Summer travel advice? Try being nice

Steve Wood/Shutterstock
Steve Wood/Shutterstock
Are you still forgetting to pack your manners when you travel? If you are, then please meet Grace, a flight attendant who recently turned to me for some career advice.

She’s had it up to here with her job, and she wants to know what to do next.

“I’m very aware that I’m in a service position,” she told me. “I am polite, not surly or rude.”

But passengers rarely return the favor.

“I got injured yesterday three times on the same flight,” she added. “I had my hand slammed in the lav door opening it for someone who I suppose had an emergency bathroom issue and could not wait for me to move. Someone rolled over my foot with a rollaboard. And my shoulder is on fire from helping with bags and such during boarding.”

Of course, I can’t reveal Grace’s full name and airline because she’s sure the company will fire her for talking to me. But I feel her pain.

She and her colleagues are suffering from low morale, and at no time will it be lower than during the summer, when inexperienced leisure travelers board her flights and treat her and her co-workers like a sky waitress.

“Nice isn’t working”

Grace says she’s confused. She can’t help but notice that colleagues who “bark orders” get results from their passengers. What’s more, airline management pats these grouchy crewmembers on the back for being so strict with regulations.

“Nice isn’t working,” she says. “I’m so confused. What should I do?”

At the beginning of the new year, I urged you to mind your manners on the road. Those of you who already do weren’t offended. But those of you who think the Graces of the world are sub-humans who are only there to serve you, were outraged.

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Today, with the summer travel season just getting started, I want to talk to those of you who still don’t understand. You think your hotel bellman, flight attendant and restaurant server is some kind of indentured servant who is required to smile while you step all over that person like a doormat.

I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.

Don’t like travel? Get a mirror

When I hear from folks like Grace, it sheds a new light on other complaints I receive from travelers. Like the elderly couple flying from Palm Beach, Fla., to Newark recently — no need to give names, because I don’t want to embarrass them — who were kicked off their JetBlue Airways flight.

The reason? They allege a flight attendant “ordered” them to move a jacket into the overhead bin during boarding, and when they balked, they were shown the door. Refusing to comply with a flight attendant’s instructions is a violation of federal law, after all.

Now, I know there are flight attendants out there who let this whole “we’re-the-law” thing go to their head. But when I hear from employees like Grace, I wonder how many of them are pushed to it by passengers like us.

Are travelers to blame for the demise of politeness? It pains me to write this, but I think the answer is yes, at least partially.

Too many travelers have no concept of good manners. They don’t give a rip about civility. I know, because after my previous story about bad manners, they went on the offensive, vandalizing the comments in my blog with angry, ad-hominem attacks.

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What’s your response to my simple, common-sense suggestion that a positive travel experience starts with you? If it’s self-righteous indignation — if you say to yourself, “I paid good money for that ticket, I’m entitled to some respect — then maybe you’re part of the problem.

Maybe you’re ruining travel for everyone else.

Politeness is a two-way street. When you give, you get. You should try it before you travel.

To all the flight attendants out there like Grace who are considering a career change, or worse, are thinking of turning mean, I honestly hope you don’t.

Stay right there, Grace. Please. And don’t change a thing.

We need you.

Have travelers lost their manners?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • PsyGuy

    I was watching this program called “PanAm” and I just want to point out that at one time they were sky waitress’s , and they were called stewardesses and their job was to look pretty and catter to passenger needs. I wasn’t born at that time, but I’ve seen the younger (meaning prettier) flight attendants on Asian airlines and they seem to have far, far fewer complaints. You don’t see someone asking an 85 lbs Asian flight attendant with their bags, any guy would be embarrassed and most woman would be too for asking someone shorter then them for help. You don’t see guys being rude to a cute flight attendant, I’ve never seen it happen.

    I’m not saying it’s right or its fair, but that’s the way it is.

  • Sunrise

    What SERVICE does she provide?

  • $16635417

    …and travel was not affordable to the average Joe, people dressed up to travel and made their kids behave. ;)

  • BAKE

    I fly on business a few times a year and I am always polite to the cabin crew and the folks working in the airport — that’s how my parents raised me. But I will say that flight attendants scare me these days, after all they do have the power to toss someone from a flight and sometimes you hear stories that sound like they do for no reason at all. So I am polite, I follow all instructions and I get to my destination. I feel for Grace though because I do see lots of surly flight attendants who can’t seem to be polite back.

  • John Keahey

    We had just passed below 10,000 feet. The seatbelt sign came on and instructions to turn off electronic devices given. A few minutes later, an elderly man (perhaps late 80s, early 90s) in the last row, a few feet from the lavatory, started to get up. The FA yelled at him from halfway along the aisle to “get back in your seat!”. He shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the lavatory. The FA marched down the aisle, put her hands on his shoulders and pushed him back into his seat and reached over and buckled him in. The man’s wife was explaining to her that he had a medical problem and needed to use the lavatory immediately. The FA said the rules are clear: No getting up below 10,000 feet. She argued with the woman for a few minutes, then turned and locked the door to the lavatory and walked away. A few minutes later, the smell began circulating around the rear of the plane. The man and his wife were obviously mortified. 15 or 20 minutes later the plane landed, and as I deplaned, I looked the FA — now at the exit door with a plastic smile plastered on her face — in the eye and said, “Shame on you!” She turned away and said to the person behind me, “Have a nice day”. That person also said, “Shame on you!” Now I’ve come across a lot of nice, wonderful FAs and do not paint them all with the same brush as this one. But this took the cake. That man should have acted sooner, of course, but an emergency is an emergency, and one needs to take his age into consideration. As I walked into the terminal, I turned and waited at the doorway and saw that several passengers where helping the elderly couple, and a man was helping take the gentleman to the men’s room.

  • Kruez De Renta

    When my wife and I came to America, we flew internally with jetBlue and can never forget how rude the gate agent and attendant were, then it happened again……. and again… . In between we got more bitter experiences through our donation to salvation army, one church and grocery stores employee. Lets say customer service needs overhaul especially in USA.

  • jpp42

    And JetBlue has one of the better reputations for customer service among U.S. airlines. I can’t imagine if you were on one of the legacy carriers!


    I am sorry to say that I think the decline of manners and civility is everywhere.

  • Jim Zakany

    This seems to be the crux of the problem: “… airline management pats these grouchy crewmembers on the back for being so strict with regulations.”

    People will generally act in a manner that maximizes the benefit to themselves. If airlines explicitly value efficiency to the detriment of customer delight, then their employees will act accordingly.

    I don’t believe that people are any less or more polite than in the past. I know that the dynamics of the situation have changed dramatically. The good news is that airline companies have a good deal of control, should they decide to exercise it.

  • MarkKelling

    But I bet that “85 lbs Asian flight attendant” could probably lift you and your bag and stuff both in the overhead. The foreign airlines still have requirements for their flight attendants that include them being able to pick things up like the emergency exit door in the case of an emergency to help get you off the plane. Most US based airlines have dropped that requirement because too many flight attendants were hurting themselves during their annual certification test. Also, guys who are rude to flight attendants, regardless of how young and pretty or old they might be (the FAs not the guys ;-), are probably rude to most people in the service industries and are just rude jerks.

  • naoma

    Some organizations should never be given donations. Salvation Army (like other church groups) does not permit gay people to join (I am not gay but have friends who are), churches, forget it — they have more money than anyone.

  • That is sad. I wonder what would’ve happened if they allowed him to use the restroom and because of turbulence or whatever, he got injured while in there. Would he have cause to sue? A terrible situation either way.

  • yeah…that’s not sexist…

  • Doug Marshak

    I work in a service industry too. I deal with crabby people all the time who feel they are entitled. I don’t blame anybody in a service industry for losing their patience with somebody who can’t seem to follow the rules, but I can say a pleasant but firm no with a “pass the buck” approach often solves the problem. “I’m sorry sir, I would love to help you put that bag in overhead, but I have a bad shoulder and the airline has warned me that lifting that heavy an object will put me at risk of further injury.” “I know whoever you are texting probably is very important, but we have to push back from the gate right now. If the text is more important, we can have you step off the plane and you can finish your communication and catch the next flight?” Say it with a smile, a calm quiet voice, and most importantly, keep the conversation as private as possible Public humiliation may work with some people, but in others it leads to a scene, and then Chris ends up writing about you on his site. Anger and emotional comments lead to likewise responses. And if the passenger (or, on the other side of the coin, the attendant) goes off the deep end, who is going to look more foolish if you keep your head?

