I was injured and berated by a flight attendant. Now I’m being ignored.

By | November 29th, 2016

On a summer afternoon in 2015, as William Heffernan was napping in an aisle seat on a US Airways flight between Seattle and Philadelphia, a beverage cart pushed by a flight attendant slammed into his knee, jolting him awake.

Heffernan says he told the crewmember that he had just injured him, but the employee didn’t seem to care. What happened next raises questions about civility on an aircraft and the rising tensions between passengers and airline employees.

The flight attendant told Heffernan that he didn’t see the knee in the aisle and he should keep it out of the aisle. He then continued what Heffernan referred to as “a rant,” saying that he had worked 10,000 flights and never hit anyone’s knees before. Then he contradicted himself by saying, “it happens all the time.” At the end of the rant, the flight attendant said, “I accept your apology.”

Heffernan had not apologized — and didn’t think he had anything to apologize for.

When another flight attendant came by, Heffernan’s wife, who is a physician, told him he needed to ask for an ice pack, which he did. The first flight attendant noticed Heffernan talking to the second flight attendant and interrupted the conversation. He told the second flight attendant that Heffernan had a problem with him, and told Heffernan to talk to him and not “go crying to” the other flight attendant.

The second flight attendant eventually brought Heffernan the ice bag he requested, but refused to offer her name, the name of the first flight attendant or the name of the lead flight attendant. None of the three flight attendants on the plane were wearing name tags. As the third flight attendant walked up the aisle, Heffernan asked him the name of the first flight attendant. Denied.

Related story:   What should we do about all of these missing gift card cases from Target?

Heffernan was concerned that if he pressed the issue on board or asked for a doctor, the plane would have to make an unscheduled landing, and he didn’t want to be responsible.

The third flight attendant told Heffernan that he could file a report when the flight landed, but once the plane was on the ground, Heffernan was told to go to customer service. A helpful customer service representative tried calling inflight services several times, but the call was never answered. The only recourse for Heffernan was to report the incident, which he did.

Even though Heffernan was booked on a US Airways flight number, both US Airways and American Airlines were operating under a single operating certificate. After hearing no response to his complaint, Heffernan appealed to American Airlines, requesting that it acknowledge that its flight attendants do not have customers’ best interests at heart, and that the cramped seating configuration is “a rip off.”

American ignored him, too.

American Airlines has a customer service plan that states:

We are in business to provide safe, dependable, and friendly air transportation to our customers, along with numerous related services, in the hopes that you will fly us again and again. We work very hard to make your entire experience with us, from making a reservation to deplaning at your final destination, a positive one.

Although we are successful in this effort most of the time, there are times when things do not go as smoothly as we, and you, would like. Operating a network of more than 3400 flights and servicing hundreds of thousands of passengers each day is challenging and complex. Inevitably, some of our flights are affected by adverse circumstances, some of which are within our control and some of which are not.

Allow me to translate: “If you don’t have a perfect experience on one of our flights, it’s because stuff happens.”

Related story:   The American way of following European consumer protection laws

But later in the customer service plan, American Airlines promises that its customer relations department will respond to a customer’s written complaint within 60 days, and that every complaint will be personally read and a response will be sent to the customer.”

If you’re keeping track, American Airlines has broken two promises to Heffernan: to provide safe and friendly air transportation and to respond to his complaint within 60 days. It’s been more than a year and Heffernan has never had a response.

In most people’s minds, this is probably considered unacceptable. American has the ultimate excuse buried at the end of their customer service plan:

… we are not responsible for … instances in which we do not meet our service goals.

At any point, Heffernan could have appealed to our contacts for American Airlines. Instead, he reached out to us. We’re not sure what to do.

The case is quite old, it’s a case of “he said, they said,” and Heffernan is now asking for $10,000 compensation. On the other hand, American Airlines hasn’t lived up to its promises to a consumer, and we’re here to hold a company like that accountable.

What say you, readers?

