Ridiculous or not? When flight attendants attack

Maybe I should take more road trips.

After last week’s column on flight attendants who hate their passengers, I’m pretty sure a “wanted” poster of me is displayed in every crewmember break room and galley.

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I heard from passengers who shared their own horror stories of abusive crewmembers. I heard from airline employees who confirmed the sorry state of airline service and tried to help me understand it. And I heard from a small group of apoplectic flight attendants who thought the best way to counter the well-documented problems was to kill the messenger.

Let’s start with the passengers. Reader Pat Vinroot agrees that many crewmembers dislike the people they are supposed to serve and shouldn’t be working on a plane.

“Some of the flight attendants I have flown with on US airlines are wider than the aisles and have to turn sideways to walk through them,” she told me. “Many feel that with the pay cuts that airlines have had that they are underpaid and shouldn’t have to do much. Many are rude because there are no consequences and they won’t to be bothered to answer a question or assist passengers. Sometimes attendants in business do less than the ones in economy because they are more senior and sometimes a little lazier. In the past few years when I have gone to the back of the plane for something I have often found attendants playing games and just sitting there talking.”

Vinroot wonders why they can’t be more like the flight attendants on Singapore Airlines, who are “young, thin, polite, attentive, accommodating,” she says. “You name it, they are.”

Flight attendant John Deming, who sent me an exceptionally polite rebuttal, acknowledged a “real disconnect” between passengers’ expectations and today’s reality of airline travel.

“Somehow, people still compare us today with how things were in the 50s and 60s and then are upset when those expectations aren’t met,” he says. “These programs, such as the upcoming Pan Am TV series and movies like Catch Me If You Can and View From the Top portray a level of glamour in the industry that simply hasn’t existed for decades.”

Deming told me the average flight attendant loves his or her job and is happy to be helpful to every person they greet, “within reason.”

“When you combine the airlines’ need to cut costs and raise prices on everything with the expectation that since they paid for it, the public is entitled to whatever they perceive as paid for, it’s bound to end up a recipe for disaster,” he says. “And at 30,000 feet, there is very little a flight attendant can do to fix some of these issues other than apologize and be creative in trying to quell an upset passenger.”

One other thing: Flight attendants are under a great deal of stress because of increased security threats, continually changing federal regulations, bankruptcies, furloughs, salary cuts, and loss of pensions and benefits. But Deming agrees that there’s never a reason to forget your manners.

“There really needs to be a common courtesy established between the traveling public and the airline employees, but it’s usually the flight attendants who are expected to make the first move,” he says.

Some air travelers say they understand the good old days are over. John Black recalls one pre-deregulation flight on Eastern Airlines with his young family. “We were served a filet mignon roast that was carved at our seats,” he recalls. “Oven roasted potatoes and vegetables were also served with the filet. A sundae served at our seats finished this wonderful meal. My daughters still talk about this flight 25 years later.”

Black doesn’t expect the same first-class treatment, not with airfares as low as they are compared with back then. But he expects to be treated with courtesy. Service today, he says, “is despicable.” He says airlines are to blame for the toxic attitude, and passengers shouldn’t be surprised either when they pay such low fares.

“Airlines have set up the atmosphere of a confrontational work environment with all of their fees and reduced salaries for their employees compared to the good old days,” he says. “Consumers do not want to pay for service so they get what they pay for, disinterested and sometimes hostile and lackadaisical flight attendants.”

All of which brings us to the shrill minority of flight attendants and commenters who thought they could score points by attacking yours truly. They accused me of writing an “unbalanced” story. They said I’d done “zero” research on the topic. And they accused me of being a corporate shill, presumably for their employers.

Some weighed in with their opinions through social media, which is great. I love a good discussion. But in the blizzard of expletives some of them unleashed, they inadvertently proved my point about the demise of civility. If these people are — pardon the expression — serving us on the plane, then we’re headed for serious trouble.

With that kind of attitude, they really don’t belong in any customer-facing position. Ever.

However, in the interest of transparency, I’m happy to answer my critics. No, the column wasn’t fair or balanced. It’s an opinion column. (And you know where to go for “fair and balanced” don’t you?) I cited five sources and a poll in my original story, so I’d be more comfortable calling it “some” research — certainly enough research to form an opinion.

As for the corporate shill part, that’s really funny. Apart from a six-month freelance writing stint for an airline credit card back in the early 90s, I have had no ties, formal or informal, to the airline industry. In fact, it’s been a difficult relationship which I often wish could be better.

I’ll say it again: I don’t think all flight attendants hate their passengers. But in the last week, I’ve heard from a few airline employees who should probably be looking for a new line of work.

Really, folks. Don’t put yourself through this for a subsistence salary and a few elusive flight benefits. It’s not worth it.

(Photo: dcm aster/Flickr Creative Commons)

188 thoughts on “Ridiculous or not? When flight attendants attack

  1. It’s interesting that you call out flight attendants for being rude, while Pat Vinroot’s request for “young, thin” flight attendants receives no comment whatsoever.

    1. It may be rude, but at least Pat’s tone was civil. It sounded like Chris got a few expletive-laden tirades that were completely unfit to print. 

      People in customer-facing positions ought to be able to brush off a civil remark, even if its content isn’t very nice, without blowing a gasket. 

      1. Sad but definitely true. A lot of the flight attendants understand that I have a job to do, which is to advocate for their passenger. I was really taken aback by some of the unprintable emails and phone messages that I received. 

        Some crewmembers took what I wrote very personally, even though I was just publishing the experiences of my readers and expressing my own personal opinion in an online column.

        And the name-calling continues online, even now …

          1. BAHAHAHAHA!!!  Glad to see your sense of humor is intact, even in the face of the onslaught. 😉

          2. To be honest when I hear someone wants someone “young,” “thin,” etc I hear…Naive, attractive, and looking to please.  It is usually said by a man with a compex. That guy may change his mind in an emergency.  I guess everyone has their preference.  I just prefer someone who 1. doesn’t snap at me for choosing to fly that day.  2. who is knowledge about the rules, not just the ones they want to make up.  3. who knows how to deal with UNRULY people and emergency situations. 4. And preferably someone who will give me the whole can of soda if they are offering a beverage.   I know better than to eat the ice.  🙂

            When you accept a job you know the terms.  Either accept it or don’t.  I’m sure most of us have felt underpaid, and under appreciated at some point in life.  I have considered a career change because I’m in the same boat.  Just don’t take it out on the customers who just want to get to from Point A to Point B unmolested, with all belongings, and alive.  

            I promise to keep smiling back, and saying thank you when we land.

        1. Perhaps the ones that are spewing expletives are the very ones we complain about. They barely conceal their contempt on the plane, but given an opportunity, and away they go.

          As far as thin, slim, or whatever, I’d be very happy to have a pleasant attendant.

        2. “Some crewmembers took what I wrote very personally, even though I was just publishing the experiences of my readers”

          You kind of forgot to publish the 80+ remarks from your readers (most of which were made by passengers, not crewmembers) in support of the FAs.

          Where did THOSE go? 😉

          1. umm. guest is the display name that the person chose…lol….That person is unregistered just like you

  2. Ms. Vinroot’s communication with you is why I voted “passengers”.  That set of expectations seems to put the onus solely on the FAs, when as Mr. Deming pointed out, it’s a 2-way street.  I figure there’s more passengers than FAs, so again, numerically, it’s the passengers.

    “Fair and balanced”!  Still laughing. 

      1. That’s not his point at all! He’s just pointing out that some international carriers still offer the great service that older flyers remember. Domestic carriers hide behind the cabotage laws, which grant them a government-supported monopoly on US travel. If this new Congress is serious about restoring competitiveness it will ditch cabotage and allow Singapore and Emirates to compete in the US market. Then we’ll see service improve.

        1. If great service is truly what you are after, why does it matter if your flight attendant is young and thin? Can younger, thinner flight attendants provide better service than older, more robust ones.

  3. Maybe you should put the blame on the simple mathematics : Pre – deregulation planes were smaller, carried less passengers, for a crew that was not fundamentally different… 

    Maybe you should put the blame on evolution (and lack of reaction to it from the masses) : diners have evolved in many places into fast foods, and the downgrade in service and staff attitude is basically the same as in the airline industry, but you conveniently choose to ignore it because you pay less to eat your burger and you’re not stuck in the fast food for hours !

    Maybe you should put the blame on education : respect has long been lost from our schools curriculums and families are not the haven they once were, being torn apart by working parents, television, internet, …

    Maybe you should put the blame on pride’s loss : since the 70’s, less and less people consider their job as being more than a bread and butter provider and their employer as being something more than a paycheck : difficult to feel for someone that might get rid of you at the end of the week to boost its stock price, … In the past, people were proud to be part of a company !… Today, they will only say so because it’s the right thing to say !… 

    But more probably you should put the blame on all of the above !…

    1. “Maybe you should put the blame on the simple mathematics : Pre –
      deregulation planes were smaller, carried less passengers, for a crew
      that was not fundamentally different… ”

      Huh? Airline deregulation was signed into law in 1978…At that time the DC-10 Wide Body (380 passengers) and 747 Jumbos (450 passengers) were in full swing! In fact, Pan Am at that time had had 747s for almost a decade and by 1978 they were almost an entire 747 fleet! Along with the 747, the 737 with up to 215 passengers are the world’s most popular airplanes! No…I don’t think that the pre-regulation era plane design has anything to do with this…it’s greed pure and simple. The current business mind set is to get your money today and get out! Nobody want’s to see prosperity, they only want profits. The shift has moved from the customer to the share holder…and *THAT* is the problem with the airlines!

    2. “But more probably you should put the blame on all of the above !…”

      I was going to ask why that 4th option isn’t in the poll.

  4. There’s enough blame to spread around – airlines, government, passengers and, yes, attendants.  All have done their part to turn flying into the miserable experience it is today. 

    But let’s face it – attendants are responsible for their own actions and I’ve seen quite a few rude/mean flight attendants in the last few years.  Those people are responsible for their own actions and attitude.  I think the problem is now with the TSA and the “everyone is a terrorist” hysteria, passengers just have to sit there and take it.  Before, you could take down the name of the attendant, complain to another attendant and/or the airline once you get off the plane.  Now, if you so much as give them a mean look, you’re getting kicked off the flight, arrested and interrogated.  Flight attendants know they have all the power and too many of them aren’t afraid to use it inappropriately.

    The pendulum needs to swing a bit back towards the center so that passengers who are mistreated can voice their concerns without being further harmed by being treated like a criminal.

    1. I have been at the PHX airport several times when I heard FAs for outbound flights to MCO or FAs departing from inbound flights from MCO talking about hating kids, dreading this flight because of the number of children on these flights, etc.  If these FAs hate children then they should find another line of work.