  • traveller

    I recently flew to Vietnam and the difference between the American flight crew to Tokyo and the Asian flight crew from Tokyo to Hanoi was tremendous. The US FA’s were curt and surly and heaven forbid they were asked to perform any service, whereas the Asian FA’s came through the cabin constantly checking to see if anyone needed anything. And they smiled!

  • AirlineEmployee

    “Have travelers lost their manners?”……..Oh God yes. It’s not just on the airplane. I’m ground staff at a large hub and although it’s to be “expected” that a certain amount of passengers are rushed and rude, you would be surprised how many don’t even respond to a “hello, how are you today”. The scowls I am met with right at the ticket counter are many.
    I also realize people are somewhat distracted when they come into the airport but seriously, can you at least acknowlege and answer the questions I need to ask you, like where are you going, what time is your flight? We are met with blank stares. I’ve had people look at me and say “I don’t know, that’s for you to figure it out…….my name is John Smith”……
    Listening is also a problem for most people……”are you checking bags” (blank stare, no answer)…..”how many in your party are traveling?” (blank stare, no answer)…….May I see your I.D. (blank stare, no answer). I once had a middle-aged woman standing at the top of the line (alone, no one was behind her, no other passengers were around). I looked her squarely in the eye and said “step up please, may I help you?”…..she looked at me, looked around her and said “who me?” …..that was one time I couldn’t resist, I said “no, the guy behind you”. What a jerk.

  • I’m not sure I completely understand that question. If you’re asking what flight attendants do, I’d be happy to post a job description. I take it this is more of a rhetorical question.

  • desertlyzard

    When was the last time you were on a flight where the passengers actually shut up during the pre-flight safety review? I was raised to be quiet when a person of authority was talking, and its just plain rude to talk when some else is speaking. I know, we’ve heard to all before, I’ve heard it it on average 10 to 15 times a month for the last four years and often times could do it better then one the speaking, but that doesn’t excuse being rude or disrespectful to someone doing their job.

  • Guest

    We need to go back to the good old days when flying was more expensive and the clientele onboard was of a calibre which knew how to conduct themselves in public.

  • amystery726

    In general, people are less courteous. Civility has left the house. Please/thank you are words that are heard less and less frequently, Rather, when you’re in line at the bank/airport/post office, people are on their cell phones and treating the person who is helping them as if they don’t exist. We are definitely living in an era where people are more and more self-absorbed and have little time for the niceties of life, to exercise a wee bit of patience, to demonstrate a little kindness and courtesy.

  • El

    I travel a lot with my kids, and I try to always have the kids say hello on the way in and be very polite to the flight attendants. I rarely have to ask for anything extra from them (I pack a lot of things for the kids so we are well prepared), but when I do…I ask kindly, look them in the eye, and acknowledge them with a thank you. Simple manners. They go a long way.

  • Bill___A

    I believe in manners. They make it a lot easier. However, some people certainly make it challenging. Many of the United Express gate agents in Denver, for example, consistently annoy to the point of not wanting to fly them. And I in fact don’t. There are the flight attendants who move the cart down the aisle making sure they ram everybody they can, and those who courteously alert people to move.
    Certainly, there are a lot of passengers who are rude and should think about why they are like this.
    Maybe Grace should switch airlines and see how that goes. Maybe she works in a toxic environment where the passengers are fed up with the airline and the FA’s are fed up with the passengers.

  • Tincanrider

    Much empathy for the attendant… Almost 2mm miles for me up ’til 2002… Try not to fly except when necessary, we drive … She is correct, politeness from the passengers is almost dead… We try to fly mad dogs and 2 by 3/4 by 2 seating aircraft only, so that we can get seating on the side(s) without strangers sitting next to us. We both make it a point to be interested in the attendants when possible… Restaurants, travel, and what they like about mutual destinations. Frankly, it’s not that hard to do if you Plan your trip properly…. One exception, God Bless parents traveling with kids, as there are no easy answers.

  • I think there’s a lot of unfair subtext in your comment, Kathleen. The implication is that people with money behave better. Not only is this untrue, it’s often the opposite. People with money are used to thinking of themselves as entitled, and their behavior often reflects that.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I feel for Grace. I’m back on the IAH-MCO route at least four times a month and I know what a craptastic run that is…
    Unfortunately, since whenever airlines lay down the law with badly behaved groups (see the Jewish boy’s school who caused a scene) the media pounces on the airline.

  • MarkKelling

    Where, exactly, are those people you think should be the only ones flying? I fly a lot, and I see a lot of people who obviously have money and are high ranking business executives be complete and total jerks. I have also seen many people who are obviously not rich and obviously not frequent flyers just trying to get somewhere they have to be who are the most polite and respectful people I have ever run into. There are jerks in every crowd and every social economic group.

  • MarkKelling

    Unfortunately, switching airlines may not be an option no matter how much that would be the preferable choice. The legacy carriers all have thousands of furloughed FAs waiting for call backs. The others are expanding, but I don’t see where they are hiring that much.

  • MarkKelling

    Sorry for your suffering. I hate making any flight into MCO. What a Micky Mouse airport. ;-)

    What was the worst thing about the recent expulsion of the 100+ passengers from the flight you reference is the so called chaperones. They all said, “Hey, it’s kids, what else do you expect them to do other than not follow directions the first time.” Not the response any chaperones would have ever given on any school trip I ever took. I would have been sent to the principal’s office or the coach for a swat. But then of course when I was in high school we never took trips like that. Maybe to the local Zoo or a museum but that was it.

  • Dutchess

    Yeah, but thankfully we no longer live in the 1950s in this misogynistic world you’re describing, where flight attendants’ [read women’s] only purpose is to look pretty and wait on you hand and foot because you’re a ‘big strong man’ and can lift your own bag, and I’m personally glad we no longer live in a world where the idea that asian women are somehow demure and subservient is acceptable.

  • Dutchess

    Right, so poorer people should not be allowed to fly? Perhaps we should force them all on greyhound? or would you suggest they hitchhike to grandma’s house for thanksgiving? Also, are you saying only wealthy people have class and manners? There’s so much wrong and classist about what your saying it’s rather gross. This sounds like dog whistling to me.

  • TonyA_says

    The FAA made those rules that airlines have to enforce and follow.
    Why blame the FA for doing their job?
    If you have a medical condition (i.e. bladder problem), then it should be addressed by a doctor so that you and everyone else in the cabin can fly safely. Not every peeing or pooping accident is a medical emergency :)

  • Careful, Gary; sarcasm isn’t allowed at this blog — it could get you banned! ;-)

  • Dutchess

    Is it sarcasm if it’s true?

  • Of course! That’s when it’s most often true. Hey, I’m all in favor of sarcasm — it’s an honorable literary tradition — but I’m in the minority here.

  • emanon256

    I voted yes. In my 5 or so years of weekly traveling before getting off the road, I very rarely came across a rude fligth attendant. At least one who wasn’t provoked. Though don’t get me wrong, I did see a few who were flat out rude for no reason, but they are the minority. I think the majority of the rude people were other travelers, and like I mentioned in the story a while back about who the worst traveler is, it was the suit wearing business travelers that were typically the rudest, must demanding, and un-civil. I really feel for FAs. I think they have one of the hardest jobs around, as is being a gate agents, or just about anyone in the travel industry. My theory is that people think that since they will never see the other people around them again, they can act however they want.

    I am glad to see this article as a reminder. I always try to be as nice as possible to people when I am traveling, after all, we are all in this together.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    “I know, because after my previous story about bad manners, they went on the offensive, vandalizing the comments in my blog with angry, ad-hominem attacks.”
    Love the phrasing – “vandalizing the comments”. I guess that really sums up your entire story in one well-crafted phrase. As many others have already pointed out, incivility isn’t limited merely to air travel, but to many facets of our everyday lives.

  • Then again, people have been saying this for over 2,000 years (“O tempora o mores”).