Should we take this one?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

  • Bill___A

    There are certain flight attendants who are very careless and ram people numerous times each flight. This problem is much more significant nowadays because of the increased number of seats per plane and the decreased amount of space per passenger. Flight attendants can and do be careful…some of them. But others seem not to care and think it is their right to either ram their cart or run up and down the aisles with impunity.
    The airlines need to ensure that their employees know, in no uncertain terms, that ramming someone with a metal cart weighing several hundred pounds not only is an unsafe way to conduct business, but can cause serious injury. I have been on flights where they have been very good, and on flights where they have been very bad.

  • KennyG

    Heffernan lost me when he said $10,000 would make him whole.

  • BubbaJoe123

    The flight attendant was a jerk. No doubt. That said, by including stuff in his complaint that’s totally irrelevant (“requesting that it acknowledge…that the cramped seating configuration is “a rip off.””), Heffernan pretty much ensured that his complaint would be ignored. Also, he’s demanding $10k? For what?

    Bottom line, if his knee was injured by a flight attendent during the course of the FA’s duties, and he has losses, he should sue. Other than that, he should go on with his life.

  • tim scales

    Please get rid of the multi-page display. Even with the single page option, this is a pain – you can’t click on the single page option until you are at the bottom of the first page, and then it redisplays the entire article, sending you back to the top, and you have to scroll down and figure out where the first page ended before you can continue reading. If you can’t get rid of it, at least move or copy the display option to the top of the article or give me the option of defaulting to single page.

  • Alan Gore

    OP would appear to have a good case, but not acting in a timely manner will sink any possibility of getting a resolution. If he wanted what appears to be a strictly punitive settlement (not related to some out-pf-pocket like medical bills) he should have consulted a lawyer after the flight.

  • John Baker

    Sorry I really don’t see a case here. He feel asleep with his knee in the aisle. His knee was bumped / hit by a beverage cart. Unless he’d never flown before, he knew or should have known that they would bring a beverage cart down the aisle.

    Did he deserve a “sorry”? Absolutely. Does he deserve $10,000? No. Do I think that the attitude he showed in the letter probably contributed to AA/USAir in ignoring him? Probably.

  • LDVinVA

    I was trying to agree with the post about the multi-page format and it was deleted before I finished my reply. Why? Are we not allowed to comment on such things? The multi-page format is a pain.

  • Jeff W.

    You cannot take the case.

    In most flights, there is usually an announcement that the cart is coming down the aisle. But he was asleep and did not hear it. OK. And most FAs are quite careful about checking, but some aren’t. And sometimes things happen.

    Not that AA was in the right here either. It made it difficult for him to complain. But by insisting that AA acknowledge that “flight attendants do not have customers’ best interests at heart, and that the cramped seating configuration is ‘a rip off.’ “, is something AA would never do. That almost guarantees the complaint gets thrown out.

    And by asking for $10K as compensation, that is the realm of lawyers. No company would ever respond to that. It just opens the flood gates for people asking for lots of money hoping to get a little something.

    And where was the Mrs.? Assuming she was sitting next to her husband, should she not have noticed that her husband’s leg was in the aisle and nudged him to move it before the cart approached. Yes, she could have been asleep too, but I had to put that out there. And what would have happened if instead of a cart, it was another passenger who was walking down the aisle and tripped over the his leg? Who would be responsible then? Odds are it would be the passenger whose leg was in the aisle when it should not have been.

  • jmj

    There’s a concept in the arena of medical malpractice called the “I’m sorry” laws. Previously, physicians, nurses and administrators were afraid to say “I’m sorry” when a medical error was made for fear that apology would be an admission of liability. What happened instead was that the patient and/or their family would be angered by the “lack of compassion” that was demonstrated and their likelihood of suing increased.

    With the advent of “I’m sorry” laws, these laws explicitly said that physicians/nurses/administrators were allowed to say “I’m sorry” and other expressions of sympathy without fear of an admission of liability.

    I say all this simply to comment that an apology goes a long way. It’s not true 100% of the time, but in most cases like the OP’s, an apology/sympathy will sooth irritation and diffuse an otherwise tense situation. This all could have been avoided.

  • Rebecca

    “Heffernan appealed to American Airlines, requesting that it acknowledge that its flight attendants do not have customers’ best interests at heart, and that the cramped seating configuration is ‘a rip off’.”

