Condescending Flight Attendant

May 18, 2010

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

I recently flew from Charlotte, NC to Charleston, SC to visit family. I always select the aisle seat when I have the opportunity, and had done so on this flight. However when we boarded, there was a woman a few rows ahead of me in the middle seat of the exit row who was complaining that she COULD NOT sit in the middle seat. I am also a big fan of the exit row (extra leg room), so I offered to switch my aisle seat for her middle exit row.

At this point the flight attendant looks at me and says in an excessively condescending tone “now sweetheart, are you at least 15 years old?” Now I know that I look fairly young for my age, however I am 25 years old, and by no means should I pass for 15. I was raised with manners though, so I just smiled and yes, I was over the age of 15. She then proceeds to push a little further and say “and can you do at least 3 push ups sweetie?” Once again, I was raised with manners, however this was a bit much. I have been sitting in the exit row for years and have never been asked this question, especially not in a patronizing tone that would offend a 5 year old. I am pretty fit, and believe that I appear that way (although I also believe that I appear over the age of 15), so I was a bit offended at this point. I turned to her and told her as politely as possible that yes, I’m sure that if required, I could do significantly more than 3 push ups. Her response to this can only be described as a face that says “what a BIG GIRL!,” like I would use for a small child.

I took my seat and proceeded to ignore her, determined to keep my mouth shut and continue to be polite. However, a few minutes into the flight, when they came to serve drinks, she and another attendant got to the row I was in and the attendant I had been dealing with turns to her colleague and says “Now this young lady can do significantly more than 3 push ups, she told me herself…” again in the ridiculously condescending tone. At this point I had had enough, and gave her a look that I reserve for those that are truly obnoxious. I had every intention of saying something to her as we deplaned, however she was not at the front of the plane, and it was not something that was worth spending energy to pursue.

I have had some pretty obnoxious and rude flight attendants in the past, but this one was beyond anything I have dealt with… way to go Delta.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Dina May 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I've had this happen with a gate agent before! Granted, my brother and I were flying together, I was nineteen and he was eighteen, and we both look rather younger than we are, but asking us if we're *sure* we're over eighteen when you're holding our ID cards in your hand? Please!


Justme May 19, 2010 at 2:53 am

LOL Oh my you are too nice. Tell your mom or whomever raised you what happened, and see what they say. I bet they say a retort such as “Are you under 60?” or “Can you do more than 3 push ups?” Said in a pleasant and equally condescending voice would have been just fine. LOL I’d of loved to have seen her face when you questioned HER age.


J. Stark May 19, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I think, had it been me, I would have just blushed, and said aloud, so that everyone could hear me, "Awwwwwww! She called me 'SWEETIE!!!!!!' "


Laura May 19, 2010 at 4:52 pm

God help me should I ever encounter anyone who chooses to indulge this recent trend of matronly females calling everyone "sweetie" or "hun." The worst ever is when it's someone YOUR OWN AGE doing it.

At least you didn't flip out and get carried off the plane/shot up by an air marshal like some people would.


Jim May 20, 2010 at 6:44 am

At one time, the job of a flight attendant was respected, maybe even envied.

Flight attendants were professional, dressed impeccably, were neatly pressed and put together, and most were attractive. As such, their respectful, professional attitude in turn earned the respect of most of us, the flying public…and, the whole flying experience was a lot more pleasant. Flight attendants were looked up to…many little girls admired them, and wanted to be one. The profession appeared somewhat glamorous. Flight attendants, were and still are the "face" of the airline. Much of the impression we have about an airline can be attributed to the service we received from their employees.

Today, however….most flight attendants are not professional. They have delusions of grandeur about their profession. (Yes, they are there for the safety of the passengers, but 99% of the time, their job is about seat conflict resolution, serving drinks/food, and the comfort of the passengers). As such, they have attitudes about helping one with their seat, or even bringing you a pop. Their clothing looks as if it has been worn numerous occasions without having been laundered or pressed. The flight attendants are frumpy, grouchy and have a general non-caring attitude. Their hair is disheved, many of their butts bump my shoulder when they walk down the aisle of the plane! They feel their job is about engaging the escape slide in the case of an emergency…that's it. The service is just something they do to kill time. They are mad at corporate about executive bonuses, etc… and, they don't mind letting the customers know their anger and frustration. Their attitude is really a detriment to the airline they work for….

With this very long-winded statement…my point is this…..

What the heck do flight attendants of today have to be condescending about?

Condescension only works if the person is somehow superior to others…..

Flight attendants of years gone by…may have been able to feel superior in some ways….but, they would have been too professional to ever show that side.


Amelia Kelly March 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Seriously Jim, got nothing new aside from the cut-and-paste posts you constantly bless us with??


guest April 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Bless you Amelia! Honestly he cuts and pastes that same spiel on almost every letter. Uncle already!


Laura May 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I'd be condescending too if I was making $10,000 a year on commuter flights with cranky passengers.


HCC May 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I would have turned to the other FA and said, "…And she's a big lesbian, so look out. She told me so herself."


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