Request For Assistance Leads To Insult

December 28, 2009

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

I am certain that most of you have stories worse than mine, but I felt that those of you who have never flown with American Airlines in the southwestern United States should be warned.

It was December 2003, airlines were hemorrhaging money, and you would expect that customer service would be a priority. Apparently, not. I am a racial minority and was flying from Phoenix to DFW (this is an important detail). I was a college student and it was my first time flying alone. Out of fear of losing baggage and wasting time at a baggage carousel, I packed a little too much in my carry-on.

My bag was too big to fit under the seat and too heavy to lift over my head. I politely asked a flight attendant for help. I most definitely did not ask her to do it for me. This Barbie-doll screwed up her face in disgust and in a Southern drawl said, “It’s not our job to put your luggage away. Flight attendants have hurt their backs and we are never going to lift luggage again!”

My response was simply, “I understand, may I put my bag in one of the front closet spaces?” You would think I just asked her to get off the plane and hunt down an exotic drink for me. Her face was beet red, she screamed “FINE!” and led me to a closet.

After depositing my bag in the closet, I turned away from her to return to my seat with a quick “Thank you.” I heard her mutter a racial epitaph from behind.

The Southwest has a reputation for being “narrow-minded,” but I never expected a flight attendant could be so unprofessional as to openly insult me.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

debbie December 28, 2009 at 5:45 pm

If your bag is too heavy for you to lift and it is to big to fit under the seat then you need to check it. It's not the flight attendants job to put your bag in the closet which is reserved for wheelchairs, walkers and first class coats. There is no other place for you bag , if your in the aisle during boarding, now you have to fight your way back up against the flow of traffic to the front to get help. Make it easy on yourself and all your fellow passegers, next time just check your bag from the start.


MJ December 28, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Nothing excuses using a racial slur, but I'm surprised she let you put your bag in one of the front closets.

Debbie, when I was in college, I remember having issues with my carry on, too. Most college students bring home a laptop and you can't check that (well, you could, but shouldn't). It's easy for bags to get heavy quickly when there's a computer in the mix.


Cheran December 28, 2009 at 6:23 pm

The issue is not whether the OP should have checked his bag. The FA was completely out of line for hurling a racial slur. I hope he noted the FA's name and immediately reported her to the airline.


Jodi December 29, 2009 at 4:42 am

We ALL make mistakes. That's part of being human, so the over packed carry on is an understandable mistake, especially for someone new to flying. HOWEVER, racial slurs are not understandable or excusable. I hope you reported her.


D-Money December 29, 2009 at 6:02 am

You're a racial minority? So, that must make you white. 😛

A racial epitaph? So, that must mean you died while putting your luggage away. 😀

I think you mean "epithet" 🙂


Demotage December 29, 2009 at 10:00 am

The speaking of a racial epithet is highly unprofessional, and, well, racist. But I can understand why you might not have reported it. Besides other reasons it becomes a she said/she said battle, and I can imagine that one loses energy for these after a while.

So I'm sorry that happened to you. There are no circumstances that justify it.

Having said that, your 'Barbie doll', face turns red comment conjures up an image of the race and appearance of the FA. I wonder if you'd have been offended by a comment about you in a similar vein. I suspect that what she said was worse, but why do we have to resort to any racism at all? What she did was bad but why add to it? People of any race can be racist, and there are plenty of people of all colors who are not.

On a lesser note, it requires no justification to add the route of your flight, but why do you say it was an important detail? Would it have been less shocking if the plane had been bound to Seattle?


Jim December 29, 2009 at 11:20 am

Calling you a racial slur is wrong, and she should be reprimanded for it, if not fired.

You calling her a barbie-doll face is also an insult. (albeit, the way many flight attendants now look… tired, haggered overweight and frumpy …barbie doll could be a compliment). LOL

We all pay for our seats and, included in that charge is a small amount of space to store our carry on items. If you carry-on more than your fair share, you limit the space "reserved" for others. Further, if you bring it with you, it should be your responsibility to be able to lift, move and handle your own belongings.

It is selfish for one to carry on more than their fair share. In addition, when you are trying to stuff the luggage into small spaces, or try to get people to help you, etc… you slow down the flow of traffic getting to their seats, and could possibly delay the flights, causing ripple effects of people missing their connections, etc…

Bottom line…I have never waited longer than 45 minutes at a baggage carousel…usually it is much quicker than that. I carry on those items most important to me, or of value….and, I check the rest. If everyone would do that, it would free up space, and allow for quicker entering and exiting of the plane…and, I do not have to infringe on other people's space or kindness to help me with more than I can manage.


MJ December 29, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Jim, I think you missed something – it sounded as though her bag would have fit in an overhead bin had she been able to lift it up there. Like I previously said, college students often bring home laptops, and bags get heavy quickly. It doesn't seem to have been about space.


debbie December 29, 2009 at 1:42 pm

MJ, there is a weight limit on carry on bags. You lug it through the airport, you should be able to stow it yourself. Laptops do not weight over 7 pounds at the most so that is not what makes the bag heavy, it's everything else, most of which could have been put in the checked bag.


madachode December 30, 2009 at 5:04 am

I would have called you more that a racial slur for being such a moronic fool with a lack of situational awareness.


Madachosdesmom December 30, 2009 at 10:44 am

I am so very truly sorry for ever having given birth to madachode. I only hope that some day God will forgive me.


Laura December 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Lol I think it's possible that the OP may be short or just have REALLY CRAPPY upper body strength … or both. That would explain why they may have needed help getting a bag up into the overhead bin. Some of you other posters on here need to calm the heck down.


MadachodesMom December 30, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Madachode! Stop doing that THIS INSTANT or your thingy will fall off. As long as you live in my house, it's my rules. And don't pick your nose! Would you like some cheezy-poofs dear?


MJ December 31, 2009 at 6:28 am

debbie, the weight limit has nothing to do with what an individual can personally lift.


Vik LCA February 3, 2010 at 2:48 am

"If you can't carry it, check it"!!!

A bag of that size and weight, shouldn't have been allowed as carry-on baggage on board, by ground staff. Even if it was for some reason, it's the passenger's responsibility. The FA should have called ground staff and the bag should have been sent into the holds as checked in baggage.

Obviously the FA was mistaken in accepting the bag into "C" class closet. So thank her and kiss her on the cheek!

A racial remark? I don't believe that! I think our passenger is just trying to exagerate things here. Otherwise the passenegr should have contacted the FA's in command immediately.


Station Manager


Trinity June 19, 2011 at 2:03 am

It is not epitaph…that is something you put on your headstone when you die, to remember you by…it is epithet…you are in college, riiiight??


Dr. Sex Potato February 16, 2013 at 3:48 am

Not real.


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