  • TonyA_says

    + 1000. It’s now the me, me, me only era. Must be hard for Elliott to find worthy cases nowadays. Probably the real nice victims who rarely get to complain :)

  • Bill___A

    I just read about this. More airlines need to do this more often. If people learn that they can’t fly unless they follow the rules, maybe they will think about following the rules.
    It looks like this cost the airline a considerable amount of money and that is unfortunate, but I’m glad to see them take action.

  • TonyA_says

    I often see the same and I wonder what if Asian airlines hire Americans or European FAs, would it be different? Except for China (where spitting is common), I found most people in the eastern part of Asia to be quite courteous. (To me, Japan is in the apex of politeness.) This is just my observation. So maybe culture has something to do with it.

  • Kathleen Proud Keyte

    Many of the other comments mirror exactly what I have said, but perhaps in more couched language. How many air rage incidents reported in the 1950’s? 60’s? 70’s? If people treat airline travel the same as taking a bus, people will act accordingly.

  • Kathleen, I’m a lifelong bus-taker. Sorry, but I haven’t seen any incidents of “bus rage.” (And you may as well also ask, “How many road rage incidents were reported in the 1950s? 60s? 70s?”)

  • flutiefan

    you & i do the same job, and the amount of *blank stare, no answer* people is staggering!
    and almost NONE of them bring confirmation numbers!
    they also get to the front of the line and forget the concept of lines. we call “next!” over and over, and they just stand there. it takes someone screaming “NEXT!!!” at the top of their lungs for them to shake out of their daydream and actually move.
    and then they try to negotiate… well this bag is only 5lbs over the weight limit, can’t you let it slide? my son didn’t check a bag, so can’t we average out the 75lbs in mine? i’ll pay you $20 for the extra bag fee, even though you’re telling me it’s $75, ok? etc etc etc UGH.

    and don’t get me started on the people who wait in my airline’s line, only to get to the front and realize they are on a completely different airline. one woman told me my line was shorter than her airline’s line, so couldn’t i just check her in?

    People lose their minds when they walk through the doors of an airport.

  • TonyA_says

    Must be all the drugs that are prescribed to these folks :)

  • flutiefan

    i have. a knife was just pulled on a lady on the M60 bus in NYC this past week.

  • emanon256

    Ive only been to Thailand and Japan, most of the people in Japan were tourists, so its hard to get a good gauge. But in Thailand I went mostly to local places, with locals, and I was utterly shocked at how polite and civil everyone was. Even in crowded places, everyone was so polite and courteous. Also when flying Thai Airways, I do have to say the flight attendants were strict, and courteous. They only had to say things once, and everyone listened immediately the first time. They also provided amazing service, including a full meal on a 1.5 hour flight. What amazed me the most is we loaded a full sold out 747 in about 20 minutes, because everyone boarded when called, stepped out of the aisle, and followed all of the other rules. It was amazing!

  • Understood. I still don’t think that’s a reflection of, as Kathleen put it, the “caliber” of people riding the bus.

  • TonyA_says

    Your comment about loading the airplane is spot on.
    This is one thing that amazes me in Japan (but do not expect it in China, Philippines and other Asian countries). The boarding call is very quiet and as if nothing has happened. But people just gently board and all of a sudden it is done. I admire the Japanese people sticking to the rules and extreme politeness. The worst flight in Narita is Delta going to Manila from the USA. It makes you feel you are in Orlando with the Di$ney friends of Raven.

  • emanon256

    I am sad to admit my MIL is one of those people. My wife and I joke that she doesn’t know how to use an airport. I feel for you all.

    And on a side note, when I was in DC in March heading back to Denver, I was waiting at the gate for my 3pm delayed to 4pm flight (It was just after 3pm), when a man and his family walked up to the counter and he immediately started barking that he is going to miss his connection because of the delay, and how dare they do that, and they better re-book his whole family and put them in first class because this is their fault, yada, yada. The gate agent asked for his boarding pass, and it took him forever to find them, he finally gave them to her all of them in a messy pile. She sorted through them and said, “Sir, you are on the 5pm flight, which is on-time, and it looks like you will have almost 2 hours in Denver before connecting to your next flight. The man just grabbed the boarding pass back and stormed off. Seriously, you all all saints!

  • There is lots of blame to go around on this one. Airline management doesn’t exactly go out of their way to reward superior customer service these days. Some airline employees have a definite “I am the law and you WILL obey me, even if I choose to make up the rules” complex (I do need to emphasize “some” – probably 85% of the airline employees I’ve come across over the years haven’t been rude, though not necessarily willing to go out of their way to be helpful). Too many passengers, meanwhile, expect pre-deregulation levels of service and amenities, but are only willing to pay $299 for a transcon flight from New York to L.A. and back. And, add in the fact that before their first interaction with a gate agent or flight crew, passengers have very likely been manhandled, literally and figuratively, by a rude and/or unprofessional TSA agent. Mix it all together, and you get a lovely cocktail of nastiness just waiting to explode.

    That being said, I was always taught as a child that rudeness is never an acceptable response to another human, no matter how that person treats you. Curse them out silently to yourself if you wish, and ask for a supervisor if you’re receiving poor service, but don’t ever be rude back. I think if more people followed that line of thinking, travel would be so much more pleasant.

  • emanon256

    Well said!

  • Vec14

    I will agree that the FAs on foreign airlines tend to be younger and more enthusiastic about their jobs compared to most FAs on US carriers. I’ve had grouchy FAs on Southwest, really grouchy and bitter ones on USAirways couldn’t be bothered to serve drinks on a 2 hour flight, but I’ve also had some incredible ones, including one on a United RJ who made sure everyone had at least one drink refill and gave everyone their connecting gate info and directions on 90min flight (he got a compliment letter) and a pair that elevated the snack service in coach. I’ve had gate agents who made everyone laugh when giving boarding instructions and the rules about carryons (Horizon at Bellingham). I do make sure I comment on the good ones – and I do remember them better than the poor ones.

    Nice does work – but it’s like teaching – there’s a balance between being nice and being firm about the rules.

  • TonyA_says

    Or someone crazed person pushing you into the subway tracks !

  • emanon256

    I miss the days when waiting in line at the post office meant having an interesting conversation with the people around you. Now everyone is engrossed in their phones. One of my friends and I were looking at old airplanes photos this weekend and they used to have economy lounges. He said he would give all of that up for the modern Video On Demand systems some planes have. I started thinking, I would rather hang out and talk to people, though the way flying is now, I woudl take the video on demand over nothing.

  • Alan Gore

    This kind of thing is going to go on until, one day, there will be a passenger revolt in flight, or a riot at some airport.

  • TonyA_says

    Great comment. But don’t you bet that if you put these people on a remote tropical island for more than a few weeks, their attitudes will change?

    Maybe this will help reduce the tension – turn of all your electronics for a couple of days, mow the lawn and do some gardening, and mysteriously you might see a change.

  • bpepy

    I took several flights on KLM recently and the FAs were very polite, happy to serve passengers, smiled and were NICE! So it’s not just the Asian FAs, it’s the non American ones.

  • Michael

    I think, Chris, you are pointing out that it’s a two way street, and we passengers are in control of our side of the street. I see good and bad from flight attendants, and from passengers. That there are so many comments with a story about a bad or rude flight attendant worries me that folks missed the point. I had a great flight attendant recently, but he was in the back of the plane when we got off so could not give him the coupon AA gives us to give for great service. 6 weeks later he was on duty on my flight again, and I was not going to wait to the end of the flight! He got two (and earned both).

  • mizmoose

    I’m polite to everyone when I travel – up and until the point that they have pushed me to the edge. I don’t travel much anymore but that rarely happened.

    Before I became disabled, before a wheelchair meant I was separated from my bags at the screening (one reason I rarely travel anymore), I was always extra polite to the bag screeners. When they would go to search inside my carry-on bag and I would politely mentioned that I’m a diabetic and that there were syringes in the bag, and while they should all be capped and safe, there was a rare possibility of them getting poked.

    The reactions I got ranged from ignoring me, to a gruff “Ok”, to the one screener I will never forget who looked at me with surprise and said, “Nobody has ever thought about my safety before” and thanked me.

  • TonyA_says

    If you have any kids in school in America, you will easily see why.