    Allow me to translate: There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to make me happy. I like to complain. I will keep complaining, because I have nothing better to do, and I am so much more important and my time so much more valuable than the person reading my complaint.

  • AAGK

    Do people like Heffernan realize how rude they are? An airplane isn’t your bedroom. Sprawling your legs open into the aisle (which he obv did since he obstructed the cart), annoys your seatmates, people trying to use the restroom and the crew working to serve all the pax. This man needs a personal invitation to not obstruct communal space. At least he didn’t trip anyone on the plane and only hurt himself.

  • Pat

    The one important piece of information that is missing is did he go see a doctor for the injury. If he did, what was the injury / treatment and what was the cost. Asking for $10,000 if there was no injury is ridiculous and I can see what he is being ignored. If there was an injury and American is not reimbursing the costs, then I can see an issue. Also based on the way the story is written, I would not be surprised if the fault for the issue escalating on the plane was the fault of both parties.

  • technomage1

    On the one hand I agree with Heffernan that the current seating arrangements are miserable. And I’m not thrilled with the responses he’s gotten thus far. On the other, what does he base the $10k compensation he’s asking for on? Did he have medical bills as a result of his injury?

  • AAGK

    This is like someone who leaves their glasses on the floor and gets mad when someone steps on them.

  • sirwired

    I said “drop it” for two reasons:

    1) “requesting that it acknowledge that its flight attendants do not have customers’ best interests at heart, and that the cramped seating configuration is “a rip off.”

    Given the snarky (and counterproductive) tone of this request, I can make the wild and uninformed guess that he was less than innocent sweetness-and-light on the plane itself. And does he REALLY expect AA to send him a letter saying “Our employees are terrible and our seats designed to be torture devices.”?

    2) $10k? For a bruised knee? Even if the flight attendant was the Lucifer of the Skies, that’s a bit much. No mention of any actual long-term injury sustained here…


    Nothing says “Toss my complaint in the Circular File” better than a snarky letter followed by a ridiculous financial demand.

  • The Original Joe S

    flight attendants appear to be trolls. If he has an injury, he should get a lawyer and sue. However, maybe his attitude wasn’t exactly cordial? Who knows? His letter to AA may have sunk his case….. However, it’s just my opinion. I’m not a lawyer; I’m an honest citizen.

  • Byron Cooper

    Unless the OP saw an orthopedist and had documented injuries, a demand for $10,000 is absurd. Sure the flight attendant should have apologized, but the OP should have tried to keep his leg out of the way. We don’t know if the flight attendant blew him off because of a belligerent attitude.

  • MarkKelling

    “Allow me to translate: ‘If you don’t have a perfect experience on one of our flights, it’s because stuff happens.’”

    It is more “If you don’t have a perfect experience on one of our flights, it’s because we are such a large company that we cannot keep track of everything that goes on and don’t really care if things don’t go your way.” And we have more money and lawyers than you do so go ahead and sue us.

  • HRTraveler

    $10,000? That’s insane. Waiting a year to complain, that’s stupid. The complainant is both greedy and dumb and should be handled as such.

  • polexia_rogue

    the OP is being such a baby.
    I 100% side with the FA. I work at Target ,this reminds me of one time where I was bringing in carts and an old woman yelled at me for taking a flyer out of a cart and putting it on the ground.

    I didn’t argue, I just rolled me eyes. She went inside and complained to a guy who was not even a manager. He told me about it and we had a good laugh.

    the OP wants “acknowledge that its flight attendants do not have customers’ best interests at heart, and that the cramped seating configuration is “a rip off.”” so basically he wants the big powerful people to pat him on the head and say “you are right.”

  • chirripo

    I actually request an aisle seat exactly for that reason…..I can let my knee hang out in the aisle. But, with that comes a great responsibility. It is completely on me to get my knee out of the way when the cart is coming down the aisle!!! Have I been hit a time or two? Yep. I said sorry to the flight attendant, kind of a “my bad”, and we both moved on and made it to our destination. Heffernan needs to sit in the middle seat. He isn’t adult enough to sit in the aisle seat.

