I recently flew on business from Northwest Arkansas (XNA) to Charlotte on US Airways. It was an early Monday morning so the flight was almost completely full. I boarded and sat in seat 1F next to the window and had a young woman sitting next to me in the aisle seat. Across the aisle in row 1 both seats were open. The rest of the seats behind me appeared to be completely full. The flight attendant came on the overhead announcing that we would be leaving a little late due to weight distribution issues and that passengers should go ahead and turn off all cell phones and electronic devices. The plane door was not closed so I briefly continued reading through my early morning emails on my phone.
A few minutes later the door was closed and we were ready to depart. A man 2 or 3 rows behind me got up to move to row 1 across from where I was seated. The flight attendant rudely asked the man why he was out of his seat. He mumbled something about moving up to the 1st row. She snapped at him by saying, “Sir, we have weight distribution issues. I’ve already said that. You’re holding up my flight.” She then pointed to his seat and said, “GO SIT BACK DOWN!”
I ignored this bizarre and rude behavior and went back to reading my email, forgetting that the plane door had now been closed. The flight attendant’s voice then came on overhead and stated, “Ladies and gentlemen, for the 4TH TIME turn off all cell phones and electronic devices!” I look up from my phone to see the attendant is leaning over, phone in hand, starring me straight in the face. She had to have been within 5 feet of my face. She was speaking to me directly yet on the phone so everyone else on the plane would hear. She then proceeded to say, “If you have a learning disability I would be more than happy to help you turn off your phone.”
At this point I was shocked that she would actually say this to a plane load of people. I was equally shocked that she appeared to be saying it directly to me via the loudspeaker. Then it gets worse.
She hung up the phone after these comments. At this point I began to turn my phone off as quickly as possible. The flight attendant then looks down at me again (without the speaker phone) and asks me, “Sir, are you mentally retarded? Do I need to help you turn your phone off?” I looked up at her and firmly stated that I have it under control and I’m turning the phone off. I could honestly not believe that she would actually say this out loud to a passenger. I then said angrily to the young woman next to me, “I know she didn’t just say that to me.” The flight attendant heard me say this and quickly attempted to make things better by thanking me for my sense of humor so early in the morning. I did not find this funny at all.
The following day I emailed US Airways Customer Relations department telling them my story. I received a short email response apologizing for the flight attendant’s behavior. I responded to the email saying that I was unsatisfied and would like to speak with someone at US Airways over the phone to discuss my ordeal. I received a 2nd email response. No phone call. After my 3rd email saying again that this was not acceptable to me I finally received a phone call from Customer Relations.
I spoke with a representative for almost half an hour and retold my story only to be told again how sorry they were. I told her I was not looking for a hand-out from US Airways but was surprised they were not offering something more than a verbal apology to a frequent flier with their airline. After arguing this point for a few more minutes the representative put me on hold. She came back a few minutes later and said that she had agreed to send me an email with a flight voucher for future travel, although it was against their normal policy. She did not give me the details of the value of the voucher over the phone.
The final verdict: $25 to $100 off of my next purchased flight. Amount off depends on the total ticket amount of the future flight.
Hardly fair compensation for being asked if I am retarded.