which takes SO much time from chatting with my mates in the galley).’

    UA’s overnight trans-Atlantic I found the service so frequent that I had difficulty sleeping. Always there to offer water or Orange Juice every 60-90 minutes. Nice touches, even in the cheap seats.

    You can bet those American FAs will be the first ones to bid on routes to Paris or Rome, and they’ll gladly score as many premium-cabin freebies for their family members as they can, but give a little back to the poor dumb shlubs who’ve forked over serious money to be in their cabin? “Whatever.”

    Living in NJ I’m mostly an EWR passenger, but certain routes are only serviced by AA or their connectors. I’ve always had great service on the connectors, but mainline service is truly forgettable.

  13. You’ve never worked a service job in your life (lucky you!), so it’s a little tough to take your “how hard can it be?” criticism seriously. You should consider doing a year as an FA just to give your blog that much more of an insider view of the world. I’m sure most of your readers would LOVE to watch that reality TV show.

    That said, the culture of excellence starts at the top. If those C-suite people are so danged smart and worth their salaries, why can’t they at least get AA up to Delta’s level?

  14. To me flight attendants service on an airline is a reflection of that airlines home countries culture. I feel like American is doing a wonderful job showing the rest of the world an accurate reflection of American culture.

  15. Unfortunately, this is just the sad reality of customer service in the US and, if I’m honest, the state of things in general in the country. So many people have no manners, no idea about what is acceptable behavior/clothes/subject matter and volume of conversations/personal higene/etc.
    FAs, hotel receptionists, bank tellers and others are part of the society and, if all their lives they thought that it’s acceptable to address a stranger with “what’s up” or “woohoo” or some other similar “word”, most training will do little to change them.
    Delta does a better job and provides better incentives to their staff. United is neither here nor there and AA seems to not even try any more.

  16. Clearly the flight attendant who commented with those ridiculous excuses is grumpy and hates working as a flight attendant! They have security and safety as a priority but they still work in the “service industry” the fault comes from management too, hate working for a company then it’s In evitable to pass on the attitude and distain. I am extremely loyal to Delta ( top tier for 10 years) and skyteam and have received incredible service and beyond expectation 99% of the time but I hate to say it, when it comes to long haul flights on Delta too, and the crew have been in their position for decades their impatience, rudeness does show especially in the front cabin. I have written to corporate and twitter about it even in mid flight and made sure to pass on their name but that is only 1% that I encounter even then it’s only been on LAX-SYD and DTW-HKG (before they dropped it) LAX-SYD I took almost 4 times a year before I switching to JFK-PVG-SYD on China Eastern. AA has completely fallen apart from management, to crew to maintenance.

  17. Not sure what you mean by flights attendants from China having numbers. Both Air China and China Eastern FAs have name tags with full names written on them. Probably other airlines too but this this 2 of the big 3.

  18. I have always noticed when flying on American (particularly ex Sydney) on a solid 13-14 hour Pacific crossing the flight attendants rush the meal service (start to finish in under 60 minutes) and then chat very, very loudly in the mid-galley until their allocated crew rest time. I had to move back several rows to get some peace and quiet and from there on in I always sat toward the rear of the J cabin as galley FM was always turned up rather loudly 😉

    I fly SYD to LAX/IAH 6-8x per year and flying Qantas or Virgin is a world of difference. (I am Canadian and Air Canada while generally offering well intentioned service, is by no means on par with the likes of Singapore, Qatar or JAL). If the Aussie crews can get it right on a similar length of flight, why do AA crews lack so much passion for their jobs? It’s not like you just fall into a role as crew, the screening and training process is rigorous. Many of the crews are generally friendly but make most interactions feel like a substantial inconvenience.

  19. Lucky, if the AA management don’t hire you as a consultant to train service culture, they’re mad. Great article.

  20. This flight attendant excuses is the perfect example of the nowadays common attempts in the US to normalize trumpian’s alternate reality.

    Tomorrow he/she will send you another email, but instead of trying to defend the actions, he/she will now go on the offensive, demanding that customers apologize for being on the flight and for expecting any service at all.

  21. I will say it again: More fifth-freedom flights! And then the legacy carriers have the audacity to complain about the Middle Eastern carriers and “unfair” competition! Asian and Middle Eastern carriers should be allowed to flood the US markets and bankrupt these loser airlines. Just close them down and start from scratch. We’ll see if executives will pay attention then.

  22. The worst first class service I have received was on Korean from Frankfurt to Seoul. There were 3 people in first and they barely served meals. May be cultural.
    American first is poor but they have and I predict will get more competition.
    Even Emirates is not what it was 10 years ago.

  23. I have to agree that Delta service is so much more enjoyable than any AA trip I’ve been on in the last few years. My last AA trip I offered the flight attendant my magazines I had just read on the flight and she replied ” no thank you, I don’t read that garbage.” It was Womans World and First for Women. Crazy….just take the magazines and toss them in the trash. Why make me feel bad?

  24. First names are a security risk. God it’s lucky that they don’t have their names written on special badges. Oh wait no almost every airline and company has those. They’re called NAME TAGS

  25. I went from Miami to Argentina a few years back. We were in coach and sat in the back of the aircraft. The aircraft was about 80% full. The Cabin Crew gravitated to the back and when they found out that my wife and I were headed to Antiartica we were pulled into there conversations. That flight with A/A was not only the best flight we ever had but a real highlight of 19 day trip.

  26. We always fly either economy or premium economy—frequently on AA. I honestly can’t remember a time when I had poor service from an FA. Sometimes it’s perfunctory but frequently they go above and beyond what I imagine they are required to do.

  27. I just landed at JFK on paid F ticket on BA from LHR. I flew eastbound on AA in Business. BA First crew were exceptional…at end of day it is about the people and their effort to deliver a service. AA crew in Business were the usual mediocre…different product, but still premium service. So long as you have FA’s trying to justify and explain indifferent or undelivered service (e.g turndown) you are swimming uphill. Senior mgmt can complain about ME3 (and unfair competition) but your FA explanation says everything you need to know about mindset.

  28. Let me preface by saying that I’m a dyed in the wool pro-union, pro-worker, anti-entitled jerk ass. That out of the way, let me also say that workers like the responding FA you’ve highlighted deserve to be canned. I get that people are jerks. I get that workers deserve to have employers that have their back in interactions with often unreasonable customers. But if you’re unable or unwilling to engage in positive customer service when you’re in a customer facing role, you aren’t doing the job and you need to be forced to find a different role…full stop. The notion that flight attendants are “there for our safety”, while ostensibly true, is sad cover for a widespread desire to do the least possible.

    And I’ll say this isn’t unique to AA, although AA’s culture of ambivalence makes it worse there. My 70-something year old great Aunt is a DL FA and she’s in unpleasant battle axe that would have been fired from any other customer service job 40 years ago but is able to enjoy working premium cabins on the best international routes because she’s been an FA for 50 years. And that’s a problem all US carriers face.

    But it’s not insurmountable. Look at an airline like LH. Their FAs enjoy similar, if not greater, protections as those at US legacy carriers, but, while they can occasionally be less than gracious, they almost never fail to DO THEIR JOBS. That means it’s possible to have a high seniority crew with lots of worker protections that still manages to deliver a solid soft product.

  29. My wife and I have nearly 11 million miles on AA, and have never experienced exceptional
    service on any long distance segments. We have used our miles to fly in F on CX,QF, JL and BA although the latter is mediocre these days. The worst experiences have been on the DFW – HKG route, with sub par wine lists, totally disinterested and often less than agile aged cabin crews, and in once case in “First” Class, even telling me to recharge myself my plastic water bottle from the galley ! This year, multiple delays, reroutings and cancelations have added to their sad reputation, let alone interminably seeking to redeem Systemwide Upgrades. The sad irony is that many passengers in First Class don’t seem to know, or care about the difference between a great or poor on board experience, and behave accordingly, without which little will change.
    As with most mega consolidations the consumer suffers.

  30. I do lots of intercontinental flights and I avoid AA for all the reasons, and more, you pointed out Ben. Unfortunately, the operational structure of US carriers is geared solely toward profits and service is de-emphasized. They don’t seem to understand, what most non-US carriers do, that if there is a reputation for good service, you will get more passengers and, hence, more profits.

  31. i think the whole ‘imagine asking for turndown you have limbs too’ attitude is TERRIBLE. on one hand you have a passenger, paying THOUSANDS of dollars so that hey can have a nice flight, while on the other you have an FA that is being paid to do a few things on a flight: ensure safety, bring out food, and be a decent human being. if you’re an asshole to this customer paying thousands they may choose to turn to another airline, and if you do this to enough customers over numerous flights, you’re not just hurting your reputation as an FA but also hurting your airlines reputation. do your job properly or don’t do it at all, find something more suited to your demeanour, maybe mcdonald’s? they seem to be employing people with this kind of attitude.

  32. If shes working first on that route, shes probably a senior mama, probably making $150 or more per block hour, knows they cant get rid of her and just doesn’t give a shit. I avoid AA domestically when I can and absolutely never use them Internationally. This is why. The product is laughable. They better hope that regulators attitudes don’t change in the coming years and start allowing domestic competition from foreign carriers.

  33. I can say because of awful service in J on AA JFK-LHR and the indifference of customer service in April, I stopped flying AA, I can afford to fly J, so why be stuck with shitty service. Sure it was tough making the decision, but I’m happy and I’ll fly the best service at the best price, usually that’s a foreign carrier anyway

  34. I’ve given up expecting good service in the AA premium cabins. I just want a flight that is unremarkable from the standpoint of negative things.

    I will continue to fly AA for the mix of benefits offered, but when offered a reasonable alternative, I’ll do that too. Other carriers offer the opportunity to appreciate what good service can be.

  35. Lucky, you really should give DL a try. While it is not impossible to get a surly flight attendant or some other customer-facing employee, it is just not their standard. Generally their service structure is really strong, and almost all employees really want to delight their customers.

    Another issue, particularly with flight attendants in the US, is that the most senior (usually the oldest) FAs get the most premium routes. I’m not saying that poor service comes with age. Rather, I’m saying that complacency and jaded-ness does frequently come with age. And the older that a FA gets, the tougher it is to move them into another position or out of the organization. My poor service experience on flights with US carriers has almost entirely come from older FAs who should have stopped being a FA years before.

  36. This is no fault of management. This is pure union BS. The unions protect the FAs from basically everything. There are zero consequences.

    Think about most typical non-union jobs where you have clear defined job responsibilities. When you don’t do your job there are consequences up to and including eventual termination.

  37. Lol, ‘we’re not a luxury airline’ – well, that pretty much sums up all you need to know. How much is a paid ticket in first these r/t to HKG on AA??

    That and the ‘champagne’ comment. They’re not serving champagne, as most of the time it’s sparkling wine’. The fact that something this simple isn’t being taught in F/A school it all. The people flying in first know the difference

  38. @Malithus

    I taught post secondary for over 30 years and I suspect that it is similar to being an FA.

    My favorite expression was “home is where you go when you’re tired of being nice”

    Are you sure your snarky great aunt is also a bad FA? Maybe she likes her job more than her family 😉 ?

  39. I flew DFW-NRT on an AA 777 and I got an upgrade to Business but my father was stuck in coach. He insisted we trade off half way through the flight so I got the seat first. The only other long haul business class flight I’ve had was on Qatar’s 777 Qsuite to JFK so my standards weren’t that high. The service in Business though was quite decent (in an American way). My father though, who lives in the middle east and always flies Emirates and Qatar (mostly in Business) described AA’s coach service as a prison and the FA’s as the prison guards. The only words the FA exchanged was “Chicken or Beef” and “I guess I should take it since you ain’t eatin’ that”. He cannot eat meat so he only had the side salad. I thankfully checked up on him later and asked the Business FA if they could serve him something. Thankfully, they allowed both of us to eat all our meals in Business. My father sweared he would never fly AA internationally again and was a bit mad why I didn’t book our tickets on JAL. I’m flying AA again this Thursday to Spain from Miami in coach (SWU pending) and hopefully it’s a better experience.

  40. I just flew delta phx msp bwi with the same crew. Polite, thank you included the pilot at end of flight, constantly asking if you needed anything.

    Live tv so i could watch the thur nfl game. AA provides non stop flights but I’ve avoided them this year.

    And too many people go into careers they shouldnt. I see it all the time with restaurants. If you dont want to serve people and rely on tips maybe the service industry isnt for you.

    Your FA sounds like someone who went into the wrong field or maybe has no other skills and everyone, including coworkers suffer.

  41. I recently flew 4 segments in 1st / business class. MCI TO MEX via DFW and MEX TO MCI via CLT. The only leg where it truly felt was MEX to CLT. A male FA took care of all 1st class (8 seats on the A320). Introduced himself by name, offered to take jackets, offered predeparture drinks (Mr. Viveros, may I offer you a drink before our departure?) he set my tray for lunch service and a pleasant experience overall. He took pride in his work. This was the only leg that I recall out of the 4 legs. Where it truly felt like I was in 1st class and not just occupying a larger seat up front. I agree with Ben. There are still FAs that can make it possible to turn things around.

  42. I am so tired of hearing complaints from Flight Attendants about their tough jobs. Do they think they are the only ones who have to deal with the rude public? As a health care provider, you would be surprised at how rude sick people and their families can be. I worked in the OR and never got to sit down during my job. Nor did I get regular lunch or break hours. I also did not get free trips or to travel wherever I wanted for free. No one should be rude, not the passengers nor the attendants. I flew AA from Newark to Dallas two months ago and the TV monitor didn’t work from takeoff. Couldn’t watch safety info but they didn’t seem to care. It took 25 min and two passengers to press for service before they came by and asked. And didn’t believe us! Then they sped through service and picking up garbage and sat in back on their phones for rest of flight. Sorry, I cant listen to their boo hoo ing when my knees are in my chest. They picked a service career, do right by it.

  43. In any business, unionized or not, large or small, service or goods, American or Foreign, a bad employee is the fault of his/her boss.

    If you’re called Management, Manage!

    Sign in gAAlley: “The beatings will continue until morAAle improves”

  44. So much to say, where to begin…? First off, I work in the industry and have been here for 25 years in many roles, different countries and in positions with different levels of responsibility, with some time spent as a consultant.

    While I’m often critical of your blog (and I’ve likened it to being written by “a clever and/or trust fund kid who has never had a job in his life”), I readily admit this post is spot on and you have some excellent points. Service has no cost element to it and manners are free. The fact that this hostile FA that took quite a bit of time to write out his or her through full reply — probably while on duty on a flight — says enough about how stubborn and inflexible they are, and would be first to call up the union if they were written up for something completely legitimate. While I am pro-union, I think some bad apples (like this one) hide behind excuses, unions and the catch-all “safety” shield.

    Some airlines — for safety reasons — allow you to go by an alias or use your middle name or something other than your birth certificate first name. Sure it may not match your airport issued SIDA badge, but those don’t necessarily need to be displayed at all times between your neck and your waist (standard rule for airport staff) and with the picture/name facing outwards. If “bAAd AApple“ (the author behind the nasty FA reply) was so concerned, why aren’t they opting to do this?

    As for Lucky being tapped to provide consulting to the airlines, sadly the airlines hire the expensive firms and get crappy, canned decks from consultants making as much as the airline directors do. And does that work ever get put to use…? Let’s say when it touches anything to improve service it does not… but when it helps save a few dollars, boom! Implemented yesterday. Want to save a few million a year? Let’s pull off a FA from standard staffing levels of this aircraft. Also, I’m not sure your chances of being hired for such a task are that good considering you’ve never worked for an airline… ever.

    Now that said, if you’re financially well off now from this blog, why don’t you take a sabbatical and actually work for an airline for a year or two. Exercise your right to have a name tag made with your middle name to keep a lower profile, keep your mouth shut about who you are and starting writing about your experiences as you go. The money you’ll make once you publish will probably be enough to make up for your sabbatical from this blog. Or cut back on writing and don’t tell readers what you’re doing and spend a year on the front lines and “come out” with this in a year.

    Tip: get hired for customer service at the airport and spend your minimum time there (usually 6 months), then transfer and get hired as a FA and fly for up to a year. That’s your career plan if you really want to see the other side of things. But, you’re going to have to be undercover and keep your mouth shut and opinions to yourself. And of course, bragging about your travels to other colleagues is off limits, too.

    Are you up for this challenge?

    Despite my critical opinions, I’ll be the first to buy your book about such an experience.

  45. What a BS about problem is sharing first name. On Delta every FA on business class introduce themselves to every single passenger by saying their names and that they be taking care of the passengers. BTW, just flew AA international business class for the first time in 15 years this past weekend. It was not bad but it is nowhere near to what I am used to get on Delta. During the flight the FA shared with the passenger next to me how much he hated that plane (767) and that AA was to cheap to upgrade the route to a better plane.

