I was on a flight from London Heathrow to JFK in cattle class seats with the surliest bunch of flight attendants it has been my dspleasure to experience. I travel frequently in many parts of the globe, know what a difficult job they can have, and do my best to be a good passenger for them, but this crew had chips on both shoulders.
Nearing the final third of the flight, I needed to use the restroom and got up out of my seat to use the only ones available near the over wing position, when the food trolleys came out. This is usually no problem, I just tell the crew whether or not I want food and that I’ll be right back. Not this time.
“Sir, you’ll have to go sit down, we’re serving food.”
“Sorry? I need the restroom, what does that have to do with anything?”
“We can’t let you by, you’ll have to sit down until we’re done. We’ll only take a few minutes.”
Dark murmurs, but I return to my seat and await the passage of the Holy Food Trolley… which is moving slower than continents drift. Ten minutes pass, 15, 20… and they’re still ten rows away. Both aisles blocked by the slowest food service ever. Now bursting to relieve myself, I get out of my seat, explain my situation as politely as possible and ask to get by.
“I can’t let you do that, we’re serving food!”
“If you don’t let me by, you’ll be mopping up urine!”
“Go sit down please sir.”
“Right, go get the chief flight attendant now – I want a word!”
“I can’t do that, I’m serving food, and he’s on his break in first class.”
“Lady, if you don’t shift your backside out of my way, I’m going to take one of your cups and fill it right here in the aisle. I’m desperate.”
I noticed at this point a woman having the same argument as me with the flight attendant in the starboard aisle, getting even more upset. At this point, even the other passengers are telling these two idiots how unfair they’re being to us.
“Sir, if you don’t sit down, I’m going to get the pilot.”
“Good, do it! At least then you’ll be out of my way and I can go to the restroom!” Big mistake. “I’ll get him – once I’m done serving food!”
Oh sweet Jesus, what is wrong with this woman? There’s no way to get past the trolley and I’m going to wet myself right in front of her any second.
Passengers to the rescue! The people sitting in the aisle seats next to the food trolley, sensing my rising panic, both recline their seats, then stand up and move sideways, allowing me to stand on the armrests and walk around the trolley. This infuriates the flight attendant, who raises her voice and tries to restrain me from doing so for some demented reason, grabbing me by the arm, which I pull from her grasp and bolt towards the restroom, already unzipping as I go, while my fellow passengers are actually applauding!
After the utter bliss of relieving myself, I return to find the trolley still in my way, only in reverse – she STILL hadn’t got back as far as my seat. I stood behind her until she got as far as my seat (about another five minutes – glaciers melt more quickly) and finally sat down again. And guess what happened next? She refused to serve me my tasteless in-flight meal, as I had been “uncooperative” and service was at “her discretion.”
“And complaining and being polite to you is at MY discretion, lady. I suggest you get back here and serve me my food before what’s left of my discretion disappears and you get the one thing you don’t want – my full and undivided attention, both during this flight and afterwards.”
Food served with a grimace and all the grace and charm of a rattlesnake with an infected fang followed, and the rest of the flight passed mercifully quickly. On my way off the aircraft, the lead flight attendant asked “How was your flight?” I replied that, while perhaps not her fault for working with colleagues that had the common sense given to doorknobs, she really needed to get a grip and refresh their interpersonal skills.
The long detailed letter I wrote to American Airlines extracted no more than a form apology letter with no concessions at all, the sort they send out whatever the complaint they receive. I have thus voted with my wallet and gone out of my way to avoid flying with AA ever again.