Passenger Defies FA’s Directive

March 28, 2011

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

I was on a U.S. Dareways flight from Tucson to Atlanta last month (about a 3 hour flight) that was, for once, not full. I was in Group 4, so I boarded the plane nearly last, but there was plenty of overhead space and no issues with stowing carry-ons.

As I approached my seat, I placed my small carry-on suitcase and my laptop bag in the overhead bin, putting them as close to one another as possible to leave room in case someone else wanted to add to the bin. No one was in the seat next to me and no one was sitting across the aisle.

As I went to sit down, a flight attendant rushed up to me and said, “Could you place your laptop bag under your seat?”

Since there was plenty of overhead space and I was one of the last to board the airplane, I politely told her, “No, it’s a 3 hour flight, the plane is not full, and I would like to take advantage of the leg room.”

She begins to get huffy and tells me that it is a rule that if I have two bags, I MUST place one of them under the seat. She also says that it is NOT a 3 hour flight, but only 2 and a half hours. I put my bag under the seat, but I told her I had never heard of that “rule” and why does it matter anyway, as the plane is not full. I tell her that as soon as everyone is on board and there is room in the overhead, I am going to place my bag there.

She says snottily, “Am I going to have trouble with you?” I responded by saying that if she can show me the FAR (Federal Aviation Regulation) that outlines that rule, I would be more than happy to comply. She hems and haws a bit and then says, “It’s not a FAA rule, but an airline policy.” I tell her that it makes sense if the plane is full and overhead space is at a premium, but why would she even care if there is plenty of space?

She does not answer, but simply walks away. As soon as she does, I move my bag to the overhead. She comes flying back up the aisle to berate me again for not complying with her directive and defying her. I told her she is doing nothing but exercising her small powers and she should grab a beer and I can show her where the escape slide is!

The other flight attendant nearby almost split a gut laughing, as did the other passengers around me. One of the male attendants said, “You should try flying with her all the time!” so obviously she does this a lot.

I was very calm throughout, did not raise my voice, and when she asked me again if I was going to move my bag, I told her no, I was happy the way I was and wasn’t that the real reason for her being there, customer happiness, and wasn’t she happy now that I was? She responded by saying, “I really don’t think you could ever be happy!”

She walked away in a huff, and I did not hear from her again for the rest of the flight. The flight attendant who laughed and made the comment apologized to me as I was leaving the plane in Atlanta (3 hours and 15 minutes flight time, BTW). It really seems to me that a lot of flight attendants are having attitude issues (sometimes rightly so), and are  just looking for a fight.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim March 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I love that story! You are very lucky she did not report you. One can get pulled off a flight these days for spittin in the toilet! I admire your cajones! You are absolutely right, I have never heard of that policy on US Dare or anyone else. This one was really wrapped up in herself! Good Job!


aaron March 29, 2011 at 7:05 am

You handled that well. She sounds like a freak.


Dan April 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Just one teensy problem with this story. USAirways doesn't fly to Atlanta from Tucson without an aircraft change in Phoenix. Check their website. Maybe this story is really about Delta? Doesn't make it any less believable, though.


Bjorn April 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

I don’t get it, rather than argue, and you say there was o one else around why not either A. put the laptop under the seat beside you, or B. place it there under your seat till she leaves, then move it next to you or overhead after take off. I agree with the above post, arguing with the FA is a good way to get led off the plane in cuffs.


Howie Feltersnatch September 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Another servant demonstrating why they are a servant in the first place. I would like them more if they would simply fetch me a drink and go sit quietly until I summon them for their next menial task.


Ilovefyling February 5, 2016 at 3:46 am

They are actually not servants! They are employees and they have jobs to do!


cnichols March 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm

This was a Delta flight you were on, they are the only one-way from Tucson to ATL..

US Airways connects in Phoenix
United in Denver or Houston
American in Dallas
Frontier Denver
Southwest Denver

I fly to much.


Sir J. Buttcracke June 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Well said Howie, well said.


Jendakel July 14, 2012 at 10:33 am

You sound like a pain in the ass who likes to argue and I would have thrown you off the plane immediately.


Ilovefyling February 5, 2016 at 3:48 am

Dude the op has a point though. If the plane is NOT full and there is plenty of space in the overhead bin they should be able to put more than one bag up in the overhead bin!


Deb September 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I get the ridiculousness of the FA's request on a less than full flight. I'd have balked as well and probably done as others suggested by putting my bag under the seat to my side. But to say that the "real reason" she is there is "customer happiness" is pretty condescending and obnoxious. Of course, customer service is part of the job…and she sounds like she was a control freak who needed to lighten up…but her primary role is to make sure you get to your destination safely….period. The FA's are gonna be the ones moving all our sorry butts out the doors and keeping things calm in an emergency. While I feel your tone was warranted by her unreasonable behavior…show a little respect for the thankless job these folks do.


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