Laziest and rudest crew I’ve ever had on American

Good morning from Madrid after a quick flight from Miami. While I managed to get a few hours of sleep, I can’t help but at least mention how lazy and rude the crew was in business class. I generally find service on American to be excellent, and I’ve only on a handful of occasions had service that I consider to be truly sub-par.

I flew roundtrip to Barcelona about a week ago and had phenomenal service in both directions. In both cases I talked to the crew and they commented about how frustrated they were with what’s going on at American right now, though said “as soon as I walk through the airplane door I put on a smile because you guys pay my salary.” A great attitude to have, and it was reflected in the humor and attentiveness with which they approached service.

Unfortunately tonight’s crew didn’t seem to have that mentality. The purser was actually pretty nice (she always asked how the food was, if I wanted anything else to drink, etc.), but the two flight attendants working the aisle couldn’t have cared less, and couldn’t have done a better job at showing it.

Both didn’t once smile, speak a full sentence to my friend or me, or pass through the cabin a single time except during the service.

When taking drink orders they simply said “drink?” Despite asking for a refill several times, each time the flight attendant asked whether I was drinking Coke or Diet Coke (look at the sheet on which you took meal and drink orders!). Compare that to the flight to Barcelona, where they didn’t just memorize my drink preference, but also my name.

Service was incredibly slow, and not on one occasion did they actually place anything on my tray table (including the meal tray itself). Instead they always handed it to me to put down.

After takeoff the purser asked whether we wanted to be woken for breakfast. My friend didn’t want to be woken up, though that’s not to say he didn’t want breakfast (it just means if he was sleeping he didn’t want to be woken up… seems simple to me). My friend was watching a movie when breakfast service began, though was ignored by the flight attendants, so he waved them down and asked if he could have breakfast. She responds with “well the manifest says you don’t want to eat,” and she almost walks away, though he responds “no, I was asked whether I wanted to be woken up for breakfast, not whether I wanted breakfast.” She responds with “well that’s not what the sheet says.” Unbelievable.

After breakfast media players were collected (American has Samsung Galaxy Tabs on the 767 in business class), and the flight attendant dropped the entertainment system of the guy seated across from me right in my, erm, sensitive area. She went to grab it and didn’t even apologize or say a word. You’re supposed to serve me hot nuts, not drop stuff on them…

Anyway, it wasn’t any one thing in particular that made this crew suck, though just a combination of everything. Passengers deserve a basic level of respect, be it in first class, business class, or coach, and when you don’t get that it’s pretty disappointing. Here’s to hoping these two individuals are part of the 15-20% of flight attendants cut with the reorganization (then again, they were very senior, so I suspect not).

Filed Under: American, Mileage Runs
  1. So your friend made the flight. Yay! You were bound to run into a bad crew sooner or later, and with all the upheaval at AA I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Hope you enjoy your trip.

  2. This sounds like one of my bad service flights on pre-merger United. With United, service seems to venture between either outstanding or absolutely terrible. I have exprienced great service from more senior UA crews, especially on the Hawaii flights and to Europe, and then I have had apathetic and minimal service internatioanlly, regardless of the crew’s seniority. So service seems to be a YMMV item.

  3. Maybe they were American Eagle refugees. The rudest flight attendant I have ever encountered was on a AE flight from FSD-ORD.

  4. I had some similarly bad experiences coming back from OGG on UA. When I asked the FA if they had any other hot food items, the response was, “Maybe I should come back when you’ve had more time to think. The other FA already made that announcement, but I realize no one bothers to listen to us.” It was completely uncalled for, and it turned out everyone else had the same question because, no, the PA system was broken and no one got the message. Just the beginning of trouble on that flight.

  5. I think this falls in the “Aren’t there more important things in the world to complain about?” category.

    Like how a profitable, successful airline has been run into bankruptcy over the past decade. Like how many people will lose their jobs during Chapter 11 because of poor management. Like how the oneworld alliance continues to lose functional members.

    Or how the country to which you are flying has almost 25% unemployment. Or that all of that jet fuel you’re using to rack up status and miles is damaging our climate. Or how a huge number of the airline’s employees are going to lose their pensions.

    No offense, Lucky, but if these are your egregious complaints, it’s time for a reality check. Just look at your own pictures in this post for the context in which you’re writing. It’s sounding pretty unappealing.

    And @gbrain – don’t blame the union for a couple of grouchy flight attendants when the vast majority are, as Lucky suggests, pretty good. Why are unions always the problem when you don’t get your diet coke with a smile?

  6. While the above are surely first world problems, one wonders why you didn’t bring up your observations with the purser on the spot? Obviously this blog post is a result of frustration building up slowly over 8-10h, so venting a bit to the head FA may have had an immediate effect?