  • TonyA_says

    Jeanne, you raise a good point. However, I have to ask a question. Are people still expected to be civil and courteous in America, or just blind consumers? It’s hard to see good examples of this in prime time. If fact all we see are politicians squabbling, TV news pundits talking at the same time, desperate housewives and Jersey shores type shows and more disgusting celebrity brat stories. Our youth really do not have good examples to follow. Ever been out for dinner lately? If we go to any of those corporate chains, we cannot have a decent conversation since everyone is shouting. I am sorry but we are truly a nation in decline brought about by rabid consumerism and insatiable corporate greed.

  • Miami510

    I voted yes… but the interplay between airline staff and customers is not balanced. Let me try to explain from my own vocational experience:

    I spent 55 years in clinical practice and have dealt with every type of patient’s
    deportment imaginable. Professionals in every field have an obligation to conduct themselves properly with understanding… and it applies to those who are independent owners (as I was) as well as employees.

    Of course there are acceptable lines which the customer
    should not cross… but professionals should understand that the stress of travel
    and other extenuating circumstances sometimes move that line… and that is where
    professionalism, and the obligation of professionals comes into play.

    The ability to deal with the public is often not innate. It is a result of good hiring practices, training and continuing education. Smart companies will reward employees for good interactions with the public.

  • Dutchess

    When you start saying, ‘let’s increase the cost of flights to keep “that caliber of people” off of planes’, it’s not only elitist but you basically call poor or even working class people, riff-raff who can’t control their behavior in public and that money somehow buys you good etiquette. I can assure you that is far from the truth. So you can see why people could view your comments as offensive.

  • jebaker

    unfortunately, this is not confined to the sky but is a general rule for society. You will find rudeness in all aspects of your everyday life. From the phone calls to restaurants to your dry cleaners, manners are out of “fashion” and rudeness rules. In a way we are all in a service industry, Christopher. We all “serve” someone on some level unless you are Donald Trump or someone of that ilk. I am in sales and even the people I have worked with for many years – and really like me – still feel free to do some very rude things. I will remain polite and I salute others who agree with that behavior

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’ve thought about your comment for the past couple of hours, and have decided to come to the defense of all of those distracted individuals at airports and other busy places. It’s a new environment for most people, there’s a constant stream of motion, of lights, notices and garbled loudspeaker announcements, of signs saying “go here” and “don’t go here”. It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with all the sensory inputs. And, if you’re like me, there’s always . . . “SQUIRREL!” (All caps on purpose – quoting the dog from the movie “Up” who is easily distracted.) :)

  • adventurebaby

    Have travelers lost their manners? You only have to look at how they treat each other. The vitroil that spills from those travelers slamming their seats back, rolling their eyes at fat people and whining about every noisy kid. So many come ready for combat and an attitude of doing whatever they like and forget the next person. I can only imagine how rough a flight attendant’s day can be. Two hours on a flight with some of these travelers is more than enough for me to bear and I don’t have to deal directly with 99% of them.

  • TonyA_says

    Make their kids behave?

    Last night our youngest boy wanted ice cream so we went out to Friendly’s near the border of Darien and Norwalk, CT (a few blocks away from the Priceline HQ).

    As we were eating, a family of four drove up in a black Infinity SUV. The 2 boys and their Dad were all in dirty soccer attire. They sat down behind us. They stank. (My wife and I almost gagged.) One of the boys whipped out a smartphone and started playing a game. Then he started cursing at his game.

    My kids go to the Italian center’s gym and I demand they shower there or go home and dress up before we go out for dinner. I care about how we smell and certainly do not want to spoil someone else’s dinner. And if I am paying for dinner, they better have their electronics off. But most parents do not give a damn how their kids behave (even in public). The reason is they believe their kids are special (above everyone else).

    So when was proper parenting ever taught in America? I wonder.

  • TonyA_says

    I need to ask you, is there a way to remove that entitlement attitude?
    Where does or did it come from anyway?

  • Doug Marshak

    Tell you what, if you ever figure out the solution to that problem, feel free to tell me. I think Chris would tell you that in general society has seen a drop in civility. At our business, we work extra hard for those who are courteous to us to make sure they become our primary client base. For those with unrealistic expectations, we don’t try as hard and are glad when they seek business with our competition. But we also sit in a situation where we can afford to be picky, as we are not lacking for clients.

  • Randy Culpepper

    Are you seriously comparing modern day air travel to a television nighttime soap that didn’t last a full season?

  • TonyA_says

    Excellent business attitude which we share in common. Treat our employees right or no service, period.

    I just read an article from Psychology today about Narcissism brought about by “wrong” parenting.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    It’s not just travelers who have lost their manners, but people in general. Go to any board on any website and see the venom, names and anger that spews forth each day. If you’ll recall, @elliottc:disqus, the conversation here got so bad you had to add moderators (some of whom have used that position to treat other posters badly). And go take a look at CNNs comments sections… WOW!

    I’m not saying I’m always Mary Sunshine, I have bad days just like everyone else, but I believe a smile gets you further than a snarl, every day of the week. I actually quit writing/traveling for about two years after a particularly rough time in my life BECAUSE I knew I was in a bad way and didn’t want to take it out on the world.

    People don’t want to be nice any more. Like Grace, they’ve seen that anger and hostility make people do what you want so why not spread it around?

    Please, Grace, go on being nice. And if I’m ever on your flight, I promise to smile back and not knock you around as I walk on your plane.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    “So when was proper parenting ever taught in America?”

    Evidently, when you and I were raising *our* kids. :)

  • TonyA_says

    I saw civility from my parents and grand parents – grand mothers since both my grandfathers died, sometime around WWII time frame, before I was born. If you go out in public today with the old attitudes we learned from our parents, most people think you are crazy saint.
    Today, cheating or getting ahead of everyone else is “mainstream”.
    My problem is we live too close to where most of the liars and cheaters are – Wall Street :) But after hearing your story (i.e. cheating gas station) about the Mid-West, then I guess the new “attitude” is everywhere.

  • emanon256

    As a new parent, I want to assure you there are still some of us that intend to raise our kids right. Though I am a gen X-er and think the problem is mostly with the Millennials. In fact, I just bought a book called, “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future”. I haven’t read it yet, but can’t wait!

    Every time my wife and I go to a restaurant, we see so many kids who are screaming and yelling, and then their parents give them an iPad to get them to calm down. To me, that is so wrong. Kids need to be taught how to act in public, not pacified with electronics. We intend to not allow our child to watch TV until he is over two, and then very limited amounts, and only specific shows. We also refuse to ever allow a TV in the car for road trips. The most satisfying thing to me, is that my 9 month old is already behaving better than most 9 year olds we see out in public.

    Here is an interesting TEDx talk about kids and TV:

    I would be ashamed and embarrassed to go to a restaurant right after the gym. I don’t get how any parent would think that is acceptable.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I was going to tell you to go outside and de-stress by getting some gardening done, but remembered that your neck of the woods is pretty soggy right now.

    There was a human interest story in the Omaha World-Herald this morning, and part of the article related a story about a young man (Boy Scout) shoveling snow this winter for a Vietnam vet. This human interest story was only one of probably 100 news stories. Good deeds and good behavior rarely make the news. But I can think of a few nice things I regularly observe over the course of a day – people holding doors, or waving as they drive by as I’m weeding out front, or properly observing traffic rules at a stop sign or a friendly cashier. There are a number of people out there who are polite and well-mannered, but they don’t stick in our memories like the occasional jerk.

  • TonyA_says

    So true, not everyone is a professional traveler, and ground crews from all over the world react differently to ‘slow’ passengers. The Asian airlines are not perfect either. A few years ago I was on a return flight on Cathay Pacific MHL-HKG-JFK. While waiting for my flight at the common waiting area, I saw an older man that looked lost in space. He kept on going to the gate’s counter asking questions and looked more dazed as he came back. So I approached the old man and asked him if he needed help. He told me that he was immigrating to America to join his son (in the Midwest) who is an American soldier. He did not know exactly where he was going since he has never been to America and also he did not know how to connect in Hong Kong, San Francisco, etc. His son sent him a ticket and that was it. The counter was not helpful in explaining the basic information to him so he is lost.

    So I sat beside him and explained step by step what he was suppose to do.
    He had to wait for his CX flight to HKG by looking at the sign posted for boarding, when he got to HKG go to United ….
    The basic OLD school service is gone. When you need an explanation today you are asked to whip out a smartphone and look it up yourself.
    The airport scene reminds me of how a McDonalds in Manhattan used to work.
    If you do not have your order ready by the time you hit the front of the line, the guy or gal (worker) will shout NEXT (not meaning you.)