  • AJPeabody

    Finally, a reason to choose a middle seat!

  • Lindabator

    asking the airline to acknowledge their attendants do not care, and that their seating is a “rip off” is setting them up for a lawsuit — inflammatory language like that is guaranteed to drop the complaint in the circular file. And wanting 10K for a bump? Yeah, right….

  • Mike

    Yes, you should look in to this. No, he’s not getting $10k, no matter how hard he tries.

    Also, can we PLEASE get rid of the multiple page thing…please?

  • Michael__K
  • Daddydo

    Yes he is due an answer, an apology, and hopefully a notice that said employee was dismissed. $$$$ ? Are you kidding me? Hire a lawyer and sue them, but I see no proof that there was a medical cost in this post. Pain and suffering evolves through the court system, not just for the heck of it.

  • Michael__K

    Does he deserve $10,000? Very unlikely, especially not without medical bills near that amount.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t a case if US Airways/AA ignored 14 CFR 259.7 and failed to provide timely substantive written responses [within 60 days] to written consumer complaints.

    If the passenger can prove they complained in writing and forwards their complaint to the DOT, and if the DOT can corroborate enough other examples of similar violations, then there is a case and precedent for the DOT to impose civil penalties well in excess of $10,000. Of course any such fines go to the US Treasury. The passengers generally wouldn’t receive anything, although sometimes the DOT allows airlines to deduct passenger goodwill compensation from their fines.

  • Rebecca

    Here’s hoping the Mrs is somewhere shaking her head, embarassed by her husband.

  • Rebecca

    We’re going through this at my house right now. If my 1 year old picks a toy up off the ground, suddenly my 2 year old decides it’s “mine”. If a 2 year old can grasp the concept, I’m sad for the adult that can’t!

  • Rebecca

    Experience has taught me that with customers like these, nothing pisses them off more than agreeing with them in the calmest tone possible. I’ve been known to nod my head and say, “yes sir, I’m an idiot” a couple times. Not to someone with a legitimate grievance, but to someone that just likes to complain.

  • John Keahey

    A journalistic mystery to me: Did the consumer advocate ask whether Heffernan had a doctor’s report showing injury costs and, I assume, lost work time? What is the $10,000 based on. I’ve re-read this twice and see no answer to that. If that information is imbedded in the piece, please, someone, point it out to me. If someone slipped on the ice on my sidewalk and demanded $10,000 for a knee injury, I would want to see a doctor’s report before pulling out my checkbook. I enjoy these articles, for the most part, but the frustration continues over a lack of reporting/missing information in some of the pieces. Chris likes to lambast some of his commenters for their complaints, but I think this one is legitimate. Peace, everyone.

  • John Keahey

    Who knows if the flight attendant was a jerk. We only have Heffernan’s recounting of what was said. I would have inserted “allegedly” or “reportedly” into the story.

  • AAGK

    Apologize for pushing the cart in the aisle for beverage service?

  • AAGK

    She’s probably used to it by now.

  • cscasi

    I notice he did not provide any evidence that his was injured other than he spoke those words. Where is any proof he went to a doctor, had X-rays or CT scan or MRI done that would provide proof of his “injury”?
    My goodness, his wife was sitting next to him is a doctor, according to his story. Certainly, she owuld have had him get those things done immediately, if he was indeed “injured” to the extent he claims.
    Finally, all we have is a case of he said and the flight attendant said. But, we only have one side of the story and no other unrelated witnesses to vouch for his story.
    Finally, people do need to keep their feet and knees out of the aisle. When the flight attendants are pushing those carts down the aisle, they cannot see directly in front of the cart. Sure, they need to be as careful as they can and I have seen some knees and elbows get bumped once in a while, but I have never seen anyone injured such by a cart bump, that they had to divert the aircraft or be taken off to an ambulance at the end of the flight (not saying it has never happened – just that I have never seen it happen or hears it happened). This just smells of a money grab – but, that is my personal opinion.

  • cscasi

    The, “if he can prove they complained in writing” is the key. From what I read here, I truly wonder or if he was just trying to garner sympathy of the advocates here to try to get Chris to fight a losing battle for him.

