Attendants Cop An Attitude

December 5, 2008

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

My wife, myself, teenage daughter and two infant children flew from Lima, Peru to Atlanta, Georgia via Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines.

From the outset the flight attendants were, at best, surly. I was placing my two year old daughter’s coat into the overhead compartment prior to takeoff and one attendant asked me what I was putting into the bin. The airline was concerned that people were carrying too much luggage on board and started announcing for people to place everything under the seat. Her attitude was very accusatory as if I were placing a grand piano in the bin, not a small coat.

Upon arrival at 5 in the morning at Ft. Lauderdale, my infant children were asleep, so I carry them just outside the door to place them into the strollers that were checked at the gate. I then attempted to return to the seat to collect a bag since I only had two hands, but was stopped by a shouting attendant saying I could not return due to FAA regulations. As my wife had also exited, we had no way of returning. Finally, one attendant grudgingly retrieved my bag and slung it at my feet saying it wasn’t their job to retrieve bags. I understand the regulations, and I understand job descriptions. I do not understand nor appreciate why someone would take a position and then treat their customers with such a degree of condescending rudeness. I told both attendants that the next time I fly – on another airline – I will remember the regulations and the union rules.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous December 25, 2008 at 3:03 am

why do flight attendants have such attitudes on the job?they dont have it at training,they certainly dont have it at the interview,or they wouldnt be hired?recruiters need to hire more genuine people instead of the phonies who fool them at the hiring events for their low paid positions.


Anonymous January 1, 2009 at 10:52 pm

It's a hard job, don't know about that particular airline, but some airlines in Europe have 6 flights per shift. Wich means that the pressure to not get late is always tremendous. And most of the lates are due to passengers slow boarding and disimbark.

The hole definition of handluggage is luggage you can handle yourself. Families tend to bring lots of bagage, one per head, although only the father and mother can actually carry it. That's a problem when you're flying with a scheduel. Families are always the worst enemies of quick boardings and disimbarks.. is natural that after a while flight attendents just can't look to a family anymore.


Ryan February 2, 2009 at 10:05 pm

I have to look at it from the flight attendant's perspective too. I have a good friend who started as a flight attendant at a major US based, international airline about 9 years ago. I had related a story to him about one of the first flights I remembered on TWA in the late 70's, flying first class to Paris with my family. While I relayed stories of white linen table cloths and napkins, array of food, sitting up in the cockpit, getting free cards, wings and other SWAG, he shook his head in disgust. "We (as flight attendants) are not here for 'service', we are strictly here for safety and security!" He kept repeating, like an SS officer. This is what was drilled into him during his month of training. He told me their beverage/meal service training took less than 1 day of all their weeks of training. With attitudes like this being hammered into flight crew, it is no wonder service is so horrible.

The other thing that they kept drilling into him was how much he was giving up. Holidays, weekends, a social/romantic life, general stability. They were told over and over, "You are choosing a lifestyle, one that has very specific demands, without many rewards in return." Obviously, this is, in part, to weed out those who can't hack it, however, I think it also lends itself to a lot of the self-aggrandizing attitudes one experiences from flight attendants. They are also horribly paid at first, which is another potential excuse (to them) for poor service. "I don't get paid enough to deal with this!"

Interestingly, he now hires incoming flight attendants. He told me in their second round the candidates are put into groups for logic/puzzle-type games. The ones who take charge of the groups or who are too quick with problem-solving skills are usually dismissed. They are looking specifically for people who can just take and follow direction. So, it seems, from the get-go, you aren't dealing with the brightest of the crop. I asked him if there were any other characteristics that they look for in candidates. "Mainly people who can follow direction and be authoritative when they give safety orders." They're you go.


Peter Fulton Foss March 11, 2009 at 7:56 am

There has been a precipitous degradation of good old-fashioned service (and manners) over the past 25 years.

We now find employees in businesses, which run the gamut from airlines to restaurants, who don't have a clue what good service is. They are being trained by bosses who themselves are clueless, because they were trained in the same fashion.

We do NOT have to take it. Vote with your feet and wallets. Write letters to CEO's!