  46. You can stop calling! We have a winner in the category “Most Self-Entitled Attitude, 2019”!

    While you were enduring your first class “ordeal”, there were 188 passengers in Economy class, attempting to survive a 17-hour flight in seats as small as 16.2 x 31″ according to SeatGuru.

    Fly in the back of the plane, then tell me how lousy your first-class flight was.

  47. Seriously some of the FA comments are appalling. We aren’t talking about bargain basement economy seats on a short flight here. We are talking about a long haul first class cabin. Unfortunately, employees in the US all to often feel entitled to everything and provide terrible customer service. I agree that management needs to step in and get rid of the dead weight. Unfortunately, unions protect the subpar workers to the detriment of the airline. Why would I pay for an AA first class ticket if I could go to one of their competitors who is known to provide better service? There are good and hard working FAs out there, unfortunately there are a number of them who are total crap and those particular FAs should either get with the program or be out of a job. If other airlines can accomplish these things then there is really no excuse for US airlines, especially when dealing with premium class cabins.

  48. I have really enjoyed these posts and all the comments attached to them. For me, it comes down to the unions. I think the level of service described in the original post and the attitude displayed in the comment discussed in this post are unacceptable. I think a fear of losing your job would stop this kind of behavior. Absent that, these bad apples won’t change (we have already established there are many FAs that offer great service just because they have a strong work ethic, pride in their work, etc., but there is a growing subset that does not take this view). I’m all for blaming Dougie and the rest of the C suite but I’m not sure they can do as much as we are asking them to do if their hands are tied re termination power because of the unions. Delta is often cited as having better service. And we know they don’t have a union. What about the better foreign carriers like Cathay, Emirates, etc. Do they have unions? I assume not?

  49. wow this is unbelievable, can it be a disgruntled FA or DL/UA as AA, intentionally posting a sabotaging comment. nobody is going to fly AA based on this. just cant believe this is real.

  50. @DenB.
    I want to point an easy blame on Unions.
    Cultural? US / Euro vs the Asian culture?
    Also, I think an unhappy person is going to radiate unhappiness no matter if they are Union protected, from one culture or another…….
    But, yes, there must be accountability. That is business. So, the real failure is with management- IMO.

  51. The “I’m here for your safety first” line is used too often by FAs justifying poor service, until they learn they’re talking to someone who travels frequently and knows the industry. I’ve heard an FA on Air Canada use that line in denying an old lady a glass of water to take her pills because it was “45 minutes to landing” and “the government thinks our flights can run with fewer attendants.”

    Some airlines (IE Delta, sometimes) are better than others but inflight service standards in North America are not great. I DO NOT support a “passenger is always right” environment where FAs can be taken advantage of but our airlines and crew had better get out of their bubble and take a look at how several European, Gulf, and Asian carriers have been operating if they really want to compete.

  52. While I don’t doubt Lucky’s story, I want to share two counterexamples. I’ve only flow AA premium twice in the last year, and both times the crew was far better than I expected:

    1.) I flew HND-LAX on paid F, and the older FA was unbelievable. She had everyone names memorized *before* we boarded the plane. She served me breakfast when we were landing to let me sleep extra (far, far after she “should” have). Then right to Flagship First Dining, which was also incredible. I was impressed.

    2.) I flew MIA-LAX on the 777-300er in J. My flight attendant was a younger woman with a Mexican flag pin on. She was awesome! Not as personal as in F, but I was drinking that flight and she was like, “I got you” and the service was just great.

    No doubt, all the horrendous stories are true. But I’m 2 for 2 with AA.

    Next up is J on a 767 down to COR….

  53. I’m not familiar with the quality control procedures of American airlines in general, however, I used to know a crew assessor for Qantas, who was rostered on international flights as both a cabin supervisor and would also assess flight attendant performance. From memory, this was partly just quality control, but I think it was also used to assess flight attendants for promotion.

    It doesn’t sound like AA has anything like this procedure, which is a pity.

    For the travelling public, and more especially for those who travel as part of their job, its the small interactions, the addressing by name, the thanks, and the rapport that is built between passenger and staff, that often tips the balance between making travel pleasant or unpleasant.

    What irks me most about the flight attendant who’s comments you pick apart, is the acceptance that doing a bad job is OK. In my experience doing a good job, is best for both the flight attendant and the passenger. Doing a bad job leads to dissatisfaction all round.

  54. It is readily apparent that many first class passengers are self entitled, self centered, and rude. They are rude to each other and to the airline staff. Fast to comment and complain but slow to thank. Like the guy who sticks his foot in the aisle the entire trip. Or the elderly couple with the headsets who are oblivious to the arrival of their meals and have to told to open their tray tables. Or better yet, the mom and dad with two spoiled brats who leave all sorts of debri and trash. I have found AA to be solid, dependable, and sometimes exceptional. AA Gold(10 trips/year)

  55. As you stated, AA is experiencing an ‘identity crisis’; moreover, management’s relationship with the various unions is not good. So, what I think what’s going on is a case of low morale. When employees feel demoralized, that feeling is reflected in the poor service offered to passengers. It’s very unfortunate, and hope AA can find its way and forge some type of identity in the industry.

  56. For today’s attitude in service, just watch one episode of ‘Below Deck’ (Bravo) to see why service is so crappy.

  57. Hey, quit blaming management on poor service by “professional flight attendants”. They are professionals (at least that is what they want us to believe) and they are adults. Do your job or go work for Taco Bell. (And I mean no disrespect to Taco Bell employees). The Purser is management on the flight. I do my job and you do yours. Quit whining. Good grief.

    I’m an EX Platinum with AA for years and I normally receive excellent service. Thank you to those professional flight attendants who do their job and do it well. Poor service is not acceptable in any profession.

    As a side note, please work on your appearance. I’m horrified by some of the clothes people wear on the airplane but that doesn’t justify you looking the same way with a soiled, winkled uniform.

  58. @Industry Insider, your arrogance is appalling. Lucky is providing his point of view as an experienced passenger. Many of us will never be industry insiders.

  59. I applaud you for reading the many many comments. I used to be a flight attendant with America West, before Doug Parker got there. Before it’s bankruptcy, service was fun to provide. We loved our jobs. There are a few stories I could share about that, but here is one I will always remember. After a 3 days of flying together, our flight attendant team for that trip was so sad to be leaving each other, we walked right over to flight operations and asked if there were any more flights going out that day that needed a flight crew. They found a PHX to Omaha flight up and back that worked for all of us and so we continued our time together. When the passengers departed from that flight in Omaha, almost to a person they told us it was the best flight they had ever been on and the best service they had ever received. You probably won’t find that sort of excitement and genuine enjoyment for giving service these days, but I wanted to let you know that some of us loved our jobs that much.
    Since then and I am now retired after working for 3 different airlines, after having been promoted to sales, I am now traveling for fun on my own with miles and points. I have been lucky enough to fly international first class on Singapore, Cathay, Etihad, BA, Air France and business class on many others. Due to my own personal experience as a flight attendant in both first and economy and then as a traveller in all classes, I can tell you beyond a doubt, flight attendants have PLENTY of time to say “thank you for flying with us”. And I guess Delta flight attendants don’t have the same security issues as AA because they have told me their names on many occasions and find the time to call me by name. And if Cathay in first can also find the time to write a welcome note on small cards they hand to you, AA flight attendants can take a fraction of that time to say thank you!!!

  60. jaydan is spot on for me here – a return DFW-HKG in F is about $10k – I know some passengers may have redeemed miles or been upgrade, but that is incidental – what Lucky is suggesting is just basic service.

    I mostly fly CX in business, with the odd upgrade to First, and the service is mostly impeccable – in business: greeted by name, thanked for flying CX, asked if I would like any extra drinks, attentive without being intrusive. In CX First it’s even better: sometimes a chat with the captain, often a longer conversation with the cabin services manager (if you want to – they quickly pick up if you are in the mood for chatting or not) – then I’ve been asked how I want to plan out my flight in terms of meals/sleep etc and with the meal service you receive a little personalised handwritten note from the crew saying ‘thank you’ (on a couple of times they’ve mentioned something relating to our first conversation as well such as ‘hope you enjoyed the Rugby Sevens’).

    Maybe they need to send some of their management on a CX First flight to see the difference (or just hire Lucky!)?

  61. Yet, flight attendants on Asian carriers always thank all of their passengers including coach class. Flight attendants in first class domestic flights on Delta always manage to have a bit of small talk with you when offering you a drink during boarding and proactively offer you refills multiple times.

    What’s up should never be allowed as it is unprofessional and this particular flight attendant mentioned about building up rapport as well to provide an excuse for saying that. Yet, on your flight, no rapport was build up, but even then it is rude to say that to a passenger. AA stands for Absolutely Appalling.

  62. I honestly wonder if the next step for an ULCC somewhere in the world will be to replace FAs with minimum wage security guards that are literally just sitting in jump seats for safety, e.g. evacuations, medical emergencies, unruly passengers. Absolutely no service on board. Just little vending machines in the galley that you can go to. At least then people would have clear service expectations. Obviously wouldn’t work in premium cabins, but would easily work for F9, NK, FR, EZ and the like.

  63. It also seem like you go out of your way to find flaws and complain about the flight attendants. You are a EP and know that they don’t know about wines and you have a good description on the menu. Still, you go out of your way and ask them what kind of wine /recommendation.
    They don’t go through a wine bar clad…. They don’t nt know.

  64. As a retired flight attendant from a different legacy carrier, I have to say you can only make so many excuses. You either WANT to give good service, or you don’t. Back in the 80s, my (predecessor) airline was doing poorly, and we needed to cut costs. We took a 15% pay cut, switched to Shasta beverages on board and made other cutbacks. At the same time time, we were given a day of special training on how to make this service look GOOD. And it worked. We recovered and were bought by a larger airline. (Our pay cuts were returned in stock, and despite the cynics, we made a nice profit.)

    Over the years, flight attendants have learned to make silk purses. Really good crew members can deal with a terrible situation and make the airline look GOOD, but you have to CARE. If your employees don’t care, then management is doing something wrong.

  65. Way too many comments to read here, but I assume most say something along the lines of “This person sounds like a truly horrible FA”. Lots of excuses here with little substance to back them up. Personally, I’ve never felt like the safety of my flight was at all compromised by the FAs being polite.

    That said, I don’t think any airline should offer turndown service to able bodied adults in any class of service. I don’t care how much you paid for your ticket, make your own damn bed. Unfortunately, it is an advertised ‘perk’, so suck it up buttercup and vent about it later in an anonymous online forum.

  66. I’ve found most AA premium cabin service lacking, even when the attendants are polite. Many are not! As far as turn down service goes I’ve probably had to ask for it more often on AA flights because the seat controls don’t work properly. I’ve even had to change seats for a non-functioning lie flat seat. Also, different airline configurations can be confusing especially when your trying to do it in a darkened cabin.

    I always ask early to be told where the restroom is with a baby changer table so when I change into my pajamas I have a clean, dry place to lay my clothes as I change. My last business class flight on AA out of Asia had me being told to return to my cabin and forbidden to pass via the galley to the next cabin toilet to change into pajamas. I’ve actually run into this situation multiple times on AA.

    Even though I am a former union representative and was once offered a job with one of the flight crew unions (which I did not take for other reasons), have had family members who were crew and understand some of the frustrations they have with their corporate masters, I try my best not to fly US carriers because of terrible service.

  67. Service comes from the heart. It is an emotional response that can’t be taught, you either have it or you don’t.

  68. As I’ve said before in your posts where AA and I’d say ALL USA domestic carriers are concerned – MEDIOCRITY has been legitimized via Unions ergo FA excuses and of course their contract language coupled with ENTITLEMENT attitudes by FAs again via their UNIONS! . Shameful frankly. The epitome of “service” exemplified by some foreign carriers is anticipating the customers needs and delivering! The flying public ought use their buying power to punish substandard service.

  69. The response is unbelievable. And honestly maybe this is the culture of North America?
    I flew ANA First Class from LAX to NRT a year ago. I could not believe the service. It was unbelievable.
    Incredible welcome- Check
    Called me by name- Check
    Walked me to my seat and helped settle me in- Check
    As another mentioned here about Champagne, they had Don Perignon and Krug. I had never tried Krug. She suggested I try both! And was more than happy to do that.
    During dinner, I could not decide on wine. Once again, she suggested trying many of them.
    Using call bell- NOT NEEDED. There are 8 suites and I am not sure how many attendants, but I have to be honest, the INCREDIBLE service was almost annoying.
    Walked me to the bathroom, seriously….Waited to walk me back.
    Turn Down Service- Huge check. She was more than happy to take care of that!
    When almost arriving she, and the Purser and a few other attendants came to my seat and asked if I enjoyed everything and is there anything they can improve.
    I was blown away. Sorry but you would not find that in North America.

