Ridiculous or not: Do flight attendants really hate us?

Ridiculous or not: Do flight attendants really hate us?

When, exactly, did flight attendants stop caring about us?

I ask for two reasons: First, because of the luscious new trailers for the upcoming TV show Pan Am (see clip, above), which depicts svelte young stewardesses – yes, that’s what they were called back then – serving passengers.

Hard to swallow, that one. But yes, they served passengers back in the day.

And second, because of the preponderance of horror stories from readers like you that suggest things have gone too far in the other direction. That far from the “coffee, tea, or me?” stereotypes of pre-deregulation air travel, modern-day flight attendants employers actually hate us.

Well, “hate” may be too strong a word. How about “strongly dislike”?

Consider the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index numbers. Here are the 10 worst-performing companies, according to the survey. The score you see next to the company is on a scale of 1 to 100.

1. Pepco Holdings (54)
2. Delta Air Lines (56)
3. Time Warner Cable (59)
4. Comcast (59)
5. Charter Communications (59)
6. United Airlines (61)
7. US Airways (62)
8. American Airlines (63)
9. Continental (64)
10. UnitedHealth (65)

That’s five airlines in the top 10. You have to work pretty hard to pull in that kind of performance, and it can only happen with the full cooperation of your employees.

But it’s the stories from passengers like you that make me wonder if the love has turned to hate. And I’m not even talking about the headline-grabbing reports like flight attendant Steven Slater’s meltdown on JetBlue Airways.

Lea McFall was flying from India back to the States when one of her friends started feeling a little ill. The likely cause was her final meal in Delhi. She had a severe case of food poisoning.

“She was sick in the restroom for quite a while, completely ignored by the flight attendants,” she says. “And she was in the back of the plane, in their hangout area.”

When she mentioned that she was concerned her friend might need medical attention, a flight attendant shrugged her off, telling her, “This happens all the time.”

Her friend tried to lie down on several empty seats, but a purser shook her awake and told her those seats belonged to the crewmembers.

“I couldn’t believe how rude the flight attendants were about it,” she says. “We felt completely helpless, and they didn’t seem to care at all that she was sick – only cared about having a place to sit for their break.”

Her friend eventually recovered, but McFall’s faith in American Airlines was shaken. She says she’ll avoid the carrier, if possible.

Reader Nancy Hicks tells another story of crewmember callousness. She was flying with crutches after a recent foot operation, and notified United Airlines she’d need a wheelchair at the airport. Instead, she was greeted by a “surly” skycap who waved her into the terminal without trying to help.

“That’s where the wheelchair people all wait,” he yelled. “Everyone knows that.”

She eventually had to board the small regional jet by herself in crutches, in the pouring rain.

“Not a single person from the airline even attempted to help me or find another way to get me onto the plane,” she says. (She is, of course, referring to the flight attendants who she assumed would lend her a hand, but didn’t.)

I get stories like hers on an almost-daily basis, from flight attendants who refuse to help you stow your luggage in the overhead bin because it’s against union rules, to crewmembers just being indifferent or just plain rude.

And while I understand the reasons behind some of them – for example, lifting luggage can be one of the main causes of injuries among crewmembers, and let’s not overlook management’s role in all of this – there’s really never an excuse to be impolite.

I’m especially troubled by a saying that’s used a lot, mostly privately, among flight attendants: “We’re here to save your butt – not kiss it.”

If the “service” element had actually been stripped out of the flight attendant’s job description, then why not hire security guards or EMTs to take their place? Wouldn’t they do a far more efficient job of saving or protecting lives? (Also, their uniforms would be cheaper.)

No, I don’t think all flight attendants hate us. But too many of them seem to, according to passengers.

That’s no way to fly.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • davork

    One of the other issues is that you will only hear of problems when they are really. really. really. bad

    The rest of the time, you will very rarely hear anything from us SLF (self loading freight)… we’ve just bent over and accepted the behavior as ‘the way it is’ from US based airlines

    Funny thing is, that the airlines may wring their hands and say ‘this is the best we can do’ and you have to reply, so why in the world do the likes of Singapore (and Cathay) do it so differently and well!

  • http://oussamastake.blogspot.com/ Oussama

    FAs don’t really hate or dislike passengers. Having said that there are underlying reasons for this. Management does not pay attention to their FAs, their workload has increased post 9/11 with additional security related activities, all these electronic gadgets we carry, highly irate passengers who have experienced TSA; all this adds up to a tense cabin. 

    PS Not helping with cabin luggage is for the FAs safety, if one is injured lifting a bag, the flight may not depart until a replacement is available. 

  • johnb78

    How do electronic gadgets make a difference to cabin crew workloads?On the bag point, if management gave a stuff about passengers, then they’d train cabin crew in safe lifting, and make helping less able passengers part of the formal duty. After all, you’re not going to have any hand luggage to deal with that’s above 20kg…

  • Tony A.

    Have you flown on an Asian airline lately? I just flew New York to Hong Kong and back on a Cathay Pacific B777 (15-16 hour flight). The service (in economy class) was wonderful. My brother and niece were even upgraded to Business Class with flat beds (for free, no miles). The same wonderful service can be had with Asiana, Korean (both out of Seoul) and EVA Air (out of Taiwan). Finally if you want a South Asia destination then Singapore Airlines (one of the best in the world) is hard to beat. Some people love Qatar airways but I don’t fly to that part of the world.

    I rarely fly a US carrier to Asia anymore. I really can’t see the point. The Asian airlines are cheaper (most of the time), have much newer aircraft (unlike the decrepit 747s of US carriers), better food, and round-the-clock service. Cathay Pacific has cup-of-noodle service on demand throughout the 16 hour flight.

    Here is the message I get. When I fly a US airline, the employees generally think of themselves FIRST. When I fly an ASIAN airline, the employees think of their passengers first.
    I wonder why? It must be bad management and extremely selfish upper management. I suspect the salary discrepancy between the CEO and Flight Attendant in a US Airline must be a lot larger than that of an Asian airline. That’s why most US airline employees are demoralized. Just my 2 deflating US cents.

  • sirwired

    I too, have commonly seen the attitude by flight attendants that safety is the primary part of their job, and all else is secondary.  They are simply wrong, but perhaps they simply are not taught otherwise.  Certainly safety should take precedence over serving the beverages, but that does not make safety their only job.

    Certainly safety is an important part of their job, the part on which they receive the most training, and it’s the only part required by statute; there are (quite correctly) voluminous detailed regulations as to the required safety duties of flight crew.  But most flight attendants are unlikely to ever perform an emergency evacuation, sudden decompression, or other serious safety-related duty during their entire careers.  Their primary job is to interact with the passengers to result in a pleasant journey.  No, that work is often not fun, usually tedious, and pax can be pushy and demanding.

    But to say that safety is the primary job of a flight attendant is like telling a cosmetic surgeon that their primary job is emergency triage.  Yes, they’ve all received training on it as part of their education, and they are expected to lend a hand during a crisis, but it isn’t what they spend most of their time doing.  Certainly if I were in the market for a nose job, I’m not going to select my cosmetic surgeon on his trauma medicine skills.

    Like it or not, cabin crew are the primary interaction pax have with an airline.  If flight attendants want to pretend that their “primary” job is safety, they’ll eventually end up safely sitting at home on unemployment.

  • emanon256

    I have seen so many amazing flight attendants who do such a great job, and then occasionally one who is so rude that it seems to make me forget all of the good ones.  I think they really are mostly good, but that one disgruntled one will leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. 
    What I see more often that mean flight attendants, are mean passengers who treat the flight attendants like dirt.  I don’t think people always used to be so nasty to flight attendants and that really has caused a shift in the dynamic.
    I have seen people be so rude that if I were the flight attendant, I would not have been able to put up with it, and the flight attendants have kept their cool.  Kudos to all of the good flight attendants out there.

  • http://oussamastake.blogspot.com/ Oussama

    How many times did you witness FAs asking passengers to turn off their electronic gadgets!!! and the arguments that ensued.

  • johnb78

    Pretty much never – the “we are now closing the cabin doors, please turn off your electronic oozits” announcement seems to do it.

  • Elmo Clarity

    One point I have noticed in past stories about FAs to support this is how many times you hear of them threatening or calling police over non-disruptive behavior.  If they don’t like what you are doing, they claim it is interfering with them and have the cops waiting to arrest you when you land, all because they didn’t like the way you said something.

    As for not helping the people like the lady on the crutches you mentioned, I think you can blame that one on the lawyers.  I have worked in the past where I had to deal with the public in similar situations.  It was drilled into us that we are *NOT* to help people like that, no matter how much we want or think we can, because if the person gets hurt while you are helping them, the company, and you personally, can become liable, even if the injury was not caused by your assistance.

  • Tom

    I voted no because I remember the stewardesses weren’t that helpful in the 1960s either. In the ads, they were always gentle ladies who catered to your every whim, but in reality stewardesses never took bs from anybody. It’s like the ads for banks where the tellers remember your name — except in reality they are transactional. The great fear for stewardesses has always been that they would have a plane full of whining kindergarteners demanding that their needs be met instead of polite adults who took care of themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/suddenlyfrugal Leah Ingram

    I always fly Southwest and for the most part their flight attendants are pleasant if not downright hysterical. On a recent flight that was turned around due to bad weather, the flight attendants informed us that if the plane doesn’t fly, they don’t get paid. That’s like us writers with stories that if they don’t get printed, we don’t get paid. Those are some terrible conditions to have to work within, and I’d be grumpy, too, from time to time, if I knew my paycheck was coming or not coming based on something I couldn’t control–the weather.

  • Tony A.

    In Elliott’s original article at Frommers.com (http://www.frommers.com/articles/7392.html#ixzz1Ty1ttrn6), one commenter said …

    used to fly for a regional air carrier for Northwest Airlines. What has
    been happening over the years is that the regional airlines have been
    doing more and more of the domestic service here in North America. These
    airlines are flying for Delta, United, American, etc. etc. but their
    real names are Mesaba, Pinnacle, Mesa, and Colgan. The regional airlines
    pay their Flight Attendants starting salaries of $13,000 a year for
    full time service. I read recently that a Compass (representing Delta)
    FA was terminated for speaking to a local tv news service that she
    qualified for food stamps on full time salary. Bad pay means bad
    attitudes and lots of stress for FAs. This does not excuse bad
    behavior…..but explains some of it.
    Now get this. The Delta CEO made $8 million in 2010. In 2009, he made $8.4 million. Source: http://www.ajc.com/business/delta-ceos-pay-package-930016.htmlIf the figures above are correct, the CEO made more than 646 times the lowly FA.This sounds like a WAKE UP CALL to ALL AMERICANS. If we want service, PAY THE PEOPLE PROVIDING IT BETTER!!!