  • cscasi

    Do we really know if he wrote the letter to American Airlines; the one he says he never received a reply to from American Airlines? Do we know if American Airlines sent him a reply if he did indeed send the letter and he did not like the reply, so he has brought this here to try to do an end around American Airlines. In any case, the sum of $10,000 peaks my doubts.

  • cscasi

    And since we do not have any statements from the “flight attendants”; how can we or you say that they appear to be “trolls”? And unless he had medical proof that he was “injured” and can prove the cart did it, it would probably be an expensive and unproductive court case.

  • cscasi

    That’s definitely one point of view; whether or not it is absolutely true is another matter.

  • Jeff W.

    And let us make sure that the doctor’s report was not written by his wife, who was reported to be a physician. Or a doctor who has a connection to said wife — be it the same practice or hospital. Because that would not look suspicious at all…

  • John McDonald

    if you leave your knee in the aisle, it’s your fault, NOT flight attendants. End of story.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Fair enough.

  • LeeAnneClark

    This is a “yes…but”. Yes, you should take his case because he was abused in flight (and I don’t care if his knee was in the aisle – maybe they should make seats large enough so we don’t HAVE to spread outside of our teensy little area and risk injury!), and American needs to respond. Flight attendants need to be aware that normal sized humans simply can’t fit in the space we are allotted anymore, and there WILL be people who have no choice but to leave parts of themselves in the aisle. Especially if they are larger people, or if they have a larger person in the seat beside them bleeding over into their seat.

    “But” because…TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS? Gimme a break.

    He is absolutely entitled to a response, including an apology (not a “we’re sorry you feel that way” but “we’re sorry our flight attendant injured you and then treated you like crap”) and possibly some compensation, like a couple hundred bucks off a future flight.


  • LeeAnneClark

    Wrong. They don’t give us enough room these days to NOT bleed over into the aisles. And what about if we have a “passenger of size” in the seat beside us? This happened to me recently – I’m a fit person, but I had a very large man in the middle seat beside me. I had no choice but to lean partially into the aisle, as he was bleeding over into MY seat.

    Fortunately in my case, I had a really kind crew who was always careful to let me know when a cart was coming my way so I could squeeze my body parts out of the way.

  • John McDonald

    here we go again-more rubbish about seat size.
    Aisle size hasn’t changed at all on narrow bodied aircraft. The only thing that might have changed is legroom, (which is not measured by seat pitch).
    Some low cost carriers might have managed to get an extra seat across width of aircraft, but only in wide bodied aircraft. Most of the worlds fleet is B737/B757/A318/319/320/321 where it’s always been 6 across in economy, except in very early days when some airlines had 5 across & we’re talking only a few in 737-200 days when the 737-200 was 1st launched in late 1960’s ish. Most were quickly changed to 6 across, so they could compete.
    If someone doesn’t have enough room, they should fly PE or business class.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Leg room matters. People with long legs (like my husband, who is 6’4″) can’t fit their legs in the seat. He has to have an aisle seat, and has no choice but to have his leg partially out in the aisle. So should he have to fly PE or business because he’s tall? Or just accept that he is likely to have his leg rammed into by carts any time he flies because of his crime of being tall?

    And what say you about the situation I was in, in which I had a POS (passenger of size) next to me, forcing me to lean into the aisle? Again, am I just supposed to accept that I might get injured by rammed carts because of my crime of…um…of…um…not having the foresight to realize I might get seated next to a POS?

  • John McDonald

    I’m 6’4 & fit into seats even on ULCC’s. The whole seat space thing has been exaggerated, by people who want 1st class but fly ULCC’s like Spirit. You can’t have your cake & eat it too.
    Fat people should buy 2 seats or sit up the front & pay for it.
    Some airlines are now offering light weight people cheaper fares & it’s not discrimination.

  • Rebecca

    I am so loving this acronym right now. My mom and I once took a flight with a POS in our row, on a full flight. My mom ended up in the rear galley for most of the flight, and seated with the flight attendants for landing. Pull the safety card if it happens again – and I am not a card puller. The flight attendants were sympathetic, but they didn’t move her until she complained about safety (can’t get to my seat belt is your best bet here, because if you say you can’t get out of the aisle, they may just shuffle the row, which doesn’t help much).

