Passenger Pretends Not to Speak English

February 23, 2014

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

I’m a former flight attendant, and I was working a JFK to DFW trip. A woman from a French-speaking country (heard her speaking on her cell phone) enters the plane, and then plunks herself into a first class seat. I thought nothing of it. However about ten minutes later an elderly couple arrive, and it turns out that the woman is occupying their seat. I ask all and sundry involved to hand me their boarding passes so I can sort out the problem, but the woman refuses in a huff and says in fake broken English, “No English, pas anglais.”

I knew the fake “unable to speak English” line was a lie because she had been chatting a bit with another passenger. I try again, nicely, and she refuses. I responded in French that she was in the wrong seat and was keeping other passengers from boarding. She was so surprised that she let go of her ticket enough for me to take it from her. I added, “You are all the way in the back next to the lavatory; please get up and make your way to the back of the plane.” I walked her all the way to the back and returned to first class.

During the delay while leaving the gate (the flight was leaving from JFK) she tried to seek revenge on me by pinging the FAs continuously, complaining in French so that I, the only flight attendant on the plane at the time, had to work with her. I smiled and served her everything she wanted, but spoke to her in English as she spoke to me in French. She wasn’t annoying me as I found the whole thing hilarious.

When the captain asked for a passenger from the back of the plane to be moved to first class due to weight issues (small plane CRJ900), to be vindictive I deliberately chose the woman seated across the aisle for the space. The woman complained some more, and I told her smiling, “Captain’s orders.”

After that the flight went fine. The woman was one of the last people off the plane, and she demanded my name and worker ID so she could complain about me. I laughed and told her I would happily do so if she would stop pretending that she couldn’t speak or understand English. She scowled and marched off the plane.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex June 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Wow, what an ass she was. but why was there only one flight attendant?


James June 9, 2014 at 2:33 pm

CRJ900 — a small "regional" jet — usually only gets one flight attendant.


Joan May 1, 2016 at 1:24 am

she was the only flight attendant that spoke French — not the only flight attendant on the airplane.


Sara July 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm

How does such a small plane have a first and coach cabin?


James July 6, 2015 at 8:13 am

I don't know the airline of the original poster, but this Delta CRJ 700 has first class and coach:


iloveflying September 7, 2015 at 10:53 pm

Wow i am AMAZED at this persons patience! amen to you OP!


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