  • Deb

    It varies with the airline. American and Delta, in my experience, have some of the rudest and unhelpful flight attendants. Perhaps they are paid less or are overworked.

  • Tom

    Men get better service on airlines from countries that are big on sex tourism or where the local custom is that women were put on the earth to serve men.

  • Guest

    Did you know that some Asian based airlines (Singapore for one) still have height/ weight/ beauty/ age requirements?  That’s why you don’t see older flight attendants on Asian planes.  Many of the airlines are also heavily supported by the governments. 

  • LadySiren

    In all the business flying I’ve done, I haven’t actually ever had a problem with a flight attendant. I’m guessing it’s a combination of things – pure luck and the fact that I try VERY hard to be nice to the FAs.

    FAs are stuck dealing with travelers who often forget their manners at home; I don’t care how much training, importance, or value you place on customer service, that’s gotta wear on you. I cringe when I see the way some passengers treat the FAs – they’re rude, demanding, and expect their every whim to be catered to. They also blame them for the ills of the airline, because FAs are a convenient target.

    I’m not an apologist for either the airlines or FAs. I know there are some rude ones out there (!), and some who should have gone into another line of work. But if I expect to be treated decently while on a flight, I need to offer that same level of respect to the crew in return. You’d be surprised how far a smile, a “please”, a “thank you”, and a “have a great day” will go. A simple bit of politeness or kindness usually gets repaid tenfold. Or at least it has for me.

  • Chris in NC

    Perhaps I am fortunate, but I have never encountered a rude flight attendant. I have encountered rude and unprofessional gate agents, and experienced dozens of rude and obnoxious passengers, but never a rude flight attendant, at least towards me.

    AS @yahoo-SYR4YYOAPY4X3UUYLPCADARF3Q:disqus wrote, I have seen countless situations where the passenger was out of line, and the flight attendant showed tremendous restraint. I have several friends that work in the aviation industry. I have never heard them say anything remotely similar to “We’re here to save your butt – not kiss it.” What I do hear is that are frustrated that management keeps adding responsibilities without giving them the time or resources to complete the tasks (ie FAs are now cleaning the aircraft between flights), the lack of job security, and most important, the failure of management to back them up.

    It’s also not fair to compare flight attendants from Domestic Airlines to International Airlines (ie Singapore, Cathay Pacific, etc). Its a completely different philosophy and role and again boils down to management.

    Then again, I don’t think rude behavior is limited to travelers. I see the same mean spirited, self righteous entitlement just about anywhere I go now. We see it at our office all the time. I see it in the checkout line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, and even at the local park.

  • Chris in NC

    I have to agree with Oussama on this one. I would say on almost half of the flights, a pompous I’m so important person has to be reminded repeatedly to turn off that cell phone!

  • Tony A.

    Well Tom, my 25 year old niece was UPGRADED to business class. While I, a 57 year old man, wasn’t. That sounds like the opposite of what you are trying to suggest.

  • Tony A.

    No I don’t know that Asian based airlines discriminate (more than US airlines).
    But even if they do, I hate to say SO WHAT? I’ll still fly them over lousy US airlines.
    Heavily supported by their governments?  Well at least their taxpayers (and us foreigners) get something back in return – fantastic service! Almost all US airlines are indirectly supported by tax payers, too. In fact many of them just gouged us by pocketing the 7.5% tax break when they increased fares by the same amount. After 911, the US Gov’t. doled out millions to airlines. Don’t forget they also went through BANKRUPTCY so the government forgave their loans. And if you still don’t see my point, just google what the US airline CEOs made in the last 2 years. How do you make that much money providing real lousy service?

  • johnb78

    Maybe it’s cos I normally fly coach ;-)

  • johnb78

    Indeed. If the government of Dubai or Singapore wants to use their taxpayers’ money to subsidise my flights, that’s a Good Thing; I’m saving money at their expense.

  • johnb78

    It’s good to have a comment from someone who was a flyer back in the 1960s, reminding us that nostalgia’s always a risk in this kind of discussion. Thanks Tom!

  • Tom

    I thought you never flew on US airlines. You said you like to fly the Singapore girls.

  • johnb78

    Same for flight deck crew, hence the Continental Link disaster a couple of years ago (operated by a regional franchisee with a barely-trained captain) that killed all onboard in conditions a major airline pilot would easily have survived.

  • deemery

    It’s clear they hate their JOBS more than they used to.  I don’t think it’s personal with the passengers.  Most of the reasons are well-known and repeated here.  But I’ll add another one:  On the ‘legacy carriers’ at least, most of these people are, I believe, quite senior and have been in this business for a long time.  I think some burnout in any career field is inevitable, and the ‘graying’ of the industry is a contributing factor.  

  • Jonathan

    GENUINELY believe it’s like any other industry where there are a few bad eggs.  The problem, though, is exacerbated by either FAs who have reached the end of their rope after a bad day or by passengers who are unrealistic in their expectations (or both).

    BTW, if you would like to experience the service Chris mentions in the upcoming ABC show, it DOES still exist in North America on regularly scheduled air service without having to be in First Class.  If the opportunity avails itself, fly on Porter Air in Canada (with service to ORD, BOS, and EWR). First time I flew them I genuinely felt like I had transported back in time and literally was disappointed when the plane landed in Toronto!

  • Tony A.

    Tom, The I is not me. The I is the poster on Frommer – the  former Northwest FA. I should have used QUOTES. Sorry.

  • Helen

    It’s a two-way street.  I also think passengers have become surlier. I put the blame on airlines’ corporate policies–squeezing more people into increasingly smaller and uncomfortable seats doesn’t lend itself to a positive experience for anyone.

  • Tony A.

    johnb, one of the fatalities is a woman here from Stamford, CT whose husband was killed in 911. Very tragic.
    That flight’s 2nd seat was a lady from Seattle Area. I read that she could not afford to fly commercial to Newark (where the flight came from). So she jumpseated from SEA to Memphis on a FedEx freighter and then from MEM to EWR (where Fedex has hubs). No telling how much rest she has had. When I worked for FedEx I jumpseated a lot.
    It’s cramped and not comfortable – but it’s free.
    We need to pay our domestic pilots more!

  • cjr001

    I’m in the same boat as Chris: I can’t recall a rude FA, but I have seen situations at the gate, including a Southwest gate agent that I wanted to knock unconscious for how I saw him treat a customer.

    I’m reminded of the too oft-mentioned phrase “trickle down economics”. The trickle down effect here is that the airlines treat their employees bad, and in turn, employees pass it along to the customers.

    The airlines (and the government/TSA) also treat customers bad, and that also means the customers treat airline employees bad.

    It’s actually a wonder that there are not more in-flight incidents between passengers and FAs when everybody is treated like sardines.

  • GeorginaParr

    I can’t remember any rude FAs on *real* airlines I’ve flown with, but there was one with EasyJet (UK “low cost” airline) who was extraordinarily rude to me, yelling at me in a very loud voice and humiliating me in front of a planeload of passengers. Neither I, nor any of my family, have ever set foot on an EasyJet flight again, and there’s not enough money in the world to make me do so ever again. That guy was pissed off at someone or something; most likely his company, and took it out on me. 

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I believe deteriorating customer service is endemic and not limited to FAs.  I believe that Chris Elliott has mentioned this before, especially on his “On Your Side” and Mint.com articles. 

    If I have a bad experience with a clerk at a department store, I can either ask for his/her manager or leave the store.  If I have a bad experience with a flight attendant, there’s no one to talk to and I’m stuck in my situation for the duration of the flight.  Perhaps that’s why the bad experiences seem so bad.

    My older son in NYC just received a “well done” letter from the CEO of his company for his customer service skills.  I complimented him on that – he said it was really his Midwest upbringing and that most customer “service” in NYC is so bad, that using simple words such as “please” and “thank you” gets him good feedback from customers and positive attention from corporate headquarters.

    I suspect that “please” and “thank you” and a pleasant greeting when boarding would help a lot with the customer service while on an airplane.  I hear those words a lot when I travel out of Eppley in Omaha.  I don’t hear it as much when boarding coming back to Eppley.  FAs out of Eppley are pretty darn good.  Maybe there’s a reason for that?

    Of course, there are the FAs from Hell.  And the clerks from Hell, the mechanics, the waiters . . .

  • Tony A.

    An idea just crossed my mind. Why not fire all the flight attendants and have plain safety-officers [as Elliott mentioned]? Then have all the passengers serve themselves to a pre-flight grab bag buffet as they board the aircraft. Since most passengers buy their tickets from INTERNET VENDING MACHINES anyway, I’m sure they won’t mind SELF-SERVICE MEAL PLANS. No more attitude problems to deal with.

  • johnb78

    Jesus. I missed that one. So the first officer was paid so little she couldn’t even afford to get to work? *boggles*.

  • johnb78

    Good idea. Or just have a kiosk at the gate where non-security-trained staff sell sandwiches and drinks.

    It’s not gonna fly (sorry) for full-service airlines, but for budget airlines, that actually makes some sense. Plus, you save on half a tonne or so of carts + unsold stock.

  • bpepy

    I have a friend who is a flight attendant and one of her pet peeves is little old ladies who have massive carry-ons that they can’t lift into the overhead compartment.   The reason FAs won’t lift bags up there is that if they are injured, they do not get workman’s comp, because this is not part of they’re job description.  I can’t say that I blame the FAs–I never travel with something I can’t hoist myself.

  • Zonks

    I can’t say I’ve ever had a FA be rude to me.  I’ve seen some that clearly no longer enjoy their jobs but I’ve seen a lot of people in a lot of industries that no longer enjoy their jobs.  My mom hates her job, she’s nearly counting down the days until she retires, too bad it’s 2 1/2 years away. 

    The fact of the matter is FA are treated like crap by the airlines.  They get low pay and are expected to be the ones to give up more and more so the big boys at the top can earn their millions and get bonuses.  They have to work weekends, holidays, and if a flight doesn’t go for whatever reason, they don’t get paid.  Then you throw in the treatment they receive from the flying public, many of whom expect everything for nothing and will complain loudly and often if they don’t get it.  They want free checked luggage, snacks, drinks, meals, movies, friendly FA to wait on them and their kids, a terrorist free flight AND they want to go from LAX to NYC for $100 each way.

    It’s no longer a glamorous job, the travel benefits are the only thing good about it.   

  • Carver

    Perhaps because they often charge more?

  • Zonks

    I fly often and see this all the time, people don’t want to pay to check their luggage so they carry it all on but then they cannot store it themselves (it’s too heavy, they have a bad back, they are too short, etc). 

