Flight Attendants with Attitude

December 8, 2010

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

This happened on a Delta flight between Tokyo and JFK about a year ago. When the drink service came around I asked for a decaf coffee, which is on the list of available drinks. The FA gave me a look and said, in a voice indicating that she didn’t want to do it, “I’ll have to make it for you.” I remember years ago decaf coffee was usually on the drink cart alongside the regular coffee, but I guess it’s not something airlines do anymore. Well, annoyed with the response but not caring, I said “could you?” Again, another attitude-filled response: “You’ll have to wait until I finish serving everyone else.” She quickly moved to the next row. Suffice to say she never came back.

The funny thing was that later in the flight, at the 2nd drink service, the same thing happened with the same FA to another passenger a few rows in front of me. The guy was Japanese and I don’t think he was 100% with English. He asked for black tea, which again is something on the drink list. Being that she only had green tea on the cart, she asked if he wanted that irrespective of what he had just said. When he replied that he wanted BLACK tea, guess what…”I’ll have to make it for you.” I don’t think he fully understood so he didn’t know what to say. Then the FA thrust a cup of green tea into his hands and moved on.

The return flight was a mess, but fortunately as part of the mess I was somehow upgraded to “business.” I put that in quotes because Delta’s business class, at least the one on my flight, felt like coach with bigger seats. When dinner time came around the FAs went around asking the passengers to choose a meal from the menu. There was a female Japanese passenger in the first row who was confused, but instead of being nice and trying to help the FA was getting pushy, just repeating “WHAT MEAL DO YOU WANT?!!” Being that it was business class I can’t believe the attitude she had, and furthermore don’t you think on flights to Japan Delta would ensure that the FAs knew at least a few basic phrases in Japanese?

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter December 9, 2010 at 3:47 am

Judging by the writing style and the lack of a name I am deducing this is another classic from 'Paul'. I am a little curious as to what would drive a person to continue to write these mundane little tales of woe, I would suspect that it is a cry for attention.

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Jon December 9, 2010 at 3:15 pm

To put "Paul" off the hook I'm the one who wrote this. I know compared to some of the other stories on this site a little quarrel over a drink doesn't mean much, but when you're flying alone, it can really put you off when your one or two minutes of human interaction (with the FA) have to be so negative.

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Jim December 9, 2010 at 5:30 am

It seems more and more that flight attendants have become surly and snarky.

Many have delusions of grandeur as to their job.

Yes, the FAA says their primary responsibility is for our safety. But, let's be real….their job is not brain surgery. The skills required to be a flight attendant are minimal…most airlines do not even require a college education. The life saving techniques in which they are trained, are similar to what a teenage lifeguard receives. And, the defense classes they receive are similar to what housewives receive at the local YMCA. (And, I worked in the airline industry, so I am familiar).

Even at that… 99% of the time these "skills" of life-saving, defense and releasing the slide will not be required. So, during that 99% of the time when the safety aspects are not required… their "job" will be to make the customers comfortable, settle seat disputes with the gate agent, and bring the customers drinks and snacks.

But, the customer service aspect of the flight attendants job has been ignored…by the airline, unions and the individual employees. This is one of the reasons the airline industry has suffered so much. What customer wants to go throught the necessary evils of security, be bumped off a delayed flight, and then to finally be greeted by a hateful flight attendant who is mad at the world.

Flight attendants complain that customers are rude…and, many are. But, remember you reap the harvest of the seed you sow. When you are rude and snarky, what do you expect to receive in return. Nonetheless, the customer has paid to be on that flight….the flight attendant is being paid to be on that flight…so, big difference. It is the flight attendant's job to be pleasant and greet customers with a smile and pleasantries…even if the customer is rude.

If the flight attendants expect our support in their labor disputes…maybe they should try being a little kinder to the passengers. If the flight attendants expect to make more money…maybe they should do their job a little better with a better attitude. And, then maybe the flying public would be willing to pay more for the flight. And, finally if they hate their job so much…maybe they should try a different line of work.

Back in "the day" flight attendants were written up for wrinkled clothing, sloppy, disheveled appearance and giving poor service. Three write-ups and you could be terminated. There was a certain level of respect that was "earned" by the flight attendants, and as such they were treated well, and many people aspired to be flight attendants….not so much anymore.

Many of the current flight attendants have taken a job that was desirable, respected and thought highly of, and made it into a position that is loathed by many.

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Dina December 9, 2010 at 11:21 am

I don't know what not being college educated has to do with anything. Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, etc. are generally not college educated – but you would trust a professional over a random, wouldn't you?

Some flight attendants are terribly rude, I can agree there. However, my interactions with friendly, polite and helpful FAs far outnumber the rude and surly ones. It's just the latter that stick out in our minds.

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kim February 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm

You are so right. Most flight attendants spread their legs for the married pilots young and old. They are real whores and I have first hand knowledge having been stalked by one. She claimed I was holding her back from marrying 'her man' aka my husband of 20 years. After threatening and calling my 14 year old daughter, I got a restraining order and a divorce. My daughter will never speak to her father again and he out on his own now crying to come back………hmmm….how about 'WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER"""Don't have to have any skills to be a flight attendant just having sex and being psycho.

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Bull Herman December 10, 2012 at 12:20 am

You've got a point here. Was it 2011 or 2010 that a SouthWest pilot got written up for bitching that all FA's were queer and he couldn't get laid…and he complained that (I think) Houston was worst. Many FA's took the job to earn a "Mrs." degree back in the day. Now you can't be sure what's going on.