On the other hand, be the first to compliment good service with the same wallets, feet, and letters.

And be certain you set an example by going out of your way to help and being gracious when people are kind to you.


Katherine April 2, 2009 at 9:37 am

To the person who said families are the biggest pain to flight attendants I ask you this, Would you rather be sitting next to a child who is happily coloring in a coloring book or one who is screaming because she is bored? It is crazy to expect a two year old to carry their own luggage and since you now have to pay to check your bags it only makes sense that people are going to try to carry on as much as possible. Nobody demanded these people become flight attendants, if it is such a horrible job I beg of them to quit so that those of us who are appreciative of working to earn a paycheck and take pride in our work might have a chance at the job that they clearly feel is below them. And for the record, I think it is outstanding that they believe their job is only safety and not service. News flash, you are a flight attendant. Start attending.


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

You arrived from an international destination. You cannot reboard due to customs and immigration regulations once you crossed the threshold of the aircraft door. The other poster was correct. If you cannot handle it on your carry on, check it.


jaymoney April 2, 2009 at 10:23 am

Regulations are there for a reason but the crappy attitude is not necessary. (how hard is it to retrieve a bag?) I think it's a reflection of the treatment the attendants receive from their superiors and on and on….however this is not a rationalization. Courtesy goes a long way in promoting repeat flyers.


VT April 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Wow that story made me mad. There is nothing worse than surly flight attendants. It must have been like her 4th and last flight of the day on a 4am to 3pm shift.


sky rat April 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I don't know where it started, but this idea that flight attendants are there as in-air waitresses is just wrong. They are there for your safety – so sit down when you're told to, shut up, listen, and don't expect to be serviced like you're at the Four Seasons.

I don't work for the industry but I fly enough to be just as fed up with lippy passengers as the attendants are.


Shel April 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm

I am utterly disgusted by all of the recent flight attendants, as it is a rare occassion when one of them is actually pleasant. I flew on JetBlue recently and the male attendant was so nasty it wa shocking. Why do they take the job if they hate it. I can't understand why they are all so unhappy???


Robin April 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm

i would've slapped her.


Chris April 2, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Wow, that attendant telling you, you can't go back again is total BS. Trust me I work for an airline and people forget stuff all the time and go back to get it. That is unless you were already out in the terminal. But sounds like you weren't even off the plane.


Jeff April 2, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Why not just call her a bitch to her face? What're they gonna do, tell you not to fly with them any more, like you were going to anyway?


kevin April 3, 2009 at 2:27 am

Have you people ever been on a plane? When people are getting off its a one way street. You can't walk back in and stop everyone else behind you from exiting. I HATE families like that. Way to leave your luggage unattended DIPSHIT. People like you cost us millions of dollars in unnecessary security.


Abe April 3, 2009 at 7:26 am

Easy solution: Have an airline solely dedicated to adults and their brats. I would pay more for an adults only airline ANYDAY. That's why I always pay for business or first class anyway.


Rob April 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Wait, I think there's something missing from this story. The part where your children annoy the entire plane with crying, spitting, constant visits to the bathroom.

Mainly, being in a confined space with a couple of little barbarians would get me upset too. Let's see how much you can stuff *shove, shove* into the overhead bins.

God grant me an adult only airline.


Ann April 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Whoa, people! Everybody calm down! Please, let's try to be understanding of our fellow human beings and the perhaps momentarily uncomfortable shoes in which they find themselves. Goodness, gracious. A Kind Word Is Music To The Soul. Everybody just Think, Breathe, Say A Prayer and Move On. My personal mantra: If you've landed safely and are exiting (or remaining on) the aircraft with yourself intact, there should be only thank you's all around; maintaining a complaint-free zone will improve everyone's spirit. Ten years from now, what will any petty issue matter? You arrived safe and sound. Good enough.