    If I was a FA I woudln’t be lifting people’s bags either.  (1) it’s your bag, you lift it (similar to what my mom would tell me when I wanted to bring something along to a park or whatever, it’s your toy, you carry it)  (2) FAs don’t get paid until the plane door shuts, I’m not goign to get hurt lifting someone’s heavy bag into the overhead bin when I’m not being paid to do it (3) sure I could jsut “be nice” and do it for that pregnant woman/ elderly person/ child but the thing is there isn’t just ONE of those people.  FA encounter all those people many times a flight/day.  It’s not the same as holding the door open at the store for the one little old lady behind you.

  • Raven

    Let me tell you a story about one of the worst FAs I ever encountered…
    I was flying to Puerto Rico on Continental, First Class, paid for with miles. A woman boarded towards the end with a wedding dress. She lamented that she had no where to put the dress in coach. Now, in the past, the FAs would put the dress in the coat closet. But no, BrideZilla started making a scene and demanding that the dress must lay flat. This FA takes it from her, and starts telling those of us in First Class to move our stuff out of the bins and put it under our seats so she could take an entire compartment to lay the dress flat in.A bunch of us protested and the FA started yelling at us that we were “rude” and “ungrateful” and “entitled” and that she’d “do the same for us.”She started taking our things and cramming them all into one bin to accommodate this stupid dress because BrideZilla wanted the dress to lay flat. On an airplane. When she’s flying coach and knows overhead space is at a premium. Then, the FA ran out of bin space and told a couple they would need to check their bags. That’s right. She told two premium customers they would need to check their carry-ons because BrideZilla was making a stink. The couple protested and the FA called them “entitled.” How are they “entitled?” What about BrideZilla? At this point the on board leader got involved and told BrideZilla they could hang the dress in the coat closet and that’s it. BrideZilla practically melted down in the first class cabin but finally took her seat. She kept coming up to the front to “visit” the dress and talk with the FA who had tried to get FC customers to check their luggage. The FA kept bad-mouthing everyone seated in FC, and through their conversation, I discovered they were related. HMMMM. Interesting.I wrote a letter to airline and got some miles. That FA was way out of line.

  • Carver

    Sometimes that pompous, I’m-so-important person is on the phone with someone more important in the company who they can’t just tell off.  Used to happen to me all the time.  I had a boss who was a real -hole and it was difficult to get him off the phone even when boarding the plane.

  • Raven

    Paragraphs didn’t break for some reason. Sorry for the wall of text…

  • guest

    And who is goign to police the bag grab?  Because you know there will be plenty of folks who insist on grabbing 5 sodas and 10 bags of pretzels leaving the back of the boarding line with nothing.

  • guest

    the salary discrepance is a lot larger in the US between the lowly paid worker bees and the CEOs.  I remember 5ish years ago when Daimler took over Chrysler.  The CEO of Daimler was making something like $200K a year while the CEO of Chrysler was making millions and millions of dollars. 

    when you’re the CEO and making millions and flying private or first class only you can’t even begin to imagine life as a baggage handler or FA and why on earth would YOU take a cut in pay when you can force them to?

  • Andrew Shepp

    The airline business would run perfect well if it weren’t for one thing:


  • guest

    There are many airlines where the pilots are paid so little the could qualify for government benefits.  Only thing is many airlines make it part of the company rules that certain employees (like pilots) cannot claim government benefits.

  • guest

    And yet a lot of people would say that the FA tried to do something nice, she tried to accomodate a bride who was on her way to her wedding, an obviously very special occassion. 

  • Chicky

    I can understand people who are on the phone with bosses like Carver’s. My gripe is with people like the lovely gentleman on my flight from DFW to RNO who, while waiting to board, got on his cell with a friend and was discussing a mutual friend’s prostate surgery in excruciating detail, stayed on the call until he was seated, and then said, “Oh, they’re MAKING me get off the phone now,” after the announcement and the FA had been by his seat twice to politely ask him to end his call.
    I really try to be nice to the FAs. I know how difficult it can be working with the public all day, and sometimes a smile and a “Good morning” can make all the difference in the world in someone’s day. And that doesn’t cost a dime.

  • Carver


    Everyone complains that they are underpaid.  Did someone force the FA to take a job that she would only get 13k a year as a starting salary? Didn’t she know what the pay scale was before she joined.

    I feel sorry for the FA whose pay dropped after she entered the field as changing jobs can be easier said than done.  But you cannot complain about your initial salary since you accepted that with you eyes wide open.

  • Raven

    So, it’s okay to break baggage rules and tell FC customers to check their carry-ons to accommodate this? The BrideZilla was offered the entire closet in FC but that wasn’t good enough!

    Stupid Guest.

  • Tony A.

    But it’s NOT FREE of course. Why would airlines give anything away for free?

  • Guest

    It’s a combination of of the inconsiderate slobs who fly today treating them like slaves and the fact that feminists made the airlines stop hiring smiling perky pretty people and started hiring trolls who don’t give a damn.  One of my last flights had one that I swore lived under a bridge.

  • Chicky

    Just what I said above, LadySiren. You never know how much a smile might mean to someone. Politeness is free! And respect is a key element, I agree.
    Before I lost a fair bit of weight, I needed a seat belt extender (like three inches’ worth. LOL.) I would ask for it when I boarded, and usually got it at that time, and then, always returned it to the FA when I got off the plane. You cannot imagine the looks and words of gratitude I got when I gave them that extender, rather than leaving it in my seat. That small gesture, which I just thought of as something I was supposed to do, really meant a lot to them. It took no time or effort on my part, but it made their jobs a tiny bit easier and they appreciated it.

  • Carver

    I think you hit the nail on the head.  Any bad experience on an airline is going to be significantly madnified in our minds.  Like Jeanne said.  I have a bad experience in a store, I can tell the manager, i can leave immediately, I can never darken its doors again.  None of that is true for an airplane situation.  My inability to resolve the situation will only piss me off more.

  • guest

    oh wow, call me “stupid”.  Now that’s a way to have an adult conversation.  Grow up and then come back here. 

  • Guest

    Sorry I was being a total idiot.  Yes I am an underpaid moron and am jealous of anyone with any sort of motivation at all.

  • Bodega

    I was going to say, I have seen the attitude of the flying public change more than those of flight attendents.  I have had great FA on most of my flights.  Only one or two stand out as being rude or out of line, where there are 1-5 passengers per flight now that seem to think they can run all over the other passengers and FA’s with rudeness.

  • http://twitter.com/travelingiraffe Crissy

    I don’t think FA’s hate us.  Yes, I’m sure there are a couple out there who do hate passengers.  And there are some who are burnt out and unenthusiastic.  But, most seem just fine, not overly enthusiastic, but as long as you’re reasonable they’re helpful. 

    Yes, there are some stories that come out where teh FA’s seem like they’ve chosen the wrong career.  But there are always 2 sides to every story, and then the truth.  But these stories seem so sensational that I think it skews people’s views.

    The whole flying experience since deregulation has changed, it’s the cost of cheaper flights in many cases.  But everything from fees, the TSA, gate agents, over packed planes, cancelation – they all contribute to the problem, it’s not just some bad FA’s. 

  • JulieB

    I think the whole experience makes people grouchy. Arrive at airport, subjected to large line to check baggage. Wait in security line to have your luggage x-rayed, and you scrutinitinzed. Wait at the gate, with sometimes little information about WHY your flight is late (including mechanical delays for hours after the plane arrived with the previous flight). Tons of people waiting to board, taking forever to stow their luggage in the overhead bin (WHEELS OUT people, do you not understand?), also, if your coat is in the overhead bin on the bottom, trust me, I’m going to move it to make room for my luggage. It’s shared space. Cram people into a small space, force them to turn off electronics (FAA needs to reconsider this rule), and don’t let them move around for awhile. And then the guy in front of you reclines his seat right into your laptop screen. And you’re forced into an even smaller space.

    If I had to guess, it’s probably not the airline customer service and attitude of the cabin crew, but the whole experience contributes to the perception of terrible service.

  • http://twitter.com/travelingiraffe Crissy

    Perhaps you should call earlier and turn off your phone sooner, then you don’t end up in that situation.  I have a boss like that, fortunately I don’t have to deal with him when I”m not at work, but if he can’t get me on the phone then I don’t have to deal with the fight to get off the phone. 

    I try to turn my phone off when I get on the plane, unless there is a delay and I want to call my ride, it keeps me from being “that guy.”

  • flyer that does not hate FAS

    Yuk, this sounds like a bunch of DYKIA types upset over not being totally fawned over.  Do you really think FAs should lift passengers carry ons into the overhead? Why? What exactly should they do to make you feel as if you had good service?

  • TXFlyer

    While I
    think that FA’s attitudes and service have dropped dramatically, I put the
    blame 100% on airline management. The FA’s have taken the brunt of the result
    from all the cost cutting and fees.

    FA’s took
    a pay cut after 9/11 and have never recovered. Airlines have cut cabin cleaning
    crews leaving the FA’s to take up the slack. With baggage fees at $25 or
    higher, more passengers are bringing larger and larger bags into the cabin and
    the FA’s are stuck dealing with them (not the gate agents who allow the
    oversized bags on board). It is management who took away the meals and snacks,
    not the FA’s. Management took away capacity so that now every flight is jammed
    full and crowded, not the FA’s. Management, not he FA’s, decide the seat pitch
    which now forces you to “eat your knees” when sardined into the now
    narrower rows. Management decided to start charging fees for the
    “premium” seats which insures many frequent travelers who can’t
    expense the cost are now unhappily stuck in middle seats. It is management that
    has made it nearly impossible to use the 10’s and 100’s of thousands of
    Frequent Flyer miles thanks to restrictions and limited seats, and not the
    FA’s.  Management reduced the ticket
    counter staffing levels so that even before you get on the plane you are forced
    to deal with a long and frustrating line which is the beginning of the overall
    bad experience.

    If you
    look at Southwest you will find FA’s who are happy and helpful. You will also
    find an airline that has not added any passenger fees or taken back pay from
    their FA’s. They also have not taken away anything from passengers. They have
    the same no-food policy, same boarding system and the same easy to redeem FF

    While it
    is easy to say, FA, if you don’t like your job, quit, I think we all know that
    in this economy, that is not a viable option. I also bet that everyone reading
    this has worked for a company with a hostile management environment and our
    attitudes were negatively impacted. So I believe that if you replaced the
    current crop of flight attendants with a new one, they would quickly adopt the
    same bad attitudes due to a terrible work environment. While I don’t like the
    typical FA attitude, I blame the airline management for it and not the
    individual FA’s. Commercial air travel these days, simply put, sucks. Airline
    management has made it horrific and I think the FA’s are one more causality
    along with the passengers. (Oh and don’t forget the wonderful experience TSA
    puts you through just getting to the plane which also gets the passenger’s
    blood boiling).