  70. Maybe I don’t have a right to be here I have never had a problem with an airline stewardess except one on Southwest she kept acting like a total ass flying her hands around because of my German Shepherd’s white hair was flying around and you could see it but I always brush and before I go on a flight when I would like to address is how you’re treated by American Airlines ticket agents how they treat you. How they are dressed it’s not like on TV where their uniforms are bright clean and I look like a brand new penny OK I don’t dress up to fly one can’t wear heels because the medical problems to don’t dress up but I wear a nice blue jeans and a nice shirt and I’m always clean and showered a little make up on I have been flying with military for 35 years with my father retiring as a chief Master Sergeant, then my first husband who was a UH one helicopter pilot in the United States Air Force I have been on many military flights where they are awesome course you’re younger you’re cuter OK when you’re older I still get respect and I give respect I have always been taught yes sir no sir yes ma’am no ma’am at any age after 12 it’s yes ma’am no ma’am if they’re serving me what I can’t stand is the ticket agent judging you especially American Airlines and Southwest when they look like a sloppy mess. They look like they just woke up and rolled out of bed in the uniform too tired on them a little or more overweight and their uniform is too tight and clean no effort no in their hair, Or Appearance. When I show my military ID card and I’m cleared and I never knew what for 4 SSSS, Man it’s never happened to me ever and it didn’t happen to me it happened to my 20-year-old son who lives at home and goes to college. Again with A.A, He also has disabilities you cannot see I have the same problem I am disabilities you cannot see and tell you go off on me or physical problems when you’re yelling out my son you’re making my dog nervous you’re making me nervous and anxiousness. You arse the American Airlines agent what’s the problem there’s no problem you cleared your son is not clearing you asked why they won’t answer you but they’re asking my son very bad questions and he’s looking at me people are looking at us because they’re not asking in a mannerly way they are yelling very demanding . we didn’t know why this was happening this is never happened to us where our luggage had to be taken from the agent by another agent that was just as nasty dressed look like she rolled out of bed her clothes were too tight yelling screaming and I asked why is this happening because I said so. OK so there’s somebody named THOMAS PEPPER what is he being flagged for but we can’t tell you that I said well we know who the name was why can’t you tell me because it’s personal and private and it’s against the law to reveal this but you’re going to hold my son accountable for being on a no-fly list and put us through hell put my dog to your house stress and then when we get finally get to the TSA the mangoes oh shit and treats us like criminals I should’ve never had 4 SSSS On my ticket because I cleared, A.A. Never told me or my son why he had 4 SSSS. A.A agent should not be there at work if they cannot be like they’re on TV clean-cut uniform immaculate attitude immaculate and go out of their way to help you or confirm that you’re all right or not make promises to you that a special coordinator will be there to get you from the agent all the way to the TSA up to the front of the line in your wheelchair and on that airplane and their so-called bulkhead is smallIt’s not like Southwest. But Southwest has another problem too I had an agent come onto the airplane and not address me as ma’am, miss, ms, Karen, Mrs. Pepper, Or Hey You, Itdiot,Dumb ass but gets in my face after they loaded me up first on the airplane put my blanket down for my service dog back of my seat and sat there and waited nobody asked to sit next to me if they did I would’ve moved over, He’s 92 pounds loving sweet working service dog I carry a ADA badge with my name address and number just in case that says medical and has a picture of Me& Snow. He has very much marked. There’s a certain kind of asked that’s not a full coverage one but it says do not separate from handler service dog medical dog ADA Mark dog and you don’t have to have that but I do have that I don’t have the vest, because it’s too hot even in the winter. And the black one I got from Dean and Taylor because it has a big handle that I can hold onto with the leash underneath it to keep me from falling or if I pass out my dog does his part and that handle is wonderful I’m 6 foot this woman got into my face you need to get off the airplane and come talk to me after what I went through at TSA from Southwestern, I was zoning in and out still shaking and crying sweating profusely you get in my face with my service dog laying at my feet I got a picture of the dog laying down I said well I got a picture of you but before that she got in my face and said you need to get off the airplane I need to talk to you now and because of what I went through I said it’s OK whatever you have to say you can say and talk to me here now we need to get off the airplane now so I went to stand up and I felt like I was gonna pass out so snow got in front of me and leaned against me to push to make me sit down I want to get back up again because she kept saying now there were three men, Standing there and I thought they were trying to board because they said this flight is booked this was after I was already buckled in and ready to go stuff is put in the Benz they stated this about 4 to 6 times when I stood up the idiot guy with his hair pulled back beard and mustache and he was in a business customer started talking to my dog my dog doesn’t like it when people talk to him when he’s working and he just looked up and the guy put his hand to touch my dog oh what a good boy my dog lunged up from my stomach lunged at him and it’s called barking out And then he put his head back up on my stomach and looked up at me like are you OK and ready to push me back down to sit down and then when we were trying to move with this very overweight agent that look like she got out of bed nothing like on TV where they’re shiny and brand new like a brand new penny in the uniform again she look like she crawled out of bed uniform too tight hair a mess she was totally a mess she then turns to all the passengers and yells not once before times.This is why you’re being removed from the airplane you have a dangerous service dog that bites yelling at remove me off the plane with my bags not to talk to me but to remove me said he’s three man could take up my seat and this happened when we got off the gate she still yelling this is why you’re off the airplane I asked to talk to a police officer because I wanted to make a complaint to protect my Service Dog. Sorry to say they were complete assholes there’s no complaint here then why is she saying that I have a bad service dog that but bitch somebody they wouldn’t answer me even with the other so-called managers came down and she’s yelling and explaining to them what happened and nobody bothered to talk to me I’m a total mass I’m a total wreck my dog is there for me to calm me down I kept asking do you all want to see my medical records that also states that I won’t have a service dog for the rest of my life and the problems that I have and you know why they didn’t acknowledge me. Because it’s against the law to ask for that but they would’ve found out that I have a hard time comprehending things and not understanding things when your zoning out shaking severely crying and severely sweating when you have severe PTSD anxiety panic attacks and passing out nobody would help me and asked my father being a police officer in the United States Air Force for 35 years, Outstanding performances with his unit they all deserved the awards I got because they work hard together my father always says I didn’t get this award we got this award together as a group as a team, then work for the sheriffs department I didn’t turned around and looked at them and they’re going oh you can’t talk like that and I just turned around and said this is how you treat military members meaning being a military brat for 35 years being a H1 pilot wife of the deceased of the United States of the Air Force and then being a sober captain‘s wife this is what we get for the services and guess what spouses go through hell you all know what you all do when you’re on TDY and deployment and we go through a lot of shit It’s our kids and yes I’m talking very loud and not probably making sense but the agents are not dressed appropriately nor are they taught manners and when I look at you and see that you’re severely sweating shaking and crying because you’re going after their kids and embarrassing this kid and embarrassing you and yelling at you when you turn around and start getting mad and yelling back with a different tone it I’m not going to talk to you when you’re yelling at me and I said idiot I have severe PTSD and you’re not helping matters right now get me a manager get me a special coordinator like I was promised I want to see a manager I get another agent that is just sloppy dressed as she was on AmericanAirlines as Southwest in Denver Colorado let me tell you coming out of southwest Las Vegas Nevada home to go to Denver the whole Southwest thing was immaculate dressed manners yes ma’am Miss PEPPER and I said you can call me Karen I didn’t have 4 SSSS, then or EVER. The TSA agent from Denver Colorado to go back home to Las Vegas and the agents from Denver south west or horrible were rude obnoxious interest like shit again look like they just woke up rolled out of bed maybe put a cone for the hair maybe not with the agent yelling at me look like she rolled out of bed and just put her hair up in a ponytail and the TSA agent got in my face made me get out of the wheelchair barefoot it and laying on the gate that way 30 to 40 minutes then gets in my face and ask why are you shaking so severely why are you severely sweating and crying what’s the problem because I wouldn’t let my dog go through the x-ray or the gate without a leash or his remote that is to protect me and them and anybody else around me never had a problem of course my bags were checked they were nice enough to put the dog food in the bag for me but you get that little TSA card and then I had surgery that I was not allowed to take off my arm bands because the swelling well they screwed up. Might need elbow surgery to get the swelling out of my fingers and wrist because the them. Then got tired of waiting on my shoes port guy was waiting on all my stuff to make sure I got everything back and my late husband’s remains I went and flew into Denver Southwest and drove to Cheyenne Wyoming to get my husband’s remains and bring him home. The agent after she got me off the airplane wanted to put my husbands remains in baggage told her to go to hell then she wanted to put my bag southwest blue bag that’s full medication compound medication compound ice medication that Has to be on ice, And my controlled substance she wanted to put it on the conveyor belt told her it’s against the law because it’s a controlled substance and Hass to be in my hands my hands are online you have too many bags I had a purse that I took out because I listen to my music that calms me down that’s part of my therapy with my service dog when it gets too loud too much for me at tune people out with my favorite music and I said my purse is going back in the blue bag will you have that Fannypack around your waist that’s another bag and then you have a roll-on that had my Lab Top, in it. Yeah on Southwest not one so-called manager talk to me to find out my story big mouth is still standing over by the wall yelling that my dog is dangerous and he bit somebody well if he bit somebody and he’s dangerous why aren’t the sheriffs or the police department getting involved in writing a report and why did the plane leave with This guy that supposedly got bit well I think the police airline place kind of felt bad because then they wrote their name down and gave me a card it went in the trash most sheriffs most please departments any place department they have a card with them or they will have the card with the department and they will write down their name and they will make a report personal crime here then why was I pulled off the airplane why was she being such a bitch and got in my face and yelling at me my dog was doing what he was supposed to do protect me from falling passing out and the idiot saw that it was a service dog, And his tag said do not pet service dog on duty so that’s from Southwest just now like I said with American Airlines I have never ever have had this happen to me ever I’m never had 4 SSSS, Never knew what they were never knew what they meant until the really nice TSA agent and pre-checking luggage before it goes on the conveyor belt said this is why were checking your bags because your son has 4 SSSS. Again not want AMERICAN airline agent or the so-called TSA agent that’s supposed to be a manager if she’s a manager should have a card that state she’s the manager she gave me this card that you get basically when they check your luggage with her name on it big deal then she was a smart ass and said well if you don’t let them check your luggage you’re not getting on the airplane. I never once told the TSA agents that they were not going to check my bags I said before you check my bags I want to know why my son is being singled out. To why was he being yelled that and then I started yelling back that you’re not yelling at my kid I’ve become a mama bear when you start attacking my kid for no reason at all and asking him stupid ass questions do you have a gun I am Gee he’s 20 years old, Quietly try to explain to Her that he lives at home just like me he has disabilities he can’t you cannot see, Doesn’t even have a drivers license he goes to college but never thought he needed a college ID well since we’re back we’re going to get a state ID for him just in case since he doesn’t have a drivers license he knows he can’t drive right now we know he can’t drive right now. The American airline agent or I should say agents were shouting and yelling at both of us and again I was cleared on my plane ticket when they checked my ID and I was even told by CLEAR but your son didn’t but they turned around and put the 4 SSSS, on my plane ticket without my knowledge and again nobody bothered to help me nobody came to my or my sons rescue no management hire up nobody but explain what was going on. Even though I kept asking for a higher management I was refused again and medical records on both myself and my son I look normal maybe I’m not normal but I look normal I have a disability you cannot say and as you can tell also by my writing my talking and texting. I write a book don’t mean to don’t get to the point just like my father window he say when he was in the military and sheriffs department don’t direct shit on get to the point because you lost me already and I probably lost everybody I’ve flown for a first class maybe four times. Flown lots of first class if you want to call it First Class, In the military on the military airplanes and always well respected as a kid and a teenager or young adult and an adult and I’m never had a problem with the flight attendant ever except the one on Southwest going from Las Vegas home to Denver she was such an idiot waving her hand and just giving me dirty looks like whatever so I’m sorry I dragged this on, but I have a lot of comprehension problemsAnd I have problems putting my heart into my statements and I wear my heart on my sleeve but I always always treat people with respect and no wind to apologize if I start zoning out and getting upset and going to full blown. But I have never had to apologize because I was always in the right and they were in the wrong when anything ever happened and we got management involved. American airline agents were out of line did not have a special coordinator there for me put my son through hell and embarrassed him and I embarrass easily and I got a kick out of it and they charged my dog a red roll-on red bag that’s his working colors red. Charged me $140 the idiot from Las Vegas charged me for my four suitcases I didn’t know American Airlines charged they were supposed to call me and set everything up they did not so I got reimbursed for the $140 which I really appreciate it specially when you’re traveling for doctors appointments and you’re trying to save every which way you can. Then coming out of Phoenix with American Airlines I sent one back home so we only had three big bags I was charged $220 for the three bags and she said those are yours, the 2 roll On’s are your sons, Remember one was for my dog which is not a pet when is not an emotional support dog it is a bona fide legal service dog. We were charged 140 for the hell I could’ve bought another ticket or upgraded to business class but they’re both here in the regular flight for somebody that 6 foot my son is 5’8 or 5’9. There is no legroom for us so I had to squish up my legs where I hurt my back again. My legs and feet went numb I had to pinch nerves in my back and I always have freezing legs and freezing feet I couldn’t feel anything. My son was putting his feet up on the wall took off his shoes but his feet went to and lights went to sleep the guy that was sitting on the end I wish I would’ve got his name here is the sweetest gentleman and he took a picture of snow and sent it to his girlfriend and says look when I get to sit pie and every time snow try to stretch out and move and make this poor man’s feet move I kept apologizing my son kept apologizing the guy was so sweet and said don’t worry about it there’s not much room here and had his legs out meal and one only move I miss somebody had to go through granted it was only a 45 minute to an hourFrom Phoenix Arizona to Las Vegas. I wish I would’ve got his name he was the sweetest sweetest man very kind.I wish I would’ve gotten his name he was the sweetest sweetest man very kind OK now that I’ve jumped all over the place from American Airlines just recently flight from 27 November to 8 December and then my flight from Southwest in August 27 and I believe oh God the eighth or 10th of August I would have to look up my ticket. The hell I go through by myself or if I bring my child young adults on the shit we go through and the way we are treated there in no way American Airlines look and act like they do on the commercials on TV and the commercial for Southwest this woman look nothing like the Southwest agent on TV nor activate or respectively treated me with respect I don’t know if it’s the way I luck or because you can’t see my disabilities but I always give them the chance to look at my records I’m waiting for that, my other handler that I train with always told me bring your documents for attorney general office the ADA office for all complaints and always have one with information for the airlines whatever airline do you fly. Pretty upset when he heard what happened with me with American Airlines after what I went through with Southwest airlines were still waiting on a reply with that and the ADA and they’re Attorney General. I would love to put all this on the news or in the paper so people like me don’t have to go through this of the embarrassment the harassment being yelled at and treated like a piece of garbage and their agents look like garbage and the crap that comes out of their mouth is garbage day and have no idea what they’re talking about and they didn’t keep their promise. My Handler Told me I should start wearing a body cam with a recorder just like the police do because this is just getting ridiculous again I have to say Southwest airlines attendance except for the lady coming from Las Vegas to Denver the guy was awesome she knows who she is she was an idiot. Then the airline stewardess on American Airlines didn’t see much of because we were in the back we weren’t in business or first class we didn’t get anything water nothing but when I go through with the dog I always get a what a beautiful dog or talk to him by and say what a well behaved dog Or tell me hello, have a good day have a good evening. I will always treat anybody what respect no matter what even if they’re having a bad day and if I’m yelling at you and coming on glued OK I’ll let you but I’ll stay ma’am sir but you better answer me and quit going after my kid then if I think you need an apology you’ll get one but American Airlines did not get an apology then one after my son and then turned around and went after me and now I know what 4 SSSS ARE, Which I was cleared and it should’ve never been on my airline ticket treat it like a criminal going through the TSA because of the 4 SSSS because of American Airlines. We are sending a registered letter to TSA there’s a website you can go on I tried filling it out but it wouldn’t let me fill it out maybe because of my son having 4 SSSS. Maybe that’s why? We are going to send a registered letter with all his information to find out why this kid was singled out? Again I apologize for the long Letter,Book, Or jumping around from one subject to another but I hope you all understand. I Want To Wish Everyone That Flies, A Very, Very Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year. As Always Fly Safe, Take Care.

  71. I unfortunately had the pleasure of flying AA from OGG-DFW less than a weekly after flying Singapore Airlines on the world’s longest flight from EWR-SIN. Several things I observed. I was amazed that I was shown my seat and subsequently addressed by name by the SQ crew and I was sitting in premium economy. The flight attendant even offered to put my carry on up at the overhead compartment for me. On AA where I was in business, the crew barely said hello and it sounded forced. On SQ, the crew did everything in its power to ensure you enjoyed your flight, smiling at every interaction. On AA, there was no smile at anytime during the flight and as Lucky confirmed, FAs only barked out in phrases and not in complete sentences. Over the course of 18.5 hours, not once did I see a Singapore Girl sit down at any time, even when at the galley they were standing and as soon as you approach, they would ask if you needed anything or open the bathroom door for you. On the 6.5 hour flight on AA I walked toward the back of the plane and noticed the last 2 rows of the plane blocked and several FAs were sitting in the seats watching TV. I realise AA isn’t SQ, far from it, but I guess some of these FAs didn’t realise they are technically at work.

    There are some good apples at AA, I actually did this trip (DFW-HKG) couple of years ago and the language speaker who is much younger and much lovelier was great. I believe @Lucky you follow her on instagram.

  72. Was exec plat for 10 years. This experience (combined with lack of TVs on most domestic planes, upgrades never clearing anymore) made me finally hop to Delta. I had so many similar experiences on AA— what a disaster of an airline. Parker ran my once beloved airline into the ground. The difference is night and day. 99% of Delta’s FAs are so kind and warm— was just in Delta One (domestic) two days ago and she proactively offered for me to taste the wine before committing. I’d say 15% of AA FAs have the same vibe. I can’t say I blame them; the airline has gone down the tubes. Delta is really shining and I am SO happy I finally made the leap. Kind/proactive FAs, refurbished planes with TVs, my upgrades usually clear (as diamond), modern lounges, and a good coach experience when my upgrades don’t clear (e.g., Delta is 9 across in coach on 777 with welcome drinks in coach; AA and United go 10 across).

  73. My ‘favorite’ experience with AA was a few years back when an FA lost it on a young teen who was using his iPad during takeoff…she told him he will crash the plane…enough said.

  74. In the time-span 1985-1995 I had great experiences flying AA “up front,” domestically between the East-Coast and Hawai’i. I was always looking forward to their pre-arrival warm chocolate cookies and cold milk.

  75. To Industry Insider: If you think Lucky needs to work in the field, then how/why is everyone at Delta so nice/doing their job so well vs AA? This has nothing to do with understanding/compassion of how hard the job is.

  76. In the end, every one of the FA’s justifications can be answered by — almost every other airline managed to accomplish most or all of what Lucky mentioned. They are on the same planes, with roughly the same number of passengers and FA’s.

    This is the same mentality throughout the entire business world and why some companies fail while others flourish. Certain companies blame the customer while others address the issues. If you dont do it your competition will. There is a reason AA has this reputation and Delta doesnt.

  77. Unfortunately, as a junior American Airlines flight attendant, I do blame the flight attendants often. I am unable to hold international flights, but I do pick them up and often work them. There are many times (in first, business, AND economy) where I have been “peer pressured” and “bullied” when I attempt to go provide even basic polite service. From being taken back to the gallery and reprimanded, to blatantly told to “hurry up” in front of our customers. International flights are all about the rest breaks many of those who work them. Cutting corners, even by 16 seconds, is all many of them care about. I do blame management for allowing this behavior, but more so I blame the union for defending this type of behavior. Even from the inside, I feel as though our company is hopeless sometimes. I love my job, and if seniority wasn’t such an important aspect I would be at a different airline.

  78. I try to avoid all the domestic carriers when flying international routes. My preference is LH to Europe and QF to Australia. I cannot remember a bad experience on either of these airlines.

  79. Now I’m not sure what to do with the free Exec Plat I got through Hyatt.
    I really hate what AA has done to domestic first so much they lose my price-insensitive revenue to economy exit-row aisle seating– much less the FA’s.
    I hate to think what some of their business and first international is like. It’s been 5 years since I flew the US A 330 internationally , but it wasn’t bad….except for the FA giving me the death stare for bringing my ESA.