      When we have traveled outside of the US on European-based and Asian-based airlines with our son when he was younger, we received ‘rock-star’ treatment (i.e. they carry our carry-on luggage to and from the plane; they carry our carry-on luggage on the plane; they put our carry-on luggage in the overhead bins; carry the car seat; etc).  On the Asian-based airlines flights, they gave ‘gifts’ (i.e. a Disney DVD, an airplane, etc.) to our son.  The FAs played with our son.  They wanted to hold our son.  They taught our son a few words of their foreign languague.

      On US-based airlines, they do NOT lift a finger except for their middle finger by stating that it is against union work rules to assist you.  I am not expecting them to take care of my child or even match the service that you receive from an Asian-based airline but what is the problem to help you to carry a piece of luggage when you arrive at the gate when you have a small child that is sleeping?

      1. My experience is so far different from yours it is like night and day. For me I can say On US-based airlines they DO help me and fellow passengers with getting their luggage up in the overheads or gate checking them once the bins are full. (I flew over 75k miles for the last 2 years) I cannot afford BC when flying to Asia, so my experiences are in coach. Once the meal service is done you do not see the FAs unless they happen to leave their curtained off quarters for a beverage in the galley at the same time you are back there looking for something to drink. I have gotten much better service from US based airlines than others. Are you saying that FAs should they come off the plane and carry your luggage (including the full size carry on from your sleeping child) onto the plane for you because… you have a small child and they are your servants? 

      2. Considering the way many parents look after their children (or don’t), I’m not surprised. BTW, in all my years of flying I have never heard “union work rules” cited as a reason for not doing something.

        It might interest you to know that at most airlines, flight attendants don’t start getting paid until the door is closed. If they help you lift a heavy bag, they are doing so as volunteers. If they strain their back, they will have trouble making a worker’s comp claim as they are technically not on the clock.

        You’d think the unions would do something about that, wouldn’t you?


      3. As a flight attendant in the US everything is a potential lawsuit.  If a flight attendant holds your child and they hit turbulence and your child is injured…instant lawsuit.  

        1.  Well, the potential for lawsuits isn’t just limited to flight attendants. Anybody and everybody can be sued for just about anything these days.

          1. In the US, yes. Europe/RestOfTheWorld still operate with concepts such as “your own darn fault” and “bad luck”, among others.

            I do believe this sue-mania is to blame for much of the perceived un-helpfulness among flight attendants and in so many other places.  

            (Really, if I risked a $15m lawsuit for stowing someone’s backpack in the overhead bin – a backpack which unbeknownst to me contained a Ming dynasty vase, natch – I’d much rather decline and accept the labels unhelpful, uncaring and un-whatever.)

          2. You anti-lawsuit types like to hoot and holler but you haven’t really thought through your rantings.

            There has to be SOME way of enforcing the laws, doesn’t there?  So, what are the options?

            Do you want there to be an expensive taxpayer-funded Bureau of Flight Attendant Regulation to handle this sort of thing?  Do you want there to be a Department of Slippery Sidewalks?  Do you want there to be a Bureau of Coffee Temperature (for those of you who like to cite that old chestnut)?  No, of course not.  Nobody in their right mind wants that much of an enormous government.

            Instead, we have a system in which the government does not directly regulate these behaviors.  We assume everyone will do what they are supposed to but if they don’t, those who are wronged have the right of redress in court.  That is what lawsuits are all about.  That is one of the fundamentals tenets of American government.  Sure, about half of lawsuits have no merit.  The other half do.  That’s the law of averages.  About half of people criminally charged are innocent, do you think we should stop trying to prosecute criminals?  Of course not.

            So why do you want to stop lawsuits?  The natural and logical outcome of restricting our rights to be heard in court is to end up with the Bureau of Flight Attendants et al.

            Some people have no faith in the common sense of the law and of judges.  This is caused by anecdotes which we have all heard about how stupid the law is.  These anecdotes are designed to make you indignant, so of course they do.  But they do not tell the whole story.  You have heard the story about the hot McDonalds coffee.  Did you know that they were heating the coffee 30-40 degrees hotter than the published industry standard and they were doing it intentionally as part of a strategy to cut costs?  You have heard of people being sued because of an icy sidewalk.  Did you know that they live in a city where homeowners are required to keep their sidewalks clear?  They were repeatedly warned to clear the walk and refused.  What a shock that they were successfully sued!

            You might be surprised that judges are actually intelligent people and that the law is designed to protect the innocent (except for DMCA which is another story).  If a flight attendant gets sued because they were holding a child and turbulence hit, guess how far that lawsuit would get?  About as far as I can shoot earwax out of my ear.  True, the airline or insurance company may settle before going to trial, but that’s a business decision they made.  You can’t blame a plaintiff for demanding their right to be heard in court.

          3. “If a flight attendant gets sued because they were holding a child and turbulence hit, guess how far that lawsuit would get?”

            Any court action, merited or not, is time and money-consuming, one or both of which can’t be recouped. That’s what people want to avoid if it can be helped.

            The unfortunate reality is there are people who’d want to sue anyway, inspite of trying to limit that liability.

          4. Plus, the FAs know too well they’ll be on their own if they hold a baby, lift a bag or whatever; the union is not going to back them.

          5. A sad part is, in turn, the airline can hold the FA or so responsible for that as well. Can, anyway, depending on the situation.

      4. Have you ever thought that maybe when FA talks about all the Kids on the flt  they wonder if the parents are going to take care of there children!  Instead of the parent ask the FA to tell the child if you do not stay in your seat belt I will have to tell the Captain on them and ect!  How about about the parents that hands FA DIRTY DIAPERS  not in a bag!! Or you are serving drinks and that DIAPER ins upon your bar cart!!  Have you ever had a child pour a drink on another passenger! 
          I was a FA for 35 + Yes I was there in the good years of flying where you had nice meals, you could have 2 cans of soda it you wanted. You did help with bags and ect. If you got hurt the company took care of you. But right before I retired the company change things. They said it is your own fault, we have said you are on your own.   Plus flying to other country they do not bring on every thing they own. 
           I had retired before my airline stop doing anything on board for a serve to the passengers. It is sad to me to see that now. Now talking to my friends that are still flying. They do not get restock on some turn around flts except for ice and trash.  That is the company fault.  and there are FA’s that do need to fine another job.
           Thank you for your time.

  5. I voted passengers because I have noticed a distinct difference in the attitudes of passengers over the last 10 years.  I have noticed an “all about me” attitude among passengers. People now show up to the airport in their pajamas, carrying pillows and other bulky items they intend on carrying onto the plane without regard to available space and other passengers. While I fully understand the need and desire for comfort, I do think there are better options than your pajamas. 

    As a passenger myself I have never had any really negative experiences with flight attendants. I have always been polite and gracious and received the same back. While I have noticed some flight attendants who are a bit hurried and can sometimes be a little short I attribute that to full flights and trying to stick to a schedule that keeps everyone (even themselves) on time to the destination.

    I think if everyone involved would just practice politeness and a little understanding and much less selfishness then there would not be so many complaints about flying the friendly skies.

    1. You are 100% incorrect. yes, there are people/customers who are total arses, but the fact remains that the people working for any specific company get paid to do a job. If they aren’t doing that job, then they need to find a different line of work.

      The employees at any given company should be friendly and courteous to EVERYONE. If the customer then cannot be helped, at least the employee tried their best and put on a smile. If they can’t do that, work elsewhere. It is not right to blame a customer for poor service or a bad attitude.

      1. “If the customer then cannot be helped, at least the employee tried their best and put on a smile.”

        Until the customer decides to sue them inspite of that, maybe. And that does happen, even though it’s arguably far and between.

  6. I voted airlines. 

    I’ve noticed a HUGE decline in customer service since baggage fees were introduced and made the standard. Now, in order to avoid these fees, fliers try to drag everything they can in an oversized roll-a-board. The gate agents do NOTHING to stop the giant ones and PAX get frustrated when they get on board and there’s no space. (Can you blame them?)

    Course, I do want to call out the obnoxious AA FA I had a few months ago. I don’t have status on AA, but had to fly them b/c CO/UA’s flights did not work with my schedule. This annoying man wanted me to put my small bag under my seat rather than in the overhead bin to accomodate some of these oversized bags. I told him I had paid their ridiculous baggage fee to avoid having something at my feet and that he needed to get his gate agents to actually check the size of the bags these people were bringing aboard. He laughed and said, “Oh, if they did that, we’d never get off the ground. You people would argue too much!” Uh-huh.

    So, apparently you can bring anything you want onboard an AA flight, regardless of size simply because the gate agents don’t want to argue with you.

    Also, I have to say, CO’s customer service–even for elite status level fliers–has been in the toilet since their merger with UA. Chris, how about contacting UA and finding out how they intend to bring us CO’s better customer service rather than their call center in India?Finally, Pat Vinroot sounds like he wants to be at a strip club, not on an airplane.

    1. I completely agree.  I think I also fault the airlines for attempting to double-dip when it comes to the actual tickets causing major issues for their employees/passengers.   Most of the time now we all buy non-refundable airline tickets because they are substantially cheaper.  So if you don’t show up you still pay full price.  I’m fine with this model.  However the airlines still overbook planes.  For a refundable fare this makes sense as they want to cover their potential loss in case a customer cancels.  However for non-refundable they have no risk and shouldn’t overbook.

      This then results in calls for standbys, delays at the gate and involuntary bumps.  

  7. I would have voted “union” if that was a choice.

    I have flown several flights on Asian-based airlines, European-based airlines and US-based airlines.  There is a big difference betweens the FAs on these airlines.

    The big difference is that the FAs on the Asian-based airlines are not working at the airline for a career (i.e. 30 years, 40 years, etc.)…it is just a footnote on their resumecareeretc…a short term career. In the US, most FAs are there for a long-term career…it is easy to get burn out especially putting up with mergers, paycuts, etc. 

    There are requirements (<30, a weight requirement, etc.) to be a FA on an Asian-based airlines.  These requirements will be against US laws.  All of the FAs on Asiana Airline wear the same hair style…do you expect US-based FAs do something like that?