    Remember the airline management motto: “We hate to fly and you will too”

  • guest

    Who cares if they discriminate?  Well I guess being a Tony you certainly wouldn’t care if your female FA is about to lose her job because she’s turning 35, getting married, pregant, or has gained weight.  It doesn’t effect you so why should you care?  Would you care if your niece lost her job for any of these reasons?

  • Jack Alley

    Few thoughts..
    I can imagine working in an environment where most of my “clients” were physically uncomfortable and stressed out even before they got to me.  I fly a lot and with shrinking leg room and sold out flights air travel is simply miserable.  An empty middle seat these days is like winning the lottery…
    That environment has to just be hostile to start with.
    Try this, on each flight I make it a point to give a heartfelt hello to the FA when I get on.  Not just a smile and nod, but a direct, in your eyes, greeting.
    Most FA’s will light up with just a few kind words….
    My opinion is that most FA’s just look indifferent.   Too much BS and not enough thanks.
    As for the bag thing.  I put that on the airlines.  These bag fees have made rookie travelers try to save a buck and take their to heavy bag on the flight to avoid bag fees.

  • guest

    and now someone is trolling me.  Nice. 

  • JackH

    This reminds me of a funny graphic I came across. 10 Ways a Flight Attendant Might Seek Revenge. 

  • johnb78

    Do you think it’s OK that FAs don’t get paid until the door shuts? Whilst European budget airlines like EZY and FY are in many ways dodgy, FAs get paid when they’re on call. Isn’t that the right way to do it?

  • guest

    No I don’t think it’s ok that they do a lot of work for free.  I’ve wondered sometimes how airline get away with that because I know Walmart and other companies have been sued for forcing workers to work without pay. 

  • Jikinn

    Chris asks, “Do you think flight attendants dislike passengers more than they did before airline dereguation?” I actually think that flight attendants dislike many of the changes in the airline industry as much as passengers do. I have encountered only a few unfriendly/cranky flight attendants or flight attendants who weren’t as helpful as they used to be, but that’s just a few out of hundreds. I agree that there’s no excuse for rudeness. But I also feel for them because many of us (passengers) are less friendly/more cranky than we used to be, too. The negative changes in air travel (paying for checked bags, being frisked by TSA, not being able to bring food/drinks from home but having to feed ourselves on the plane, being crammed into seats that are not far enough apart, having fares go even higher, etc.) have understandably made passengers unhappy, and some of us take it out on anyone who works for the airlines/airport. I suggest that we all (passengers and flight attendants [and ticketing agents and gate agents and other airline employees]) try to be friendlier to each other (even when we don’t feel like it) in an attempt to make everyone’s travel experience a bit more humane.

  • Fishplate

    And of course it’s a complete surprise to them that their job has a definable end, right?

  • Carrie Charney

    I just heard about Porter Air for the first time, discussed on the Travelzine group. One member asked about it, as she was considering a flight, and the compliments are still coming in. Next time I fly from Newark to Toronto, I will go Porter.

  • Raven

    Illiterate may have been more appropriate.
    My apologies.

  • Raven

    I agree, especially the part about carry on bags. I’ve seen many people drag on things that are NOT carry-on size and then whine to an FA to help them lift it.
    Gate agents need to be more proactive about catching oversized bags and PAX need to be able to lift their bags, not expect an FA or other PAX to do it for them.”Never eat more than you can lift.”–Miss PiggyShould apply to people with carry-ons!!!

  • Nsg

    They not only dislike industry changes, I think they are also fed up with rude, surly people who think they can keep their electronics on, allow their children to scream and run up and down the aisles, get drunk and abuse everyone, etc.  I also think they are sick of people who bring 100 lb bags onboard and expect flight attendants to lift them.  I have flown 3 times in the last year, an on every flight there has been more than one rude, surly person who abused the attendants.

  • Carrie Charney

    But. would the FA have acted the same way for the bride if she had not been family? I suspect not.

  • guest

    Except I can indeed read AND write.  For instance I can read that no where in your post did you say the bride was offered the entire closet.  Changing the story now are you?

  • Carrie Charney

    Feminists? Trolls? What were you saying about an “adult conversation?”

  • Sadie Cee

    I don’t thnk FAs should be singled out for criticism more so than any other job classification.  There has been a general breakdown of civility in our society.  Rudeness is pervasive and runs the entire gamut of interpersonal relationships.  Why should we demand a higher standard from anyone when we ourselves are lacking in courtesy, consideration and graciousness?  Gone are the days when if you bumped into someone or stepped on a toe you would smile ruefully and apologize.  Now instead, the injured party receives a glare and a disparaging comment.  We all run into this type of thing when we go out in public.

    The FAs who are uncivil are products of what our society has become.  Do we really expect that FAs should be heaving our luggage overhead for us?  Strong male pax have always offered aid when this weak one needs it. 

    Frequent flyers know the drill!  Our tickets entitle us to be taken from one point to another safely and comfortably.  Any special requirements that we have should be made at the time of booking.  We have not purchased the plane or the staff.  Still I have seen FAs rise above boorish behaviour and exercise unfailing courtesy in some very trying situations. 
    On our next flights, we should become students of human behavior and take note of how some of our fellow pax behave.  On two separate occasions I have sat beside women who slept through the 8-hour flight, neither eating nor getting up for the washroom.  These are extreme cases, I know, but are in sharp contrast to the flight on which two young women opened the overhead bins at least 10x each to retrieve stuff from their carry-ons. The sense of entitlement that some of us have often leads to unpleasantness, as I have witnessed. 
    Our own responsibility is to behave like “model passengers,” (get on the aircraft, find our seat, stow our luggage, sit down, speak when spoken to, eat when offered food, wait patiently in line for the washroom, entertain  ourselves and not look for trouble).  If after having done this we are addressed rudely or treated badly, or if an unsafe or unhealthy situation is brought to the FAs’ attention and nothing is done, I suggest that the crew member(s) concerned be informed that a complaint will be made at the earliest opportunity and leave it at that.  Causing a disruption by making a scene is not fair to the other people on board.  Record all the details of the encounter and try to resolve the matter later. 

    Now that we are again allowed to bring food along, there is nothing wrong with taking a brown bag with our own food.  Of course, any rules that apply must be followed.




  • guest

    there’s more than one “guest” on here.

  • kivrin

    I think the “problem” is universal, not just the airlines. Customer service is more the exception than the rule for many companies. As people have more work and less (or the same) pay, employees are feeling stressed and harassed. As customers want more for less, they feel entitled and are more “grumpy.” These two factors combine with the fact that many see large companies “rolling in money” since they pay CEOs extravagant incomes.

    Being polite does take some time — maybe just a couple seconds — but when the employee is pressed to make every second count, it gets harder to do the “nice” things for people. Also, customers seem to expect many in the service industry to read their mind.

  • Ben

    Chris, having been in the airline industry for over 30 years the only way I can summarize it is “things have changed”. Air travel used to be a premium item for people of “means”. Today, however, it is mass transit. That’s not meant to be derogatory to people “without means”, it’s just that you have to manage your expectations. Twenty years ago the only people in first class were folks who paid a (very) premium fare to sit there. Today, the compartment is largely filled with upgrades by people harvesting miles from credit card companies (and the occasional frequent flyer). When you walk into a Mercedes or Lexus dealer today, you expect to be treated differently than you are treated in a Hyundai dealer. Shop at Tiffany or at Walmart…the analogies abound.Flying today is no different than that scenario. Make no mistake about it, it’s nothing more than mass transit. Under regulation in the past, airlines could only compete on service to gain market share. Routes and rates were controlled by the Civil Aeronautics Board. Today, carriers compete on the basis of price alone, and to a very, very minor extent on service. To the point of flight attendants, in my extensive travel experiences over the past 40 years (and I do mean extensive), I have never, ever met a rude flight attendant, but that’s probably attributable to the fact that I haven’t changed my perception that air travel is still, in many ways, “special”. service people (F/As included) react to the way they are treated. That includes customers, supervisors, etc. Several other posters have commented that “smiles beget smiles”, and that is so true. I think F/As are simply tired of the 20-ish year old flying in pajamas, dragging along everything they own, talking on their cell phone after the doors are shut, secretly texting while in flight, demanding that the F/A get people to switch seats or find space for their oversize carry-ons, all the while paying $69 for their trip to Wallyworld. Move that Tiffany sales lady to the cashier position at Walmart and see how long they retain that touted “customer service”. Just an observation.

  • Raven

    I said they offered to put it in the closet. What does it matter if there was another coat in there? Sheesh. 

    Bottom line: FA was trying to show favor to a friend. Friend was unreasonable (OH NOES NOT THE CLOSET) and other PAX were about to be seriously inconvienced until the onboard leader stepped in.

  • DavidS

    That is a bit oversimplified. Pilots (and Flight Attendants) routinely live in one city and are based in another. Rather than move every time they get a new base assignment or switch airlines, they regulary commute from their home to their base.

    If I was a pilot who worked for an airline who had a crew base in Miami, who then reduced their presence in Miami and closed the base, I could take a base transfer to Washington DC. Now…do I sell my home in Florida and buy in DC… or commute between the cities? Who knows if the DC base is going to be there long term? What about my spouse and their ability to move?

    Flight crews have the ability to fly standby at no charge on their own and some other airlines for this purpose. The extra jumpseats in the cabin and cockpit are there, in part, for this reason. 

  • Sadie Cee

    I love your reply!!!!!

  • Tom

    What passengers have told the airlines is that they are more interested in price than in any other aspect of air travel. People select the lowest price regardless of which airline has meals, attentive stewardesses, leg room, etc.

    In old movies, stewardesses were invariably young, pretty, attentive and sexy. Also in old movies, passengers were good looking, well dressed, and suave. You never saw people over 50, disabled, children or minorities on planes in old movies. And, it was a fantasy then as now.

  • Zzannahk

    I also had a great FA on southwest, DEN to EWR, she was funny and friendly the entire trip, had us cracking up the whole time, even got everyone to do the annoying yoga.
    Also southwest, MDW to SEA, FA forgot to give us snacks, so we asked him and the next time he came by he gave us all the remaing snacks, i walked off the plane with 12 packs of oreos, 5 plane crackers and more

  • Jenzen

    Having flown on Delta for almost 40 years (!), I can truthfully say that the situation was much better with the “Stews” before the NWA merger.  After that merger, we got lots of NWA unionized stewardesses (or flight attendants, or whatever) and they were – for the most part -just downright nasty.  Situation hasn’t improved as of late either.  i guess the word is borderline rudeness and sharp answers.  N wonder the union attempt failed when they tried to get the delta ladies (and guys) on board (no pun intended).  Delta has always treated it’s employees fairly or so my daughter says who was a FA for 29 years.