H E Pennypacker April 6, 2009 at 6:23 am

We need to go back to the good old days of flying, where the stewardesses (yes, I said stewardess!) were young, cute and slender. Then it was all about service. Now we have these overweight geezers. Travel in Asia…they still use the classic model and the service is EXCELLENT!


nicole April 6, 2009 at 10:55 am

I hear nothing but horror stories about Spirit Airlines. I don't care how cheap they are I will always pay more to take JetBlue or Virgin America just because of the stories I've heard about Spirit.


Steph April 7, 2009 at 4:48 am

Why do I get the impression I'm getting a rather one-sided story? Pasengers DO put toomuch in the overhead bins, leaving no space for others. I do not understand why the writer had to get off the plane, with their wife, to take the kids, and then go back into the plane (while others are trying to get out) to get the bags they didn't take the first time? Sorry, but even if your kids are asleep, you should get off the damn plane right away and ask for help if needed. The threat to take another airline was probably a relief to the flight attendants. What's the remark about union rules? A threat to get them fired?


Anonymous April 7, 2009 at 11:03 am

Steph, the point of the story was that the flight attendants were acting like douche bags. And what would you care anyway if they got their sorry asses fired? Please don't post unless you have something meaningful to contribute.


jimbob April 17, 2009 at 12:36 pm

i wonder how the flight attendants will be on your deportation flight. press 1 to proceed in english. press 2 for deportation. go back to peru


SamH April 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Anonymous, get over yourself. You are not the board police, nor are you Miss Manners.

Flight attendants have to put up with assholes like you. Take your self-importance and feigned indignity and put them where the sun doesn't shine.


Anonymous April 25, 2009 at 5:30 am

flight attendants suck!


Amanda April 29, 2009 at 9:23 am

Waaaah, I have a bunch of kids and I packed so much crap that I can't carry it all! Waaaah!


Marc May 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I am a flight attendant, and I also fly quite often with my family for personal reasons as well, so I can see this from both sides.

First off, Flight Attendants know what they're getting themselves into before they even start training, if they don't then maybe they need to do a little more research. Also if you hate the job so much then you should not be doing it.

It's actually not a hard job to be a Flight Attendant, 90% of our training is about safety and security, 10% is based on customer service, yet on the job when nothing is going wrong, 90% is about customer service and 10% is about safety and security.

I also often see people board the aircraft with much more in the way of carry-on items, than they really should be trying to bring with them. The rules are stated clearly on every airlines website, at the airport, and usually communicated in announcements prior to boarding.

In the end of it all, it's a two-way street. The flying public needs to be aware of the reasons behind why we can and cannot do certain things, but we as Flight Attendants also need to understand that no matter how long and crappy our day may have been, these people are paying our wages and deserve some respect.


Anonymous May 26, 2009 at 4:56 am

two thumbs up to you marc!


Anonymous July 25, 2009 at 8:58 pm

i am by no means one to hawk "the customer is always right" at people. Hell, I work in the consumer electronics sales business… that mantra is thrown at me every day by my employers and the occasional self-entitled asshole.

To me, the customer is always an asshole unless proven otherwise. Seems a little rough at first, but it doesn't take much to make a good first impression. Say hello, flash me a smile when you say "no, I'm just looking *thanks*" and you're off my shit list.

However, tell me you're just looking without ever looking at me, shrug me off, grunt instead of acknowledging me as a person, and you're right back on it.

The problem with these flight attendants, though, is they take that mantra and follow it like its one of their shitty corporate regulations. They aren't trained properly to deal with customers. Only with problems and "scenarios". Not people. They don't look around and see people who may have certain expectations (be they too much or just the bare minimum) and they can't deal with the occasional reclusive customer and the demanding old bat who has to be seated next to the rest-room no matter WHAT. They only see a cabin full of busy work.

the training programs should consist, really, of the following 3 stages.

1: Initial training including corporate policies, regulations, and procedure.

2: Role-playing with randomly selected subjects.

3: Field testing. Take some newbies on a selection of flights and see who can make it and who can't.

They probably scare off the most competent ones by drilling in all the stuff they'll be sacrificing instead of the perks of travel, meeting a WIDE variety of people and whatever other opportunities come with the job.


rerere January 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Next time, fly JetBlue.


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