    Last fall, I was on a United (UA) flight sitting in Business Class (BC) from SFO to ICN and they did serve a meal to my wife and me; however, they refused to serve a meal to my son.  He fell asleep when the FA was taking the orders (the flight was two hours late leaving SFO…he would have been awake if the plane left on time) and they won’t hold his meal and cook it later when he woke up from his 2-hr nap.
    On a flight (business class) on Asiana Airline (OZ) from ICN to LAX, our son fell asleep when the FA was taking the orders but the FA told us that we could place the order for our son and it will be served once he was ready.
    The UA BC FAs did disappear after the meal service.  I went back to the BC gallery to get a soft drink.  All of the BC FAs were gone… there was a  Coach FA manning the gallery, I asked for a coke and she told me that she couldn’t get me a coke since she doesn’t work in BC and it is against union work rules.  The BC FAs never returned until the end of the flight.  The snack tray sitting in the Business Class gallery was not restocked after it was emptied.
    On our OZ flights, the Fas come around every few minutes asking if you need something.  They refill the snack tray.  We encountered the same level of service on Cathay Pacific and Singapore airlines.
    It is my guess that the ages of the UA Fas were above 45 since it is usual (unless the FA speaks a foreign) that it takes 20 to 25 years to gain enough seniority to work the international flights.  All of them were wearing glasses…most with bifocals.  The ages of the FAs on our Asian-based flights were under 30.
    The service that we have received on our flights on Asian-based flights and European-based flights were superior compared to US-based flights.

    1. I’m old enough to remember when “stewardess” was a revolving door
      job.  It wasn’t fair: no one should have to leave a job because they aren’t
      pretty enough, young enough or thin enough – let alone your proposed rule against bifocals!  We need more courteous flight attendants, but that’s
      not the way. I’ve flown on many European airlines and had far better service
      without the draconian changes you seem to be advocating.

      1. Brooklyn, whether it is “right” or “wrong”, Arizona road warrior speaks the truth. SQ (Singapore Airlines) ‘s hiring processes would be sued out of oblivion in the United States. Being a flight attendant in Asian countries is viewed as “internship” rather than a permanent career. The flagged airlines is viewed by the government AND the public as a “representative” of the country. Hence, the emphasis on service, and giving a good impression to the flying public.

        If I have a choice between a US carrier versus a foreign carrier, I will always choose the foreign carrier. There is simply a different level of service, often for the same price. 

        In the US, airplane travel is no longer an “experience” rather it is a means of transportation. Since the traveling public only cares about the cheapest ticket, well, you get what you pay for.

        1. You are correct, except for you get what you pay for. I fly Cathay to Asia and their service from start to finish is far above almost all Amercian airlines and most times they are cheaper too.

    2. You’re blaming the unions? Give me a friggin’ break. Airlines like to replace 737-500s with CRJ900s. Why? One rason is that a 737 pilot most likely makes upwards of $60k, while a CRJ pilot is lucky to make $19k. It is almost criminal how the airlines take advantage of pilots in terms of pay. So imagine what they would do with FA salaries without union representation. If your plane lands gear-up in a field, do you want to put your life in the hands of a 19 year old making $6/hr who took the job because Midas Mufflers wasn’t hiring?

      I await your reply, in which you blame Barack Obama for the decline in airline service and Nancy Pelosi for the time you ordered a Coke and got a Pepsi instead.

      1. PS, next time you need service in business class, try ringing the flight attendant call button. It’s above your head next to the light switch.

      2. Do you honestly think they replaced planes because of pilots salaries, man you are off on another planet. They replace the planes because of fuel costs.

        1. Many airlines went to the regional jets when fuel costs were low.   They could fly more planes betwen the same points using the lower cost pilots and fewer FAs (also at lower cost).  When fuel costs peaked, many of those same airlines were desperately trying to dump the regional jets to go back to the larger jets running fewer times per day because they are more fuel efficient when fully loaded with pasengers than the regional jets are.  The high cost of fuel offset the savings in labor costs.

    3. 2 points.

      1. Not all airlines in the US are unionized, including major carriers such as Delta.

      2. Please take a bus or drive the next time traveling whilst in the US.

      *bonus point*

      3. Move to Asia. 🙂

      1. And this is exactly why we have such negative impressions of domestic FAs:  we know full well they’d prefer that we “take a bus” so that we didn’t have to burden them with our presence on their plane.

        Just FYI – if all of these pax that you find so annoying take the bus…you’ll be out a job.  Funny how that works, huh?

    4. I can confirm what Arizona Road Warrior said about Asian-based airlines BC services are truth and accurate. Until now I still have  good international services on BC and FC on US-based Airlines but not up to SQ or OZ level. I really don’t care about appearance but very difficult about services and manners.
      I think the problem is not Union but more related to ISO conformity related… Managerial Continuous Improvement Processus that including Training, Evaluating, Review, etc…
      Asian companies are very serious about theses quality control processus.
      I use to fly on Swiss, Lufthansa, Thai and Singapore but recently I had very good experience on International First Class Service on United and Delta but I refrain from traveling domestic on the legacy airlines. I stick to Air Canada, Westjet and Virgin.
      About Passengers, my thought is more on the education overall. Civic behavior teaching that parents expect the schools do it and the schools believe that it must be taught at home.

  8. It starts with the airlines. Since they treat their employees and passengers like crap, it should be no surprise that the employees and customers feel turnabout is fair play.

  9. “Don’t put yourself through this for a subsistence salary and a few elusive flight benefits. It’s not worth it.”
    – – – — – –  –
    I agree…did someone force them to become FAs?  They choose this career (especially the ones that became FAs in the past 10 to 15 years) with low pay, employers losing money, etc. on their own will.  If they don’t like it, find a new career.  Other people have changed their careers by choice or force, why can’t they?

  10. Keep up the good work Chris.  Sometimes the truth hurts.  Those with undisciplined minds, lash out, never taking responsibility for their behavior, actions and bad decisions.  Wait, that sounds like my kids when they were 5 years old!

  11. I voted Passengers and Vinroot is the perfect example. Since when does being young or thin have anything to do with FA’s, or anyone, carrying out their job.  As for being “accommodating” I doubt that’s in their job description.  I can understand the reaction of FA’s when passengers expect them to be their personal maids or servants.  There’s always the execption, but my experience has been when the passengers act civily, the FA’s respond accordingly.

  12. I work for a major airline in customer service.   I see and deal with FA’s every day and what I find very bothersome – which carries over in the “service” or “attendant” part of their title —  is their appearance and grooming.  I’ve seen very overweight FA’s, messy hair just loosely thrown up on top of the head, wrinkled, unpressed uniforms, shirts or blouses not tucked in.  Men, whose hair is too long and one in particular has a full head of dreadlocks that hang down to his waist !  I’m sorry, I don’t care if some think I am “politically incorrect”;  I’m sure people don’t want this guy serving them anything  with his dreadlocks swinging all around  them.  Ugh.   I blame management for being AFRAID to deal with and enforce a moderate appearance, dress code and grooming.   Why have supervisors if no one enforces anything ??

  13. Come on people.  Let’s be specific this is mostly (and I say mostly because Icelandic Air flight attendants take this to a new level) United States based airlines.   This is NOT a problem with carriers in other countries.  And yes i DO have data.   In the last 10 months I have flown to 16 countries on over 40 flights by almost 10 different carriers.  It’s not about the airlines cutting costs it’s the growing attitude of entitlement of American’s – both the flight attendants and passangers.

  14. The real answer to who is responsible for the “demise of civility” is: the Government. Ever since the Government deregulated the airlines, everything became a downward spiral towards the bottom given that airlines had to start competing on cost and thus cut their expenses. But of course, there’s no mention anywhere in this article of the fact that the cost to fly is now a fraction of what it was before and that now, Aunt Betty can easily fly to see Mom and Pop in California whereas before, this would have been unaffordable. And of course, most people here blame airlines because that’s apparently the “thing to do” these days: Blame the airlines for everything even though it’s out of their control.

    I’ll tell you this. If you want service back to the way it was before deregulation, there are one of two things that need to happen. Either the industry has to be re-regulated or, unions should be banned (especially flight attendant unions). That will clean things up pretty fast.

      1. WalMart has good service and smiling employees?  Really?  What WallyWorld do you shop at because the 3 stores by me have employees who I think must really hate their lives and the lives of anyone who dares walk in the door.  Most WalMart employees I’ve ever encountered are that way. 

      2. seriously? Wal-Mart has some of the most unhelpful, unfriendly, ignoring and downright surly employees i’ve ever witnessed. i’ve only been to 4 different stores in my life, in 3 states, so maybe i’m wrong?

    1. I don’t expect a return to the “good old days” of filet mignon, and I’m more than OK with that. I don’t want to pay the pre-deregulation prices, either.

      What I do expect is that every airline employee and every passenger treat each other within the confines of basic human decency and cordiality. There is no excuse for a surly flight attendant, and neither is there an excuse for obnoxious passengers. 

  15. Why did I vote for the airlines being responsible for the decline in civility?  Simply put, they are in control, especially after 2001 when they became supercops.  Anything they say, goes.

    Back to civility.  The boss creates the expectations.  You lead by example.  The example of attendants reading Soap Opera Digest for most of the flight behind curtains tells us their priorities.

    Quite clearly, the airlines and attendants could create an atmosphere of mutual respect.  They chose not to.

  16. All of the above.  Some passengers have ridiculous expectations.  If you can’t carry or lift your own bags, don’t expect for the flight attendant to carry your oversize/overweight bag.  The airlines have cut staffing so much that the fa’s barely have time to do much.  And some fa’s are so jaded by rude passengers and management that they consider all passengers the enemy.

    Flight attendants are NOT YOUR BABYSITTERS.  They are here for our safety and to provide a few amenities.  Get over it and move on with your “precious cargo”.  They are your responsibility.  Bring your own snacks.Expecting young, thin fa’s is sexist and ageist.  I have found that most senior fa’s have been very professional and that’s my expectation on  a flight.  Where I have had problems is with fa’s angry with their management.  Don’t show it to passengers.  I have worked with jerks as my management for years and my customers would never know.  In this day and age, it’s something a lot of us passengers HAVE to do.  And please, please do not take it out on me.  I am treating you with respect.   

  17. The response back where you were verbally attacked is the a strong indicator of the manner that many flight attendants treat their passengers and feel about their job. The comment that the passenger expects the flight attendant to make the first move, well yeah, they are the customer. I can imagine the outrage if a flight attendant was treated that way, with distain, at McDonalds or Target.

    I agree it is so much nicer flying an Asian airline, you get treated with so much more respect.

  18. Pat Vinroot is a woman?  (Chris uses the pronoun “she” throughout the article.)  Wow!  Like Raven, I assumed Vinroot was looking for a stripper, not a flight attendant.

  19. I fly frequently, and always try to start off every trip with a positive attitude.  I make eye contact with everyone I deal with (TSA, gate agent, flight attendant, etc.) and attempt to be as “nice” as possible.  In most cases, I believe that by treating people with respect, I’ve been treated pretty well too.  “Please” and Thank You” go a long way in my book.

    By contrast, some of the behavior I’ve seen from my fellow passengers has been unbelievable.   I could give dozens of examples — including drunkeness, belligerence, racist comments, entitlement, vicious anger, etc. 