  • pauletteb

    I am only 5’10” but have a 35-inch inseam. My legs fit just fine.

  • Chris Johnson

    I assume this was a domestic flight. There’s no real competition in the domestic air travel world. Four airlines, including American/USAirways have 80%+ of the market locked up, it’s a shared monopoly. Threatening never to fly them again is about as empty a threat as it gets and they hear it a thousand times a day anyway. They are in no danger of causing customers to be lost to competitors – on over 80% of all domestic routes there is either no choice of carriers or only two choices. Flight attendants can have the same personality of prison guards on the domestic routes if they so choose. Why should the flight attendants be the slightest bit friendly? On most domestic routes, all you can do is sit down and shut up, hope for the best, and rush right off after landing.

  • Michael__K

    Chris’s team must have the complaint because the policy is not to advocate without seeing the written trail. AA might try to claim they never received it. Hopefully he submitted it electronically or with a tracking number if he mailed it.

  • JewelEyed

    Apologize for not noticing the knee dangling in the aisle where it does not belong.

  • JewelEyed

    Or at least any physician he doesn’t share a bed with.

  • JewelEyed

    It’s against policy at many companies (and for many unions) for employees to disclose what disciplinary action will be taken against an employee as the result of a complaint to a customer. Demanding to be notified that the employee was fired is an unreasonable demand, especially when the position is a union job.

  • PsyGuy

    I voted yes, but be warned Chris, within the travel industry the most vindictive segment may very well be flight attendants. You might win, but you really don’t want to be on a flight where some FA remembers whatever the outcome of the case is, you could be paying for this for life, and FA’s have a LOT of power.

  • PsyGuy

    Just get a window seat, if it’s an issue.

  • PsyGuy

    They give me plenty of room, I’m 5’9″ and about 160lbs, I fit just fine in economy. While seats have gotten smaller, people (Americans) have also gotten bigger.

  • PsyGuy

    Why weren’t you sitting next to your husband?

  • PsyGuy

    POS’s should have to fly as cargo.

  • PsyGuy

    The guys just upset, and want’s his pound of flesh.

  • PsyGuy

    Wait, there’s a name for it?

  • PsyGuy

    Aisle on short flights for me, and window for long international flights (that way I control the window shade).

  • Fishplate

    I can’t remember the last flight I was on that didn’t have an FA on each end of the cart. This may be why.

  • Fishplate

    Why do they provide pillows and blankets if they don’t expect you to sleep?

  • Pat

    It has been quite a while since there were pillows or blankets on a domestic flight I was on. They removed them to save weight and so the space could be used for carry on baggage.

  • AAGK

    I always sleep, in my own seat.

  • 42NYC

    Bumping your knee w a drink cart falls under “stuff happens”. Berating a passenger and not responding to a complaint does not. $10k is too much but I’m guessing that amount is just to get heir attention

  • Tracy Larson

    Yes, not the first time I’ve heard the term.

  • MarkKelling

    All points of view are just points of view and absolute truth is not guaranteed with any of them. On a different day I might even have a different point of view for the same topic. :-)

  • Annie M

    Oh for crying out loud-was he permanently injured or disfigured? He should have snapped a picture of the flight attendant and handed that over to the airline.

    This is not worth $10,000 and honestly makes this guy look like a petty complainer. If he was this unreasonable on the flight maybe there is more to the story than this guy is saying. I am not quite buying the entire story.

  • LeeAnneClark

    He wasn’t on this flight. And why does that matter to you?

  • LeeAnneClark

    I had to do that one other time – play the safety card. That time it was valid – I literally couldn’t fit into my window seat with two very large people in the middle and aisle seats. And I’m a slender person. Fortunately in this case the flight wasn’t full, so they moved the POS in the middle seat to another row with an empty seat beside her.