  • TonyA_says

    Yup, my skylights leaked :( There must be a mess at LGA/JFK/EWR with the deluge. Hope tempers are cooled off.
    PS. I am the youngest (parent) in our mini subdivision of 3 homes. Our common driveway is about 110 yards long plus another right of way of about 80 yards +. I have 3 snow blowers (and sons) and we do all that for free. Me for 20 years now.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    See? Courtesy is not totally lost in this world. Thank you for stopping and helping that man travel to meet his son. “Try being nice” is pretty good advice.

  • TonyA_says

    Your parents will be proud of you both!
    BTW, it is not only your age group. I think it is when my generation (boomers) focus on wealth and excessive materialism (i.e. McMansions) that changed the moral compass in America.

  • emanon256

    I am glad my mom was older than the materialistic boomers. I forgot the name of the pre-boomers generation. We grew up poor in Brooklyn, lived with my grandma for a while, and never had much, but we learned how to be happy with what we had, and we learned how to be respectful and were taught that hard work will pay off. I want my kids to learn the same.

    We waited and had kids much later than most of our peers. Its tough to see our peers who have older kids not want to spend time with their kids. They will put their kids in front of the TV or get a baby sitter so they can go and live their lives without the bother of kids. We both think its far more important to spend as much time with our son as possible. Yes, it means we can’t do what we used to, but we wanted a child and he is whats important now. No more weekend trips to vegas or napa, no more nights out. I quit my traveling job. But its all worth it, and when he grows up and moves out, we can do whatever we like again. For now he comes first, and we want him to learn the value of people, not the value of things.

  • radiogal

    People are rude because they are allowed to be. There are no consequences (usually) to being rude.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Passengers’ behaviour is often disgusting. I’ve made it my goal on every trip to be so nice it’s nauseating, just to make up a tiny bit for the jerks. I cannot believe that people behave so badly when they travel. One of the thing the airlines can do is start enforcing the carryon rules AT THE GATE instead of making the FAs into police officers and getting the flight off to a bad start. But mostly people are jerks because they can be, they’ll never see the FAs or their fellow passengers again. I don’t know how airline crew manage at all.

  • Leslie B

    My husband and I have two overseas trips this year. I am always polite and respectful and would never ask a FA to lift my baggage into the overhead. After reading your article I am going to make an enhanced effort to be friendly and grateful for the services I receive (even though they aren’t what they used to be but that’s not the FA’s and Gate Agent’s fault).

  • Zod

    Actually, I think you’re wrong to single out “travelers” as being rude.There is a whole generation of people who feel that the world owes them something. They walk around with an air of entitlement and believe that their $4!t don’t stink~

    “RUDE” seems to be the modus operandi for today. I don’t want to sound like a stodgy old man, but I find it mainly the younger people don’t have any sense of common decency. Whether they are too busy tapping away on their phone gadget or what, it just seems that nobody has the want to be kind! It’s sad really and I kinda blame my generation for this since it was the start of the dual income family and the latch-key child generation..those children grew up to adulthood and raised brats! These brats are now adults and it’s almost as if these adults run around on instinct only with very little separating them from animals! Go figure…

  • Lindabator

    Of course, most Asians tend to be courteous, so they also are not dealing with as many rude passengers – makes a difference!

  • Zod

    I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, the threat of physical punishment (spankings and such) was a very real and clear deterrent to aberrant behavior. And it didn’t matter where we were. At the store, a restaurant, at a neighbor’s house, misbehave and your butt will suddenly become sore!
    I think that this level of fear/respect is missing in many youths who are adults and raising their own kids. I’m not advocating brutalizing children (although it seems that some really need it) but a certain level of “you are not going to get away with that without some form of repercussion that causes you stress” attitude! Children misbehave because they *KNOW* that there is nothing you as a parent can do to them. They have an innate ability to know exactly which button they can push to get the reaction they want out of you. And if the only form of punishment is the standard, no internet/tv/whatever for a week, it doesn’t matter because they can do those things anywhere else they want. As a parent you *HAVE* no power! And this level of frustration shows and the kid knows it! The kid will use your building aggression to form their own basis of interaction rules.
    I guarantee that if you allow spankings to happen again, the next generation of adults may even be able to balance the US budget!

  • Raven_Altosk

    Exactly. And first hand accounts appearing on CNN’s comments stated the kids tried to bring on more stuff than was allowed, hassled people when the bins were full, refused to turn off their electronic pacifiers, and their chaperones were USELESS.

    But now they’re screaming “discrimination”

  • Raven_Altosk

    I just read an article about a teenage girl suing UA because she was seated next to a creep who was playing with himself and when she told a FA TWICE, she was told “sorry, we’re full in coach, just deal with it.”

    I would’ve gladly switched seats with her and harassed the guy the entire flight. “Man, I wouldn’t touch that. It’s so small, it might break!” or “Dude, if you need your hands to find it, you’ve got a problem!”

  • Lindabator

    True, but a smile and response goes a long way! :)

  • TonyA_says

    Oh boy did I get plenty of that. So YES I do believe in spanking. (Ask my boys about it.) But is more than just discipline. It is also about EMPATHY. How to teach that? I watched this documentary again and again.

  • TonyA_says

    The conclusion to this story was actually very interesting.

    The old man told me he was a cook’s helper (sous chef in high society circles) in a Hong Kong restaurant for many years before his son was able to petition him to come to America.

    To reward me for my being nice, he gave me a few cooking secrets I could never figure out just reading blogs and books. Is that Karma?

  • TonyA_says

    According to our LOCAL news station the pilot had to go use the PA to tell them to behave.

    I emphasize LOCAL since most local stations here are run by folks of the same persuasion as the kids thrown out the flight.

    I do not believe it was discrimination at all. And that is very hard to believe it can happen in Queens (La Guardia) of all places.

  • TonyA_says

    Ha ha ha. Where do you find these articles?

  • TonyA_says

    I have another observation. My folks experienced WWII simply because they were in a different location. My wife’s folks experienced depression and the effects of the dust bowl because they were in a different location. Some of us are lucky to have first hand stories about how life was before Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke (i.e. massive debts).

    Today. many kids and younger adults have grown up in suburbia where poor folks from Mexico and Latin America come to do lawns, clean homes and wash dirty laundry. They have no clue how to jack up a car, change tires or siphon gas with a hose. They do not know how to cook or do basic house chores. They spend their time tweeting friends, updating facebook, maybe posting pictures of themselves on the internet. These are the people we are relying on to fund social security and provide care when we get really old.
    I think I am immigrating somewhere before this happens :)

  • Lindabator

    HAHA!!! He would get it GOOD sitting next to you – snark on! (I’d pay money to see that one!)

  • TonyA_says

    You might get a kick watching how young the person is on this luxurious builder’s site
    PS I am not endorsing anything. I have a new neighbor who claims to be a builder who worked for them so I saw this site and got shocked at the needs of some young parents.
    My mom told me we lived in an upstairs apartment near a market on a road named Indiana :)

  • TonyA_says

    Try China. Makes me wanna return to the USA immediately!

  • crash025

    This is the experience that I’ve had. Personally I don’t understand why there is so much cattiness with the GAs. I’m not asking them for anything, but yet when theres a misconnect 9 times out of 10 they’re bitchy with me. I’m not the one yelling at them. I’ve had a UA one tell me “why didn’t you go to the gold desk?” right after I earned my UA Gold status flight at EWR, She didn’t even offer alternative airports. (Also she couldn’t be arsed to acknowledge my baggage making the flight) [What happened that day: A GA was pretty crappy, didn’t get out to the jetway on time, changed terminal, and I missed my flight back to CLT.. CS Rep wasn’t helpful at all] Delta: Close up the plane way early and cause me to misconnect, futher claimities the next day (“we don’t care”). (No mention of stranded discount rates for an airport hotel in NYC)

    For the most part, I don’t really have a need to get upset with the airline people, however I get the feeling that the people who do speak out get more attention than the ones who try to work with them. [The reservation desks tend to be a LOT better]

  • crash025

    The guy acted in his own accord to go to the bathroom. He also had a medical condition.