    Sure, I’ve seen flight attendants that haven’t done a very good job.  I believe that they’re the exception to the rule, though.

    I agree with the earlier comment about the decline of CO’s customer service quality since the merger with UA.  It’s also disconcerting to see that CO is pushing more of their reasonably-priced itineraries through O’Hare rather than Cleveland or Houston.  All it takes is a quick thunderstorm or a couple of inches in snow at O’Hare to cause dozens of delayed/cancelled flights and thousands of stressed-out, angry passengers and airline employees.

    1. I am the most pleasant person when I fly.  I say Hello and Good Morning and How are you; and when I leave the plane I always say Thank you.  probably 75% of the time, I don’t get any answer at all.  I carry on a small bag, put it away myself, never ask for a pillow or blanket, don’t ask for any special treatment.  To be treated as a non-person is very frustrating.

      1. exactly what do you expect? them to come to your seat and fawn all over you? i don’t get it. you aren’t asking for anything special, so they assume you are content. instead you’re fuming inside. what does that do?

        1. What does Aj4coco expect?  Maybe a “Hello” or “Good morning” in reply.  Or even “You’re welcome!” when they thank the flight attendant when leaving the plane.  Being courteous means being responsive–not ignoring a friendly person.  Common courtesy can hardly be called “fawning” all over someone.  What a strange reply when common courtesy is seen as “fawning” all over someone. 

  20. I think the TSA and the greedy airlines are largely to blame for passenger meltdowns.  By the time we get to the gate, we’ve been driven to the absolute end of our endurance by lines, inspections, restrictions and rudeness.  If, on top of that, the flight is delayed, we have a child kicking the back of our seat, the special meal we ordered is unavailable and the flight attendant is rude – all of which we might have been able to handle in the pre-TSA era – we blow up at the flight attendant or the other passengers. It hasn’t happened to me – not yet – but I can easily imagine it. Getting rid of the unions isn’t the answer; the flight attendants need the same protection as the rest of the workforce. The solution is to re-regulate the industry: not necessarily the pricing, but the terms of service. Require airlines to be transparent in their pricing, allow one checked bag per customer and pay hefty compensation for overbooking and late arrivals, then let them compete on price over and above these baseline services.  That’s what Europe has done and it seems to be working.  But of course, we’d still need to get rid of the TSA….

  21. Personally I haven’t had any problems with bad attitudes or rudeness, (I fly primarily SW) but apparently many others have.  Ultimately, I would have to hold the Airlines accountable.  They hire the FA and set the behavior requirements.  Travel is a high stress activity, with so many uncontrollable variables (weather, breakdowns, etc) that passengers get irritable, it should be part of the training for FA’s to diffuse those situations.  The FA can’t just “go-off” on the passenger.  It equates to a medical professional abusing a patient or their family member because they are under stress from an unexpected medical problem.  Those situations are exactly when compassion and a calming influence are most needed.  

    All the added fees the airlines are adding on add to the stress the FA’s have to deal with, but again training the FA’s to deal with these issues is key.  I have always found when I am upset, that when someone is exceptionally nice and calm, it is especially difficult to be mean and nasty to them.  

    But it all boils down to what the airlines will accept from their FA.  In this day and age, there are many without jobs.  If the airlines treat their FA’s well they won’t want to lose their jobs, (talk to a SW FA sometime) and they will follow the standards set by the airlines.

    Again, I haven’t had any problems, but then again, I try to smile at those that I come in contact with and that really helps too.

    1. I agree with you regarding Southwest. I do not work for SWA, but their FAs and pilots are always very kind. They are the highest paid in the industry, and their company treats them very well. Lucky bastards! 😉

  22. Who is most responsible for the demise of civility on planes?
    Interesting question.  Sorta of like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg!

    I have a cousin who is working the front desk at a major vacation hotel in the west this summer.  We stopped in to visit with her on our vacation and she is counting the days until they close for the winter.  She said that the traveling public is ruder than ever before.  Is it because they do this online, due to a hidden identity and then forget about manners when they are actually in public?  Then those that are being yelled out and treated improperly are not going to take it and are giving it back?  Or are workers just tired of being mistreated by employers and the work environment and taking it out on customers?

    1. you hit the nail on the head for me. the traveling public has become ruder in the last decade. and i am supposed to sit there and take it when they say “F— you, stupid b—-!”? because believe me, there was a time when i would hear that daily. since when is that ok? and then when my supervisors are called, they say “well, i didn’t hear it, and even thought there are 10 witnesses,  there’s nothing for me to do”. so management doesn’t back us up, and then the customer feels their behavior is acceptable and they continue it. it’s a cycle.

  23. Well said at the end there Chris.  A point made by one of your rebutters deserves re visiting.  Its true that flight attendants have few to no consequences for their behavior.  Crying baby -interfering with flight crew. Have to use the toilet NOW. Interfering with flight crew, And the list is almost endless.  The airlines have turned attendants in to low paid, unhappy bullies.  Little of it has to do with flight security IMHO

    1. Those sound like issues you need to take up with the Federal Aviation Administration, not those who are expected to enforce the regulations. When FAs do NOT do so, there are indeed repercussions — including and up to termination.

      Unfortunately I have seen it. Many times. I am unsure where you get this “no consequences for their behavior”.

      Ask most FAs. A lot of what we do is based on fear — fear of losing our jobs by making one tiny false move. It’s pretty pathetic. 

      1. Exactly!  This business of FAs having no consequences seems to be an urban legend.  All a passenger has to do is send a letter saying a FA was rude, failed to offer them a drink, or any other complaint, and the FA is called into the office of the supervisor (who hasn’t worked on a plane in years), and forced to explain his/her behavior–and the benefit of the doubt is given the passenger (believe it or not). Get a package of complaints in a short time (like 3), and you’re out. Be 5 minutes late for work 3 times in a year–you’re out.

        I had a passenger get up to go to the bathroom prior to 10K feet, when the seat-belt sign was still on;  I got called to the flight deck and yelled at by the captain, as we would have been fried by the FAA if something happened and the pax got hurt (yes, he knew what went on in the cabin–my circumstances are a little different than commerical FAs).  

        FAs have regulations to uphold, and yes, their jobs are on the line if they don’t enforce them, as inconvenient as it may be.

  24. It would be great if the FAs were actually given the proper tools from the airlines to perform their job to every passengers’ satisfaction. Unfortunately it is no longer 1972, and with deregulation making air travel now “free trade”, we’re all kind of screwed.

    There are bad apples in every profession. Period. My horrific experience with one physician doesn’t make them ALL raging a-holes, does it? Of course not. I also happen to be a prudent person with an education and common sense, so that too may be a factor in my ability to produce logical thought.

    Who knows.

    As I mention in my blog and articles, the large majority of passengers I interact with on a regular basis are kind, compliant and even nice. Shocking, eh?

    I enjoy my job as do most colleagues I work with out on ‘the line’. I meet amazing people every day. If I hated my job I wouldn’t be doing it.

    The bottom line and my #1 travel tip: KINDNESS BEGETS KINDNESS.

    If you show up to a flight being rude, disrespectful and treating the FAs as uneducated servants — my guess is that you will not be catered to.

    Never in a million years would most put up with the abuse that many FAs do. It’s a sad, sad state out there.

    1. I spent over 15 years working for a company where we did work for our clients employees. You would not believe the abuse that some of the CSR’s took. I only fly 4-6 times a year, but in 20 years of flying I have never seen a FA subjected to the abuse that the CSR’s at my old company were on a daily basis. You are not the only one. The problem I have is that many FA project the negatives that they receive from one passenger to all the others.

      1. I’ve done both. As a CSR I was treated 100x better. Attitudes like yours make it incredibly difficult to work in a pleasant environment.

    2. In my 40+ years of domestic and international travel I have had a single episode of a rude flight attendant and too many to count episodes of rude and obnoxious fellow passengers.  I find in business as well as personal life that most of the time we get what we give – be polite, understand the other person is attempting to do the best they can with what they have, be sincere, smile – it works around the world. 

      Flight attendants today are faced with impossible job responsibilities which increase regularly.  Passengers board an aircraft after hours of pre-flight travel to airports, standing in lines, being charges $50 for as little as a single ounce of overweight baggage, and generally are frustrated by the time they board the aircraft.  In short – a little bit of courtesy by Everyone goes along way.

  25. This brought to mind an episode a couple of years ago.  BF & I were embarking on an AA plane, counter ticket-taker tells BF he has one too many bags.  He pointed out he was just being a gentleman and carrying mine, but she insisted he take the bag off his rollaboard and that I carry it onto the plane.  That being said, most 1st class FAs with AA are efficient, if not friendly.  I also believe kindness begets kindness, and try to give everyone I meet a heartfelt smile.  You never know what their day has been like.

  26. So, some FA’s hate their jobs.  Some passengers hate the airlines.  My unscientific guess is there are FAR more rude and disgruntled passengers than FAs, even on a percentage basis.  

    Really people, you want FA’s to hoist your luggage for you into the overhead bin?  Pack it right, knucklehead, so you can do it yourself.  You only paid $329.00 to fly coast-to-coast and you’re upset the FA’s aren’t your personal valet?  Or your butler to fluff your pillow and fetch your blankets?  Or your personal maid to pick up your cups and trash. 

  27. Funny, I have flown 50,000 miles/year for the last few years and have never encountered a rude flight attendant. Some have been friendlier than others, and I’ve seen some get short with passengers, but I myself have never had an issue. Maybe that’s because I’m polite and I say “please” and “thank you” in every exchange with them. I also recognize that their primary job is to save our lives in the event of a catastrophe. Serving drinks just fills the time.

    I think the problem here is passengers. If my fellow flyers stopped treating FAs like servants and started applying the Golden Rule, perhaps their experience would be more like mine.

    As for Ms Vinroot… Young and thin? Welcome to the 1950s, Pat. Perhaps you should take the train.