  • Jonwoodman

    I fly a lot on Alaska Airlines and have come to the conclusion that Alaska’s FAs are different, and better, than most other domestic airlines. Alaska FAs and gate agents are normally cheerful and actually have a sense of humor. On other airlines, particularly American and Delta, I often sense a feeling of animosity from the airline employees. How sad that air travel has come to this.

  • Michael

    More than hating us, the flight attendants (and all airline employees) hate their airlines and their jobs. The flight crewed is angry before they ever see a passenger. That’s what makes Southwest Airlines unique, the flight crew actually likes their jobs (and therefore, us.)

  • Tony A.

    Hello Guest, I’m 57. Do you think any firm would be charitable enough to hire me? Heck they laid off all of my friends when they turned 45. Wake up bro, this is America. Land of the unemployed and repossessed.

  • http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit Dave Lieberman

    I wonder what the ratio of people who think their $300 tickets to New York entitle them to be treated like the Royal Family of 35,000 Feet Up is compared to in 1970?

    Flight attendants have definitely become more curt and more unhelpful, but passengers have become more whiny and demanding. Stop and think about the first generation of bus drivers, and now think about boarding, say, the number M2 bus in New York or the 38 Geary bus in San Francisco in 2011.

  • flutiefan

    and they’re subsidized!

  • flutiefan

    not above 20kg? what plane are you flying on??? if you cannot lift your own bag, don’t expect someone to do it for you.
    imagine if all 150 people on a plane felt that the F/A should stow their overhead baggage for them. so now the F/A should lift 150 bags? talk about ripe for injury…

  • http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit Dave Lieberman

    Except that the minimum wage for a 40-hour-a-week job is $15,080. (There are 260 work days in a year, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Workers in eighteen states and DC have higher minimums.)

  • Tony A.

    Rebecca Shaw (the co-pilot) who died in the crash (CO 3407) earned only $15,800 the previous year. Source: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/07/transcript_of_flight_3407_cras.html

    At the time of the accident Continental’s regional carrier paid her $23 a hour. Not sure what the airline’s DOMICILE rules are; but living in Seattle for a New Jersey to Buffalo flight seems a little too far. I bet she couldn’t afford to move and live here in the NY Metro Area for that salary.

  • flutiefan

    i will have to wholeheartedly disagree with you here. even the airlines themselves have stated that F/As primary responsibility now is the safety of the passengers. you may not like it, you may think it’s bunk and bogus. you may think that publicly their main job should be to serve the customers. you are not a flight attendant.

    and for the record, my old roommate just became a F/A. in his 1st 2 months on the job, he had 2 medical emergencies. it happens A LOT more than you ever know.

  • flutiefan

    THANK YOU.  i see *way more* rude passengers than rude attendants. it’s astounding how people feel they can treat others they deem as “lesser”. it’s called service, not servant.

  • davork

    Er no… Actually both Cathay and Singapore Air are commercial operations that produce transparent annual reports…

  • sirwired

    Look, I’m not saying that safety should EVER take a back-seat to passenger demands.  I wholeheartedly endorse the rules on seat belts, electronic devices, exit row seating, bulkhead seat luggage storage, overhead luggage stowage, etc.

    But the attitude held by many cabin crew that the emphasis on safety means that they can neglect their customer service duties (even when those duties do not conflict in any way with safety) is toxic and serves nobody.

  • flutiefan

    thank you for posting everything i wanted to say!

  • flutiefan

    “guest” didn’t say that he/she agrees with the statement, just that A LOT of people would praise the F/A for trying to do something nice, especially when so many of Chris’ readers think that they deserve special treatment for weddings, etc.  calm down, Raven!!! :)

  • flutiefan


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OUPLCINOL723CGHVR53CQ72Y Kevin

    Carver, with respect, THAT is BS. In the job market of the last ten years, sometimes one HAS to take a job at low pay just to be able to eat. That doesn’t mean one can’t complain that the pay is too low for what you’re doing – it doesn’t even mean that the pay really isn’t too low. It means you accepted the circumstances, and that’s ALL it means.

  • johnb78

    I’m an able-bodied adult male; about every other flight, I lift up a senior citizen’s bag or help a senior lift up their bag.

    Are you seriously suggesting there are many flights where hand luggage averages over 20kg? The 20kg point is that any healthy adult who’s been trained in proper lifting can lift a 20kg object without it causing damage. Most hand luggage is under 10kg.

    So no, unless there are 150 old ladies on the plane and nobody else, the FA shouldn’t lift 150 bags. But if there are 10 old ladies, and 5 of them don’t have able-bodied fellow passengers who’re willing to lift the bags nearby, then I don’t think it’s ridiculous to suggest the FAs between them might lift the other 5 bags.

  • flutiefan

    There are over 30,000 commercial flights every day in the US. That translates into hundreds of thousands of passengers, and tens of thousands of Flight Attendants working per day.  And you cite a handful of anecdotes as reasons that all flight attendants hate passengers?  come on, Chris….

  • Mark K

    Southwest recently changed their Frequent Flyer program.  It is not hte same it is not easy and it has upset a large percentage of their previously dedicated flyers to the point that load factors are down.  But all this is for discussion at another time.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OUPLCINOL723CGHVR53CQ72Y Kevin

    Not only is there burnout, but someone who is now, say, 50 and a flight attendant who started at 20 would have begun her career in 1981 – I say “her” because at that point, flight attendants were still almost exclusively female. Signing up 3 years after deregulation, when it appeared the sky was the limit on opportunities and expansion, with the idea of retiring at perhaps 55 – ten years younger than most jobs, with a generous benefit package and the prospect of social security down the road to supplement – must have seemed like a dream job.

    The reality (decades of real-wage loss, loss of seniority with assorted and sundry bankruptcies and mergers, loss of benefits, defunding of pension plans, and so forth) has to have been a real shocker to the system over the years. Instead of a golden future of financial security and (if wanted) the ability to travel virtually free anywhere, FA’s with 30 years’ experience can now expect to work until they’re forced to retire and even then with sharply reduced benefits.

    It’s a wonder more of them aren’t surly, rude, embittered people. And there are some (unlike some of you, I’ve encountered them).

  • DavidS

    You’re right, that’s not enough to live in NY Metro at a comfortable level. I was not speaking about her specifically but the industry in general.

    Many pilots work a four on four off type of schedule and choose to live elsewhere. A regional airline can be a stepping stone for young pilots looking to make hours before moving up to a larger carrier.

    I have a family member who commuted to Hawaii, flew a few days, went home to the west coast for a few days and repeated this for several years before being hired by a major. Before that he commuted to a regional carrier in Cincinnati. He chose not to move for a myriad of reasons…family life, spouse’s career, etc.

  • flutiefan

    beautifully said, Ben!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OUPLCINOL723CGHVR53CQ72Y Kevin


    I don’t recall it ever being against the rules to bring one’s own food on an airplane flight, even when meals were provided.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V4OUPLCINOL723CGHVR53CQ72Y Kevin

    All of which might be true, but doesn’t explain how Southwest, which often (not always) drives the low fares in any market, has some of the friendliest flight attendants who offer the most actual service and typically the most pleasant coach flying experiences.

    A couple of years ago, I had cause to fly from Baton Rouge to Atlanta on Delta followed a few weeks later by a flight from New Orleans to Birmingham. The latter two cities are closer to each other than the former two, so if anything, the Southwest flight was shorter.

    The FA’s on Southwest had time to run full drink (including, for those who wanted and paid for it, alcohol) AND snack service, return a second time for refills, and make a final pass to pick up trash. The Delta FA’s announced that since the flight was so short, they would simply be passing out bottled water to everyone, which they did in a single pass through the cabin, and they didn’t even return to collect the empty bottles (one of the FA’s held a garbage bag at the front of the plane for passengers to drop the empties into as we exited).

    Add in the fact that Southwest employees are generally as well-paid, if not more so, as most “legacy” carrier employees, AND the fact that they’re consistently profitable, even on relatively low fares, and you have to ask why United, American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and US Airways can’t do the same – ESPECIALLY after most of them have discharged billions in debt through bankruptcy either directly or through one of their acquisitions.

  • Ben

    Southwest has lived for many years by “cherry picking” the US markets, avoiding serving expensive and traffic-clogged locations and prospered by being extremely lucky with fuel hedges. Consequently, they have had  some of the industry’s highest wages and offered growth opportunities to their employees. That is all changing. It’s easy int he airline industry to “run ahead” of the cost curve by growing, which adds new aircraft (with near zero major maintenance expense for many years) and fills employee rosters at the bottom of the pay scale. Much like stopping a boat too fast, though, once you stop growing costs catch up with you like a stern wave. I think (and predict) that Southwest is at that point and is, in fact, a legacy carrier now, even though they still serve a limited number of US markets (and no international ones). Recent announcements that they are pulling out of several markets, and reducing departures in others lends credence to this theory. Personally, I think people have always had low expectations for Southwest and consequently were not disappointed. How many people complain that they no longer get “free” meals on flights, that Southwest never offered in their history. Their acquisition of AirTran now adds the complication of a new aircraft type, as well as labor integration issues. Time will tell, as they say, but I think the glory days of “LUV” are behind them. It just took longer that the legacy guys.

  • Eric S.

    “I had a boss who was a real -hole and it was difficult to get him off the phone even when boarding the plane”.

    Well, then you just say “WHAT?” a few times and hang up.  And then blame it on a dropped call.

  • Tom

    Taxi cab drivers don’t get paid for loading your bags in the trunk or opening the door for you. Only for driving. Waitresses are usually only tipped based on the cost of the food served — not based on other work they might do in the restaurant such as cleaning or setting up  tables.  It’s a joke to say that staff only get paid when the door is closed because they and their union agreed to a method of measuring productivity based on how many hours they fly, but their pay is similar to other people doing service work.

  • Anna

    Solution: Hang up, tell talkative boss you got disconnected.

  • bethjones

    Johnb78, your comment literally made me laugh out loud. People’s baggage can weigh waaaaay more than 20 kg. You’d be amazed at what people pack and bring on board.

  • Guest

    That’s why you use a real name, not “Guest”

  • Frank S

    You know, I think that Chris is getting softer by the day, recently posting more general articles about some person having some bad experience rather than an actual problem. Could this mean that the number of real problems is going down?