    I found that a grown man responding to the stare by breaking out crying usually works to adjust their attitude.

  80. Have you ever been on an AA flight where they did not offer you a credit card application?

    Have you ever been on an AA flight where they offered you an evaluation questionnaire to rate the service — one that you could drop in a mailbox for 1,000 miles credit?

    If they wanted your opinion they would have asked for it.

  81. I have only glown with AA twice. It was awful. The toilets were dirty. The floor was wet so I couldn’t pull my jeans down. I changed my return flights to Alaska-what a difference!!
    Living in Australia I do a lot of long and medium haul flights every year. The service has always been impeccable regardless of the class or the airline, and it’s difficult Not to feel great respect for the FA’s.
    Alas for AA. Management needs to be held accountable. And FA’s with personality disorders( going by those lamentable excuses) weeded out. If you hate people you can’t work in the service industries.
    Thank you Ben and all commentators. I find it both interesting and helpful.

  82. I have been fortunate to fly Delta One quite a bit between Asia and US over the past few years. I am pretty sure every flight I have had the flight attendants and often the purser introduce themselves by their first name and also call me by my last name. They also make an effort to remember my name. At then end of the flight they always thank me while handing out the chocolates. Even premium economy I get a similar treatment.

    How can AA not at least meet this standard for an 8 person cabin, when Delta FA’s deal with 30+ people?

    This review just reinforces my decision to keep my business with Delta over American. I am booked D1 this week from Shanghai to Dallas, taking a connection with Delta over the direct flight with American.

  83. Ain’t nobody got time for thank you….

    Pretty much sums up that person’s approach to life and education. I personally don’t expect FAs to be on all the time. They are human. For all you know you when you meet a FA he /she might have already been on a flight from hell. I also imagine FAs are targets of a lot of toxic customer behavior. We carry some of the blame for decline in customer service as well. We expect too much sometimes. We think that if we paid x dollars for something everything is now owed to us. And if someone b*tches hard enough they’ll get something for nothing

    As for first names being a security issue that’s total BS. Jetblue does it and they even write it on a card and places said card on your seat. If they are truly concern then use a fake name. This is why AA service is faaaaar behind mint service.

  84. you got in a pressurized soda can and flew across the ocean from one continent to the next in a few hours safely and you complain about the in-flight service or the out-of- date movies. Or someone not meeting your superficial needs no excuses on the FA part but you did get there safe the flight had a meal you did get one if you wanted something to drink you got it the bathroom work when you get up to go use it the smile and positive energy is optional and today FA refused to offer it. Your life will go on and you are no worse for it priorities people or have you forgotten that’s it’s a job

  85. Good post. I do agree that management lacks vision to drive change in in flight services. But you should really go talk to the FA unions and make them explain to you some of the silly rules they imposed on the company to sign a new contract back when the company was bankrupt. For instance, have you ever wondered why plating I first class on AA looks so mediocre? It turns out that by contract FA’s can only make a certain number of movements when putting food on a plate. So forget about details. Small things like these add up – and they help explain that the faults go to both management and the unions for fighting against each other at the expense of customers.

  86. I was a flight attendant for Express Jets and flew for American Eagle. I Was a solo flight attendant on the 50 seat CRJ-200. I know we are not talking International service here,. HOWEVER on EVERY flight, I stood near the boarding door and greeted every passenger with a smile, made eye contact with every single passenger. Talking to passengers as though they were my family, while looking for the ABP ( ABLE BODIED PERSON) to help me in ” the unlikely event”.
    The Executive Platinum member are American’s most loyal passengers. They are issued thank you certificate’s for service above and beyond. Now mind you I treated every passenger as though there were all VIP’S . I had one flight where I received 5 . I took pride in what I did. When I did my safety demo I said Good morning Ladies &’Gentleman on behalf of American Airlines welcome aboard American Eagle flight 5634 service to Dallas I’M NICK I’LL BE YOUR FLIGHT ATTENDANT FOR ENTIRE FLIGHT. Laugh laugh laugh.. NO WHERE IN THE EMPLOYEE FAA FLIGHT ATTENDANT MANUAL DOES IT SAY YOU CAN NOT USE YOUR FIRST NAME. THOSE FA’S NEED TO RETIRE. YOU HAVE A MERGER OF TWA, ( HOSTILE) AMERICA WEST WHICH MERGED WITH US AIRWAYS. Aweful merger. I worked for America West and left soon after the merger. PSA , Piedmont, Reno Air & Air Cal. Different cultures having to agree with American’s policies. I was heading to Dallas and from Milwaukee usually was given First Class One trip the MKE Manager gave me coach. I’m in Uniform walk into the plane heading when a flight attendant taps me on the shoulders and says follow me I head up to the front thinking I’m going to get take it off the plane cuz they were over saw but I didn’t see a lot of people in the boarding area and he said take a seat here it was first class and she said at TWA we take care of our own. She was a flight attendant that worked in the days of being called a stewardess serve Chateaubriand prime rib and talked about the Glory days of flying where the one wore suits. allow that your line merges with due to fuel being so expensive and your lines removed losing money now there’s really no excuse fuel is cheap the service should be supreme but it’s not of course the passengers are dressed in flip-flops shorts pajamas there’s no Elegance about flying anymore and flight attendants are just burned out you need to retire enjoy retirement most of them are past 10 years to get lifetime flight benefits but for some reason they keep doing it taking their doing everybody a disservice standing in galley reading the people magazine when your passenger is ringing his call button for something. ( I loved being a solo flight attendant). There ARE excellent flight attendants however you only see the bad stuff on social media. Which is sad.

  87. You couldn’t GIVE me a ticket on an AA flight. I would refuse it, because I’ve been burned too many times by them.

  88. I work at AA as a flight attendant. I’ve worked at this job for 33 years I started with TWA and was aquired by AA.
    When working a domestic narrow body where the first class cabin is actually a business class. It might be problematic to do a full beverage service before the door shuts.

    There is no excuse for not giving First Class on a three class aircraft
    the extra service it requires. It’s only 10 people not 16 like domestic or 25 and over in business on International.

    It’s all in how you’ve trained, sadly this is not covered . They expect on the job training by senior people where nothing has ever been expected from them.

  89. If AA is this bad, and you blame the management for it, and yet you still bank all your miles with AA, and be their Exec Plat (and when u r AA Exec Plat, do you expect yourself not to fly them and get such service again?)
    Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is not just foolish, it is insanity.
    Walk the talk Lucky. U can still fly OW, but bank your miles elsewhere, like BA and be BA gold.
    Fly others domestically and even when u cannot avoid AA, u dont bank your miles with them. (U can bank with say BA)
    Else all your talk about AA is meaningless, because you yourself continues to support AA. Your actions are louder than words. If you quit AA, then perhaps we can see that you are truly doing something (and not write a long post previously, justifying why u will still be AA Exec Plat despite all the AA bashing. And this long post, but still stick with AA. Its just nonsense.)

  90. Once again you post a thing where “American service sucks” and I have an impossible time believing that this is the average experience for either the general public or someone who flues 400k miles a year… My last as f flight was DFW lhr a few days ago. I got greeted by name, plenty of full sentences, thanked for flying – everything you wrote about, except the turn down service. No one offered it, and like the fa you quoted, I’d think that is be an ass to ask. It’s just a pad they put down. It would take longer to call someone over to do it than to just do it myself… I can’t think of a single intercontinental f or j flight where I wasn’t greeted by name. And on a surprising number of them I just don’t get thanked for flying American I’ll get a handwritten card with thanks on it…

  91. Dougie is surely MA(merican)GA! The FA calling F customers A**Holes deserves to be canned immediately IMHO. After all, those F A**holes do pay the FAs salary.

  92. @ Kashf Iqbal: We get it, your culture of blowing up innocent people or taking their lives is amazing and we find ourselves no where near you. Really sorry not accepting your fantastic culture.

    Care to explain what defines “American culture” in your perspective?

  93. I read this with mixed feelings.

    On one hand, this should be required reading for AA management and the impetus for an overhaul of their service delivery. Customers speak with their wallets, and recognize subtle distinctions in product offerings; this post covers some low-hanging fruit that they could address to their benefit…as long as they’re open to creating positive incentives for their staff to be re-energized.

    That said, the other side of me can’t help but see a lot of these examples of poor service as “first world problems”. That doesn’t negate the pragmatic businesses-minded perspective I mentioned above; its’s just that I view the size and comfort of the seating arrangement as providing the lion’s share of customer value, while our Western/first world country expectations of service staff pleasantries are far, far down the list of list of things that provide exponentially diminishing marginal utility.

    In other words, while you’re right from an MBA perspective, it’s simulaneously kind of an embarrassing reaction. I’m reminded of the line in one of the “Naked Gun” movies where Frank Drebin cries out, “…and this Chateau le Blanc ’68 is supposed to be served slightly chilled…this is room temperature! What do you think we are, animals?”

  94. Blame the flight attendants for not wanting to offer a premium experience.
    Blame management for not requiring it.
    Blame the unions for protecting the lazy.

  95. what amazed me is that after all the article are out. AA still have not resposne to the slightest. Maybe that is nothing for them?

    I just plan my trip in US for my coming vacation. Twice, there are direct flight from AA to/from my destination plans but i chose other airlines. Tbh, this stories got me a little bit so i didnt want to support AA. Usually i will chose them over other since im emeral member of ow and get to load my bag for free.

    They didnt lose a lot, it’s only 250 usd total i would have pay them. But i immagine if 1000 people do the same like me it would become much more. I also think some people got it right when saying domestic AA have no problem and crews are rather friendly. Still if it’s gonna take some effect we need to ban AA altogether.

    Maybe we need to start the campaing lol #stopflyingaa

  96. I just flew BA first round trip to London and back. The FAs insisted they do turn down service on both flights. I don’t think anyone would call BA a luxury or premium Airline

  97. Interesting article but the many times I have flown American Airlines , I have been addressed politely by name , spoken to in full coherent sentences , and received generally pleasant professional service . Either my expectations are too low or yours are too high.

  98. DFW-HKG is a great place for FA who prefer chit-chatting to service. I won’t book AA international business long-haul unless there are no other options.

  99. I too have seen this attitude. I was on an aa flight to london hr with my wife and two children in biz class. We where in the smaller cabin, the two people working there just did not give a damn.

    The answere would be to retrain them, send them on a BRITISH AIRWAYS stewardess course. That would show them real manners and real customer service standards.

    Until AA improves its standards i have to blacklist the company, its just not worth my time ,money, or stress, to have to deal with it.

    I have gone far out of my way to stick to BA non code share flights to avaoid AA.

  100. I agree with many of the above comments that US airlines’ service is a reflection of our “no culture” culture. There is NO way that US airlines come anywhere near the Gulf or Asian airlines. The grace and courtesy shown by these airlines is heart-warming.

  101. I fly QF LAX-MEL / SYD monthly in all classes Y, J and F. I can see the difference in all three classes and the difference is appropriate. I enjoy all three classes because the service meets my expectations. I sounds like you really did get Y class service in the F cabin.

  102. FA is 100% based on the individual and it’s just wrong to generalize by airline. I’ve had great crews in AA and UA TATL and lousy ones on SQ and DL. And these complaints strike me as so much a “1% problem”. Most people are lucky to even get their luggage delivered to the right destination but the bloggers are worried about being addressed by name and have someone jump when they press the call button.

    And yes it’s true Lucky has never worked a service job in his life. I’d expect a little more empathy from those who (like me) worked fast Food for a year not to mention the # of a** bosses I’ve had over 3 decades.

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

  103. I fly my TESLA. To hell with AA. I refuse to add to global warming with witches like this as so called customer service!

  104. Much prefer Air France international and Delta domestic, but had to fly American in and out of LGA last year and they were professional enough for Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

    But 1st class or business class on Air France was a large step above even 1st class on any other airline.

  105. Many years ago service in the US was the flagship of any country. The best

    Now it’s generally awful,
    be it in stores or airlines

    Why is it that other airlines in the world are capable of calling customers by their names ? Sir and madam is acceptable thought

    If you fly in a premium cabin , turndown service etc are basics. They don’t even seem to be able to get that right

    Look at the service you received when travelling from Paris – Johannesburg compared with your flight on American

  106. As always, thank you for a well written and positively provocative piece.
    Have flown on Firts Class AA to HKG in the different iterations for over 30 years with the different routes and variations.
    Have had amazing FAs, and some terrible FAs.
    Just like not everybody who is a cop should be a cop, not everyone who is a flight attendant should be in that role.
    Although initially the snarky remarks about “rude Americans” elicited a visceral defensive response, let’s admit that service and hospitality are not evenly distributed across cultures, but beyond that, the tolerance of lack of civility seems to be overrepresented in the USA,and the erosion has been dramatically accelerated in the culture of AA, which seems to filter down from the top.
    Have had the opportunity to meet people who have applied for jobs in different airlines, and what I found striking, for example, the fact that Southwest Airlines immediately, as you are interviewed puts you on the spot to see how you will make travelers and fellow FAs be comfortable with you.
    I actually realized it is a wonderful way and approach in the hiring process, as much as competence can be a deciding factor.

  107. Agree with the FA on turndown service. But if you wanna advertise to the rest of the cabin that you’re a jackass, yes, that’s your right.

    See that recline button you have in coach? Also your right to push it. Same deal.

  108. By market (CLT) I am somewhat forced to fly AA since they are our largest carrier. Over the past 5 years I have flown flown over a dozen International business class flights to cities like London, Paris, and Barcelona on AA and have always been underwhelmed.

    This past weekend I went out of my way to try flying British Airways Club World to LHR and DEL. I was blown away by the level of service and attitude of the entire flight crew. Staring with their pre-flight arrival at the gate when they showed up as an entire crew, dressed impeccably and with smiles on their faces.

    Once on board and seated, the attendants always referenced me by name with a smile. They quietly and efficiently moved about the cabin for both meal services. Each passenger received personalized attention to their needs.

    After the dinner service to DEL I went to the galley to compliment them and they were ecstatic when I asked for their names so that I could send BA a note on the exceptional service.

    It would be awesome if US carriers sent their cabin attendants to train with the BA crews to learn what service really should be.

  109. AA may be a pain but UA remains the worst. UA FAs typically display a scowl and that attitude sets the tone so that no matter the quality of the service my perception of the airline is negative. Southwest does not seem to have this problem so it must be possible to deliver a better customer experience.

  110. Fascinating article…I’m a former Delta flight attendant and I loved the job dearly. I always treated my passengers as if they were a guest in my home. I don’t care if they paid full fare or used miles. The form of payment is not to any flight attendants concern. Their job is to welcome every passenger on board and treat them with a professional demeanor at all times. If any flight attendant feels differently, then they need to take a hard look at themselves and decide if this is the job they want. Manners , kindness, politeness and professionalism is a sign of professional and emotional intelligence. I don’t want to hear any flight attendant complain or point fingers at the airline management. Issues with labor and management should never be taken out on the passenger. Those flight attendants should enjoy the freedom of their job, traveling to exciting destinations and meeting interesting people along the way. This is their choice of career. If you don’t like it I’m sure the airline will be happy to accept your resignation.

  111. Clearly the flight attendant reserves her right to be a terrible flight attendant.
    Please note that if you’re flying business or first class on an Asian carrier, to not be addressed by name is almost unheard of, regardless of carrier or country, just about every airline will train their crew to make that bit of extra effort because it goes a long way, and that’s precisely why you like flying Singapore and Cathay and not American or BA. Not to mention Western crews unable to perform services as advertised by their company.

  112. Clearly there is a management issue and the purser should be in charge of enforcing standards. Good luck getting that to happen.
    I honestly think the airline should stop allowing flight attendants to gift flights to friends and family. This will change the cavalier attitude very quickly. No wonder they don’t respect the product if they get to fly it for free.

  113. For all those that cite unions as being the core problem here…on United, believe it or not, I consistently receive good, polite, attentive service, in all cabins, and also over the phone at the Premier Desk (though I don’t know if that dept is unionized). I had an amazing flight attendant in plain old domestic First just two weeks ago, who took geniune pride in the company and genuinely cared about my having a positive experience. I mean, sure, I’ve had some bad experiences over the years here and there, but it’s nothing on the scale of what people are reporting here, and I myself have observed, with AA.

    Yes, unions can make it harder to hold employees accountable, but that’s hardly an excuse for what is obviously a poor corporate culture with poor management (thereby offering all the more reason for the union to exist).