    1. Guess what, more of their jobs are to serve the passenger and take care of their needs. Of those 50,00 miles each year, how many times have they had to save your life. I think what the airlines need to do is designate two FA’s to be life savers and the rest to be servers

  28. while i tend to believe that passenger are the primary cause in the demise of civility on airplanes (seeing as there are roughly 100-150 passengers per flight, and maybe 3 F/As), i do think airline management and their bigwigs are close behind in blame.

    airlines lost services and amenities, after hemorrhaging billions of dollars. the very meals everyone complained about being gross were eliminated, and passengers were up in arms! blankets and pillows people thought were disgusting were taken off, and passengers got angry! there is just no pleasing some people.

    i have worked in the industry for a dozen years. in the last decade people have been increasingly rude and demanding. i get yelled at when planes are late. i’m wearing a uniform and a nametag, you really think i have control of an aircraft? i get called a liar, when i have never even once made a story up about why a plane is behind. i tell people their bag is too heavy and i’m screamed at. i tell them it’s too big to carry-on and i’m degraded.  why do people feel acting like this is ok?and i am supposed to sit there and take it when they say, “F— you, stupid b—-!”? because believe me, there have been times when i would hear that daily. since when is that ok? and then when my supervisors are called, they say “well, i didn’t hear it, and even thought there are 10 witnesses,  there’s nothing for me to do”. so management doesn’t back us up, and then the customer feels their behavior is acceptable and they continue it. it’s a cycle. and SOMEONE has to stop it.one other thing, as an employee i have flown many airlines other than my own over the past 12 years. i can honestly say i don’t recall a single “rude” or “surly” F/A on a plane (i have experienced plenty when they are hanging around my workplace). maybe i’ve been lucky. but somehow, i still don’t think Chris’s 5 anecdotes are endemic to an entire industry./rant over

  29. Okay, let’s be honest. I am one of the folks who responded to Chris. I wasn’t vulgar in anyway, let me state that for the record as my post is public on my website as is @SassyStewRants:twitter post.

    I am more concerned about the title of Chris’ last article mentioning “flight attendants” as hating passengers when over half of the “examples” of “interviews” he’s done for the article had nothing to do with flight attendants. 

    You do know that the “wheelchair people,” or the folks that push wheelchairs around airports, arene’t employed by the airlines themselves, right? Further, you included them in the article. Since when are THEY considered flight attendants?

    Like I said in my response, you need to re-title the article “Do airline and airport employees really hate passengers?” That’s the article you wrote. It had nothing to do with flight attendants except for the sick passenger in the restroom, who you never mentioned if they asked for help or not before locking themselves in the bathroom and then complaining that no one helped them.

    Airlines that take away amenities, passengers that demand the world for their fare and the TSA have decreased the civility. Sure FAs play a role in all of this, but a lot of it boils down to the airlines. How are the FAs treated? If the airline keeps their employees happy, they’ll in turn keep the passengers happy.

  30. I love how everyone here blames the airline or the attendants in this matter of “them vs. us”.  As a flight attendant for a major US carrier, I can tell you that our job is more than just “slinging coke”.  Not only do we have to show up for a 14 hour duty day after MAYBE 10 hours of rest the night before (no this does not mean 10 hours of sleep time, this means 10 hours from deplaning to reboarding after a 45 minute van ride to a hotel thats in the middle of nowhere with no food around for miles at 11pm, and another 45 minute van ride back to the airport in the morning).  Then we have to deal with the people who think they are God’s gift to creation, come on the plane throw a bag, or a coat at us without so much as a word, then the same passengers stare at us when we ask what they would like for a beverage like we can read minds.  Ask me for peanuts or pretzels when they know good and well that most airlines have not had free snack for awhile now.  Don’t even get me started what these people act like when we are delayed.  Yes, we have to sit here in a thunderstorm/snowstorm until it passes or we cancel.  Even with todays technology airplanes cannot take off and land in storms.  You cannot change physics.   Seatbelts….don’t make me laugh…Do you ride in your car without a seatbelt?  I didn’t think so.  Cell phones/laptops….yes these really cause interference in the pilot’s headsets.  Would you like them to miss hearing directions from the tower and cross a runway when someone else is landing?  Again..I didn’t think so.    So the next time you want to blame a Flight Attendant for being rude, ask yourself if you are following FEDERAL AVIATION REGULATIONS (a.k.a. Federal Law) then get back to me. Most usually, not always, it is the passengers fault we act like we do.  Passengers make us angry by not following SIMPLE rules.  Its not that difficult. 

    1. It’s not that I am saying it’s a good idea for a Flight Attendant to be rude because of someone else’s actions, but after 15 of those particular passengers per day, it’s a little difficult to be the perky, perfect flight attendant. 

      1. And yet, that’s what you get PAID for:  to set aside whatever is causing you to be in a bad mood, and treat each customer as a CUSTOMER, not as an annoyance.  That’s what’s missing from so many of these posts from FAs:  you seem to forget that we are not equals in this relationship.  We’re paying for this experience; you’re GETTING paid.  While we certainly have a moral imperative to be civil and courteous, you have a responsibility as an employee to treat us like the customers that we are.

        Does this excuse the bad behavior of boorish customers that you described above?  No.  But it’s not MY fault that the guy two seats ahead of me tossed his jacket at you, demanded free peanuts and snarked at you.  *I* didn’t do that – so don’t treat me like I did.

        I’ll repeat:  treat me like a customer, not an annoyance.  And I’ll treat you like a paid professional providing me a service.  Fair enough?

  31. I don’t think the “blame” can be placed on either the airlines or the passengers.  Rather, it belongs to society as a whole.

    What we see on airplanes stands out only because it is magnified by being in a constrained setting.  Rudeness and selfishness are endemic in the US today, and airline travel only reflects the rest of society.

    As far as issues specific to the airline industry, there is plenty of fault on the part of many, including the government.  Let’s look at a few points of interest.

    1.  “We are here primarily for your safety.”  No, you’re not.  That’s your most important function, but you are there to serve the passengers (that’s why the profession was introduced many decades ago).  Your safety duties are minimal, in terms of time.  BTW, I’m making a distinction between safety and security, which are two entirely different things.

    2.  “Every passenger is a terrorist.”  Well, the TSA hasn’t exactly said this, but that’s certainly their attitude.  The problem, though, is that otherwise intelligent people operate under the assumption that 100% security is possible.  It isn’t, so get over it.  Even if you stay hidden under your bed every day, somebody can set fire to your house, a meteorite could come crashing through the roof, or some drunk driver could decide to park the car in your bedroom.  I happen to think airport security has passed the point of diminishing returns.

    3.  “It’s the airline’s fault for cutting our pay and increasing our workload.”  I have no argument that the flight attendants are, for the most part, being abused by their employers.  That’s no excuse for taking it out on the passengers, though.  Your job is service, and if you don’t have the attitude you need to find a different line of work (just like the rest of us in other industries).  By the way, as a customer I should NEVER have to be aware of labor-management relations.  You’re both right and you’re both wrong, but remember that I’m the reason you’re there in the first place.

    Okay, this is getting too long, so I’ll shut up.  That should be enough to support my points, anyway.

    1. Excellent post, Dave!  The airlines and flight attendants need to remember that they are the face of the airline that they work for.  Having worked in service industries myself, I know there are some real jerks out there.  Fair or not, when your work in the service industry, it is your JOB to make a concerted effort to diffuse the situation and calm the unhappy person down.  If you think that’s unfair, don’t work in the service industry.  Most people respond very favorably to being treated w/empathy and compassion.  The flight attendant, being paid to provide cordial service, is the one who absolutely should be personable and helpful.  I think passengers should be courteous too–but they aren’t getting paid to be friendly. 

      Personally, I have never seen a passenger be rude to an attendant–but I have seen FAs who are rude to their passengers.  Seriously, flight attendants who obviously hate their jobs and the people they are supposed to be SERVING (remember service w/a smile??) should find another line of work.  Preferably one without customer interaction (I vote for them emptying the plane toilets).  We had an unbelievably horrible flight attendant on our way home from Hawaii to DFW in May of 2010.  Seriously, I think she expected the people who were paying her salary (the flying public) to fan her and rub her feet.  She couldn’t be bothered to tell us all the drinks that they were serving.  When she gave us the wrong sandwich and we politely restated which one we wanted (immediately–she and the cart were still there, didn’t even require her to walk back to our seats), she acted *so* put out.  As passengers crammed into tiny seats for 8 hrs w/a four year old in tow, it’s *my* job to take care of my four year old–make sure she’s not kicking the seat back (practically in her lap) in front of her, help keep her ears from hurting, take her to the bathroom, etc.  It is the flight attendant’s job to be courteous and helpful on the very rare occasion that she is actually going down the isle and serving people. 

      Thin and young?  No thanks–how about courteous and competent.  I’ll take that over thin and young any day! 

      1. “Never seen a passenger be rude to an attendant”

        Guess you were lucky to not be on the CO flight where the preacher’s wife in 1st class exploded because the FA was not treating her like the royalty she believed she was.

        I have, unfortunately, seen too many passengers be rude to attendants when they are told they have to turn off their electronics or told they can’t get up a walk around while the seatbelt sign is on.  Several of those passengers did appear to have had probably too much to drink, but still no excuses.

  32. Have to giggle about wanting flight attendants such as those on Singapore Airlines.  I think that could happen if A – we were paid a real salary and B- Airlines actually hired and paid for the truly capable.  I work for one that “prides itself” by hiring the “young breed” of folks.  They hire a few of us who know how to keep things going and are addicted to the job, but the rest are doing it for the “adventure” and the airline travel bennies.  Many still live at home and this is their first job!  They are completely rude and do not understand how to resolve the smallest conflict and present a professional product. Hiring this sort of flight attendant keeps costs very low, to allow for those 99 buck tickets.  So it is a complex thing – everyone complains about the treatment of the passengers and pay of the crews but no one wants to go back to high ticket prices.  Idiots who also want to be sure they are never served by an overweight flight attendant are likely the same obese guy asking for a double cocktail on a 40 minute flight and a seatbeslt extention. All of which I will give him with a polite smile.  Just sayin’……

    1. The flight attendants I am talking about are in good shape, and look perfect. They are on Cathay. The flights on that airline are cheaper than almost all US airlines. Oh yeah I am 5’10” and 161 pounds…hardly obese.

  33. I don’t know what Southwest is doing “right,” but their attendants certainly do not fit this profile…not only are they efficient and caring, but genuinely seem to enjoy their job! On a recent flight that was delayed 4 hours at the gate, their humor made an annoyance into an adventure! My “connection” was a train; they offered to contact Amtrak for me!

  34. I don’t believe that the FA’s should be necessarily be  “young, thin, polite, attentive,
    accommodating.”  But I have had Flight Attendants on US airlines who are wider than the aisles. One in particular last year could not go down the aisle without bumping into passengers even TURNED sideways. I felt sorry for her after a while because it seemed  she was continually saying “Sorry” or “Excuse Me” to the folks she bumped into. Ultimately though I blame the airlines for squeezing the aisle size down to the point this happened.

  35. Wasn’t there a study that showed that when rats were forced into a crowded and confined space, they became aggressive and combative? The same can be said of airplanes. With the need to stuff more and more people into an airplane not designed to carry the number of people squished inside that aluminum tube, it’s a wonder that any civility exists at all! Like John Black above, I too remember the hey-day of air travel. But what I remember most is the amount of room on an airplane compared with today. I distinctly remember flying coach (that’s what they called it back then) with my parents and being able to sit on the floor as a child in front of my father’s feet and have enough room to play with my toys without having to encounter the seat infront of me. the distance between seats were measured in feet, not inches!

