After reading Robin Preston’s letter to American Airlines this weekend, I realized there was only one reasonable explanation for what happened: They’ve discovered time travel in Fort Worth.
Preston, a frequent flier on her way from Miami to Dallas in economy class, had such a positive experience — that’s right, positive — that she not only wrote a letter praising her flight attendant, but she also copied me on it.
I get so few letters of commendation (maybe because I’m the travel industry’s unofficial complaints department) that I just had to pass this along to you, dear readers. And I think there’s only one logical conclusion: Someone used a time machine to transport a pre-deregulation era, 1970s flight attendant to 2009.
“I have never been so impressed with a flight attendant as I was with Mary Beth,” Preston writes, calling her an “amazing flight attendant.”
When we got on the plane it was so incredibly hot. She smiled and offered water to me as well as other passengers.
Soon the pilots came and we were underway. When drink service began she was happily chatting with people. When she got to my seat, I asked her for two beers but I asked her to hold one for me on ice until I was finished with the first one. She said of course and told me where it was on the cart in case I stopped a different flight attendant.
After jokingly informing me of the $20 “handling charge” — we had a nice laugh about that among my seatmates) — she processed my transaction and moved on.
I sat for about another 30 minutes leisurely drinking my first drink and reading my book. I had just finished my beer and was putting up my tray table and stowing my book so I could get up and go to the back galley to ask for my other beer when here comes Mary Beth strolling down the aisle with my other beer.
She could definitely read the astonished look on my face when she informed me with a wink that she could read minds. I thanked her profusely and, for the first time in a long time, truly enjoyed the rest of my flight.
It’s unusual to find a flight attendant whose attention to detail and service are so exceptional, we want to tell the world about it. I’ve had only a handful of those experiences in the last decade. Like the Delta flight attendant who offered me a shot of tequila when he noticed I was not having a good day. Or the Southwest flight attendants who gave my kids little plastic wings and coloring books, and took the time to talk with them. And yes, the American airlines attendant who offered me a drink when she noticed that I had slept through the beverage service.
Mary Beth was that kind of attendant.
She was kind enough to make the honeymooners were seated together. She cooed to a baby that was getting fussy while we were waiting on the pilots. She even joked with her colleagues and just generally made everyone on the plane more comfortable.
In 2009, you’re far likelier to find flight attendants who are unhappy and bitter. Like the Air Canada flight attendant who barked at me because my carry-on luggage was too big to fit into the overhead bin of the regional jet (never mind that I’d asked the ticket agent if it would fit, and was told “yes.”) These crewmembers are no longer here to make our flight more enjoyable. Their motto is: “We’re here to save your butt, not kiss it.”
What a terrible perversion of a once-proud profession.
People like Mary Beth remind all of us of the way things used to be — and still can be.