  114. I have been In the food ,beverage and hospitality Industry for over 25 years and I want to work for the airlines. Everyone I know and meet says that would be great for it which I know I would be because I love what I do. I can’t seem to get a job with an airline and I don’t know why I would love to do that as a career. Any advice on how to get an interview? When I hear stories like this about the bad service customers receive thats out there I think who do they know that got them hired for the job that they’re ungrateful for ?
    April D Haarer

  115. Pffft… Unfortunately this isn’t unique to American Airlines but American customer service/work culture in general. You guys have shit attitude towards customer service and being reasonably “subservient” to the customer. Try this in the UK or India and you’d get fired.

    As someone who’s lived in India, UK, and is a former US permanent resident, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer complacency and casual attitude demonstrated by American hospitality industry. If the excuse is about “tipping” it just doesn’t cut it.

    People in third world countries with long hours and poor quality of life surely don’t demonstrate the careless and rude behavior as do American workers. Don’t worry though in the long run it’ll come back to bite you and your jobs.

  116. I’ll admit I thought your initial post was kind of harsh. But I think think one is spot on. I’m embarrassed for the flight attendant whose comments you responded to. And while I’m generally proud of my job and endeavor to do it well, management does not necessarily make it easy to put our customers first. They may preach the importance of taking care of customers but their actions tell me that profits trump everything. I get that we’re not a charity but still… That said, I’m surrounded by lots of good people that make me proud to be part of the American family. I hope things improve so that our customers get excellent service more consistently.

  117. I don’t agree with your point about remembering names and how Cathay manages to do it. I have flown Cathay business numerous times and while they will pretty reliably address you by name, they are not remembering it, they are almost always reading off a sheet each time, right before they address you. e.g. during food service they have a sheet on their cart with the names and seat number of each passenger that they continuously refer to as they move down the aisle. They don’t even really try to hide this.

    So yes they use your name reliably but they are not remembering it. Cathay First may be different.

  118. Why don’t you stop complaining and just enjoy the plush private ride you paid for. I don’t think the money you spent means those flight attendants should wait on you like a slave.

  119. Blaming unions just gives bad managers reinforcement to not do their jobs. And I agree that this is a reflection of what is going on in this country.

  120. Reading these comments is entertaining, especially from folks who completely miss the point. If a passenger pays $$ or even uses a bunch of points to fly business or first, they are granted the expectation of advertised services, such as premium turn down. On many carriers, “bed mode” includes things like mattress pads, sheets, comforting, extra pillows, sleep scents, etc. The gear is stored in multiple bins throughout the cabin. So no, it’s not a simple matter to set this all up yourself, and for thousands or tens of thousands, one shouldn’t have to. For those who say boohoo to the entitlement of premium class passengers, well, stfu, people pay more to experience the advertised perks of premium class, so it’s not thoughtless whining to call out false advertising or bs. With all this said, I no longer fly AA in the premium cabin, it is a lackluster experience and avwaste of money. Give me basic economy with AA, the entire experience is basic and cheap, and entirely within my expectation.

  121. Those responses from the flight attendant are such a lot of bunk, crap and codswallop. It is part of your bloody job so do it. Get trained by a proper airline and learn. These people are terrible at their jobs. Its easy to pass the back at management and there is cause but these flight attendants need to show and take pride in what they do. They dont know the meaning of that.

  122. Just WOW. so many excuses (most of them ridiculous and utterly obnoxious)… We’ll take our business elsewhere if doing your job is such a pain.

  123. I want AA to do well.

    I switch between AA and Delta depending on who has the best deals and who I have higher status with. I’ve emailed AA about my employee interactions both in air and on the ground. I’ve made it clear that I’m not trying to get “free” miles, but really want them to change their practice. Their corporate culture is toxic and the employees feel it. I don’t know what the fix is, but it’s going to be death of the airline. Someone at AA should read Danny Myer’s book, “Setting the table.” Myer talks specifically just about the language people use with interactions with customers- it means a lot.

    Meanwhile, Delta employees generally seem to go out of their way to make my flying experience a pleasurable one. I have elite status with AA this year so I’ll be with them for 2020 and hope that they improve.

  124. Why aren’t senior management at American Airlines outsourcing a secret shopper service and conducting serious analysis of their product? I’m a Qantas Club member and therefore OneWorld flyer. It’s very much in my interest for American to lift their game.

  125. Having recently flown AA LAX-PEK I was floored by the lack of attentiveness, eye contact and just common sense.

    A consumed meal tray for 30 minutes during which a FA walks 6 times down the aisle (8 rows…) with such laser focus to get to wherever that it is impossible to gain an eye contact (perhaps there was an emergency?). I ended up taking to the galley myself. No regular water service on a 11 hour flight, how basic is walking the aisle every hour with a bottle of water? I am not asking for people to remember my name or call me a sir or the chilled vodka distilled by monkes with my caviar. The experience just felt lazy and executed like they didn’t want to be there. I was all so very sad to me in the end that I couldn’t even get upset about it. They may primarily be there for safety (what i am buying from the airline is a service) but how is that going to work in the case of emergency if you don’t want to be there in the first place.

    This month i also flew Korean, Cathay and JAL… and what a startling difference from my AA experience. The price needs to be low for me to consider AA again.

  126. Any response from American, and probably United and Delta is rubbish.

    The corporate culture has sunk to such lows that of course the company and flight attendants will have a million excuses of the poor service, cabin, and total passenger experience. Their responses are all pathetic excuses for a lousy product.

    I just finished 5 segments on ANA in business, not first. I was personally greeted, and all of the flight attendants had name tags. Even with some language difficulties, the FA used complete sentences.

    The food was exceptional, and there was never an angry, curt or negative moment.

    PS – The 4 service class cabin had cabin dividers, maintaining each service cabin. Not even the flight attendants went between cabins, which enhanced the experience, unlike US airlines where the Flight Attendants are constantly running between cabins.

    ALSO !

    the 12 -14 hour flights were QUIET. Not only the passengers, but also the Flight Attendants, No constant jabbering on long overnight portions of the flight. The curtains were closed in the galley areas to minimize disruption.

    Finally, similar to Air Canada, un disembarking (not de-planing, that is no a word), First Class was allowed off first, they paid an exorbitant amount for their tickets.

    Enough said, the US airline industry is dead, its all about cheap cheap cheap, and you get what you pay for

  127. Ben, I am so sorry you were given such an appauling response to your inquiry of American’s service. As a flight attendant for 30 years, I am at a loss for words. The first thought that comes to mind is, perhaps that flight attendant should seek out another career. I hope to one day, meet you on one of my flights.

  128. And there it is!!!!! The problem is in the culture and training at American Airlines! The sense of a job well done and pride are missing completely from AA at all levels and so from the highest to the lowest points you have a it’s a job attitude! Now go to Delta and it’s like entering a different world all together! Flight attendants are respected and trained that service goes back to Woolman! The service at Delta is seen as going the extra mile and always doing your best! Is it always perfect – no – sometimes we miss the mark – but when getting a job as a Flight Attendant at Delta is harder than getting into Harvard – is the hallmark of great Airline and it’s employees trying to always be the best!

  129. Part of “the experience” in premium cabins is theater…like waiters in a nice restaurant, the FAs have a role to play. The verbiage they use, the unforced smiles, swooping in with a fresh drink before I can even ask. If I’m paying a premium price, I expect a premium experience.

    There’s no better feeling than boarding a DL 738 for my little hop from CVG-TPA and seeing a group of middle-aged (or older) FAs…they may look like retired elementary school teachers, but I know I’ll get good, friendly, solid service with a smile. I cringe when I see a bunch of young FAs, because I just know I better order a double, because they might not come back for additional drink orders.

  130. This is a culture issue overall. While service standard in the states may be lower, Americans customers are more needy.
    Asian cture is completely different as a whole. Stop comparing.

  131. Hi there!! I can just imagine the comments you have received from AA employees. I am a 30 year FA with AA, always AA. I am embarrassed and frustrated by the flight attendants comments and the state of the airline. You are mostly correct on your assessment of the why. I would like to add as well. There is no situation were basic manners should not be used. Period. Sadly we have bitter angry flight attendants. We also have a lot of young FAs. I don’t think its a secret that society as a whole has gotten ruder, less personal, entitled and lacks a work ethic and manners. We have great, good and not so good FAs. We have have so many airlines absorbed into one at this point. They all have their issues with the how and why THEIR company is no longer around or that AA was the demise and some of them still harbor bad feelings. I personally get tired of all the drama because they get down right ridiculous and nit picky about stupid things or over react. Some FAs dont like change… which is weird to me because we live an always changing, unpredictable lifestyle. Unfortunately management thru the years has done a poor job of intergrating all these different airline and corporate cultures. Everyone is doing their own thing. There is no retraining for set service standards so we are all offering the same, consistent product. We no longer have the tools we need to offer an above average service. Catering is always a challenge. If they didn’t put it on then we are going with out and make shifting the best we can. But passengers also need to realize we are not a full service restaurant with unlimited offerings. Think of it more as a catered event. They plan and supply for a certain number and that’s all you get. I agree we dont have a clear vision, its actually confusing and some of the decisions are just head scratching. They want the AA name and what it stands for but they are turning it into a low cost carrier. I’m hanging coats in first-class on the Airbus 321 behind the last row of first class. They get smashed and wrinkled and the last row passengers can’t recline their seats. I’m dragging coats over the heads of FIRSTCLASS passengers to reach the hooks. That is so embarrassing!!! The plane has no closets. They are removing video monitors, they feel passengers will use their own device. Sure I guess that works, if you are lucky enough to have power outlets on your 4-6 hour flight and the WiFi is working. Management just had out a company wide survey called ” Share your Voice”. It was a cookie cutter survey on a scale of 1-5 with vague questions. Nowhere for comments or suggestions. I don’t consider that sharing my voice. That could of been a real opportunity for management to hear from all the work groups about what is really happening out there. But I believe they really don’t care to hear it. Its a only speak positive, dont say anyhting negative and live the dillusion culture. Being that the FAs spend the most time with the passengers with the product they are offering you would think they would want to hear what’s working and not working. I always encourage passengers to write in if they are dissatisfied. But also
    please understand, unless its a personal issue with your FA and or the service, the rest is totally out of our control. Please dont take it out on us, We are feeling as help less and frustated as you. I would.also like to address some comments about us being first responsenders because I’ve read the negative comments. Our 6 weeks of training is 90% medical, safety, security, evacuation and terrorist training. Service is about 10% and you learn the rest on the job. No, we may not use it on a daily basis but if you have a heart attack or choking I can do more than just stand there holding a tray. I can save your life, evacuate an airplane, put out fires, watch for human trafficking, odd behavior, recognize several types of weapons, deal with bombs and yes protect the cockpit at all cost because there are still terrorists, bombings and craziness happening. When passengers would like to take over THOSE responsibilities I’ll be happy to to submit to being just a sky waitress. That’s my 2 cents, lol. Thanks for reading.

  132. The FA sounds like she doesn’t enjoy the work anymore, which might mean it’s time for a career change… I fly mostly with Delta for Domestic and they always use my name, say thank you, and have great service. I just flew BOS to HKG on Cathay business, and they adhered to all these standards, and that was a bigger cabin!

    I flew Delta from HND to LAX in Premium Economy, and that service was miles above your experience, so I don’t buy any of the excuses the FA put forward… AA has a service problem, and if they think it’s ok to blame the passengers, or say they are too busy to provide good service, it sounds like their corporate culture is part of the issue

  133. I am a current FA with AA. I flew regional for several years prior and am coming up on my one year anniversary. As with anyone posting an opinion, there are unfortunate truths and inaccuracies here. Yes, I have worked with some angry and rude FA’s. It is difficult for us as well when they have this attitude as we are very much trying to change the culture here. But, I have also worked with some of the kindest, empathetic and intelligent souls doing their best to make everyone enjoy the flight. From first class to the last row. I adore my career. I am fortunate to work for American despite the many harsh things stated above. I am sorry to read about these experiences. As I am junior at my base, I have yet to be assigned an international work trip. I look forward to gaining seniority to be able to do so. And rest assured, not only will I remember your name, you won’t forget mine or the kindness, care and respect I treat you with. I do however agree with some of the defenses posted here. Yes, some of us are hardcore about the rules. But again, safety is important. Rules exist to save lives. If we ask you 3 times to follow and you do not comply….then yes our attitude toward you will change. There are things that make it hard on us as well. Headphones for one. We want you to enjoy your inflight entertainment. But please do at a minimum take one earphone out so that we can communicate about our beverage and food choices. And please do not loud talk over the safety demo. We all have seen the ramifications of lack of passenger attention to instructions with what transpired on the Southwest flight when passengers did not utilize their oxygen masks accurately. Respect does go both ways. As does the personal responsibility of being a professional flight attendant and passenger. Can our company do better? Certainly. But please do know that there are a lot of us out there doing our best to create a flawless experience. We do not take our job for granted or our company name on the side of the aircraft. Now, thank you for your attention. And enjoy your flight.

  134. I think maybe you should check your ego. FAs have a hard job and almost everything you described in your previous article wasn’t even bad; just mostly small nitpicks. To make an article about comments from a previous article is what I think the Tide-Pod-Eating generation would call “Extra”.

  135. I’ve always noticed that no matter where I am flying, what class of service, or what airline, I generally receive the same level of courtesy and respect from the flight attendant that I offer. I don’t look to be treated like royalty, I look 4 friendly and genuine human interaction. When I offer that I received that in return.

  136. I would never set my foot on AA international flight. Every time when finishing AA flight I had a feeling I was a nuisance to the crew. Didn’t have a feeling of value after spending thousands of $$. I gave up my status on AA 4 years ago and never looked back. There are plenty of other options. This year I managed to fly only two domestic segments on AA. I switched most domestic travel to Delta and UA in J and transatlantic to LH group.

  137. Pfft. Cry me a river you rich baby. I’ll never have the money or the fortune to buy a 1st Class ticket. One thing I’ve learned in life is to never, ever expect another human being to make you happy, unless they are family, and even that has plenty of exceptions. Be glad you got there safe and in comfort.

  138. I often fly the LHR-JFK route. Normally take BA in First, on the west-bound day flights. LHR-JFK. Where more interaction and service would be expected from the FAs. Then I tend to take AA Business Class, on the east-bound, quicker night flights. I just have my dinner at the airport and hunker-down to sleep..immediately after take-off. The BC seats on the 77W , are great; I expect and I get minimal interaction with the crew. I find that the younger AA crew members tend to be helpful and less blasé.
    (BAs 747s on this route are getting old and dusty. BUT!…there is still nothing like being in the nose, especially with all those ‘wheel-well’ noises when the aircraft taxi-turns …and when the wheels gets deployed or retracted. Noises, which can be quite disconcerting for the uninitiated!)

  139. I’m an AA FA

    I don’t want to give excuses for the experience you had- or even try to justify it because I was not there.

    I only can speak on the bahalf of myself and many other flight attendants who take pride in the service we provide no matter what cabin we are working- I value the customers American has and how loyal they have been through the past couple years even though they can easily bring their business elsewhere.

    Whenever I hear FAs say that they are not hired to serve coke but their for their safety inflight, I want to slap them silly! Yes we are hired to ensure the safety of the passengers- but we are also hired to help make the flight comfortable AND enjoyable for each passenger…

    As far as thank yous – you better believe that if I had any Type of conversation / interaction with you before/during the flight, I will try my damnest to thank you for being on the flight … especially if you’re sitting BC/FC.

    Thank you for Your PRO-FA mindset
    … hoping we as FAs become more Of a customer-eccentric workforce

  140. I think a short sentence like “it’s friggin first class, it costs 6 times a basic salary one way” would address most of the answers by the FA

  141. There are no brownie points when a flight attendant addresses me by name….”What would you like to drink, Mr. ____(insert name)”.

  142. This author sounds like the type of person who expects those “beneath him” , servers, flight attendants, etc., to grovel at his feet every time they see him.
    A few questions for this woefully underserved person:
    1. Why do you need to know a flight attendants name?
    2. As you mentioned, they wear name tags. Can’t you read?
    3. Did you get your beverage? Then what is your complaint?
    4. Do you honestly believe flight attendants should be required to memorize every passenger manifest?

  143. @ Lawrence – Let me rephrase that for you:

    “We are hired to help make the flight comfortable AND enjoyable for each passenger…while ensuring their safety.”

    I’m sure you are a great FA, but my personal experience is that the average FA in the US (in any class of travel) just plain sucks

  144. I’m an F/A at American for almost 6 years and this doesn’t surprise me. The amount of complaining and whining is at astronomical records. People use the company as an excuse to be lazy and grumpy. I’ll be the first to admit there are things I am furious about that the company has implemented in the last few years (for the record, I’m originally from US Airways and just like American F/As, we are furious about changes on each of our respective sides). However, it’s not a license to be lazy not matter which side you are from originally.