    And I can see that with the advent of the up-coming TV series “Pan-Am” that people are going to be exposed to the wonder years of flying through the magic of TV and are going to expect that same level of flying experience in today’s cattle-mover attitude and be sorely disappointed. Just watch as more people than ever before start to complain about airline injustices once that TV show comes out…it will be an avalanche of discontent!

  36. A couple years ago I was flying on US Airways to Kona with my then 3-year-old and my then 9 month old.  I bought a seat for the infant and thus I was carrying a car seat.  We had a couple small backpacks and a rollaboard.  When we got to Kona, I realized the airport had stairs instead of jet bridges.  I paused at the top of the stairs with a baby in one arm, a car seat and various assorted pieces of small luggage in the other arm, wondering how I was going to manage the logistics of the situation.  Did anyone offer to help?  Yes- the CAPTAIN.  He was nice enough to carry the car seat and one of the bags down the stairs for me while the flight attendants looked on.

    1. That was very kind of the Captain.  Just a note:  Keep in mind that according to Federal Aviation Regulations, FAs are not allowed to step foot off the plane until every passenger has deplaned.  So even though one of the FAs might have wanted to assist, it was against the law.

    2. Our Captains and FOs assist parents with strollers and car seats on a regular basis. They have also been known to push many a passenger out to the terminal in a wheelchair.

      It’s not uncommon AT ALL.

  37. A previous poster talked about how unreasonable it is to pay $329 to fly coast-to-coast and then expect your FA to ‘hoist your luggage for you into the overhead bin’, ‘fluff your pillow’, ‘fetch your blankets’, and ‘pick up your cups and trash’. Another way to look at it might be that I’m paying 80 bucks an hour to be there. Looked at from that perspective, maybe, juuust maybe, I have the right to expect my service person to, oh, I don’t know, SERVE me. If he or she hates serving so much, QUIT!  I guarantee you’ll find people lined up who will be thrilled to have your job. (I know, I know… I’m a jerk). 🙂

    1. “I have the right to expect my service person to, oh, I don’t know, SERVE me.”

      How far do you expect the service person to serve you other than basic manners of thank-you or please-have-a-seat with a smile, though?

      1. Actually, David (and Aaron, too), I AM paying for the services that FA’s have historically provided. Would I prefer that FA’s not have to concern themselves with anything other than safety? Actually, yes. However, since that’s NOT the case, and FA’s ARE required to provide drink, snack, and food service, blankets and pillows, trash collection, and the occasional help in stowing a bag, I expect that service to be provided with courtesy. Is that wrong?  

    2. “Another way to look at it might be that I’m paying 80 bucks an hour to
      be there. Looked at from that perspective, maybe, juuust maybe, I have
      the right to expect my service person to, oh, I don’t know, SERVE me.”

      The flight attendant’s primary job is to get you out of the burning wreckage of what used to be an airplane. That’s why they nag you to buckle your seatbelt, shove your oversize bag under your seat, etc. – so that if the feces hits the rotary cooling device, you won’t die.

      You are not paying $80 an hour to be served. You are paying $80 an hour to be transported from Point A to Point B in time you could never make on your own, which requires a fabulously expensive machine that requires lots of skilled labor to operate safely, INCLUDING THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT.

      Tell you what – next time you have to go across the country, try driving. Then tell me what a bargain $80 an hour is, even if the flight attendant doesn’t serve you a drink.


      1. Christopher – seriously – this person is being offensive.  Is there a reason not to delete the entire comment?  This is now the second vulgarity this person used in this comment thread.  I call troll.

          1. If this person is attempting to be supportive of FAs, he/she is not doing them any favors.  Good to know you’re keeping your eye out!

  38. “Cheap airfare?” Well, I do not know what cheap means but 600 dollars for a 2.5 hours flight in a 1970’s aircraft is not precisely what I would consider cheap.

    Double that if you want to fly in Business class. 

    I have to say that the service I have received in Business class in my 10 to 12 time a year flight to Mexico from Dallas has been good. The quality of everything was more than acceptable. But fly coach and good grief!

    It is true, most of the time I have seen the FA sitting in the back just discussing their personal matters. Do not even ever dare to use the little call button because they will attend to it with a very long face and an attitude that says more “how dare you” than anything else.

    One time the “lady” threw at me a bag of peanuts, like if I was a monkey in the zoo. And not a customer that drops about 10,000 dollars a year in their airline.

    Another time two of the women who take the tickets in the ramp were saying nasty comments about a passenger lady. And I was standing right in front of them.

    Customer service on the phone?

    What a joke, one time I called to see about a bump up with my miles and I had not even finished my sentence when the woman interrupted me… you do not have enough miles, is there anything else I can do for you?

    The bad service does not start or end with the FA, it goes from the people at the ticket counter, to the pilots sometimes.

    That phrase “We know you have many options and we appreciate you choosing us.” Really? No, unfortunately the only regular route to MX is American Airlines, and secondly… I do not feel very appreciated, the guy that hands me my Pepe Sandwich at JJ’s is infinitely more cordial than the stupid airline where I spend tens of thousands of dollars.

  39. Does anyone really care what their flight attendant looks like? I mean, look at the majority of passengers nowadays.. Myself included in that. If, you know, there’s one with boobs and a full beard. I might be a tad uncomfortable with that.

    It’s an all around problem.. I mean, the flight attendants feel underpaid, the airlines treat them and passengers horribly, the passengers dump on the flight attendants.. Never ending cycle.

    I certainly don’t fly as much as I used to.. But, I have yet to run into a rude flight attendant. Ticket Agents, yes, but, never anyone on a plane associated with the airline. Of course.. I never ask them for anything when i’m on a plane, so I guess I never give them a chance to be rude. I don’t really EXPECT anything from them, either.. I mean, perhaps a Coke here and there, that’s about it. When i’m sitting up front, especially on the puddle jumpers, I’ll make conversation if they look like they want to talk. Had a real nice conversation with one during a blown landing in Dubuque one time. One on my recent flight from Philly to KC was really nice to my nephew who was flying with me.

    What does anyone ask for from them, anyway? Honest question. I can see on a long flight asking for a drink, or pillow/blanket.. But.. What else will you ask them for that they can do?

  40. Generalizing is always a bad idea.  No, not all FAs are rude to passengers.  And no, not all passengers are rude to FAs.  But there is enough of that going on, on BOTH sides.

    The difference is that we paid for this…while the FAs are BEING paid.  Out of our fare.  While every person, regardless of where they are, has a moral imperative to be civil and polite to the people they encounter, FAs have a greater responsibility:  we are their customers, we are paying for the privilege of riding in this cramped metal tube, and we have a right to expect professional service from the people who are paid to serve us.  I’m sorry you have a tough job, I’m sorry you’re poorly paid, I’m sorry you didn’t get much sleep.  But that’s not my fault, and I shouldn’t be penalized for it.

    No, that doesn’t mean we can act like total louts.  No, that doesn’t excuse any passenger’s bad behavior.  No, that doesn’t mean I expect to be treated like royalty.  No I don’t expect FAs to bow and my feet, or do more than the job entails:  civil greetings, safety briefing, serve me what my ticket includes in terms of drinks/food, etc.  I don’t expect more than that. But I DO expect FAs to recognize what the relationship is here:  service person to customer.

    When I’m at work I have clients, and I recognize what our relationship is:  they are paying for my services, and I will treat them accordingly.  When I’m at a restaurant, I’m paying for food and service, and I expect to get what I pay for.  Same thing on a plane.

    If you had a rude passenger before me, don’t take it out on me.  Not MY fault.  Swallow it and move on with a smile – that’s what you get paid for.

    I would never in my wildest dreams treat a client with disrespect just because I encountered a rude client earlier in my day.  I set that aside and move on, giving each client the professional service they deserve.  That’s MY job.

    1. I don’t know what you do for a living, LeeAnne, but I believe it would be a pleasure to do business with a professional like you.

    2. “The difference is that we paid for this…while the FAs are BEING paid.”

      Unfortunately this is incorrect. The entire time while you and 200 other people are boarding the plane? Not being paid.

      1. But this is part of your job and you do get paid while in the air and most of what she is talking about occurs in the air. My job is from 9-5:30, salaried, but I have also worked until 2:30 in the morning for no additional compensation. So you get no sympathy. You lost with this comment

      2. I do recognize that your pay situation is odd, and includes ostensibly unpaid work hours…but please understand that that is NOT OUR FAULT.  Not only that, the bottom line is that this is YOUR JOB ad you receive a paycheck for it.  If you are hung up on what specific hours you’re being paid for, then you’re thinking like a highschooler working a McDonalds, not a professional service person. 

        Many service professionals view our pay as a salary – not an hourly wage.  Therefore, during any hours in which we are interacting with clients or customers, we are WORKING.  We are paid to do a job, and we don’t turn off our professionalism during hours that don’t fit into a time sheet slot.  That’s called being a professional.

        Are you suggesting that, during these supposedly unpaid hours, you have a right to be rude, disrespectful and snarky to pax?  And the moment your time sheet hours kick in, only THEN do you need to be professional?

        I certainly hope not.

        I have to agree with Grey83 – you totally lost my sympathy with this absurd way of viewing your job.  How sad…but at least it explains the mindset we’re encountering up there.  So…thanks for the window into the FA thought process.

  41. I couldn’t decide whether to vote “airlines” or “FAs”. They are both responsible – the airlines for making business decisions that guarantee the passengers walk onto the plane feeling rolled (oops,gave away your seat, oops, forgot to tell you about the fee to check a bag, and the extra fee for curbside, oops, that’s a Continental flight, it’s at another terminal and closing the doors in ten minutes, hope you make it!) and the FAs come to work feeling less than valued by their employers. 

    But. BUT. As someone who has worked in a customer-facing position over the years (and met some great people, but also been called a number of ugly names by the crabby and disgruntled) I hold the FAs 100% responsible for their attitude and treatment of the customer. It’s their JOB to set the tone on the plane – if they are polite and willing to commiserate and as helpful as they can be, passengers will respond in kind, in my experience. A little kindness goes a long way. 

    “There really needs to be a common courtesy established between the traveling public and the airline employees, but it’s usually the flight attendants who are expected to make the first move,” he says.This kind of statement makes me crazy. Of COURSE it’s up to the FAs to make the first move. This is not a conflict between two shoppers in a supermarket, folks – this is a conflict between one party who is AT WORK and responsible for behaving professionally, and another party that is the customer. I’m not defending rude behavior from passengers at all, but their obligation is different from someone who is at work and in charge of the cabin.

    1. THANK YOU!!  Why does this most basic concept seem absent from so many of these comments?  I’m so glad to see somebody else gets it!