  • Mark K

    If waitstaff do work outside of the opening hours, they get their hourly wage (however low that wage might be).  A cab driver is paid by the job (i.e. the entire trip starting when they pickup your bags) and is not an hourly employee in most cases.

    Flight Attendants are the only workers I know of that only get paid when the flight is in the air.  If the flight does not take off, they don’t get paid.  No other business legally expects their employees to work without compensation.  No joke.  Flight attendants are hourly employees, not salaried.   The time they spend during boarding is not paid time for them.   The time they spend at the end of the flight getting everyone off the plane and in some cases cleaning is not paid time.  They only get paid for the time from when the airline reports the plane has departed until the plane is considered arrived at the gate. 

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Thank you for lifting bags for senior citizens.  You’re a very kind person.  My mother didn’t want to pay the baggage fee on her last flight (2 years ago) and insisted that some nice person would stow it for her.  I paid the baggage fee myself, so as not to inconvenience her or the other passengers. 

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I didn’t know that FAs weren’t paid before/after the flight but while still working.  How the heck is that legal?

    I know all about the little old ladies, baggage and cheap attitudes.  I’m the daughter of one.  I pay her baggage fees for her.  I wish more children of cheap, baggage-laden little old ladies would do so.

  • BillC

    I am not a frequent flyer, perhaps twice a year and usually on Air Canada or United but I have always been treated well by the flight attendants. I think that what we read about are the exception and not the rule. 

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Loved that story when you first posted it, ages ago.  I have a friend in the bridal dress business.  She howled with laughter when I told her about it.  Swears she has had customers that are worse!

  • Anna

    Expecting first-class service in economy class is like expecting 5-star-restaurant service on McDonalds.

  • Sadie Cee

    Kevin, I apologize.  I keep forgetting that I am writing from Canada and sometimes from a solely Canadian perspective. 

    For a number of years following 9/11 we were NOT allowed to take any food items through Security – no sandwiches, cookies, fruit, candy bars or anything edible.  Beverages were also forbidden.  I saw an entire family being taken out of line once because the approx. 8-year-old had the remnants of a chocolate bar in his pocket.  When they moved to take it away, the father protested.  A supervisor was called and the family disappeared from view.

    For about two years now we are allowed to take food items through as long as they are wrapped well.  Beverages are still forbidden.  We have to purchase those after passing through security, if there is time before boarding.

  • Anna

    Yes, and every time a new rudest-flight-attendant-ever story makes the news, I imagine it’s from that rude, surly, entitled, venting, stomping passenger.

  • ruth

    I have been following this story over the past few days and would like to weigh in myself, as a flight attendant for a major US carrier. I am relatively new, been working less than 4 years and started in my late 20’s. Personally I LOVE my job. I love my coworkers, the passengers, the hours, the craziness, I love it all. Not everyone is like me, loving everything, but most of my coworkers ENJOY the job and what comes with it. At my company there are a lot of people who have been doing this job for 20+ years and for them they have seen a HUGE change. Yes, some of them need to leave as they are not happy at all. However the overwhelming majority of them still enjoy the job. For those of us that are on the newer side of things, 10 years or less, we tend to be more understanding of how the system works, we don’t have ‘the glory days” to compare it to. But, it is like any other job that deals with the public, there are good days and bad days. For me the public over all are kind, patience, nice individuals.
    The truth is, I think, it all comes down to corrporate greed. It is true that we do not get paid well. I was able to collect food stamps until about 6 months ago. But the point of saying that is to show how much greed there is in managament. Most airlines are making a killing on fees nows, which trickles down into the cabin for your flight. When you have to pay $XX the check you bag I would try and bring only a carry on as well, which means that bag is going to be full and probably heavy. It is true that we are not “allowed” to lift bags. Which means that of course we can do it, we can make that choice ourselves, but if we do get injured the company will not provide workman’s comp for us. Obviously none of us want to get injured so if your bag is to heavy we will have to ask the baggage folks, whose job allows them to handle baggage, to stow your bag in the cargo hold.
    Also, yes we are there for passengers safety, that is what we are trained to do. 7 of our 8 weeks of training are all for safety purposes. But we are also there for service and we know that! That is why we do this job! We don’t do it so we can save you if we have an emergency! No, we do it because we enjoy people and travel and we want you to have a good experience. We want to take care of you and help you have a good flight. With the exception of a few bad apples, which is life, they are going to be some everywhere, it all comes down to the golden rule: Treat others as you would like others to treat you.

  • Tony A.

    Well said Beth.

    People, think about this. The co-pilot who died in CO 3407 to Buffalo, allegedly had a second job working in a coffee shop. Her annual take home was approx $16K from Colgan (a CO regional). It is a sad day in America when the co-pilot of a flight cannot afford to buy a ticket on the same flight.

    I know it’s *not* all about pay; but a big part of a job is earning enough to keep oneself healthy enough to do the job and providing for one’s family. Something has gone terribly wrong in our country. I am not whining. I just want to fix it. Someone lead the way please.

  • CTP

    How is one NOT served by an FA that comes through the aisle with a complimentary beverage? Or with a food cart with items for purchase? How is one NOT served by an FA that ensures all those seated in the exit rows are willing and able to assist others getting out of the plane in an emergency? How is one NOT served by an FA that ensures all electronics are off between ground level and 10,000 feet? What is it exactly that you think should be done by FAs? 

  • Tony A.

    That’s true if you are FULL TIME. But so many workers are PART TIME.
    That’s why don’t even make the annual pay of $15k that full time minimum wage earners make. It’s only getting worse.

  • http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit Dave Lieberman

    The poster on Frommer that you quoted said it was $13K for full time.

  • mayhew58

    I don’t think people give flight attendants much slack. In the last 10 years, flying has generally gotten less enjoyable for everyone; more fees; more inconvenience; and less benefits/pay for flight crews. Even for airlines that haven’t cut benefits and pay, they have frozen them. The FAA has also cracked down on flight crews adding more regulations and duties to their jobs. On top of that, I think people are ruder when they travel now. People expect to have a miserable time flying and go in loaded for bear. I flight nearly every week and have seen people curse at flight attendants, yell at them, throw snack items, and generally disobey everything they say. On the whole, there is no support for flight attendants from their passengers or management.

  • Elmo Clarity

    ‘No other business legally expects their employees to work without compensation.  No joke.”
    Have you ever heard of the unpaid internship?  A lot of professional businesses, like the finance industry, uses them.  The intern is expected to do all the grunt work and doesn’t get one cent for it.  This is so the employer can determine which ONE out of a large group the want to actually hire.  Talk about a joke.  This should be criminal.

  • Elmo Clarity

    Actually, it seems like I remember that for a while after 9/11, no food or drinks were allowed on in the US either.  Could be wrong about that.

  • Tony A.

    Then I suppose they are paid by the hour and do not work 40 hour weeks. Maybe her meaning of full time is that they weren’t just temps. That’s why they STARTED at $13K and hopefully got more hours per week and their hourly rate went up as they get more seniority. Just my guess.

    Remember Steve Slater (the Jet Blue FA who went down the slide with a couple of brewskies)? According to payscale.com –
    “After over twenty years as a flight attendant, living in the New York
    City area, Slater was earning somewhere between $54,300 and $77,900,
    including all bonuses.” Note that is after 20 years!

    The median salary of an FA (1 yr on the job) is $24K. That means that HALF of new FAs earn less than $24k. So if the 13K is true it must be way down in the beginner scale.

  • cjr001

    The no drinks through the security line has been in place in the US since the liquid bomb attempt in 2006.

    I remember that one well, since it was a merely 2 weeks later that we had a flight to New Zealand, were not able to carry on any liquids period, even if we bought them after going through security.

    And that just made a long flight that much more miserable, having to wait on FA’s to make rounds for cups of water (I had the window seat on a full plane).

    That was obviously rescinded to a degree down the road – you can again carry drinks on that you’ve bought after security. But then you’re at the mercy of whatever you can find at the airport and vendors.

  • cjr001

    “7 of our 8 weeks of training are all for safety purposes.”

    And we have to wonder why customer service is generally lacking?

  • flutiefan

    since you said “the likes of” i was including more than just those 2 carriers…

  • flutiefan

    that’s very nice of you to lift bags for other people. however, flight attendants are prevented from doing so, just for the reasons you and i state. even if it’s “just” 5 bags a flight, they fly multiple flights a day. this repetitive action causes problems. it is NOT in the flight attendant’s job description, they are NOT covered under worker’s comp or OSHA, and even if ONE bag took them out of commission (as happened to one of my girlfriends who was trying to be “nice”), then they ARE NOT PAID for any missed time.
    and the fact that you stick to your contention that bags aren’t much above 10kgs is just plain laughable. you may not “think it’s ridiculous to suggest the FAs between them might lift the other 5 bags,” but every F/A who has actually worked a flight does. ever heard about walking a mile…?

  • flutiefan

    hmmm…my mom got hired a few years ago, at age 61. maybe it’s you.

  • flutiefan

    “full-time” to an airline is not like full time to the rest of the business world. flight attendants and pilots are paid by “trips”, not by hours. a flight may take an hour and a half, for which they are paid one “trip”. the airline gets to decide how many trips are in a base schedule for a full-time F/A or pilot.  rest assured, this does NOT equal 40 trips per week, nor 40 hours a week.

  • flutiefan

    funny, i just read a report that their load factors are UP…

    but otherwise, i agree that the change to the program wasn’t a good one.

  • flutiefan

    while everything else is true, SWA is *not* pulling out of any of their markets. 
    perhaps you’re referring to them not taking on 4 of Air Tran’s cities?

  • flutiefan

    exactly.  things that are out of the norm–miracle medical cures, terrible experiences at a company, murder plots–make the news precisely because they are unusual.

  • johnb78

    I don’t accept that lifting sub-10kg weights 20x a day causes problems, as long as you’re trained at lifting. Otherwise, most delivery jobs would be illegal.

    I *know* that it’s not in the JD for US cabin crew, I know it’s not covered, and I know they’re not paid for missed time. I don’t blame cabin crew at all for not lifting bags under the current arrangement, giving those facts.

    I do think that *if airlines gave a stuff about customers* they’d change their staff’s T&Cs so that these things weren’t the case.

    On the 10kg point, *whatever*. If airlines are enforcing published hand luggage size restrictions, then only people who’re transporting gold and bricks are gonna be much above 10kg. If they aren’t enforcing them, then they should be.

  • Tony A.

    Yeah I’m very picky. Luckily I can hold on to what I have before I qualify for Medicare.

  • Tony A.

    Pilots are most definitely paid BY HOUR.
    In fact you can read their hourly rate here http://www.airlinepilotcentral.com/airlines.html
    As far as I know FedEx has the highest pay scale in the USA.

