However, there’s a story that several readers have sent me, and I’m not quite ready to jump to conclusions just yet. I’m not trying to defend the flight attendant at all, but am just saying that the way the passenger shares this story rubs me the wrong way, and I think at a minimum we need more context, and ideally we need a full investigation and both sides of the story (though I doubt that will ever be made public).
The incident that allegedly happened
A Twitter user shares what happened on a recent international American Airlines flight. Here’s her version::
We exited the plane upon arrival and many in my family asked what happened. Shocked by Carol’s lack of understanding and kindness, one of my family members approached her saying that what she did was rude. We tried to explain that my mother felt ill from the flight and tried to properly dispose of her throw up and Carol’s response was “oh please I’ve been dealing with you people for 30 years.”
My family did not expect that response, as we had nothing to do with her career choice and her hate for her job for that matter.
As soon as she said that out of line comment I pulled my phone out to record. My family said we didn’t want to argue we just wanted to understand the interaction and how she was incredibly rude. She proceeded to insult and threaten us, which is captured on film.
After we got into the customs area she ran up to an employee asking them to please stop my family (party ranging from 3 to 75) and genuinely tried to follow up on her threat.
It doesn’t matter how angry one becomes, because this was not a matter of being right or wrong, she was just being mean and spiteful. This behavior is unacceptable and definitely made it obvious that she was unhinged. This individual is clearly unhappy with herself and proceeded to unfairly project that onto paying customers. She has no place in service.
Then below is the video she shares of the flight attendant, saying “I can make it difficult for you in customs.”
I wasn’t going to write about this at all, because I don’t like sharing videos of specific people without hearing their side of the story. In this particular instance I’m writing about it because I’d like to encourage people not to jump to conclusions just yet, because I think it’s not out of the question that at least part of this may have been a misunderstanding.
Let me start by saying that:
- Racism is alive and well in the US
- If the flight attendant did in fact use the term “you people” (presumably referring to race) then that’s really screwed up
- The flight attendant should have maintained her calm better than what’s shown in the video
All that being said, when I saw the video of her suggesting that she’d report them to customs, I had a completely different take, because I’ve been in that exact situation before.
Use of cell phones, and taking pictures and videos in immigration facilities, is strictly prohibited. That starts the second you get off the plane on an international flight. I’ve had both flight attendants and ground handlers make exactly the same threat to me when they saw me taking pictures.
Sometimes when I get off a plane I’ll try to take a picture of the outside of the plane, and I’ve had people threaten to report me to immigration.
Now, of course it’s possible that the flight attendant did in fact mean that in a racist way. I’d hope that’s not the case, but I don’t think we can know for sure one way or another.
Let me once again emphasize that I’m not suggesting this flight attendant was in the right. I don’t think that’s the case at all, and at a minimum she’s not acting professionally.
- It’s clear the person posting the video intentionally shared just part of it, since the video doesn’t show everything that was supposedly filmed
- There’s something that rubs me the wrong way about going up to someone and filming them all while telling them you don’t want to argue but rather want to understand them (tip: rarely does pulling out a cell phone deescalate a situation)
- The passengers were violating American Airlines policy by filming an employee, and were violating immigration policies by taking video in the immigration hall
- The passenger is now making threats of sorts, Tweeting about how the flight attendant should have a chat with a lawyer
Like I said, the flight attendant was almost definitely in the wrong for her lack of professionalism. At a minimum it sounds like she should have provided better service.
But without a proper investigation and hearing both sides of the story, I’m not comfortable with that video being plastered over the internet with everyone definitively accusing her of racism based on that clip alone.
It’s possible the “reporting to immigration” comment referred to what my initial instinct was…
So yeah, at a minimum this flight attendant was a grouch, and at most she was a racist grouch. She was also almost certainly on a power trip. But was it a racist, grouchy, power trip?
What do you guys think — is it too early to accuse this flight attendant of anything, or are the passengers definitely spot on?