        1. exactly. when i’m told “F— you” and called a “stupid B—-” daily (and NOT because i am…these people would say that to Mother Theresa), it isn’t so easy to turn the other cheek. it breaks you down.

          i know they’re yelling at the uniform, and not at me, per se,  but these are hurtful, personal attacks. and i should not be expected to just accept it since i’m getting “paid”. the money just isn’t enough to justify that treatment.

          1. I know this sounds harsh, is unfair, and you don’t want to hear this, but…if the money’s not good enough, then quit the job.  You clearly have been in it long enough to know that this is what the job entails.  You are not going to change the traveling public.  If you are emotionally incapable of turning the other cheek and treating the next passenger with 100% professionalism and respect, then you are not cut out for the job. 

            Again, I am in no way excusing the bad behavior of the rude pax.  But their bad behavior does not excuse YOURS.  If I’m not the one who called you a b—-, then don’t treat me like I am.  If you can’t do that – go get a job where nobody is going to call you a stupid b—-. 

            I’m not being uncaring – I’m being realistic and pragmatic.

          2. oh yes because quitting a job these days and finding a new one is so easy. you never hear reports on the news about skyrocketing unemployment. jobs, jobs for everyone! please.  

            can you tell me how much money would be reasonable to expect that kind of abuse? in my book, no amount would suffice.  
            but in no way will i ever accept that “it’s just the way the public acts” rhetoric. and after being verbally beaten down daily, the strongest person CAN break. ask any kidnap victims.  and by the way, i AM capable of treating the next customer with proper decorum, and i do.  there’s never an excuse to take it out on the next guy. never said there was. I’m just explaining that there are reasons (NOT excuses) for some employees’ behavior. it’s hard to just “let it go” when you are continually emotionally assaulted.

          3. I am fully aware of the economic state of our nation, and the challenges in finding a job.  I am also empathetic towards your situation.  Nothing that I have said justifies or excuses the bad behavior of anyone – pax or FAs. 

            I’m glad to hear that you are capable of treating the next pax with professionalism after encountering a rude one.  If so, then you are not the FAs to whom my entreaty is directed.  If you can get abused by a pax, and then turn around from that and paste a smile on your face for the next (innocent) one, then you are doing your job right.  As a paying customer, I believe we are entitled at least to that.

            The problem is, not all of them can.  As a frequent traveler, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been barked at, snarked at, and outright ignored by “beaten down” FAs.  Just last month I had an FA slap a tray with the chicken dinner down in front of me without a word, after I had just said “I’ll take the pasta please.”  When I looked up at her and said “This is the chicken, can I have the pasta?” She barked “We ran out of the pasta.  If you want a short-order chef, go to a restaurant.” And I was in business class! I suspect someone before me gave her a hard time about the meal, but was it MY fault?  Did she have a right to snap at me like that for something someone else did?  How hard would it have been for her to politely say “I’m very sorry, we’ve run out of the pasta, I do hope this will be acceptable.”  Then it would be MY job to shut my mouth and accept what was available.

            A couple years ago I was on a flight that changed planes in Vegas.  We boarded the Vegas leg, sat in the plane for an hour, then were de-boarded without an explanation.  Then boarded again, then minutes later de-boarded.  This went back and forth a couple more times, with the gate agent boarding us, and the FAs de-boarding us, until we were bumping into each other like lemmings in the jetway.  People kept asking what was going on, and nobody would tell us.

            Finally a young man in line in front of me got irritated and said to his companion, within ear shot of one of the FAs, “This is f****d.  Can’t they at least tell us what’s going on?” 

            We finally got seated and they were about to close the door, when that FA came barreling over to the young man and demanded that he leave the plane!  All of us sitting near him groaned – come on, we’re ready to leave, let us leave!  But she insisted on throwing him off the plane.  I spoke up and said, “Ma’am, I’ve been near him this whole time, and he has done nothing wrong.  Please stop this, and allow us to leave.”  She turned to me and yelled, “Nobody says F*** on my watch!  And if you don’t pipe down, I’ll send YOUR ass off the plane as well!”  And when she spoke the offending word, she said it so loud that the children several rows behind us could hear it (and they had NOT been able to hear it when the young man said it.)

            Well, I shut my mouth, because clearly this FA had all the power, and I didn’t want to get stuck in Las Vegas and not be able to complete my journey.  But the poor young man and his girlfriend were thrown off the plane.

            Now tell me that woman had ANY right to do ANY of that?  This is the type of FA that I’m speaking to when I say, if you can’t handle the job, quit.  I’m sorry for the bad economy, but don’t make us PAYING CUSTOMERS suffer because your job sucks and you can’t hack it.

  42. i’d say sexism, greed, capitalism, and deregulation probably has to do with alot of the things you are writing about.

  43. Just look at the “quality of life” hired by the airlines – all companies for that matter – in the United States.   Satisfying minority quotas and affirmative action has lowered standards to an abyssmal level – there are many members of minorities or specific ethnic groups who can cut it, so those that can’t should be weeded out – during the interview process!!. 
    That is only one problem.  No common sense, no compassion, no sense of doing the right thing or wanting to go the extra mile for anyone.   Speaking properly, proper diction, vocabulary, etc should be part of the interview process.  I work with people who are so crass, so ill-mannered, yet management turns a blind eye and a deaf ear – they truly are afraid to address it; deal with it.  Just a simple thing like calling the next person on line — “May I help you” or “I can take the next person on line”….instead of loudly shouting ….NEEEXXXT !! .   uGH, it’s like nails on a blackboard -might as well be working at Burger King of McDonalds.  It’s disgusting, no one cares who should care,  can’t wait to retire in a few more years – there is no such thing as a work ethic !!

    1. And therein lies the problem… the “quality of life” (Read: quality of people) that American companies are forced to hire. With apologies to Martin Luther King Jr, employers are no longer allowed to hire people based on “the content of their character”, but MUST hire based on “the color of their skin” (or, these days, their sex). I spent 22 years working for a large electric utility in California, and one of the fondest memories I have is of a lazy, incompetent, female kvetching that she was being fired because she was a woman, and being told that, “No, we hired you because you’re a woman. We’re firing you because you’re worthless”. 

    2. This is absolutely absurd. 90% of the FA’s I deal with on domestic flights are white. About 75% of them are women, who have been the backbone of the cabin crew since inception.

  44. It’s all about the dollar at the end of the day.. Passengers’ bloodlust for cheaper fares has turned airlines to kill each other off by driving down their costs and offering the cheapest possible fares. 

    I’ve seen people go with airlines that they absolutely loathe because it saves them a few bucks. Passengers don’t want to pay for good customer service. Yet they demand it. It is a two-way street… Want good customer service? PAY FOR IT. Want to be treated with dignity? Treat your flight crew with the respect that you would want to be treated with. If they are snappy, cut them some slack and be the bigger person. Hate having to deal with jet lag? Flight attendants OFTEN sleep in different time zones four times in four days. Every night a different time zone. Also, don’t forget that on the plane, the ratio of passengers to flight attendants is roughly 50 to 1. If you let that one flight attendant ruin your day, you need something more to live for than an uncomfortable flight. Flight attendants are 50 times more likely to encounter irate, snippy, demanding, rude, and hostile passengers. And they deal with that everyday… day in, and day out. Cut them some slack. 

  45. How can the airlines be at fault for uncivil behavior of passengers?  You can despise the company but you’re all stuck in the same tube for hours – why do people feel the need to be unpleasant?

    Deregulation is what really killed it.  When only the rich could fly – when prices were set to ensure a profit – then you didn’t have Billy Jo Bob drinking too much or Moms of bratty kids flying all over. 

    When you make air travel available to everyone, everyone will fly.

    1. “When only the rich could fly – when prices were set to ensure a profit – then you didn’t have Billy Jo Bob drinking too much or Moms of bratty kids flying all over. ”
      Smacks of elitism to me.  The rich don’t get overserved?  Or have unruly children? 

    1. First, I have never seen an economy level passenger throw a coat at a FA, maybe a first class passenger.

      Actually I have been lookng at Amtrak

      1. “First, I have never seen an economy level passenger throw a coat at a FA, maybe a first class passenger.”

        Oh so you stand at the front of the plane throughout the entire boarding process watching all 300 people boarding the aircraft, right?

        1. In most planes I can see 90 % of the seats, as I usually sit in the middle of the plane, so I don’t have to stand in the front. If you are talking about the front then you are only talking about the first class passengers. You are losing this one badly.

    2. Additionally, it is ok for Americans to comment about Japanese cars, and the odds say you and/or a majority of the FA’s drive one, but it isn’t ok to mention their superior service and attitude when talkind about air travel….hmmmmm

    3. Sassy, if everyone that you are telling to take the bus or drive in your various comments in this article actually did so…you would be out of a job.  Funny how that works, huh?  Yes, passengers are a pain…but without us there’s no airline.

      1. LOL @ “funny how that works, huh”?

        Oh wow, really??! I HAD NO IDEA! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR INFORMING US ALL ABOUT HOW THE WORLD WORKS!! You must be a genius!

        But yeah, making that comment 2 times equals 2 passengers. FUNNY HOW THAT WORKS?! Crazy, right?? 🙂

        1. Well hello Sassy – interesting new name.  Also an interesting way to do math…so the fact that the “take the bus” comment was directed at “everyone who mentioned Asian airlines” means it was directed to 2 people?  Even though way more than 2 people mentioned Asian airlines – not to mention all the other people in here reading these comments from an FA who is paid to be a professional?  Hmmm…

          Please do share which airline you work for.  I’m sure there will be many passengers very happy to avoid it.  That’s a win-win – we don’t have to encounter an FA with an obvious hatred for passengers, and you don’t have to…um…encounter passengers.  (Although that’s not such a win for you in the long run, is it?)

          Just in case “how that works” wasn’t completely clear…….

  46. I’ve always found that being polite to flight attendants gets better service–and I’ve NEVER seen one that had to turn sidewayas to get through an aisle.

    1. That’s great that being polite has worked for you.  Unfortunately, there are many of us who have behaved with total civility and politeness, and STILL were treated like dirt by an angry, “beaten down” (to steal a phrase from an FA) flight attendant.  So it doesn’t always work.

        1. Oh really?  How odd… 

          I’m curious what part you are “calling bs” on…the part about how some FAs are rude, even though I wasn’t?  You don’t think some FAs take out their anger on undeserving passengers who just happened to be in the wrong place after the FA encountered a rude passenger?  If that never happened, this article wouldn’t have been posted, and none of this discussion would be taking place. 