    Believe it or not, we do have procedures and were always told “If you follow the procedures then there is nothing to argue about” – can procedures be bent a little under certain circumstances? Of course! (“It’s your anniversary!? Here, drinks are on the house today” – “Sorry we had to check your bag on the plane during boarding. Thank you so much for being so polite about it – would you like a beer or wine?”) But total and blatant disregard for any resemblance of procedures is appalling. You would not believe the stories I have. I wouldn’t even believe them myself.

    But at the end of the day, the person(s) has no self-respect for themselves. I don’t shower, shave, try to look presentable and try to be polite because I’ve drunk the American kool-aid. There are some serious operational flaws happening that should not be happening. But I do those things because I want to present myself as professional and pleasant. Many people bring so much baggage to work with them and coupled with changes at work, there are a lot of miserable people. And social media? That has become a toxic cess pool of anger for employees. I don’t let people walk all over me and follow procedures as much as possible (I charge everyone on the plane for alcohol and don’t let people move to the exit row because it is premium seating) but if the company says to do X amount of services and offer a pre-departure, I don’t think that is too much to ask. There are times I am so tired due to short layovers so service may not be a 10/10 but I’ll still do it. Many of my colleagues go on and on about Delta (“their profit sharing is HUGE!”), their service is so nice, etc. Yeah, because they do the procedures – these same people wanting to be like Delta can’t even muster enough energy to pour a coke or say hello.

  145. I’ve actually experienced an AA FA in First Class wearing at least 1 Apple Airpod while supposedly taking care of the passengers up front. Fortunately I’m rarely surprised by anything these days. Sad reality of today’s world.

  146. I was floored the first time I read that litany of excuses and all I can say is that someone who clearly resents doing their job should find another line of work and that if all those things are so onerous and such an imposition why do many other airlines’ staff manage to do them?

    People with that mindset really have no place in customer-facing roles and there seem to be far too many of them at AA. I feel sorry for their colleagues.

  147. How is it that BA manages to provide Turn Down Service on a regular basis?
    How is it that BA flight attendants manage to remember each passenger’s name in F?
    How come BA does not respond with “Whats up” when you ring the call button?

    Isn’t BA supposed to be the closest One World Partner of AA?

    Just stop offering F if you cannot provide the service. And what in God’s name is a LUXURY AIRLINE? Its a LUXURY CABIN. Even with the disparity in service offered by say EK and BA or LH/LX and BA – civility is not ruled out just because AA employees do NOT consider themselves a LUXURY Airline. Hey!!! Is Jet Blue Mint a LUXURY airline? And is BUSINESS not even FIRST

    The answers from the AA Flight Attendant was a cop out. She would have been better off NOT reacting or responding and carrying on in her surly ways.

    And one can attribute this to a failure in Management and Training but its also a sorry example of the lack of civil interaction in today’s world in general and in USA in particular.


  148. I had a similar experience to that described by Ben when I flew AA from Dallas to Hong Kong in June 2019 in first class. Not only was service poor for a first class cabin, but I also had the feeling that the flight attendants at times felt bothered by simple requests. A few examples of poor service during the flight: when served my appetizer, the flight attendant accidentally dropped part of the food onto the towel, and instead of offering to bring me a new one, just said they would bring a spoon for me to scoop it up, to which I replied I could eat the piece from the towel with my bare hands, and all I heard following that was “thank you.” I also asked a flight attendant for turn down service, and went to the lavatory to change into PJs. Upon returning to my seat, I saw that they left the mattress pad by my seat unopened, so I opened it myself and laid it onto my seat myself. Also, I heard the “what’s up” interjection after calling a flight attendant by pressing the button in the cabin. This should not happen in first class, as it’s very poor service. Compared to other carriers in first, AA’s services leave much to be desired. In my opinion, there is no reason to pay for (or fly) AA’s first class cabin on a long-haul flight, except for the bed, which is more comfortable than in business class. AA has a lot of work to do to deliver the bare minimum of what they promise.

  149. MY UA first class exp from pvg to sfo shared the simlilar with no name no turn down and even worse no rounds in mid night for late dinner/snack, i know because i stayed all the way up watching film. this is beyond pathetic vs asian/middle east airlines. and here we are all big 3 is blaming other gov for subsidizing their airlines yet they cant even manage a guest expereince!

  150. I see my comment on the state of American women was deleted, not surprised. Until you change the culture nothing will improve.

  151. I think that I would obstruct the aisle or do something else that’s a nuisance procedure but the causes no immediate harm. When demanded by the flight crew to yield, I would ask if they’re ordering me to follow a safety instruction. Upon indicating that they were, I would say that I would be happy to acquiesce to their request but I need to see identification so that I know they’re actually a bona fide and certified flight attendant and not just somebody saying that they are. At that point the FARs Say that the flight attendants have to identify themselves to hold you to the the requirements of following their safety instructions. Just food for thought if you actually need to identify her flight attendant who refuses to comply.

  152. I think it is worth noting that UA and DL have really stepped up their game. I know that the US3 have worked hard to up the hard product game, and certainly there are bad apples with DL and UA, but I feel like AA’s soft product has gotten consistently more…casual and familiar (in a bad way). I don’t think the three should really be lumped together anymore from a service perspective.

  153. As a retired 40 year purser/flight attendant for a major international airline (NOT American) I am saddened but not surprised at the level of non-service you received. I can come up with a few explanations but I will only cite a few. First is a lack of accountability for onboard service to a member of management. A flight attendant’s manager is located in an office In the bowels of their base airport. One can literally go for years without being check ridden. My manager was responsible for 200+ flight attendants and having been a manager myself, I can say with absolute certainty that 95% of their problems are with 5% of their staff. The same names keep coming across your desk again and again. Some airlines use what we call a “ghost rider.” This is a person that the crews will not recognize, that boards with a real ticket and there is no mention on the manifest that they are an employee. With the era of email and “click here to record your complaint” bad messages are more common than good. The information contained is highly subjective and the manager has no way of verifying the veracity of the bad revue. Asking other crew on that flight is an exercise in futility as no one will remember anything unusual having occurred. Tattling on another flight attendant is a career-ending mistake. My own preference was to pull the person aside on the flight and find out what was going on. As far as giving names out, that is never going to happen. Some flight attendant’s wear a fake name badge and yes, we have had terrible things happen to our colleagues from disgruntled passengers ranging from harassing phone calls at hotels and even at home to the terrible but rare instances of sexual assault and harassment of their families. Airplanes do strange things to people. If a passenger has an unfavorable incident probably the most effective remedy is to call the airline customer service number immediately with the date, flight number, origin and destination and your seat assignment for verification. Management knows who the malcontents, slackers and overtly rude people are and you will give them impetus to investigate the incident. I promise—we are all not like those sad people you encountered. I always briefed my crews preflight to leave their personal problems in the driveway as they leave home because each flight is a fresh start with new passengers, probably some old friend working with you and you have no justification for treating people with disrespect or curt responses. Usually that brought smiles (and I always gave out chocolate!) and we were off on another adventure.

  154. The most surprising thing about the flight attendant’s response is that he or she seemed to actually think it was making a case in opposition to what Ben had posted instead of vividly proving his point.

  155. You guys are missing the point.

    1. It’s not an AA problem, or even an industry problem. It’s an American problem. Look around. Look at a pharmacist. For example. What have they got to gain from serving you nicely?

    American culture is about money. Make these FAs commission based like in a high end restaurant (eg 50/50 split) and you will see a night and day. Even if that smile is fake.

    2. This might be abit off topic but these young FAs got 100 thirsty guys asking them out every night to a fancy restaurant on Instagram nowadays after them posting selfie pics. The “older” ones get jealous from this.


  156. I appreciate both the article and the comments here. I accrued an enormous amount of AA miles when, years ago, l I used to do JFK -> LAX in first every other week. I now only use the mikes in domestic 12.5 OW redemptions or to London on BA.

    To the FAs who say first class passengers are asking too much, they should consider that a friendly hello (even to Sir or Ma’am) and a big smile would take half a second and make the customer happy and then establish a pleasant atmosphere.

    I know there are plenty of great FAs on AA, but the majority seem to poison the cabin with negativity.

    A frequent London flyer, I’ve switched my loyalties to Virgin and BA (baby bus BA 1 makes me so happy), while I dump the AA miles as I go.

    And for those saying miles redeemers are getting a free ride so don’t deserve good service – loyalty and a lot of money went to accruing those miles. In actuality it’s not free at all.

    Thank you for breaking this down. We all have a choice when flying. The article and the comments have solidified my reluctance to fly AA going forward.

  157. I don’t think such horrible service can be blamed on some shift in US culture since most of the FAs that are having these in-flight meltdowns are post-menopausal and were raised during the “good old days.” In fact, the US in general is still one of the most polite nations in the world. Few people will open a door for you in Europe but it’s common in the US. Every generation seems to get this. There’s something about the airline industry that breeds such hostility. I have not experienced it in any other service sector except for people who work for DMVs. I guess the question I have is did the airline industry create these bitter unhappy workers or are these types of maladjusted people attracted to the airline industry?

  158. I’m an FA for another carrier with 30 years of seniority, & I’ve been through a couple of companies and several CEO’S. This bad service you received was a combination of factors, but your right, the blame is mostly on Management’s shoulders. The leadership sets the tone. If the flight attendants don’t feel like part of the team, like what they do matters, then you’ll get bad service. It’s Business 101- happy employees make customers happy. If the employees are cared for and their efforts validated things would improve. That all being said, the flight attendant justifying the poor service needs an attitude adjustment. The greetings, the turndown service, using names, saying thames at the end… That’s the job that you are paid to do. Have some integrity and do the job well for your self pride

  159. I have to agree with most that first class on AA is nothing to look forward to and nothing that AA should be proud of either. I think when you call it a Flapship First are an airline that limited this premium product to only a few routes then you should really differentiate it and try your best to “show it off”. I flew LAX to LHR earlier this year and it was my least favorite First Class trip. The ground experience was actually amazing. Between the Flagship First check in entrance and finding a rep waiting for me at the front door of the Flagship Lounge to show me around and walk me into the Flagship First Dining area I was impressed. But once it was time to board ilthe experience quickly derailed. This was the first time that I wasn’t walked to my seat or called by my name at the door. When other airlines drive you to the aircraft or “deliver” you to on board crew then you should at least walk me to my seat and not just tell me to “Turn left” after I’ve walked onto the plane. It also took a while for the First Class flight attendant to come and introduce herself and when she did she spoke sooooo fast I could hardly understand her. After take off nothing was too special about the whole experience. The food, while not terrible, wasn’t what I was expecting either. I was in 1A and the passenger behind me didn’t be know how to swivel her seat to face the window or open the tray table and neither did the flight attendant, lol. She did try though to be fair and called for back up. The back up did take a while to arrive. My favorite part of the trip, however, was when I was asleep (no turn down service) and the flight attendant took off the headphones off my head and woke me up. She could’ve tapped me or tried to wake me up by speaking to me instead of just grabbing them off and startling me. Instead of saying “I’m sorry” or “excuse me” or something similar all she said was “I have to collect these” after I jolted from my sleep and then just continued walking. Deplaning, they actually didn’t have a separate door for First Class but had us exit with business and the rest of the passengers. I keep hearing that their main priority on board is our safety every time there is criticism about their service but I really can’t believe that AA and other airlines that lack in their service standards are really going above and beyond anything Lufthansa, Air France, Singapore, ANA etc. offer in terms of on board safety. Time to step it up and stop with that excuse.

  160. I am a flight attendant for a Mainline carrier , I often fly the Lead position which requires me to work in first class, during boarding I try to say hello to each passenger as they enter the plane, I’m shocked at how may people lack basic manners, I’m often ignored or given dirty looks when I say hello , most board with headphones in their ears or their talking on the phone “ what’s so important that you have to be talking on the phone while boarding a plane”.
    During the beverage service most people do not even say please or thank you or even bother to look up at you , Ive become numb to that over the years. Also while deplaning I’m required to say goodbye/thank you , again I’m ignored , given dirty looks. Handed trash , yelled at because their wheelchair isn’t there yet , or their going to miss their connection , so unless you have actually worked in a customer service type industry try not to assume that all FAs are a disappointment.

  161. I often get surveys after flying AA. 2 of the questions are always: were you greeted onboard; and were you thanked for flying AA?

  162. As a transgender person I appreciate the lack of reference with sir or miss. Welcome to the new world wether you like it or not, some people are very uncomfortable with gendered pronouns.
    Before my legal name change, my name on the manifest would have outed me to those around me and potentially put me in physical danger.
    Names and pronouns are very private and should be used only after someone specifies theirs.

  163. Wow. Why am I not surprised? AA is deplorable. I’ve been saying this for years. I’ve been traveling economy however and to hear this from a first class traveler just goes to show how true my sentiments are on these people. My gripe with them has always been their service. They are a collective of ill mannered people that don’t give a crap about your experience. I’ve seen it more times than not, if not towards me personally, towards others traveling with me. If I fly AA, then I expect some rude, crude or sloppy behavior to be shown sooner or later. It’s a given. That’s how AA is. Wow… They don’t give a sh*t if you’re in first class ey… Lol.. I love it. At least they are consistent.

  164. I had to post again. LMAO. To John Smith’s comment above mine. Seriously?!!! Your excuse is that your job description as a customer service person may be affected according to external feedback? Please re-read the article. OP already said that yes, there are idiots out there… No excuse for adjusting to bad manners to the next person because the person before them looked at you wrong. If you are good at your job (please read this whole sentence carefully. lol) it’s your job to give good service to people that pay to be there. ALL of them.

  165. I’ve been flying for almost 40 years now. I have tremendous sympathy for airline workers. Most customers are jerks. I’ve asked a person at the ticket counter if he needed a minute to compose himself after being verbally assaulted and threatened with physical violence. I’ve helped out an FA on a flight when a pax went into a medical emergency.

    In all those years of flying, I’ve only once sent in a complaint. I was flying in F on AA and had the meanest, surliest witch serving us. Her attitude – which this FA has a healthy dose of – is sadly permeating AA. Regardless of the management situation (and I agree, Parker should go), your job is to provide the best customer service possible. Don’t like your workplace? Quit!

    My personal belief is that AA is dealing with the ghosts of Allegheny/USAir/U.S. Airways – truly one of the worst airlines ever created. Their toxic attitude towards pax has apparently withstood the test of time and infected AA like a raging case of Ebola.

    One other comment: Yes, we older people can be set in our ways, but I’ve seen/had to deal with PLENTY of 20 & 30-somethings (including airline staff) who are too busy being glued to their smartphones and/or still living in the delusion mommy and daddy told them that everything is about them to provide even passable service. One of the most memorable flights I’ve ever taken was on a DL flight from CVG-LAX, when a senior FA helped calm down my ex who was a nervous flyer, and regaled us with stories about the good, old days.

  166. The amount of times I “ughed” at your latest article…well, I lost count, but not for the reasons you might think.

    Yes, I have some amazing coworkers, and others I just want to blow a slide and send them to an early retirement (it’s a euphemism, not a threat lol).

    I’ll give you today as an example. I’m fortunate to fly internationally at my seniority because of my language akills, and often work premium cabins where despite using ones name or salutations, I get a blank stare, a one or two word response, or none at all. Sometimes I have to flail my arms wildly to get their attention because people are too absorbed in whatever they are doing.

    I get that it’s your time, and you paid for the comfort of First Class, but I would argue that respect goes both ways. I’m not looking for a gold star or a cookie, I just want people to acknowledge my existence when I’m TRYING to provide a service.

    Again, just providing an example, some people are so enthralled with their first class status that it seems communication with me is somehow beneath them, and I get a wave-off. That’s kind of where my warm-fuzzy demeanor stops. I don’t deal well with entitlement. It is also a bit intimidating as if I’ve done something to annoy them, when all I need is a response so that I can do my job. So, then I stop using names. I still greet by salutation whenever I approach, because I still want to be respectful.

    Having said that, you raise interesting points about service culture and management’s role or lack thereof in instilling that across the board. Since the merger, I have often said that American management itself doesn’t even have a concept of what their identity is, or the product they offer compared to their domestic and international competition? The uniform is a good example of that. There’s no excitement, even with the new program, as there wasn’t with the Twin Hill program where I was told “we want to say something, by saying nothing” – a total crock in my book.

    Back to my coworkers, like you said, we have some really great people who were meant for this job, those that remember the “old days”, others that allow the upsets of the industry dominate their performance, and new generations who don’t know any better and aren’t getting much direction on what good customer service means.