  • DavidS

    There is a big difference in pay between a regional and a major carrier. FO’s at regionals are generally entry level positions and many pilots use them to gain experience and hours to qualify for jobs at better paying carriers. Some of these kids are so excited, they are happy to get their foot in the door somewhere…and some complain about not making enough…just like anywhere.

    Once you gain the experience and hours, and get on with a major carrier, a 10 year Captain can make over $200k plus benefits.

    Even then, it’s not about not being able to afford to buy a ticket. With jumpseat privleges, a pilot can usually find a way from their home to their base and back with someone.

  • Guest

    Ugly stews and “load” factors up?  Not likely.

  • RonJeremy

    Feminist trolls.  Yes.  You ever see how people treat ugly people compared to pretty people?  If you have not you should.

  • Guest

    Actually I can’t read. 

  • Guest

    Sorry, I’m not even creative enough to come up with a made up name.   *sigh*

  • BillyG

    I respectfully say absolutely wrong.  Flying has done nothing but get more efficient every year (not counting the TSA BS).  The airlines, despite bad press, fly millions of people in relative comfort every year.  And they do it with a greater safety rate than the interstate on my 30 mile drive to work.  No, it is we customers who are unreasonable.  I make it a point to say thank you as I deplane every time (and I travel a LOT for work) and some of those poor SOBs look at me like I’m talking swahili.  In the grand scheme of things being in an aircrew is a good job (go work construction or any other job in a service industry) and they have to deal with a TON of a$$holes.  They should be issued tasers and a free ticket to use them.

  • Guest

    Ahh the days when a stew was a pleasure to look at……

  • guest

    Not being able to take drinks on the plane AT ALL is still happening in some places.  I’ve had drinks purchased past security taken from me in: Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Indonesia, and Taiwan.  It makes long haul flights so uncomfortable and miserable. 

  • DavidS
  • http://www.talestoldfromtheroad.com/ Dick Jordan

    I’m probably in the minority.  I generally find that service from flight attendants is quite good.  Smile when you ask them for assistance, thank them for anything they do (even if serving you a “snack box”). and you’ll probably not have any complaints to register.

  • Tony A.

    Hey DavidS, Have you ever jumpseated regularly? Get stuck in the middle of the night, nowhere? Try to do this for years. It was a requirement in my old job. That got old fast.
    How many openings do the majors have each year? In the 80’s, experienced pilots joined the FedEx call center as telephone agents. Why? So they can bid internally after 6 mos, 1 yr, etc. I actually know one who did it.
    Moving up to the majors is not easy – they need to add more aircraft, flights and the seniors retire or lessen guaranteed hours; none of which is gonna happen easily nowadays.
    I’m not sure what % of pilots make it to the majors. But the problem with low pay is true since there were several Congressional hearings about it. I remember Capt Sully testifying and said the same thing –
    My Pay Has Been Cut 40 Percent In Recent Years, Pension Terminated

  • Tingbudong

    I fly pretty often for work, mostly international flights to Asia. At this point I insist they book me flights on the various Asian airlines. Not only are the attendants cute and young like we used to have here back, I don’t know.. In the 60’s? But the are super friendly and the customer service is really great at all times. They feed you much better, don’t give you a hard time about getting up and walking around or even hanging out in their section to stretch your legs and practice your language skills with them, but they will make you drinks and noodles etc while you “congregate” in e back of e plane socializing, a thing that is strictly verbotten on any US carrier.

    Ive been asked if Im worried about safety on those flights, but honestly Im a diabetic motorcyclist, LOL and I’m much more likely to buy it any number of other ways and apparently you can even die of a thrombosis or blood clot in your leg while stuck in your seat for 12 or 18 hours on the US carrier so I’ll take the sweet, friendly, pretty girls on China Southern who treat me like a person and a friend for the time I’m stuck on the plane over the bitter angry, “I can’t be bothered with you so sit down and shut up till we get there” attendants we get stuck with on US planes any day of the week.

  • flutiefan

    no,, it clearly states that figres used are converted from $ per trips to $ per hour.  they’ve just done the typical conversion for the public. pilots are paid per trip, which are not equal to per hour (should be obvious since there’s a conversion required).

  • flutiefan


  • Guest

    Pssshhht…what’s that boss? I can’t hear you…so much static…boss…hello? Click…

  • Guest

    Sad to hear, but that can explain why the seeming neglect to assist such people. Sigh.

  • Guest

    Or fire the CEOs to begin with? Heh.

  • Carver

    That’s a great way to get fired.

  • Carver

    My boss was a *hole, but he wasn’t stupid.

  • Carver

    We just hired a 52 year old after offering the position of co-counsel to a 60 year old.

  • Carver


    With respect, think about what you just said. You are suggesting that there are people who take jobs as flight attendants because they had no other job opportunities, i.e. they need to eat. That’s silly

    Taking a moment to reflect critically, you should quickly realize that the types of job in which one takes because they need a job immediately are those which require little or no training and can be quickly obtained. 

    I have a friend in that situation and he is working at a grocery store.

    By contrast, becoming a flight attendant, like any other skilled profession, is a choice made hopefully with appropriate research and dligence.

  • DavidS

    My point is I don’t think wages have anything to do with buying a seat to commute to a base.

    Do you think a pilot making $200K is buying a seat or jumpseating? It’s a lifestyle. I know many and they all comment how they can’t recall the last time they bought a ticket. So a $16K entry level pilot or a 10 year $200K Captain are both commuting and will take the jumpseat if that’s all that’s available. Wages don’t have anything do do with the commute.

    American Eagle is hiring pilots right now and guaranteeing a track to American Airlines. I know all major airlines have major hiring plans for pilots over the next few years.

    I admire the pilot who started in the call center. He/she obviously loved the opportunity to get in and hopefully fly someday while gaining an appreciation for the company’s business model as well. I know pilots who started on the ramp emptying lav tanks just to be around planes.

    Yes…starting pilots get paid crap, what percentage of entry level jobs out there pay well? (Yes, a FO with a regional is an entry level job for pilots.) Do we want Congress mandating what industry pays the workers? This is just a period of a pilot’s career similar to when doctors have a residency period where they get little pay and no sleep while faced with constant life and death decisions where some find they are not up to the task. (Not exactly comforting either!)

    And make no mistake about it, I know jumpseating is not glamorous. Sometimes (rarely) you luck out and get an ugraded cabin seat, but many times you are hanging around the gate during weather delays and cancellations, filghts are sold out and you are with other pilots wondering who is going to get the now coveted jumpseat in the cockpit.

  • Tony A.

    Thanks Carver. I feel a lot hopeful now!

  • Tony A.

    You mean flight (duty) hours, right? Then we are talking about the same thing. Note the majors guarantee a minimum monthly in hours not trips.

  • Tony A.

    DavidS, my point is many people have to put their lives on the skilled hands of a pilot. Should those skilled hands be paid $16k a year?
    Yes there are many crappy jobs out there (maybe too many), but they are not all flying airplanes.

    Also many young flyers are coming out of FOR-PROFIT flying schools. In the 70-80s, a vast majority of pilots came from the service (military). The young pilots are DEEP IN DEBT with crappy pay. Yeah it’s the sign of the times.

  • intelliwoman

    FA have no business lifting anyones luggage.  In fact they are not supposed to at all, the airline considers it a liability issue, and, in addition, if they get hurt, they are not covered by WC

  • DavidS

    I think this exchange started with the surprise that a regional FO could not afford to buy a ticket to commute…my point is that many $200K Captains also choose to commute via jumpseat without buying a ticket, even if they could afford to.

    Many professions that involve life and death are in the hands of the young and inexperienced. How many people die each summer in a public pool staffed by teen lifeguards? (I gave the Dr. in residency example already as well for being underpaid vs. their debt, inexperienced, overworked and exhausted.)

    There are public universities that have great aviation programs, some will offer in-state tuition to out of state students so the debt factor can be similar to anyone with a 4 yr in-state public university degree. Once completed, they can pick up a regional FO job and track into a career path with a major airline. Many of those ’70s-’80s hired pilots are on the cusp of retirement, the demand will pick up to hire more entry level pilots…as will salaries.

    Yes, going in debt to get a crappy starting job is a large part of lfe…sigh. :(

  • Jmiller45

    You are a very considerate person but I don’t mind helping people that need help puting their bag in the overhead bin.I had the help returned to me when I had to travel with a broken arm & I didn’t have to ask.

  • cjr001

    You’ve obviously got a different definition of ‘relative comfort’ than the rest of us.

    The airlines have made flying a miserable experience for passengers and their own employees alike.

    And efficient? You mean like when some routes are late the majority of the time?

  • johnb78

    Do you have problems with reading comprehension? See, in the comment you replied to, “I *know* that it’s not in the JD for US cabin crew, I know it’s not covered, and I know they’re not paid for missed time”.

    My point, as made clearly using words, is that if airlines gave a stuff about passengers, then FC would be supposed to, they would be trained to, it would be in the JD, and they would be covered by WC.

  • Anthstr

    I travel frequently, and usually on United. I have seen a number of times where passengers randomly go off on airline staff [checkin, customer service, gate agents, baggage, FAs etc]. Most of the time they are treated like they are the ones that PERSONALLY caused things to go awry.
    I’ll give you an example: A few weeks ago, there was a massive hail storm in Denver [my home airport] that affected 2/3 major carriers here (Frontier and UA). Many planes had to be withdrawn from service to be repaired. The storm was on Wednesday, and I was scheduled to travel on Friday. Well, push came to shove and my flight got cancelled. I was told by Customer Service via phone that the best they could confirm me for was Sunday Afternoon (when I was scheduled to return on Monday morning). I let the rep know that wouldn’t work for me, and that I would have to call them back. Later that night, I saw that seats had opened up on a flight to Chicago, and that there was a connecting flight available onwards to my destination.
    Fast forward to Friday: I had boarded the plane to Chicago, and had been sitting at the gate for 35 minutes with a full cabin crew, and no pilots. We were informed that our pilots were delayed (it evidently happens to them too) and that we’d need to wait. A few of the passengers let the cabin crew have it, saying things that culminated in the similar theme of “I’m never flying this airline again”. On the other hand, I sat there, and even helped give the guy beside me some options as his flight from Chicago got cancelled as we were boarding.During the flight, I chatted a bit with some of the FAs. Some of them said that this had been happening all day, because people had been bumped from other flights and their schedule had been impacted so much.When we got to Chicago, even though I was in First Class, I waited for most of the other passengers to deplane. I had already missed my connection, and would be spending the night there. One of the older FAs [who had been with UA for more than 30 years!] asked why I was just sitting there. I responded that I had missed my flight, and maybe someone else might be able to catch theirs if they were able to deplane more quickly. She hugged me and said I was a doll.My point is this. In my travels with UA, they usually try their hardest to deliver on providing good service. However, their employees are treated with disrespect on a recurring basis. How many of you strike up a conversation with the FA on your flight, or are personable with customer service as they are trying to help you? I am, and I never have a problem.Oh and to those of you who “will never fly this airline again”. Please do. My bet is that you don’t travel frequently enough to affect the airline’s bottom line. As a frequent traveller who is accustomed to travel, and actually still enjoys the experience, my flight will be better without you aboard.