          But you can go on living in your fantasy world if you’d like…

  47. I voted FAs as the ones responsible for the service today. Being a Chinese traveller, I can easily tell which airline has a service attitude and an equality concept. I flew with CX/SQ/Emirates frequently and occasionally when they are full, I am put on BA’s business class, you could immediately tell BA’s FAs are purely “doing their job” but CX/SQ/Emirates are trying to make you feel comfortable with a personal touch. BA’s FAs are trying to avoid eye contacts (perhaps they are more comfortable with interacting with their own people? but on an international flight in 21st century, can you choose whom to serve?) and will rarely go the extra mile. No wonder they are where they are today.

    During the snow disruption, my friend’s child who was supposed to fly with BA at LHR was not given any help at all but left in the cold in the airport for 3 days before anyone contacted her because she needed a doctor. CX/Finnair have hotel arrangement for the students. If you have a child travelling alone, which airline will you choose???!!! this is not an ego/pride issue, this is a practical issue.

    1. Very well written – and some excellent points!  I wasn’t a huge fan of Christopher’s first article – I agree with some of Sassy’s points in her blog posting.  This is why I said (in an earlier comment on this article) that generalizing is always a bad idea, and there is enough rudeness on both sides to go around.

      That doesn’t change my primary point – that FAs are being paid to do a job, while we are paying customers.  That fact doesn’t excuse rudeness on ANY side – but people being people, FAs need to expect bad behavior from the general public.  Fair?  No.  A fact of life?  Yes…and they should be professionals trained to deal with the biggest “overly-entitled-triple-studded-diamond-platinum-chairman a**hole” they might encounter, with a smile on their face…and then turn around and smile at the next passenger.

      The reality is that the vast majority of FAs I’ve encountered in my many travels have been polite and professional.  But the ones who weren’t were so startling in their rudeness that it has colored my overall view of the job.  The sad reality is that THEY HOLD THE POWER – they can make those few hours in that cramped tube absolutely miserable – AND they can completely screw up your life just because they’re in a bad mood – such as that poor young man who got thrown off the plane for talking to his girlfriend.  That’s scary.

      Anyway, I enjoyed Sassy’s blog, and will probably read more on it.  Always good to get multiple perspectives.

  48. A quick check of Facebook reveals Ms. Vinroot isn’t quite so “young” and “thin” herself.  Maybe she should set a better example for today’s flight attendants. 

  49. There is not 1 single defense in your article that justifies rudeness. You don’t have to work for that airline if you don’t like the rules. I voted for the passenger’s for the demise if civility. 15 years ago, or so, I got on a flight that had a jerk in 1st class in shorts with his bare feet on the wall. YUK! I always suited up to fly, but TSA has caused me to dress down, to old to take off all my clothes to go through the screeners.

  50. Pat Vinroot’s total nastiness wasn’t bad enough the first time? I can’t believe that you repeated the part of his/her comments that had nothing to do with service and everything to do with what he/she thinks FAs should look like. Yeah, lets here it for airlines like Singapore, where women are treated like chattel.

  51. Jimmy Carter became responsible for the civil unrest when he deregulated the airlines.  Hasn’t ever been the same. 

  52. I am one of those “elite” (airline’s term) flyers on a major AMERICAN
    carrier. Fly domestic and international, regional and wide body. I
    have never had a bad experience. I can tell when someone has had a
    rough day, so I try to be as little trouble as possible and give a smile
    and kind word. Amazing how things can turn around.

    Flying home from
    Europe, I had a 50+ year old flight attendant, beautiful woman, who
    obviously loved her job. Fun, great service, hugs for the passengers in
    her section when we left the plane. I asked her during the flight if
    she was ever with Pan Am, and she leaned down and whispered, “oh, no,
    honey…I’m old Braniff”! My partner and I howled! And she is not the

    Now, there WAS (may still be) a CSR that works for an
    AMERICAN airline in Los Angeles that for the life of me I cannot figure
    HOW she keeps her job. Have seen her after 3 separate Hawaii flights
    and she is rude, unhelpful and one one occasion downright cruel to a
    young mother and her 2 small children. Even airline employees have told
    me they give her a wide berth.

    Finally, and here comes the
    sexist comment, I have to admit that the uniforms for Air France and
    KLM are truly more flattering to the ladies than the US carrier
    uniforms. But, hey, it’s not a fashion show and at least you don’t have
    to wear white gloves and 3″ heels!

  53. Hi,

    Can you tell me which EU carrier flies in or out of PHX? Please compare domestic flying to domestic flying and not international to a “points” awarded domestic flight. If international carriers exist, it might be smart of you to consider flying them first. Most carriers outside of the US are the only government flagship carrier and are heavily subsidized by their governments. This allows them to put money places the 26 US competing carriers can’t. Honestly, how many free flights do you book on the “EU” carriers?Also, a lot of the non US carriers have many more staff. I know sometimes their are 30 crew members on some aircraft. (Double Crews that switch while you are sleeping) Also, once they reach a certain age (28) are forced to retire or to the ground. They will starve themselves to remain “thin”. As if a 30 year old can not serve you a soda. (Look in own Mirror now). I have received negative service from WalMart to Tiffany’s. Should they be required to remain thin, push my shopping cart, and hold my baby while I shop? I know all of my hair dressers, Execs, travel agents, bankers, lawyers, and…. are this way. (sarcasm) We also know non-flight attendants never have divorces, financial woes, loss, or difficult times at home and still have to drag themselves to work. People are people and if someone is having a tough day let them be, and focus on yourself.Back to the post, on a domestic flight, a family with 3 children and 2 parents, each with their own roller boards, and 3 car seats, a cell phone, diaper bags, a sandwich, a book, and a coffee in their hands has to take some responsibility in dealing with the life they chose to create. Check it!Most US carriers have 3 or 4 flight attendants that are not even being paid during the boarding process. While they have to ensure that all 200 meals, drinks, utensils, water, security checks, cleaning, maintenance issues (cabin), seat duplications, seat belt extensions, emergency exit row seat briefings, water for pills, “we are not together” rearrangements, I’m supposed to be in first class, is first class full?, over sized luggage that made it into and out of the trunk-onto/off the x-ray, 500 yards to the gate to the aircraft and suddenly becomes too heavy for the passengers to lift their own “carry on”. Now you want the “thin”, “svelte” flight attendant to heave your crap into the overhead when you can’t either. Making sure the overhead bins actually close from all the “stuff”, if not rearrange it. all in 35 minutes? That is not even all. Then someone will say, “smile”, make a snide comment, or poke you for the  20th time…all within 15 minutes of boarding.We all know that every passenger is not the happiest when they arrive and are more than willing to have your job for some unreasonable demand that is impossible to provide. While all on a upgrade or flat out free ticket. (yes, we know). Each and every passenger has different expectations and reasons for flying and we switch back and forth through the myriad of emotions we have to instantly read. i.e., Hi, may I get you something to drink? Pax headed to a funeral, Next passenger, just won the lottery! Next passenger, Exec under the gun to get presentation completed before landing…and so on for 200 times at least once through the cabin and sometimes 5 times each flight. Oh, and if one of those expectations goes wrong, THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY, I DARE YOU NOT HAVE SOY MILK! You want to have a flight attendants job because you did not get soy milk when you were 5 miles in the air hurtling along at almost 600 miles an hour? Captain, turn back, 42F needs more soy milk.A lot of flight attendants have been on duty up to 6 days straight and  with up to 4 or more flights a day.I could go on but I think you get the point. Walk on and say hello(you don’t even have to smile. YOU booked the flight. Flight Attendants are nice people too.Judging from some of the comments and expectations on here, maybe some of the passengers should reconsider their employment as well. 

    Take your dang headphones off when the service carts arrive at your aisle!

  54. “Young, thin, polite, and attentive”? What the hell? Singapore Airlines also requires all would-be flight attendants to submit to virginity tests. True story. If a passenger has this person’s attitude I’m not surprised flight attendants don’t like them. Although someone who’s so overweight they don’t fit in the aisle shouldn’t be working there, it’s not a flight attendant’s fault if they aren’t a supermodel, nor is it their responsibility to be one.

  55. Having worked with the aviation industry for a few years and working with flight attendance and cabin crews I have some ideas.  One, the purpose of the flight attendant is not to cut your tender filet.  The mission of the flight attendant is to get the bodies out of the aircraft in the event of an emergency.  But because the airlines have set up this idea of the FAs be the faces of the industry, then there are activities that are included in the job description.  
    Yes, deregulation did allow the airlines to seriously look at having a person capable of handling an emergency and not just girdle up for the looks.  Although there was something to be said about that, but not in the environment of safety and security.  

  56. I am a flight attendant and yes I wonder myself what has happened to manners.  Passengers are rude upon entering the airplane.  I say hello and welcome with a smile on my face and receive nothing in return.  I am constantly being yelled at for things out of my control. I have been called the worst of names and treated less than human by passengers.  It is not only in the airlines we see this problems it is our society in general.  Rudeness is everywhere.  Like weather, federally mandated regulations, families not being able to sit together, etc.  I wish everybody could sit by people they want to sit next to but it is not possible everybody will get their wish.  Everybody needs to keep in mind.  The good ole’ days everyone is talking about is when airlines had an extra flight attendant aboard, made enough money to make ends meat, and did not have to worry about terrorism.  Another point I would like to make about flight attendants being old.  It is the airline’s one fault they created that beast.  Back in the old days flight attendants were not allowed to be married or have children.  So they dedicated their lives to their careers and are old with no family.  No special someone to grow old with and no grandchildren to spoil.  It is not fair to call out flight attendants.  We are human beings as well.  I am not saying there are not some nasty ones out there I work with some.  It is just that  we work long hours with little pay; we are trashed talked and yelled at by passengers for things we can not control; having to deal with grown adults who refuse to follow simple regulations that the FAA have created.  I can not afford to get fined because a passenger failed to comply with my instructions.

    1. Maybe you should be more empathetic to what your passengers have been through before they get to you. Going through security is very stressful, especially for those who do not fly often. If they do not smile, it may be because they are worried about finding a spot in the overhead bin for their luggage. It is like 100 people rushing to find a prize. I always smile and say hello, because that is who I am and I have flown enough, but not everyone can handle it. I guess I have been lucky. I have never seen a FA yelled at or one who has yelled back. However, I have had some some really surly and downright nasty people at the counter.

      1. I am empathetic to passengers. I have never been rude to a passenger.  Yes security is stressful.  Yes finding space on the plane for luggage is difficult.  I don’t know how much you fly. People get upset when they have to turn off cell phones, use the seat belts. I have seen people get mad at the smallest things. World hunger is something to get upset about and the way the economy is something to get upset about.  I have never been rude to a passenger.  I don’t sweat the small things.  I like to redirect my energy to doing something good.  Like volunteering. Like i said it is our society as a whole that has a huge attitude problem and Americans are up tight.  I don’t see people from Europe, Latin America or many other countries act like those in our society. 

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