  • Frequent traveler

    I travel quite a bit on the same airline. I am an upper level frequent flyer and do not whine. I do not complain if I do not get an upgrade and do not ask for favors. I say please and thank you. And in all my years of traveling I can count out and out passenger rudeness I have seen on 2 hands. (I have been traveling internationally at least 4 times each year since 1983 and much more than that domestically.) And I have seen Flight attendants be rude for no reason other than their contract does not require them to be nice. (One actually told me that in an airport store before realizing that I was going to be on her flight.) I obviously must be on the wrong airline to not see all the passenger rudeness you regularly mention.

    This is very much a two-way street and cannot be answered with the simple yes and no question you ask. Grace does acknowledge that some of her colleagues are less than polite and that is a part of the problem. As a paying passenger on an airline I expect to be treated as a valued customer. But this is the exception these days rather than the rule. Manners and politeness are expected of both employees and customers. Too bad you like only to emphasize the rude passengers. I could share a great deal about the rude employees I have encountered during my many years flying.

  • emanon256

    That’s insane, she must come from a very wealthy family. I can’t even imagine what a house like that must cost. I grew up in a three bedroom town home with my two cousins, grandmother, mom, and uncle. We are very lucky now to have a two bedroom 1,100 SqFt house in Denver with a good location and just 3 of us.

  • TonyA_says

    Is that a qualified exemption to the FAA rules? He could be a danger to others by not being strapped in his chair. After all when you buy an airline ticket, you agree to abide by the rules.

  • crash025

    I can’t disagree with you. However imo the FA being overly proactive seems a little excessive.

  • crash025

    And they’ll be label terrorists.

  • TonyA_says

    This demonstrates the problem of traveling for folks with medical necessities.
    I do have many customers who are children of immigrant parents or immigrants themselves. Once in a while I get a call asking me for help on how to travel with a very old ailing parent who wants to see their country of birth and foreign relatives for the last time. I am not a doctor so I can’t give any medical advise. But the requests are for oxygen tanks, etc., etc.
    It is very difficult to tell my customer, your dad is too sick, too frail, or too old to fly. But a lot of airlines simply refuse to take that kind of risk. A co-worker ticketed a whole family (3 or 4 generations) to visit their ancestral country one Christmas and then I heard they had to cancel because the patriarch died a few days before the scheduled departure. Believe me it is a teary moment.

    An airline employee is answerable to the US government whether we like it or not. They have a job to enforce the regulations to the letter. That might sound rude in and of itself. But someone has to do it.

  • Tones

    I agree wholeheartedly that you get what you give when it comes to travel. This works both ways– between customer and employee. I will, however, say that yes, Chris, I AM entitled to respect. When I pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a ticket to a company that has earned my business, I do not deserve even the slightest bit of surly, grouchy, or curt attitude — particularly from bitter, old FAs. Yes, I did go there.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Showed up on The Consumerist and several local network affiliate newsites.

  • TonyA_says

    Note that the perp was not named despite the arrest and conviction.
    Maybe he is a MINOR, too. Could be a retard, as my kids would call these kinds of idiots.

  • Jan

    Yes,travelers are ruder, thank you young mom and dad for little Emma who watched Dora the explorer loudly on her ipad on the tray table, headphones next time? There are a lot of clueless travelers out there, and who is responsible for bringing them back in line? We were on a turbulent flight, so we had no FA to help with the noise, so I just let it go, but here I am complaining about it.
    But, I do expect my FA to be courteous as I am paying for a service. And I aways make a point of saying hello to flight staff when entering and engage in conversation when I am sitting in the exit row on Southwest. They did choose the profession and if they can’t or won’t display customer service then yes, they do need to change careers

  • y_p_w

    Pan Am actually had male flight attendants, and referred to them as stewards. Just try calling someone that today, unless they’re serving wine to you in a restaurant. Even then they probably want to be called a sommelier.

  • y_p_w

    The crew has the authority to determine emergency situations. Someone with a medical condition who will otherwise shit in his pants could be determined to be as such and such a situation handled as such. I mean, if someone were to be suffering a heart attack, would a flight attendant be justified in yelling at the passenger to get back in the seat and medical personnel on board couldn’t leave their seats to help because it’s the letter of the law? The federal regulations do give the flight crew flexibility to determine if the rules should be suspended if the circumstances warrant it.

    § 125.319 Emergencies.

    (a) In an
    emergency situation that requires immediate decision and action, the
    pilot in command may take any action considered necessary under the
    circumstances. In such a case, the pilot in command may deviate from
    prescribed operations, procedures and methods, weather minimums, and
    this chapter, to the extent required in the interests of safety.

    In an emergency situation arising during flight that requires immediate
    decision and action by appropriate management personnel in the case of
    operations conducted with a flight following service and which is known
    to them, those personnel shall advise the pilot in command of the
    emergency, shall ascertain the decision of the pilot in command, and
    shall have the decision recorded. If they cannot communicate with the
    pilot, they shall declare an emergency and take any action that they
    consider necessary under the circumstances.

    (c) Whenever emergency
    authority is exercised, the pilot in command or the appropriate
    management personnel shall keep the appropriate ground radio station
    fully informed of the progress of the flight. The person declaring the
    emergency shall send a written report of any deviation, through the
    operator’s director of operations, to the Administrator within 10 days,
    exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays, after the flight
    is completed or, in the case of operations outside the United States,
    upon return to the home base.

  • TonyA_says

    Was it a MEDICAL EMERGENCY? Don’t think so.

    I sold a business class ticket once to a couple who are doctors.
    Some one had an heart attack and the husband was called to the cockpit.
    He told the captain the person was serious (life and death).
    The flight diverted to HNL.

    I don’t think going to the bathroom is anywhere near a life or death situation.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Oh, I had to sit across the aisle from one family on their way to Di$ney pulling some crap like that. When I asked if they could use headphones they said the kid “didn’t like them” and had “sensory issues.”

    I started to put on some pretty violent/adult anime without headphones. The looks they gave were priceless. I said, “I don’t like headphones and I have sensory issues”

    Instantly, the headphones were put on the child.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Well, Chris, I am entilted to respect. But I’m also obligated to give it. And the same goes for the FAs. Respect is a two way street. My parents taught me that, and it’s served me well, so far.

  • sick of it

    She absolutely is NOT a United Airlines Flight attendant. They are the nastiest in the industry.

  • TonyA_says
  • AirlineEmployee

    do you work at LGA ??

  • AirlineEmployee

    Unfortunately, today’s society is full of people who feel over-entitled or see things only as their “rights” instead of earned privileges. I don’t know all the causes but common sense, apologies and basic good manners are lacking more and more. And, I’m sorry to have to say this but there are tremendous cultural differences that are quite annoying. My employer would shutter to think that I could even voice such a “shocking” thing but it’s true.

    How do you come to the airport and don’t know which of your 3-4 family names on your passport you are booked in ?? And stop asking me and repeating 1/2 dozen times to “please, please help me” (translation = let it slide) when you have a 110 lb bag because six of you are traveling ….”but we are six”……..What, am I supposed to take, a 150 lb bag if there are eight of you and so on? Why would anyone be so stupid as to put six people’s worth of stuff into one bag ??. They can barely drag it and lift it but it’s okay to break my back ? Maybe you do all this wheeling and dealing and corruption in the country you came from but we don’t do it here in America. I can’t begin to tell you all the looks of horror and indignation when some of these people are told to adjust the bags, all the demands for a supervisor, etc. – as though a supervisor will just nod yes to that nonsense. Airlines are a business after all. Laughable.

    But…..Americans are not off the hook; plenty of rudeness to go around. I was recently “reported” to a supervisor by a passenger who claimed I ” was not sympathetic enough to her; I did not apologize enough.”………this after getting her and her boyfriend across the country on another airline to Spokane Washington on a horrible, totally bad weather day with cancellations all around. Spokane ????, Seriously?.. no easy task even when things are not going wrong. It took me a solid 30 minutes to patch together available seats, routing, etc. yet she never once thanked me for moving mountains to get her there. How easy it would have been to just keep saying there is nothing available that same day and blowing them off until the next day. Hmmm, (head scratching) for the next time I get some ungrateful oaf.

  • y_p_w

    However, the crew has discretion to create their own exception if they feel it’s something that is necessary for the safety and well being of their passengers.