    This other, more recent flight – the flight was completely full, not an empty seat in the house. So I was stuck. It’s a good thing I had the aisle – the POS was not only bleeding into my seat, but he also spent the whole flight “man-spreading” so I had no choice but to put one of my legs out into the aisle! I was definitely worried about getting slammed by carts, but the flight attendants were extremely gracious (Delta, believe it or not!). They always warned me when they were going to be coming down the aisle, and when they were serving I would leave my seat and hang out in the back until they were done.

    But I can’t imagine how awful that flight would have been if I didn’t have such friendly, compassionate FAs. This is why I feel for this OP…I shudder to think what would have happened to me if they’d been my FAs! And I don’t blame him for wanting American to address his experience in some way. On the other hand, it’s hard to feel much empathy for him when his expectations are so outrageous. Ten grand! Pfff.

  • LeeAnneClark

    First of all, we don’t fly Spirit. Never have, never will.

    And we aren’t expecting free upgrades – we fly 1st or business often, but sometimes it’s simply cost-prohibitive. When we pay for economy we expect economy…but we also expect to be treated like human beings. We aren’t asking to “have our cake and eat it too”…that’s ridiculous, and insulting. We are asking to be transported from point A to point B in a seat that normal sized humans can fit in comfortably for the duration of the flight, without having to worry about carts slamming into us. And we haven’t always gotten that.

    I’m glad you’ve been able to fit your legs into every single seat you’ve ever flown in. That has not been my husband’s experience. Most flights he fits fine, but there have been planes that had such a tight pitch that he had no choice but to have his knee leaning out in the aisle, especially when the seat in front of him was reclined.

    You don’t get to tell me that this isn’t true. You weren’t there. I was.

  • LeeAnneClark

    So…were you on the flights with my 6’4″ husband when his legs didn’t fit fine? Interesting that you were on the same flight.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Of course you do – you are 7 inches shorter than my husband. So I’m not sure how your comment relates to my post.

  • cscasi

    Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

  • cscasi

    Usually, Chris mentions that he saw the written trail in his comments, unless there was not one.

  • just me

    Stop lying Mr John McDonald – you are not Donald and you should not copy his behaviour.
    Narrow body were 3+2. The change to 6 accross made seats narrower and isle narrower too. End of story.

  • just me

    Stop lying Mr. John McDonald. So you are 6’4″ and you fit? You must have legs of 5’8″ person – really short for 6’4″.

  • Michael__K

    No, his publicly posted and frequently referenced policy states he needs to see the written trail before he advocates.

    In order to successfully mediate a case, I need to see written proof that you’ve given the company a chance to respond to your customer-service problem. A paper trail — your emails between the company and you — is evidence that you’ve given the system a chance to work. It’s difficult to help you without it.

  • John McDonald

    so you get the same seat width, same aisle width, slightly less leg room(inch or 2) & you also want to pay less, much less ?
    1+1 doesn’t equal 1.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Um…WHAT? Where did you go to school to learn that kind of math?

    Your response doesn’t even make sense. Every time we’ve flown 1st or business we got a significantly greater amount of room than economy…as we would expect, given the far greater cost. My husband has never felt cramped in 1st or business.

    Most of the time when we’ve flown economy, he got enough room to be comfortable without having to spill over into the aisle. But…not always. That is what I’m talking about. The times he WASN’T given enough room. I’m not sure why you are having trouble figuring that out.

    We are not expecting first class service or room in economy. All we are expecting is for him NOT to have to have his leg stuck out in the aisle, at risk for injury by FAs such as the one this OP encountered. Why you think that is an unreasonable expectation is beyond me. But…whatever. At this point I really don’t care what you think, because your responses are nonsensical.

  • John McDonald

    if you are too big now(ie. POS = too fat) then buy 2 seats. Seat width hasn’t changed & don’t put your feet in the aisle.
    Also this whole compensation thing, started by dodgy lawyers has to end. Suggest any compensation should be non-monetary. That will stop the lawyers who are stuffing up your country. (your country is in enough trouble already)

  • greg watson

    If his knee was out in the aisle & was struck by the beverage cart, then the OP merits a sincere apology & perhaps ‘a drink on the house’. If the FA was, in fact, rude & uncaring, that is another thing, as was not identifying himself. I voted that Elliot should take the case, just so AA would be encouraged to reply to this situation. Any serious injury should have treated & documented within the first week. Any claim for financial damages are a moot point now.
    I am not really convinced of the accuracy of this story

  • PsyGuy

    Your husband takes up more space than is allotted. If I go too a restaurant they serve me X serving in my dish. If I need more food because I’m still hungry I don’t get to say “you didn’t feed me enough, because I’m bigger” for free. This is the same thing, want more room buy more seating.

