Angry flight attendant hurls beverages and snacks at passenger

By | January 16th, 2008

Anyone who is looking for evidence that airline employee morale leaves something to be desired should have been on a recent American Airlines flight from Albuquerque to Dallas. That’s where the following episode of Flight Attendants Gone Wild took place, according to passenger Jon Buschman.

Here’s his letter to the airline:

I fell asleep during the takeoff and awoke around the time we reached our cruising altitude. At that time, I unpacked my laptop computer and began working on it. Shortly thereafter the beverage cart was coming down the aisle and the flight attendant flipped a snack bag to me that hit me in the side of the head.

My first thought was that we were fortunate enough to have a crew with a sense of humor (I am not sure if it is just me, but it seems as though the flight crews just aren’t quite as sociable as they were at one time) so I played along with it and simply commented that “oh, we get food on this flight.”

My comment was greeted with another bag being thrown at me.

At that point I suspected this was not merely a playful gesture on the part of the flight attendant, so I discontinued the light chatter. The flight attendant then asked what I would like to drink and I asked for a cup of water with no ice, please. Beverage napkins were then tossed at me.

I continued to work on my computer when water began running down my head and onto my cashmere sweater and computer. I was a bit startled, shocked and not quite certain what to make of it. My girlfriend was visibly upset and began wiping the water off of me.

Within seconds there was more water poured on me. I must say that although I could not quantify the volume of water that was poured on me (I am not certain if that is even important for the purposes of this) I was fairly wet.

I still said nothing to the flight attendant. She then started firmly patting the top of my head and the side of my face but said nothing to me. I thought the event was over but then she placed several napkins on the top of my head.

Needless to say, Buschman was not pleased with the level of service. He continues:

During the rest of the flight I was attempting to justify to myself what had occurred here. I knew that I did not provoke
her. In fact, I didn’t even make eye contact with her prior to this occurring.

It took me several days of thinking through the incident in my head before I realized how angry I was at this treatment and abuse. It just isn’t right. I hope there is some explanation for it, and someone might be able to provide that for me. Further, I feel that it is important to report this event to ensure it doesn’t occur to another individual in the future.

Here’s American’s response:

Dear Mr. Buschman:

It has always been our goal to make traveling on American pleasant and enjoyable for all our customers. I am sorry that your recent experience has caused you to question our commitment to quality customer service.

We let you down and we apologize for doing so. Your comments about the bad impression our flight attendant made during the beverage service, while disappointing, remind us of our responsibility to provide our customers with quality service. Your letter will be shared with the appropriate management personnel in our company to reinforce the level of service we strive for every day. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to improve.

We realize that sometimes an apology and a promise to improve just aren’t sufficient enough to make amends. That’s why we’ve added 5,000 bonus miles to your AAdvantage® account. This addition will appear in your account very soon.

Mr. Buschman, your continued support of American Airlines is greatly valued. I hope that we have an early opportunity to regain your confidence in us.

I hope you don’t mind that I’ve sent my response via email. Please continue to send us your comments through any communication channel that is most convenient for you. However, we’ll get to your feedback faster and respond more quickly if you contact us again via


Cindy Baker
Customer Relations
American Airlines

I don’t know, the miles were a nice gesture, and the form apology was fine, but it would have been nice to hear the flight attendant’s side of this story. Was she provoked? What was she thinking when she tossed snacks at a passenger? What could possibly justify pouring water on a customer?

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