    Not every emergency is life or death or requires that a flight be diverted. If someone had broken a bone and the only means to stabilize it was on the cabin floor, I’m pretty sure that would be something that the crew could decide was acceptable given the circumstances.

    The key is that they have discretion and are supposed to use their best judgement. There are actually some medical conditions that are so serious that one can suffer severe medical consequences for not relieving themselves on time.

  • reader

    a lack of courtesy and patience feels not only ordinary passengers, but staff of airlines companies too.there is a problem of modern society, lots of depends on upbringing, on our own ability to communicate with the other people, to manage own emotions in critical situations
    business immigration consultant

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    One piece of advice you might want to pass on to Grace: Stop helping people with their carryon bags. If they can’t stow it themselves, they should check their bags. It isn’t worth it for Grace to be injured.
    I am always amazed at the junk people try to bring on the plane – some of them look like refugees fleeing a war.
    If only the gate agents could be more strict. I was recently waiting to board of flight on Lufthansa. The gate agents went around the boarding area and actually weighed each carryon bag. If the bag was overweight for a carryon, the bag was checked. It was amazing how quickly the flight boarded because of this.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Thank you for being a good parent. I am always amazed at the bad behavior of children and their parents are totally oblivious. I often wonder if the children have been raised by wolves…but then it really is the fault of the parents.
    Nothing ruins a good meal in a restaurant quicker than bad behavior.

  • TonyA_says

    Ok so who are you to question their discretion. You wanna to their job? Step right up.

  • Susan Richart

    “Developmentally disabled” is the proper term, TonyA. Only less educated or less caring individuals still use the term that you used.

  • Rowan

    And i just wanted to point out that at one time we amputated limbs with a bottle of bootleg whiskey or a little morphine and a hack saw. Times have changed, jerk.

  • Rowan

    I grew up with a house keeper 2x a week but my mother (a baby boomer) made sure we cleaned our room and bathrooms every day. We were taught how to cook, at least enough to feed a family if not have major dinner parties. It’s what you do and teach your kids. If you let your kids sit around when the cleaning lady is vacuuming around their feet you are creating an entitled monster. If you and your kids see you, transact business while taking on the cell phone in front of people, (completely off the charts rude in every circumstance, by the way) then you are teaching them that every one else in the world is their to serve them. And there you have the problem. Parents.

  • y_p_w

    But locking the lavatory on descent to keep someone with a medical condition from using it? That sounds more like a power trip than good judgement. The guy ended up pooping in his pants. You want to volunteer to sit around him for the 15-20 minutes it took to get to the gate? Would you have helped him to the men’s room like the other passengers?

    Of course we know a flight crew’s power is more or less absolute in the air, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make mistakes in judgement.

  • Eric

    When bits of nastiness infect many travel experiences, it’s important to remember that most travelers are polite and most travel employees are kind and helpful. To “Grace,” I feel your pain, but please remember that most of your passengers really do mind their manners and look only for the simple fundamentals of good service in return.

  • TonyA_says

    You know I might die of embarrassment if my kids acted awful.
    I hate to say this but we still have to tell our 21 year old what to do.
    Seems like nothing about life is taught in school today.

  • TonyA_says

    Consider yourself very lucky and thank your mom!

  • AirlineEmployee

    I agree with you here, however the gate agents do try to repeatedly enforce. People start arguing at the gate podium; they “hide” their oversized, overstuffed cr@p till they are walking on and the drama starts again at the end of the jetbridge. Gate agents are not going to stand there and argue while they have to get the plane boarded and out on-time……and passengers know it and push the issue to get away with it. It’s just the hot potato that keeps getting tossed around and it’s too hot so nobody wants to handle it.

    Attn Elliott – another pet peeve of mine — , you bring this up from time to time but how about a write-up asking for solutions about how to deal with passengers who have seats at the rear of the coach cabin but stow their bags in the bins at the front. I see this all the time and it makes me livid — don’t worry about the passengers sitting in that row, just take care of yourself — how selfish and rude.

  • DotWonder

    i’ve also boarded a 747, but in Japan. the speed at which they can load a big bird boggles the mind.

  • flutiefan

    i think i love you.

  • Armando

    Let me say upfront, I’m sorry Grace – you do have a tough job, and I do appreciate you doing your job in a friendly, polite, and helpful manner.

    I believe that the majority of Flight Attendants are friendly, polite, and helpful – however, I just (last flight) had an impromptu discussion with a Flight Attendant who was actually bemoaning the fact that there are too many Flight Attendants who are not outgoing and do not like dealing with the public and have NO people skills. Her take is that they need to find another position (perhaps back office).

    “But passengers rarely return the favor.” Chris – that is absolutely NOT TRUE, there is much more positive interaction than negative – although like most interactions, people tend to remember the negative much more than the positive. Heck, if the flight deck door is open when I’m leaving, I even thank the crew up front. That’s always fun, I don’t believe they are used to getting any thanks.

    I travel weekly and get to see more than my fair share of rude, unfortunately the majority of it is self-inflicted by the airlines and TSA.

    I try to be civil no matter how stupid and infuriating the situation, but I have very little sympathy for the “poor beleaguered” airlines, the TSA, and unfortunately their staff.

    People get to start the entire process by dealing with an airline system that is only concerned about separating them from as much money as possible, and in spite of the platitudes, does not value anything about the passengers other than the money that they bring to the transaction.

    Arrive at the airport and get to deal with the TSA whose presumption is that everyone is a terrorist and frequently treats people at best poorly and disrespectfully. I have friends who work for the TSA, and they really try, but they are hampered by poorly thought out and implemented rules and procedures, as well as some significant percentage of co-workers who should never be allowed to interact with ANY human being, let alone given a “badge” and some “authority.”

    I thankfully rarely get to experience the “worst” of the TSA (although I have had some abysmal experiences) – I travel frequently, have “status” with the airlines, and get to use the TSA PreCheck. But I have seen some things that should have caused a number of “blue shirts” to get arrested – but in the airport, they are above the law…

    The airlines – can you say “nickel and dime” people to death? Have an overall attitude of “we can do whatever we want” and you have no recourse. Blah, blah, blah… We all know the litany of complaints and concerns – let’s just say that they get no sympathy from a large percentage of the traveling public. When you treat people like cattle, you should expect the occasional stampede and someone to get gored – unfortunately those someones are the front line employees like Grace.

    Here’s a new benchmark for “Really…?”

    On the same flight mentioned above, when I got to the airport to check-in, the ticketing agent informed me that the flight was going to be delayed for approximately 3 hours and advised me to go to the gate and ask for a food voucher since she couldn’t issue one. Sensible advice I thought, so when I got to the gate I asked and was told that they “didn’t have to,” and wouldn’t, give me a food voucher.

    No customer service skills or politeness to be found anywhere in the conversation – however, I didn’t personalize it since I knew that they were dealing with the fallout of three canceled flights worth of unhappy people – I was giving them the benefit of the doubt since they were having a tough evening, no sense me adding to the overall angst.

    Three hours later, I board an aircraft and take my seat in “first class.” After we are in flight, the flight attendant tells us that they have no meals (all were off loaded at the last airport) and she issued meal vouchers for use at an airport. Pretty darn funny since the vouchers were going to expire in less than 24 hours and we were going to arrive at the next airport after all of the restaurants were closed… Really…?

    Four people sitting behind me were NOT amused and expressed their displeasure – can’t say as I blame them one bit – definitely self-inflicted by the airline and experienced by “Grace.”

    Grace – DO NOT help people lift their luggage into the overhead bins!

    My opinion, sadly something that will never be adopted: Carry on means just that, if it has wheels, you aren’t carrying it – you need to check it!

    This too is a self-inflicted problem, while there have always been some subset of the traveling public that has insisted on taking everything as “carry on,” as soon as the airlines “reduced” ticket fares and started charging people for checked luggage – they opened the floodgates and now almost everyone tries to bring everything as carry on…

    That Genie is out of the bottle and the airlines have no one but themselves to blame – sorry “Grace,” you are one of the front line folks who will be taking grief for a “smart” accounting move…

    Should people be polite and nice, sure – in the real world, competition for scarce resources is guaranteed to bring out the worst in people.

    “Grace” here is another little tid-bit that you may not be aware of: some subset of the flying public doesn’t respect flight attendants for a “valid” reason.