    I don’t claim to be perfect, but I will never let my opinion on the failure of management interfere with my upbringing that taught respect. I just wish I could get some in return.

  167. Secret to customer care

    Focus on neediest
    Most want to be left alone but find those who want the special attention and shower it on them

    It’s a win

  168. Good morning. I did read article completely. I do understand that everyone deserves a service they paid for. However, if everyone one would more nicer, easygoing, and less selfcenterd, then it would be less stress and easier

  169. Being spoiled silly by the eminent service of QR, I simply refuse to fly US carriers anymore. I’m not putting up with anyone barking orders at me when in the airport, or when I’m on board. And where the US service level in general is civil and quite satisfying, once you enter an N-registered aircraft, the general rule seems to be to execute the 14 CFR part 91.11-rule about crew authority.

    Thank you, but no thank you.

    So, if anyone from any US-based airlines is reading this, here you go: In stead of flying, I rented a nice, quiet car from a company in the airport (starting with an A, ending with MO, they could teach you some manners and customer service). The car was delivered to me on time, clean and with a smile. No orders barked at me. No ignoring my requests. No sit down and shut up. So I drove the 1370 miles, and while it took a little bit longer than the flight overall (transport to the airport, waiting for the TSA, the TSA humiliation, dressing myself after TSA, waiting for the plane, being barked at, flying, being barked at, waiting to be picked up in the airport, driving to the destination) it took 5 hours more, but I am happy that I didn’t have to give you any of my hard earned money.

    I have another flight in a month, transatlantic, and an intercontinental a few days after that, and guess what; look at me; I’m voting with my feet. You’re not getting my money this time either – I bought a premium ticket with one of these foreign airlines that have trained their employees to act as if the passenger is their friend, and not an intruder. We also won’t forget what you did to Dr. David Dao. Every CEO should have a portrait of him hanging across the room, so they wouldn’t forget for a second.

    Bye, bye!

  170. I want to say, I stuck with American for the last few years and then had the opportunity to fly another airline. On my first flight with them, I was thanked by name and smiled at and asked if I needed anything! I was so shocked because I was so used to the frowny face, what do you want attitude at American (Not just FA, but Gate agents and Platinum pro desk phone agents), that I forgot I was the customer for awhile. When American stops treating customers like “cargo” or “load”, then maybe they will get better. I have Switched to that other airline even though I have to connect most places. I travel every week and it’s worth the better service to spend a few extra minutes aboard another airline and be treated like a valued customer. By the way, this other airline almost never oversells and has a better on – time record to my destinations by far.

  171. So, the writing is on the wall. MOST American companies just suck. American culture is pretty much the one of entitlement. Most feel like they shouldn’t have to do anything extra, they want pay for nothing, they feel like it is not their job and they have other things to do like checking facebook or socializing. And when I say MOST I mean any corporation from AA, United, Walmart, Banks, etc.

    But you can also blame the customer and employees, so this person worked for AA 33 years and says how horrible everything is, may a suggest to find another employer if it so horrible and they are fostering that type of culture. THEN we are wondering why jobs leave the US because others simply have a different mindset.

    Go outside of the country and stay at some of the properties like Hilton or Marriott and compare with the US. The level of service and accommodation is almost night and day. Currently, I only fly Delta and have been the past 20 years to this day, Delta has been pretty consistent so I avoid any other airline like the plague plus I have multiple cc’s with airline credits but made them all to be Delta, I had American as a back up but after my friend experienced a similar treatment on her first class flight. I contacted Amex to switch me to Delta because I won’t spend a dime on AA unless it is the last resort.

    However, that these are the 3 main airlines, people will continue to fly them no matter what if the price is cheap enough. That’s another thing people love to complain but never speak through the means where it matters which would be the pocket. Hate something, don’t use it no matter how cheap. Sounds pretty silly right. You know that it will suck but yet you book with them because they are cheaper and then after you sit there complain how much it sucks. Who is at fault here.

    I flew to Europe with Delta wasn’t bad but no comparison to Lufthansa, also most of the other international airlines such as Cathay, ANA, Qantas, Ethihad it’s just no comparison. So you just chalk it up as American culture. I am sure if enough people quit and they can’t service flights and lose money, they have to shape up. But that’s not the time and day we live in.

    Either continue to hate your job, the airline or simply do something about it.

  172. I think this article bases a lot of its criticism on a comment from an anonymous FA. I’m sure your experience was not up to par when compared with other airlines, but I feel you were going a bit too far with your criticism,especially when a good chunk of your article is based on an anonymous comment.

  173. If Douggie can get gracious turn-down service with a smile, I would expect all first cabin AA passengers should receive even better service because our paid ticket cost more than his non-revenue airline ticket.

  174. The first sentence says it all, American Airlines. Of all the airlines I have flown since the sixties, AA has proved to have the rudest culture of them all. It has to be management because other airlines have never been rude to me ever, or if so, it was an isolated incident not a trend. I don’t know what it is about AA, but it is consistent. SW is not above redness either no matter what the fanboys say, but it’s rare. Obviously most airlines do a better job and AA needs to find a way to imitate them

  175. I’m writing this comment onboard a United flight from Tokyo to DC as I’m completing a 10 day business trip from RDU to DC to Tokyo with a couple of days in Delhi and then back to RDU from Delhi via Tokyo and DC. I’ve flown in business class on United, ANA, Singapore Airlines and Air India during the last 10 days and there is really no comparison. The service I received on ANA and Singapore made me feel like I was traveling business. Each made an effort to welcome me onboard, took time and opportunity to address me personally via my first name and were extremely courteous and professional. I didn’t have to ask for basic things like water or snacks. I’m 3 hours away from DC and my experience in the 2 United Polaris legs (DC to Tokyo and Tokyo to DC) has been poor in comparison. The pursers on Singapore and ANA had the same security and other non-passenger related things to do as United, but the key distinction is customer service. If I can summarize, United treats it as a job with tasks, todos and checklists while both Singapore and ANA treat it as providing customer service. Yes, I’m certain they have a lot of tasks and things to do as well but they do it keeping the customer at the forefront. This distinction easily explains the difference. I think you can apply this to explain the quality of experience in any cabin, premium or otherwise.

  176. And that’s why you should fly Delta. You get called by your name, you’ll get flight attendants names (although I know at least one that was stalked by someone in the hotel just by knowing her name) and you’ll be treated the way you should be.

  177. In the end and across the board where mediocre service is what’s offered despite a higher service being paid for, all we can really do to invite change is show our disapproval by taking our dollars elsewhere. Personally, I will never use AA for international flights or flights over 5 hours which is when I opt for 1st class seating; it’s not worth the money they demand and there is sufficient competition such that I’m never at a loss for choosing true world class service for the premium I’m willing to pay

  178. The best post is the one about offering the flight attendant some magazine to read and she puts the passenger down. I guess FA bully Passengers. And that’s why the flying public hate them!

  179. Indifference. Lack of pride. I am primarily here for your safety. AA does have some super FA’s but I gave up. Too much of this type of perfunctory and almost passive-aggressive “Service”

    I used to fly DFW – PDX 20 times a year, DFW – YVR 5 times a year and DFW -NRT twice a year. Now I fly Alaska through Love Field to PDX and Vancouver and connect to Japan Airlines via SFO or SEA

    Alaska just gets it. This isn’t an issue. The rot hasn’t set in, the disillusionment, the indifference is not there. I used to be loyal. I used to pay more to fly AA or take crazy routes to be in AA. Not today. Too many fiascos and bare bones ‘going-through-the-motions’ and the age old bizarre to the point of hilarity will I or won’t I get a PDB.

    Not anymore. Sorry AA, I have defected to AS and taken my yearly $12-$14k spend with me.

    …and that FA in the comments calling people ASSHOLES (all caps) for requesting a turn down service, this is Tantamount to a car dealership advertising a free car wash when you get your vehicle serviced, then having the guy bark “don’t you own a bucket and hose” when you expect it.

    AA is done. Sorry dead to me. They are Spirit with a better paint job. The Frequent Flyer program has descended into a farce with partner airline scam charges and indifference amongst employees over shadowing the nice ones.

    See ya, no longer have to deal with ya

  180. It’s simple why the have lousy service. Pension plans and labor unions makes for toxic customer support. They know they can’t be fired. Every company that does this is another GM

  181. I just have to wonder if the jerk FAs are mostly old USAIR crew? This sounds like flying back on USAIR before their multiple mergers.

    I fly on Delta almost exclusively, unless they don’t go where I need to go, aND then UAL & AAL aRe the lat choices. After the DAL/NWA merger I got the same attitude from the NWA crews. Thankfully, Delta has returned to 95% of their classic levels of service.

    Jim, MQM

  182. I only fly once or twice a year but when I do its either trans US, or to Asia. The infrequency of my travels has lead to the observation of the degradation of service amongst all carriers. In many instances, I’ve shockingly encountered a lack of civility from some of my preffered carriers, and a notable flight on Delta. They were great going but the return flight was atrocious.

    I do not fly first class, and would suggest that coach flights ate now akin to bus travel in the seventies.

    I get it that the service levels are probably forever lost and I always thought it foolish to offer a meal on a 3 hour flight, but nowadays I’m apprehensive to ask for a coffee refill or perhaps a water.

    The flying experience has changed and a major problem is that we do not have alternate transcontinental transportation. I long for the days of childhood–Getting in my Dad’s airplane and taking off for Arizona. Inflight meal: Saltine crackers. Snack: Wrigley’s Double Mint gum. Service: Stellar. No flight attendant like Mom, no captian like Dad.

  183. When these discussions occur my mind keeps going back to a LHR-LAX trip on AA (the first I’d ever done with them outside the US) on a 777-300. After lunch I asked the fairly snooty older male FA for a brandy – he said, “we don’t have that”. I pointed out that there was Courvoisier listed on the menu and he said, “How am I meant to know that’s what you meant – I’m not a drinker”. (I’d had a G&T (one, compared to the normal two on BA) and a couple of glasses of wine with lunch, so I don’t know if he was suggesting I was an alcoholic or not…).

    The comment about turndown in Ben’s article is unbelievable. Last time I noticed, AA weren’t noticeably cheaper than other carriers where routes are offered by multiple airlines. I know there’s a lot wrong with BA, and that Qatar isn’t necessarily the best employer out there, but at least their staff know how to behave!

  184. Gee, asking for some of the things I specifically paid a shitload of extra money for makes me entitled. Welcome to a new era of transactions where you give us your money and we neither give you nor should you expect anything in return….oh wait, that’s theft.

  185. The telling management lesson for me is that, at the conclusion of 50% of my Delta flights, I receive a survey asking about my experiences, both at cursory level (3-5 questions) and at a more in depth level (10-12 more questions).

    Very little from American, where I fly 125,000 miles a year.

  186. I am a frequent flyer and for me there is a league table in relation to the level of services you receive in various continents.

    1. Asia
    2. Africa
    3. Australasia
    4. Europe
    5. America

    For me the level of services you receive in Asia always comes out on top in all Categories, Hotels, Restaurants and Airlines.

    Unfortunately America sits at the very bottom of my league, it is not only Airlines that have awful reputation, it is the whole service sector, to add salt into the wounds the Americans even want a tip that is more than most service people earn an hour elsewhere in the world.

  187. Two points;

    (1) I generally fly American in North America (lifetime Gold member) but the two roundtrip trans-oceanic flights I have taken in the two years (to London in March 2018 en route to Eastern Siberia) and Costa Rica (just this week — and because of my 27 hour turn-around — I was with the identical flight crew on both non-stop legs from JFK) — have both been excellent.

    (2) In 1992, I was part of TWA’s Quality Assurance Team. There was a carve out in the F/A Union Contracts that if you got written up by a member of the QA team, you would not have the usual level of protection a union contract might afford you. That level of uncertainty forced F/As to provide reliable service to everyone.

  188. While it’s easy to retort these “excuses” and deem them silly, you ought to consider that you in fact do not and have not done this job. I am not justifying sub-par, disrespectful service; however, doing this repetitive job year after year can beat one down. So you’ve timed yourself saying “would you care for…” case must be closed then huh?

    Sometimes it’s just a matter of self-preservation for flight attendants. How many times can one person perform with cheerfulness, formality, and thoughtfulness just to be met with rudeness, complaints, and a total lack of basic decency (looking at you person who never removes their headphones or pauses the movie)? Being extremely nice whilst being treated like garbage is very draining— especially over and over again, day in and day out, year in and year out. We learn to preserve our own sanity by sometimes meeting it all in the middle. That said, if a passenger is being polite then there is absolutely no reason not to turn up the customer service charm.

    This may still just sound like “bad customer service” and “excuses” to justify not caring, but I don’t think anyone can truly understand unless they’ve done the job. The responding flight attendant offered thoughts because her industry was attacked and judged and she cares. She offered reasons and considerations for why service may seem so lackluster and suggested that it might not be simply because the flight attendants are awful and abhor their passengers. Please be less dismissive in your critique of other’s thoughts if you haven’t walked the walk.

  189. ohhh Ben…why so many complaints….i guess you have had so many bad lucks? TBH, i really don’t expect the FA to greet me or introduce their names to me or complete their sentence to me. Just a smile is enough. I kinda empathy more and appreciate whatever service they have provided me and most of the time if not always, i receive excellent service from them. Maybe because I’m always lucky and easily contented and this attitude always bring good people including good FA to cater me 🙂

  190. American Airlines’ first class service has deteriorated, generally speaking. The F/A’s would rather talk in the galley area, than provide service, especially during pre-flight. United has done a decent job, but on my last flight, I asked for some water and had the F/A, from hell. She was so crotchety (she must have flown DC-3’s), she tried engaging me in a verbal altercation, by asking me, “Am I going to have trouble with you?”

    Ending up like Dr. David Dao was not my intention. The juxt of the issue is that these F/A’s think that we passengers are in kindergarten and they are our teachers.

    One good way to lose customers, is to provide poor or mediocre service.

  191. You cannot Blame the FA! When Doug P says to the media “Flight Attendants do not affect the bottom line” in a press conference that was the start of of the End to FAS attitudes!! Since that statement they have imposed on them the “hard 40”, changed Sick & Occurrence policy, meaning if you Call Out Sick using YOUR OWN Sick time you have Earned you get an Occurrence. Sick longer than 6 days you get 2 Occurrences!! They are PUNISHED for using their own sick time! I know an FA that had breast cancer with 400 sick days built up and came back to work with 3 Occurances!!! If injured on Duty they use all you vacation days, sick days & your FMLA DAYS BEFORE Anything!!! Their Workcomp company Sedgwick denies you pay everything so you have to fight to get medical bills paid and yourself paid!!!
    Americans Flight Attendants are treated like 3rd class citizens!!! Investigate yourself, especially with their contract coming due!!!
    The Company beats the Flight Attendants down day after day! They DO NOT VALUE US or Appreciate us When we are the ones with lives that are extremely disarrayed and we are constantly having to battle for our REST ON THE JOB having 14-16 hr duty days. While only being paid for flight hours and fighting for OUR Quality of Life!
    So NO!!! It is not the FAS fault!! Worse moral with the Flight Attendants in the history of the company!! It’s SAD TO US! The BLAME goes to DP, Laura Glading Jill Surdek and the rest the Exectutives!
    Building those multimillion dollar new offices with granite ping pong tables is a Slap in the Face to us out here busting our rear ends sometimes not having money to even buy food!!!!! Ridiculous

  192. Oh my goodness! You poor people that have to fly the best seats in the house,only have to share your stewardess with 3 0r 4 other people! Such a shame…..and to think of all the leg room must be challenging to the brain as to what position you would like your legs to be in, then again there is ALL THAT SEAT ROOM for your butts, not to mention arm room, or having someone breathing on you, snoring in your ear, or lowering the seat in front of you so now they are laying in your lap. And to receive service in less than 10 minutes after boarding….very difficult making so many decisions over orange juice, water or alcohol. Or perhaps the stewardess is not paying you enough attention, like flirting with you, failed to stroke your ego, after all you paid a price for this seat.
    The ingratitude of the rich and wannabe famous, no end to it. Walk in the medium incomes shoes for a change and sit in their airline seat for a time or two. Maybe you will grow some gratitude for all that you receive!

  193. I am not excusing bad service by any means yet let it be known that American no longer trains their new hires in service procedures. Those procedures listed in the inflight manual and they are expected to review them. More often, these new hires board an airplane expecting senior flight attendants to coach them. Line flight attendants don’t get paid to do that. I was taught, 28 years ago, to make eye contact so the customer knows your are available to them at any time. Unfortunately, after hundreds of customers not saying hello, being rude to crew and fellow passengers our skin gets a bit tough.My feeling is that there are fabulous, young new hires out there yet a lot of entitled, self serving ones as well. Shame on American for not training them in exceptional al service and letting our standards fall so far off the map.

