The Bulldog Flight Attendant

April 18, 2010

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

My wife and I went on a Caribbean Cruise, and took a nonstop flight back home, Puerto Rico to Los Angeles, on American Airlines.

On this return flight, we encountered one of the BATTIEST flight crews around.

It started in the airport. First off, they neglected to do any pre-boarding. We saw this poor old lady, who didn’t speak English, sitting in her wheelchair watching everybody else board. What’s she supposed to do? I still don’t know what happened to her, hopefully they got her on-board.

Even the boarding process itself was off. The lady taking the tickets, and the lady announcing the boarding group, were totally out of sync. Microphone: “Groups one through three please.” Ticket lady: “Group one only, we haven’t started group two yet.”

Then I get on board. As I’m heading back to my seat, I pass the bulldog flight attendant. She is walking through her section of the plane (about 12 rows), closing all the overhead bins. They’re still empty, but she’s closing them. As each person arrives in her section, she asks where they are sitting. If it’s behind her section, she permits them to pass. If it’s in her section, she examines their bag to decide if she’ll let them put it in the overhead bin. Rinse, repeat.

We seated quickly. A few minutes later this family with three kids (all under 10) gets on. They clearly speak very little English. They needed to have a serious talk with whomever booked their seats: three across in one row, then single middle seats in the subsequent two rows. So they’re trying to figure out which child should sit alone between two strangers. I attempted to call the bulldog over to help, but she says we’re not in her section, so to ask the flight attendant at the back of the plane. I head back, and that flight attendant told me that she had just gotten all the drinks, and had to load them or we wouldn’t be able to take off. She told me to ask the bulldog. When I said the bulldog sent me to her, she said to sit down and someone would be over eventually. Eventually that got straightened out.

So we manage to take off successfully, and we’re about 2 hours into the flight. Suddenly, one of the flight attendants comes on the PA system: “ladies and gentlemen, the pilot has just turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, as we are expecting some turbulance. Please return to your seats as quickly as possible. If you can’t get to your seats, please sit on the floor.” HUH???

There was no turbulance. Maybe they flew over it, who knows. After about 15 minutes, the fasten seatbelt was turned off, and we could get up off the floor.

Toward the end of the flight, the back flight attendant came to talk to the people sitting directly behind us, who had brought a small dog on the airplane with them. She tells them that she’s glad they brought it onboard, because it’s really bad to check dogs under the plane. They tell her that they actually have two dogs, so there is also one under the plane. FA goes on this long rant about how horrible it is – some pilots forget to turn on the light so they’re trapped in the dark for 8 hours, if there’s any power problem that’s the first area where power gets cut so your dog might freeze to death, there is frequently trauma lasting days after the flight, etc. So helpful.

As an alternative, the FA suggests that they have a doctor write a note claiming that they need the dogs for medical reasons, and they’ll be permitted to bring both on board. Someone behind her butts in and asks about consideration and safety for the rest of the passengers, and she tells them that if a doctor writes a note, that takes priority.

We managed to land equally uneventfully. After a quick detour because the flight attendants gave us the wrong baggage claim location, we got our bags and headed home.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl April 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Ever thought of to mind your own business? It is really not your concern how other people are seated. Your posting is not a flight from hell because nothing happen to you. The FA sure meant it as a joke to sit on the floor.


Jody April 19, 2010 at 7:55 am

Karl — guess you missed the part when he said the passengers with the goofy seating didn’t speak much English. Kudos to him for trying to help somebody out.


BJ April 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

Karl is absolutely right! If you don't speak English and your seat is in the wrong and your comming from a all Spanish speaking island…I think someone can figure out how to help instead of the flight attendant that don't have a computer to see where if any empty seats are available, that's not a flight from hell it's a typical everyday event that occurs on every flight! Look at the scene before you attempt to get a brownie point!


Traytable June 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Firstly, the boarding process is the fault of the gate agents. It could be for whatever reason they decided to board the lady in the wheelchair last (perhaps she was seated in the aisle seat and someone had the middle so they would rather wait than make someone climb over her)

It's my observation that many families don't want to pay extra to allocate their seats, thus end up separated, or worse, check in at the last minute and then wonder why they get seats all over the plane. I help where I can but I'm physically not allowed to move from my section during boarding in case of an evacuation. If I get seen to move more than a fe rows away from my door I could get fired. So it's not uncommong for flight attendants to ask people in that situation to wait until they can come down to help.

As for sitting on the floor in turbulence- it's what we're taught to do if we can't make it to a crew seat or passenger seat. She probably shouldn't have said that on the PA as what we are actually meant to do is sit on the floor BETWEEN rows, not just on the floor in the open.

Hope this clears some of those issues up for you.


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