  7. @ oliver2002 — If it were a foreign airline I would have done that immediately, though at American the purser isn’t a supervisor in any way. They’re paid a couple of bucks extra per hour to do the paperwork and make the announcement, though they have no power/control over other flight attendants. I might as well have told the flights attendants directly.

  8. @John-Actually, it’s things Lucky mentioned, multiplied many times over, that leads a company into situations such as Chapter 11.

  9. Gee- do you think john works for AA?

    Actually i was on a recent flight from Miami to O’Hare that had the rudest, laziest crew in history. Wrote to AA which of course was ignored.
    Unfortunately, still have a lot of miles to burn.

  10. @ qbrain: I do think there should be accountability – I have low tolerance for bad service, and grouchy employees. Especially as a paying customer. I just don’t think that it’s as simple as the unions being the problem. Is there no supervision on board (as Lucky notes)? That’s a management issue, not a union one. Lots of airlines have strong unions, including many successful, profitable ones.

    And @ JetAway: I 100% agree. Poor service is a great way to ensure fleeing customers. But let’s be honest: whose responsible for that situation? Who’s in charge? Who fixes it?

    Finally, @ jim a: No, I don’t work for AA, and never have. I even have around 100K miles on AA (none, mind you, from actually flying them).

    Please understand that I am not apologizing for crappy flight attendants. My original observation was something more akin to “Who cares?” The descriptions of “rudest, laziest” (used by both Lucky and jim a) might not be an exaggeration, but it kind of seems like it.

    Again, no offense meant. I enjoy Lucky’s reports immensely. I just worry that there’s a little “Upstairs, Downstairs” tone that has started to creep into some of the posts. I know that it’s not “entitlement”, but it can sound that way.

  11. John: I didn’t get the impression from Lucky’s post that he regards this as the most important issue in his life, or even in this particular trip. However, declining service is a part of the new reality. That, plus I am sure Lucky would want any future Samsung Galaxies to land somewhere else. 🙂

  12. @ Andrew — Yeah, I’ve definitely found the Miami base to have the most attitude. In my opinion the bases in terms of service go DFW>SFO>BOS>ORD>LAX>JFK>MIA.

  13. AA is a crappy airline, along with most of the legacies, i generally try not to fly any of them overseas. However, I do find UA’s NRT crews to be among the best and I seem to always enjoy their service.

    And while some like to mention the union thing, remember that Southwest has a strong union and has excellent service and Delta is non-union and seems to struggle with their service at times. In general, blaming unions for bad service has always struck me as a red herring.

  14. Yeah, @Carl for recognizing WN for being the most heavily Unionized airline while having excellent service at the same time.

    I personally think the difference at WN is that the Unions and the Company strive for a ‘win-win’ with the Employees.

    Seems to work!

  15. Lucky,

    To keep your integrity, I do feel you should let us know what happened after AmericanAir tweeted “that they would like to make this up to you.”

    How they respond/reward you for your flight is an important instrument in your blog — as most of us would never receive this kind of immediate follow-up from customer service.

    Your readers can then determine if you are being offered special treatment for every single post or tweet of indifferent/bad service or if we, the lowly reader, could also expect to receive some type of compensation when we are mistreated. And if we are not, why not?

    Trying to placate the blogger community while ignoring the masses is a disturbing trend so I hope you will provide full disclosure of what they offered. It’s for American’s benefit as well.

  16. Lucky, I am an avid fan but have to say I agree with michael. A few times when you’ve had negative things to say about AA, they’ve tweeted back at you within minutes; it’s amazing that you’re at the point where you’re such a valued customer that they follow your account and comments so closely, but it does leave a reader to wonder how he/she could ever get to such a place.

    Regardless, we will gladly welcome you back on United whenever you tire of this nonsense! I do miss your UA insights.

  17. @ michael @ EggSS4 — I have every intention of posting the results, as I’m all for transparency. That being said, while they perhaps Tweeted me more often than others, I’m happy to say they’ve never actually done anything for me (in terms of compensation, clearing an upgrade, etc.). They’ve helped me check on things, but that’s about the extent of it.

    So while I do suspect they’re more “responsive” to bloggers, trust me when I say they’re not showering me with gifts to shut me up. If you want showering with gifts, look at what they did at the OneWorld Mega Do for a two hour delay… 😀

  18. That sounds perfectly reasonable to me then. Since that’s the case I’d try to mention that in a future post so people don’t get the wrong impression, as you generally come across as very honest and transparent.

  19. In the interest of full disclosure, and as a follow up, I spoke to someone at American today that assured me my comments were being looked into, and also offered me 10,000 miles between this issue and the laptop issue. Hopefully y’all agree that’s pretty fair.

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