  194. Some of this comments are crazy naive or perhaps submitted by hippy trolls or some other metamorphosis of ultra left. Pax pay for transport service in economy one way from HK to US about $450 each way. First class pax pay $4500 each way. Yes they get more real estate and some caviar but they also pay for the fluff that comes with first class. So is some “cute” FA responds with “ what’s up?” When first class pax calls it is a beech of contract. The employee of the carrier doesn’t understand their duty to the customer. The employee does not fit the mold of the what the employer is selling to the first class pax. That renders the product being stale.

  195. I had a somewhat similar experience, but with the 4 seasons hotel, in san franciaco.
    Hotels were sold out because of the apple expo going on, several years ago. Most of the good hotels were full and no rooms were available. But there was one for between $600-$700 a night (i can’t remember the exact price) that was suddenly available for the 3 nights I was going to be in town.
    A big, gorgeous room with a fairly nice view. But after a while there were (several) problems. The windows were so dirty, inside and out, that the view at night was obstructed. The water turn off handle in the tub fell off and just missed breaking my toes as I adjusted the shower. Etc, etc.
    So on the last morning I called and asked housekeeping and engineering to come to my room. I showed them the problems, my complaints and the near miss of a loose water knob and bare toes, etc. And then I asked for a refund!!! A 50% refund.
    Guess what? I got a 33% refund! At least they acknowledged there were problems!
    I left some what happy. But I’ve never been back there since! Not that that is a problem for them. But whatever!
    There were problems. I complained. I was heard. The bill was adjusted! I was, for the most part, happy with the resolution.

    Hint: when speaking with management and if they seem at a loose for words, tell them what you need to make things right! If 50% off works for you, you might be happy with 33%!! I was. The problem was resolved. That extra 17% just wasn’t worth it to me to fight for. But you do you!!!

    Anything and everything can be negotiated. Even after the fact!!
    Be nice. Be firm. Be clear. And don’t stutter when asking for a refund!!!

  196. Were you aware flight attendants aren’t paid during preboarding Or any time the door was open. How much do you care when your not getting paid? We have to do bunch work in a short period a time with no tip and bunch frustrated people and no money. And I know it’s crazy but we are people too sometimes we are tired as well.

  197. This is a generational thing. Millennials and genx’rs do not want to serve anyone. They just as soon have their paycheck mailed to their house.

  198. People like Cara are always looking for an excuse not to do a good job. I am EXP on AA and no way would I pay to take international business class with them unless using an upgrade. When you take an airline like Qatar you really the humongous difference in products and Qatar is often less. AA should be thankful for their corporate contracts otherwise who would pay for this level of service. AA really needs a top to bottom overhaul in service standards.

  199. These ignorant American Airlines. Yes all three “big” ones United AA and delta, all have some of the worst flight attendants among major airlines
    One of the worst looking: average FA have to be at least 20 pounds overweight
    The worst attitude I guess they forgot how to smile say please or thank you long time ago
    Worst food service disgusting food quality cheap food
    If u try to say something to them, it is a security risk.

  200. I had always flown domestic on US carriers. But once I started going international on foreign carriers, the service is like night and day! I was very impressed!

  201. Didnt read the original article about service. After reading this specific article and comments, my first thought was Ok, boomer.
    While the flight attendant sounded a misguided and venting, the article author and some of a lot of these commentors sound pretentious and stodgy. When I fly first class I expect service and comfort, but if the flight attendant speaks frank and direct-more real- I appreciate it.

  202. Quite whining about your first class lack of service and come down off your high horse. You should be ecstatic that not only you can afford first class but that it still exist!
    Millenniums are changing the world as we know it. They are minimalist at heart and have never experienced pre 911 days of courtesy, happiness, and getting along with each other.

  203. All AA employees wear hanging nametags…it is how they get through security and scan to get on the plane.

    When we flew internationally we had a fabulous flight attendant from Reykjavik to Dallas on flight 0231 She is a legacy AA FA with 30 years’ experience and commutes from Houston. And…we were in Main Cabin, not Business. Prices to me it is the individual, not management t, who determines behavior.

  204. The problem is that the vast majority of passengers don’t actually understand what the cabin crew are there for. They aren’t waitstaff, their primary job is to ensure the cabin remains in a safe condition that complies with regulatory requirements throughout the flight, and to assist passengers during an emergency. Everything else is just niceties.

  205. Hi. I honestly have had very bad experiences with American Airlines, in every aspect, from the flight attendance, the booking, boarding to their horrible consumer service. I don’t fly much with then, last time was about 2 years ago, and that is saying a lot, considering I fly locally at least once every month and internationally I few times a year. I rather pay a little more (Is rarely more than $20-$40 difference if at all) in Delta (really live their service, hasn’t had a problem or witness then mistreat anyone) than go on any American fly. I have even gotten with making a stop rather than direct with American, that’s how bad I think their service is.

  206. Bro all this is is a stupid travel blogger bitching and moaning that the attendants didn’t kiss his ass at every turn. “I travel a lot and I write about it on the internet so give me everything I want or I will write bad shit about you”. So friggin entitled. You’re sitting in a chair flying in the friggin sky across the god damn world. Like sit in the chair and just appreciate the fact that you dont have to sit on a ship and sail for a month like you would have 50 or 60 years ago and can do it in 17 hours now. There are a ton of people who would gladly sit in that seat and not say a word. An arrogant entitled internet douche cannon is all this is

  207. @anonymous
    The attitude like yours brought us ultra low cost carriers where you have a plenty of opportunity to do your cattle class travel with the rest of flying proletariat.

    The OP paid handsomely for the first class service and was deprived of it. His payment subsidizes economy class passengers.

  208. @Rafa. Really what you’re paying for when you buy first class or whatever is extra space so you aren’t jammed up against other people for 8 hours. That’s the genesis of dividing the plane into classes in the first place all those years ago when first class became a thing. What it has evolved into in expecting the employees to wipe and kiss your ass and thank you for being born is solely a product of arrogant douchecannons like this guy going “hey I paid extra for my seat now kiss my ass”. People think just because they have blog or a thousand followers that they can blast a business on that they should be given preferential treatment just so they wont blast the business. Absolutely asinine behavior. If I worked as a flight attendant and this guy was in my section you could bet every dollar in your bank account he’d be getting some sort of bodily fluid in his “oh so important” mid flight coffee. These people think they’re some sort of “expert” on air travel and everything involved in it because they fly to their business meetings 3 times a week. I watch basketball 3 times a week- doesnt mean I’m a hall of fame coach who knows more than the people getting paid to do it. Have a little perspective. Their actual job and duty is to make sure THE ENTIRE PLANE gets to the destination safely, their actual job is not to sit at the beckon call of some entitled internet blogger who’s going to threaten a bad blog post if he doesnt get what he wants. This is why tigers eat their young because they will eventually grow up into idiots that are just detrimental to society like this clown who wrote this little “they didn’t give me what I wanted” article.

  209. The only thing AA flight attendants do quicky and efficiently on a long haul international flight is get to crew rest area the second it’s their turn. These people have been brainwashed into thinking they’re security guards who can choose to get things for customers if they’re bored with being aisle monitors. There’s no doubt they are there in case something happens. Looking at the big picture, something rarely happens. In many cases they actually instigate something into happening just to break up the monotony. American needs to stop promoting this flight attendant/cop culture.

  210. Maybe you need to work service industry jobs to understand the pressure. It is easy to judge when you are on the other side. Also, some guy was commenting on not being in the right industry. Well, some people do it out of need. And sometimes, we like our jobs but people ruin it for them. I was a receptionist at a hotel and because I had to take care of everyone, I could not give my full best all the time. We are humans. It gets exhausting many times. Given your apparent means by the luxurious way you travel, I doubt you have ever been there. So I suggest understanding before judging. No need to nitpick everything a person is trying to explain to you just because you don’t get it.

  211. Sounds like you all need to fly Delta. They are the number 1 airline in the United States. Could it also be a coincidence that they are also the ONLY airline without a Flight Attendant union?!

  212. I remember the days, when flying was exciting and a thrill. Today, those two words are definitely not used to describe this mode of transportation. As to the F/A from AA with her excuses,,, she must have forgotten that the F/A are the direct representatives for the airline for who they work for, in reference to how they treat, interact, and provide their services to the passenger. After reading her comments (excuses),, seems to me, she’s more qualified to be a Walmart greeter.
    Kudos to all the F/A’s who have made my flights a more pleasurable one,, I understand that this is not a job for just anyone. And to all of you who always have a smile on you face, and say “please, or thank you” God Bless. Its the little things that go a long way. I don’t fly AA anymore, haven’t done so for years now,, and not particularly because of the service onboard.

  213. I have been fortunate enough to travel first class frequently, mostly on Delta. I have received for the most part excellent service, on some occasions above excellent. I am not excusing the FA that is the subject of this article, however I have seen many first class passengers who were very demanding and in some cases rude to the point where I was embarrassed for them. The fact that you can afford, or have been upgraded to first class does not elevate you to a level where treating people poorly is acceptable, I’m certain that I have seen many more rude and in some cases ridiculous passengers than I have seen rude flight attendants. Just saying.

  214. Sue- Sorry but in fact non-unionized employees give less than adequate service because of training (or lack of) and therefore are hired by airline companies looking for low salaried staff. Unionized companies attract the cream of the crop. I’ve flown Delta for over 33 years and don’t agree with you. I’ve also flown non-union Asian and Gulf carriers with incredible service. Different cultures, different management and still in many countries an airline job is highly competitive, like US unionized jobs. Yes, Delta has demanded more and better but they really need it.

  215. Jeffrey – Me too. However, Delta has lost soooo many of its elite flyers because of bad management, anti-worker attitudes that it lost its old position in the 80’s and early 90’s as an exceptional US carrier. It’s clearly tr=ying to capture those good old days. It needs much more attention to its soft product.

  216. Also, Delta has screwed its FF’s and the FF programs they signed up for. When Delta replaces the 100,000’s of miles they’ve devalued, maybe some will return. Me, twice burned is twice too much. I’ve taken back $100,000’s back from them for their treachery (oh sorry, unfettered, unregulated American capitalism).

  217. My favorite domestic airline will always be Braniff. I wish it would make a comeback. They had the best steak on their flights. Even on a 2 hour flight you got a steak dinner. They were the first to have leather seats I think. The service was as good as it gets and so we’re those DFW based Flight Attendants or Stewardesses, as they used to be called. You’ll get dragged off the flight kicking and screaming if you call one a Stewardess these days.

  218. It starts at the top, there was a recent article from The Points Guy about Doug Parker flying his own airline. He doesn’t even take action when he sees something is missing or inadequate. He tells management about it and then goes about his day. See what he says…

    “TPG(interviewer): If you notice something amiss in a process American can control, do you bring it up?

    DP: I do, but I can’t think of a time when the answer wasn’t, “Oh, yes, we’re working on it.” … Any CEO will tell you that you may see things and question them, but you have to be very careful doing anything about it.”

    So his employees walk around telling him they are working on it while nothing actually gets done. I doubt he even follows up with the issue. If you’re allowing your employees to treat you like that…think of how they treat “real” customers. Like the author said…it’s q leadership and culture problem.

  219. I agree with your comments. It is the worst airline I flew with. Particularly with FAs who humiliated me when all I need is to get a glass of water from them. I happen to not have the same skin colour just like them. They intentionally skipped service to offer me any drink. I wrote a letter to the corporate in regard to their FAs’s services, but all I get in return is 100$ off for the NEXT booking. Do I REALLY NEED TO FLY WITH AMERICAN AIRLINE AGAIN?…Non sense response

  220. I was a flight attendant for 15 years, airline went BK. I have just a few notes re: the FA’s response.

    1. Too busy doing other stuff to greet? There is NO WAY everyone is too busy to greet and offer a beverage during boarding. All FA’s, minus one or two incharge of catering, should be assisting passenger’s during boarding.

    2. Passengers change seats and you won’t remember them? BS, you are lazy and have no manners. YOU are the flight attendant that does the BARE MINIMUM and should have retired or been fired long ago. If you can’t remember a name, how could you possibly describe a suspicious passenger?

    Flight attendants, such as the one responding, are really good at coming up with reasons NOT TO DO their jobs. They feel somehow entitled and I’ll even bet they have major seniority. They are the type that will watch coworkers bust their ass and instead of helping will scold them for working too much and how it makes THEM look bad. Guess what, it does make your lazy ass look bad.

    And since when is it a security issue not to introduce the flight attendants names? BS is what it is. They seem to forget that passengers who will complain only need date/time/flight #, it will cross reference to those working the flight. I bet none of those flight attendants smile, assist passengers stow luggage, and I bet they don’t even like their job anymore.

    Quit, retire, change positions, get off the damn plane. I am sure there are plenty FA’s who would gladly work your schedule, who would smile, introduce themselves, assist during boarding, interact with passengers, kick out an awesone service, and answer call buttons politely because IT’S THEIR JOB.

    It just kills me to hear the crap these flight attendants get away with. And unfortunately they have a union that saves the jobs of those who shoud not be saved.

  221. Blaming this on union representation is a false belief. I fly and have flown many union and non-union carriers (Delta’s been terrible for years) both in the US and international. There may be terrible management. Terrible training. Terrible personal/cultural behavior but a union can’t protect an employees job if they are breaking the rules and/or contract.

    All US workers should be given due process but are not because lax labor laws. Usually only unionized employees have it codified in their contracts. Also, some states have much stronger labor laws than others. Like most of the south and southwest are terrible whereas Coastal and mid country are much stronger in general.

    If management can’t/won’t sufficiently document and enforce the rules and contracts employees and management must abide by, it’s their fault. Not the union’s for protecting members’ employment rights. Any unionized worker can be fired if management can prove their case!

  222. I travel with AA mostly because I travel internationally and I travel a lot. I am very familiar with the kind of attitude described in your article, and have gotten used to it over the last 10 years.

    Funny thing is that just this week I noticed the same attitude in multiple doctor’s and sepcialists’ offices (I recently herniated a disk in my spine and been having to deal with service in the medical field). What struck me is that twice I was being treated as a “difficult” customer (just like on AA) when I was absolute not being difficult, I merely asked a question (and politely at that, but I have realized over the years that rude people do not recognize manners when displayed.)

    To me the problem lies in our educational philosophy; our academic institutions do not value manners as part of an all-round good education. The emphasis in education is on performance, not relationships, and to me relationships are more important to success in life, than mere job-performance.

  223. I think the FA’s should share their first names. The airline could just tell the hotel not to let strangers in, or if the FA’s really left their phones, just let the staff return it. If anything, the FA’s can create fake names. FA’s shouldn’t just share a number, like 289238 because that is impossible to remember. Also, idk if it’s just me, but doing that sounds weird.

  224. “Jme says:
    December 15, 2019 at 7:45 pm
    It is readily apparent that many first class passengers are self entitled, self centered, and rude. They are rude to each other and to the airline staff. Fast to comment and complain but slow to thank. Like the guy who sticks his foot in the aisle the entire trip. Or the elderly couple with the headsets who are oblivious to the arrival of their meals and have to told to open their tray tables. Or better yet, the mom and dad with two spoiled brats who leave all sorts of debri and trash. I have found AA to be solid, dependable, and sometimes exceptional. AA Gold(10 trips/year)”

    Your puerile little bitch rant so caught my attention that I paged back so I could take a few minutes to offer a bit of feedback (although I reckon you’ve forgotten what crap you wrote because you probably spend you life online blowing smoke out yer arse.)

    F.Y.I., most passengers who travel long haul First Class want to do one thing: sleep. They are *not* demanding, they’re rather unassuming and low maintenance. Wherever you pulled your ideas from, you need to put them back there.

    And monitor your own bilious balderdash before dumping it on others.

  225. Johannes Bols: Can I just say……THAT. WAS. AWESOME! You nailed it. So many of these people seem to spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to scam their way into business or first class. Here’s an idea! Try working for it. Make more money and buy a full priced ticket. It’s only when you can afford that ticket without thinking twice that you realize you actually don’t need it.

  226. I’m what some would label a “regular” person who would struggle to pay for a seat in economy and you just sound like a bitter, petty snoot with your complaints and I feel sorry for you.

  227. I use to fly coach but now fly first class in American Airlines. My experience in both class were wonderful. However, in first class I felt as though I was treated like royalty. Were all human and we all have our good days and bad days, but I do appreciate the services that I’ve received on this airlines. My recent flight was international as well.

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