But the skies aren't friendly anymore. I see too many FA's leaving their last flight totally exhausted. Many aren't young either; but I say that more as an indicator how bad the industry has become. "Back then" only the young hotties would get hired. Now (thanks for equality as I'm older too) at least all have a chance to be hired.

However, working conditions are so BAD that nobody wants to make this a career anymore. If one does invest one's life, watch for Wall Street or other greed yank a hard-earned pension away.

It's time upper management and major stockholders got to put on the uniform and play the game for a week. Let's see then if they keep trying to push "efficiency" and other bs. After they experience the life, see if they then insist it only takes 30 seconds to process drinks for each passenger. Yeah…

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Bull Herman December 10, 2012 at 12:06 am

Yep. Those letters were classified as "onions" and "orchids." Per an old girlfriend from United.

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Maria Letizia Magri January 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

There is always the bad apple. However I do believe these are the exception, and they do not last long in this type of job. A complaint should have been written to the Company. Sure enough she will have been called to the office to answer about her behaviour. And perhaps to receive a check up from her supervisor. If she had persisted in not changing her attitude and/or received other complaints she could also have been fired. Complaints or praises for a job well done are received and reviewed by a serious Company and they are put in your file.

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Doug December 9, 2010 at 5:46 am

Just curious why flight attendants think it beneath them to service the customers?

Did they not realize when they took the job, that they would be the "face of the airline" and as such, would need to be nice to the customers and bring them drinks?

I know you are there for our safety but, as Jim pointed out above 99% of the time, your job should be about customer service.

Bottom line….if you don't like serving drinks and being nice to the patrons of your airline…maybe you should choose a different line of work and let some of the unemployed that would be happy to have a job and do it well.

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ps December 10, 2010 at 3:19 am

If this is a recent flight from hell it may be a legacy NorthWorst crew? I used to live in Tokyo and Delta and Continental were usually the best of the lot US carrier wise. Whenever I flew Delta in the states (pre merger) the service was always fine. When I had to take NorthWorst now and then on the JFK-Tokyo haul it was not exactly a great experience but I guess I lucked out. It's also surprising that the crew didnt have a Japanese speaker at the ready as surprise surprise, some Japanese travellers actually dont speak perfect english.

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Laura December 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

As an American expat living in Japan who travels regularly between Japan and the USA I am just embarrassed at the stark contrast between Asian (especially Japanese) carriers and US carriers as far as service ic concerned. I flew American home once and witnessed similar lols as US flight attendants who didn't speak a word of Japanese refused to slow down their English when dealing with Japanese customers. The Japanese are, on a global scale, the worst English speakers of all the developed countries. Train your flight attendants to take drink orders in Japanese or heck hire ME for those long-haul legs.

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Amy Lynn December 10, 2010 at 9:27 am

"…furthermore don’t you think on flights to Japan Delta would ensure that the FAs knew at least a few basic phrases in Japanese?"

It would be a great thing, but then you'd have to teach the FA's how to UNDERSTAND questions and responses in Japanese as well so they could understand their customers. If the FA's are going to throw hissy fits over having to serve drinks, then imagine their outrage if they had to learn phrases in another language!

I have seen pissy FA's. One time, flying from VA to IA (I think the plane change for me took place in MN), I had a short hop left. The FA's announced drink service would be starting and when the FA came to me, she asked, "Would you like something to drink?" All I asked was, "Do you have Coke or Pepsi?" I couldn't see what was on her cart and I didn't explain how I don't like Pepsi, I just asked a question. She must have been having a bad day because she snapped at me, "JUST PICK ONE!" It was so long ago, I don't even remember my response.

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Troy December 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm

When I was in America earlier this year, I flew from Dallas to New York on Southwest. During the flight leg between Baltimore and New York a "male" FA came along asking if we wanted a drink. I asked for hot chocolate and he proceeded to lecture me before I said anything else that I couldn't because he'd have to make it and that the flight was only 35 minutes. This sounds reasonable but he said it in a strangely accusatory way, even when I was happy to have green tea instead. I had the green tea but after the serving had ended while they were preparing for landing he came to me and continued the lecture totally unsolicited. I got the impression he thought I was an idiot when he heard my Australian accent.

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james February 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

that was not a pre-merger nwa crew. those hauls out of jfk are pre-merger delta crews. get your facts straight

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Tim October 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

James you need to get your facts straight. I a pre-merger NW crew and it could be one of the NW people or could be a DL person. You are wrong.

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Stories From The Air April 21, 2013 at 2:20 am

I hope one day, flight attendants can be replaced with robots.

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Howie Feltersnatch April 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I don't know about replacing air waitresses with robots as the travelling public may be totally confused with something that is capable of feelings like humor or empathy or heaven forbid, common sense. It may be a better experiment to replace stewardesses with drunk monkeys in stewardess uniforms so no one sees the difference and then ease into the robot idea.

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Traveler1 January 8, 2016 at 7:32 pm

The FA's primary goal IS safety, there's no two ways about it. I can imagine that they do feel a bit insulted that people consider them glorified waitresses and may resent having to spend the majority of the time serving people after all that training. But yes, they ought to understand that since a plane shouldn't crash,that the majority of their activity was going to be service and should endeavour to do it without an attitude. After all, a happier flier means a more pleasant, less grouchy and therefore less complainy one.

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