  • flutiefan

    no i don’t mean duty hours, i mean trips. that is how my airline calculates and pays flight crews, NOT per hour. your duty day may be 16 hours but you’re only paid 12 trips (for example). unless you’re in it, i guess you don’t get it.

  • Raven

    Don’t feel bad – I’m not very good at it myself.

  • Shawn Chong

    Hmm… I fly a lot from Asia to Canada, and I’ve always had excellent service. Especially with Asian carriers… they’re so polite and well-mannered that it feels so fake! Obviously, it is, but at least they put on the show.

    I think the problem here is not the job itself, but the job within the confines of American airline companies.

  • Fred D.

    Actually, my experiences are generally the opposite. I usually get great service in the US (mostly flying Alaska, occasionally DL or B6), while international service is alright. Cathay Pacific and Alitalia are usually pretty good, Thai and Lufthansa are alright, FAs do their job but aren’t particularly friendly, while Air France is downright worthless.

  • Fred D.

    They are cutting a few significant routes such as PIT-PHL and GEG-SEA but not abandoning markets altogether. Yet.

  • flutiefan

    no, “giving a stuff about passengers” does not include lifting the baggage those passengers have chosen to carry on with them.and it’s called “carry-on”, not “hand it off”.

  • Frank

    ONE OF OUT SIX F/A’s will prepare a cabin for an emergency.  I’ve personally performed CPR and AED on someone.  My old roommate years ago, prepared the cabin twice.  I know someone who’s evacuated an aircraft TWICE.  You’re knowledge in what we do and how often was simply a guess, SIRWIRED.  Medical emergencies are quite common as well.

  • James L. Morrison

    I am an elite flyer on Delta, American, and United. In all of my flying experiences, I only had contact with two flight attendants who bordered on being surly for no reason that I could tell, one who served first class on an American flight and one who served economy on USAirways. Overwhelmingly, the flight attendants with whom I had contact were friendly and helpful. 

  • Jack

    Sadly, the Senate hearings on organized crime, during the 1950s, teach us the most important “safety” rule for travel on US-based airlines:  Say very little to flight attendants and speak only to assert your fifth amendment right to remain silent!

    See “Coffee, tea or handcuffs?” at:




  • Tony A.

    Hey Flutiefan, you might want to read this article on Airline Pilot Pay.
    He clearly lays out his paycheck details.

    Paycheck 1
    862.50 (23/Hr X 37.5Hrs)
    862.50 (Total Payment)

    The second paycheck contains the second half of the pilots MMG, all Per Diem
    accrued during the previous month, any Add Pay from the previous month.
    Example: second paycheck covering approximately two weeks will be payment for
    37.5 flight hours, 322 hours Per Diem, 5 hours Add Pay.

    Paycheck 2
    862.50 (23/Hr X 37.5Hrs)
    579.60 (1.60/Hr X 322Hrs)
    115.00 (23/Hr X 5Hrs)
    1557.10 (Total Payment)

    Total income for the month

    2419.60 (Income for the month)
    80 flight hours
    322 hours away from base

    By Eric Stoltz
    Captain, EMB145

    ExpressJet Airlines

    Are you now convinced that pilots are paid by the hour?

  • flutiefan

    NO, do you read? i clearly said MY AIRLINE does not pay per hour. i think i’d know.

  • Tony A.

    Sorry misread your answer. You must work for SWA which uses that Trip For Pay (TFP) system and not the common Block Time / Hour system.

  • Jaime

    I fly 3-5x a year, almost exclusively on various American airlines; I’ve seen far more rude passengers than rude FAs. I think the only one that really comes to mind is one woman who crabbed at me for using my netbook when we were sitting at the gate during a long delay with no ETD. (if we’re not moving anytime soon, what’s the problem?)

    Some FAs are more pleasant than others in terms of making time to interact  with passengers, but I generally think of them as a service crew who are there to make sure we’re safe and served amenities as necessary – not my personal in-flight entertainment, bellhop, or captive audience for complaints about the flight industry in general. They’ve got enough to do.

  • Mariannea530

    I’m not surprised to hear of American’s poor and indifferent service. I flew back from San Diego in May on American, and I’m hoping to be able to avoid them in the future. The attendant was irritable and rude. She talked to the passengers like we were a bunch of unruly fourth graders.

    I had a letter ready to send to American but didn’t bother. Rethinking past experiences with the airline, I concluded that management condones it.

  • Yep

    The number of friendly flight attendants seems to be dwindling. I recently crossed paths with a snotty Delta attendant. For dinner she simply said “chicken or pasta?” I asked for a little detail about the options, and she rolled her eyes and said tersely, “chicken or pasta.” Gee thanks for being so unhelpful. I noticed a poor attitude with other customers too. In hindsight I wish I’d gotten her name and reported her. Next time I will. US airlines should take a flight on LAN Peru to get an idea of good customer service. There are some good attendants, but more and more the US and European ones seem to have an attitude of impatience, intolerance and unwillingness to help. Frankly, I have little sympathy. They complain about the increasingly poor manners of the traveling public, and I say some of them make it quite tough to be friendly to them.

  • latenitegurl

    I work for a legacy carrier and SWA f/a’s make $25 an hour more than I do. Most of the other legacy’s pay at least $10 an hour more than my airline. I made the same last year as I did in 1997, after pay cuts and various other cuts in sick pay and vacation decimated my earnings. My CEO says he can’t afford to pay us what others pay because then we wouldn’t be making any money as a corporation. I love my job but I sometimes wonder after 25 years if I can afford to continue to do it with no pension and the stock market crashing with my 401k- I’m pretty sure Starbucks offers better benefits than what I get.

  • latenitegurl

    I know many FA’s that get food stamps. I know of one union office that has a food bank for their FA’s. We don’t have part time workers, just part time pay.

  • latenitegurl

    The BBC had a show that followed a class of would-be aircrew in India. If they got the jobs at the completion of the training not only would the employee move up to middle class but their wages would enable their entire extended family to do so as well. In America, for almost any carrier that is a joke! I have FA friends that get food stamps! How middle class is that?

  • latenitegurl

    seriously, it’s airplane food….do you like pasta or do you like chicken? the FA didn’t prepare it and probably didn’t get a list of ingredients, either. Maybe she could have been nicer but it really is just airplane food. if that’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you……

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3GFLE6Z4HRANDMBKAE3HZHKWKA patb

    Try Icelandicair to EU. Awesome crews .Absolutely professional and friendly .FA’s and pilots were dressed in such great attire…reminded me of flying years ago …in an era of true professionalism .

  • Seanne Warfield

    it’s true that many FA’s won’t do certain things because people think that we are still sky waitresses. unfortunately in this day and age, we don’t get paid enough or treated well enough by a great deal of passengers which, on an off day, may make us a little jaded. i was walking by with a trash bag after my bev service one day and asked a woman very politely for her empty cup with her napkin in it. no response. i thought maybe she didn’t hear me so i asked again in the same tone. finally her travel companion turned to me and said “she doesn’t help the help.” i wanted so badly to let her know exactly where i’d “help” her to should an emergency occur. that’s not an uncommon occurrence, by the way. i get treated like garbage or simply ignored on a daily basis. however, not helping someone with a bag or not assisting someone who is disabled whether it be permanent or temporary is incredibly rude and i wouldn’t be caught dead acting like that. but i do encourage people to not act like raging assholes the second they step foot into an airport because believe it or not, we are people, too. not your mile high servants. we are there MAINLY for your safety but when treated with kindness and respect i will go to the ends of the earth to make sure that you’re comfortable. so in conclusion, we do not hate our passengers, we just assume you hate us when we greet you with a “hello how are ya today?” and you look at us with disgust or pretend you didn’t hear us. talk about rude.

  • Dianne

    The first day that i came back to flying as a flight attendant after the September 11th attacks, instead of being greeted by the captain with our usual briefing, he took us throughout the plane and showed us everything on that plane we had to kill someone if need be..  So, after over 30 years of makng people comfortable on an airplane, and really helpng them, the fear of my throat being slit with a boxcutter and learning ow to kill a passenger was now the norm. 

  • Cindy Kaebisch

    Same thing happened with me – I don’t think she meant for me to hear but I heard the FA go “No one ever returns these.”  Glad I could make her day with something so simple.  As a teacher, I know how much those little things matter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissa.thompson.1253236 Melissa Thompson
  • gracekelley

    Mr. Elliott,
    Can I ask you something? As I sit here in pain from helping
    People yesterday knowing my airline won’t care and will put me on probation for helping with bags, getting hurt and needing time off, do you understand the role of FA’s have changed a bit? Now I am not a surly one. I am pleasant I ask never tell and will even explain why I am asking and i still get treated like garbage. It does not change my service attitude I am still pleasant I realize I am in the service business. I am called names for expecting purses to be stowed and regulations to be followed, I am ignored, noone sees me, listens, says please or thank you and I may as well be invisable during boarding. 90% of people ignore my hellos and here in america we are not paid for boarding so I am doing all that for free. People poke, jab, grab me as i walk through the cabin and i have bruises after every trip from it. I try so hard to be nice but noone listens or cares. My question is this if people do not listen until I get snippy can you tell me how to make sure regulations are followed while being nice because then I am ignored and abused yes physically and mentally abused. Keep in mind I am personally fined an held accountable for something as simple as a seatback not up and locked. Please give me
    Some advice I am a nurse too so I am not stupid as most stews arent and have degrees (shocking) i know, but it has been difficult to get another job been searching for a year turns out your tainted after the airlines so please tell me how to do my job better

  • gracekelley

    Amen to that. I am so nice and enjoy my job and 90% of people treat me like garbage. I was berated yesterday for nicely asking not telling a lady if she would please slide her purse under the seat. She wanted to white knuckle it and called me names the entire flight everytime i walked by. 72% of that flight treated me like trash, yet I smiled and said please and thank you. I wish mr elloitt would tell us some advice on how to better be pleasing to passengers because being nice isnt working for me
    I am going into a depression deeper after every flight!