  • PsyGuy

    A gentleman should always accompany his lady. Who is going to put down their coat over puddles, or handle ruffians you encounter?

  • PsyGuy

    I apologise for my gender.

  • sirwired

    I also don’t understand all the fuss about legroom on standard (non-ULCC) aircraft. I’m 6’3″ with a 36-inch inseam (I cannot buy pants off the rack anywhere.) I’ve had problems with legroom on precisely one flight my entire life; it was some misbegotten bizarre turboprop to Peoria on a Northwest commuter plane.

    If I sit up straight, I can at least have my knees avoid the seat in front of me. It’s not exactly spacious (and work is impossible), but certainly not unsafe or unbearably uncomfortable.

  • Extramail

    LeeAnne – you are 100% correct in this entire thread. I hope the responses are just to yank your chain because otherwise it is sheer stupidity. My husband is only 6′ 1″ and there are numerous seats he is too tall to adequately fit into and, no, he can’t “buy up” because his company doesn’t allow it. His almost two million miles flown have been 90% business. I, too, have walked down the aisle to find that I am seated next to the large individual who has already pulled up the arm rest so he/she is spilling over into my seat. I also am a small person but that doesn’t excuse the large person pushing me out of my seat. Keep fighting the good fight as there are those who whole heartedly agree with you.

  • LeeAnneClark

    This lady doesn’t need a man to manage any ruffians. That’s why I took self-defense courses. My knee works quite well, thankyewverymuch. ;-)

  • LeeAnneClark

    I have no doubt at this point that you are just typing BS to yank my chain. But in case anyone out there actually agrees with this absurd and nonsensical comment, I will respond.

    My husband is not overweight, or unusually tall. 6’4″ tall men are quite common out there these days. We’re not in the 1800’s anymore, dear. His height and body size is well within norms.

    Not only that…height is not something one can control. Most of us do have control over our width…but not our height.

    Your restaurant analogy has got to be one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve ever seen in here…so I’m not even going to bother responding to it.

    You can stop now. Everyone is just rolling their eyes.

  • LeeAnneClark

    That’s all fine to say to the POS, but what about the person (ME) who gets stuck to one who DIDN’T buy two seats?

    Until the airlines enforce POSs to buy two seats, it’s unfair to penalize those of us who sit next to them by expecting us to not lean out into the aisle…and ramming carts into us when we do.

    And now this conversation has moved into absurdity.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Thanks. There are some people who just like to argue, regardless of how nonsensical their arguments are. That’s what you’re seeing here. I’ve made my last appeals to logic and common sense…and I will leave it at that. (But it’s at least good to know there are some people out there who still have some…logic and common sense, that is.)

  • jmj

    Simply apologize that he got hurt. that’s all the op seems to have been looking for.

  • PsyGuy

    I don’t know what viking land you live in, but I know very few guys that are 6’4″, and the ones I do are Australian.

    Not being able to control your bio demographics is irrelevant, there is no requirement or protection for large people. It’s like those large boned woman who complain that double 00 sizes are “bad”, it’s just skinny shaming. You can call it tall shaming but again there is no protection for being tall.

    It’s not ridiculous it’s true, you just don’t like it.

  • PsyGuy

    Who is to defend your honor then if your gentleman does not accompany you, not that your honor needs defending but should the occasion arise? Who is going to save you from dastardly evildoers???

  • Naoma Foreman


  • michael anthony

    Since his wife is a doctor, she should have gotten involved and said “In my medical opinion…….”. You certainly wouldn’t expect her to remain quiet if he was suffering a heart attack.

    If the carrier still felt that this was being blown out of proportion, then each state has medical boards they could have filed a complaint with. ANYBODY can file a complaint and should, if a doctor is obviously going overboard.

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.