    The rules (which you are mandated to enforce) are capricious, dumbed down to the point of meaningless, and are in some cases flat out lies!

    For example: Electronic devices do NOT cause planes to fall out of the sky, nor do they cause your flight from LGA to LAX to accidentally go to SFO. While you have to give people misleading (or flat out wrong) information, it causes part of the flying public to simply disregard or disbelieve anything that is being said by a flight attendant… It is astounding to me how many people have voiced some variation of that – when people think they are being lied to, they stop listening and/or believing.

    Grace, all of that said, please don’t give up. Some (I believe most) of us value and appreciate all that you do to make flying a safe (I can’t say enjoyable) experience.

    So from me to Grace: Thank You!

  • flutiefan


  • AirlineEmployee

    Hopefully I’m not going off on a tangent, but another thing contributing to the “being nice/ not so nice” discussion here is the “quality of life” being hired at the airlines. Call me a perfectionist but in my 30+ years I can’t believe what it has come to. Working for an airline used to be a prestigious, highly sought after job – even today much competition – hiring 1,000 and 10,000 show up to interview. Nevertheless, WHO is doing the interviewing?? What I see walking through the terminal on a daily basis and seeing those who work behind ticket counters and working flight attendants is abominable. Poor grooming, horrible grammar and language skills; I do double-takes all day long. Overweight, sloppy appearance, uniforms askew – honestly, I’ve seen airport janitors looking better. This basically tells us the whole story – if you don’t care about your appearance why would you care about good manners or people skills? Ugh.

  • Liam

    I really don’t blame Grace for feeling this way some passengers just don’t have any manners at all. I myself having read this will be even more careful when travelling via air flights especially and try to be extra nice. I really don’t understand how people can just be rude to these flight attendants , don’t they have a conscience?

  • flutiefan

    i cannot agree with you more. i am embarrassed by my own supervisors and what they feel passes for proper English. i may not be the most polished-looking agent (my hair is a whole ‘nother story), but i speak very well (the English degree helps… YES, ticket agents do have 4-year degrees!). yet the people we keep hiring are a sorry bunch who don’t understand the importance of showing up on time and actually *working*. but what caliber of applicant can we expect when we only offer $9/hour? it’s not competitive, especially in cities like NYC, LA, SF, and Boston.

  • Cat

    Same here. I am patient, comply with the rules, wait my turn, polite, and respectful. That does not get results. In fact, just the opposite. My kindness is interpreted to mean they can walk all over me. I truly detest flying and the attitude of the overwhelming majority of flight attendants is awful.

  • gracekelley

    Thank you Chris! Covered
    In bruises, cried 4 times today & and am still very polite!
    I am trying so hard to change the us (customers) vs them (fa’s) mentality if it breaks me!
    Krav maga helps ease my mind. I thank you for this article!

  • gracekelley

    Most airline employees have degrees as competition is fierce to get in but we don’t realize until we out the polyester on that we are hated just for working for the airlines. Special thanks to those that do realize we are humans. Special apologies to customers for rude employees.

  • gracekelley

    Silly they may be rules they still are and we can be fined
    for not following. If you have issues with FAR’s please contact the FAA not the FA as we will be fined and
    fired for not

    Thanks you for your comment from all FA’s and my apologies for
    rude ones!

  • gracekelley

    And after the rampers are abused and let them on FA’s get it two fold. What’s one to do to make these customers happy?

  • gracekelley

    That sounds like one of the smartest and efficient policies i’ve ever heard of! I love Lufthansa and Emirates are two of my absolute favorites. Ahh if only in america lol

  • gracekelley

    Absolutely! It is all about listening without interrupting, apologizing (no matter what) & trying to find a solution. Yes travel is stressful and i can’t imagine anyone that understands that more than well someone that does it for a living. However, when someone starts hurling luggage at me, trips me on purpose, harasses me, elbows me on purpose, pulls my clothing, pokes me or jabs me, or takes things from my cooler i bring from home when i sometimes have no access to food for hours on end just because well they got a ticket and are hungry and upset the food is not free, steals books and papers i buy, and am coming home covered in bruises after every single trip then i start to think is this rude behavior or abuse? What are your thoughts? Am I to overlook this because someone is stressed? I am always polite and I ask and never tell anyone. I know there are some rude stews out there however, i promise i am not one i don’t have that in me. I never tend to see this at say a bank ( only thing i can think that comes close to being as stressful as air travel is finances) so is it ok to do this to crew or any other airline employee? I am not talking about just not saying please or thank you or just being “rude”. everything i listed and more happens to me almost everyday i am at work. I would be interested in your thoughts on this if you would not mind weighing in on this?

  • gracekelley

    I agree. I think reality tv is a huge problem!

  • pauletteb

    Great post, Chris! Rudeness defiinitely isn’t relegated to aircraft these days. Every time I travel, I see vacationers dump trash out of their car windows and empty their ashtrays in parking lots, stiff restaurant and housekeeping personnel, shove their way through crowds, etc. I was leaving a Gatlinburg restaurant this past April when I overheard a waitress complain that one of her parties (father, mother, two teenage boys) had left a $5 tip on a more than $125 tab. I caught up with the father outside the restaurant and called him out for being so cheap. “What do I care?” he replied. “I’m never coming back here.” With some vacationers, that’s the attitude . . . and that’s the problem.

  • pauletteb

    My daughter knew how to behave and how to respect others. The first time she acted up in a restaurant, I trotted her little fanny right out to the car. She never misbehaved in a restaurant again. Unfortunately, too many soccer moms and dads have reared their kids to think the world revolves around them.

  • gracekelley

    This story brought tears to my eyes. Good for you for calling her out & shame on her for treating anyone esp an elder like that!

  • gracekelley

    This is true we are held accountable by the us goverment for FAA rules but in the way it is told this FA could have been a bit more proactive. I.E call pilots explain the urgency and age of pax maybe they would have gotten clearence for a go around for him? At the least have explained to him and his wife the safety issue and what would happen had he got hurt. I have been in a dubious position myself when an elder (that could barely walk) got up during moderate turbulence to go to the lav. While his wife ignored it and kept reading her magazines i THANK GOD everyday for the dhd pilot that stepped in and helped me here. He didnt go to the lav as he couldnt make it past one row and he said “take me back” but poor guy almost peed his pants! I was mortified for him and the fact his wife was sitting there flipping through her magazine until landing made me very sad for him. I called the CA and he made sure this poor man was taken off first and helped to the restroom. Proactive pilots that day had they not been not sure what the outcome would have been. He surely would have been injured as soon as he stood up. I still thank that dhd’r everytime i see him! I hate to say it but at what point do you stop flying? In this case he could barely walk through in the turb = disaster! Where do you draw the line. I am 120 he was twice my size i certianly wouldnt have been able to assist him to the lav even with no turb! :-0. What’s one to do?

  • gracekelley

    Yes THIS! Stop dopping up to deal with travel. Like zombies I tell you & a danger to everyone! I had to evacuate for a tornado once and people will literally trample each other. Just stop and listen & please be sober. I know it’s hard given the conditons but wait until your seating and above 10k to medicate if it is that serious you need someone with you!

  • gracekelley

    It is the same on any US carrier. FA’s talk among ourselves all diff airlines
    Of madness :-/

  • gracekelley

    This made my day laughed so hard. Much needed!

  • gracekelley

    Well Sunrise, me personally, just today served over 250 drinks. Also, held two hands of people going to say goodbye to a loved one, calmed a nervous 1st timer for 20 min on a 50 min flight & still got service done (keep in mind there is one of us to 50 passengers), held a bag for a puker after turb, did cpr and insterted an IV inflight, and last but not least walked an elderly lady while carrying her bag to baggage claim got that bag then held her door of her pick up ride. Got yelled at by a ramper in DCA because well he hates americans esp women and then did all my paperwork. Oh and i cleaned the plane between flights of crap stuffes in seatbacks and papers strewed about in seats so the next passenegers were not revolted. All on a PBJ and no break for 13 hours! Also apologized several hundred times for small seats, cramped aisles and no blankets :-0 Phew i’m tired. Responding to the boarding greeting is a good place to start maybe?

  • gracekelley

    Plus in 4″ heels :-) that’s all!

  • gracekelley

    In 4″ heels but that’s all no biggie

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