Ice Cream Notification Receives Icy Reception

March 14, 2015

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

“Would you like ice cream”? That is what the United flight attendant asked me as she woke me and 300 other passengers flying coach from Shanghai to SFO, four hours before we landed.

We were about halfway through the ten hour flight, about 4AM at our destination. I was sitting in the first row of the economy section, and in spite of being awoken from a deep sleep, turned around and saw an entire section of people who were sleeping, about to be awoken, to be given an ice cream cone.

The purser was most apologetic in response to my polite inquiry, but said that this was United “company policy,” and that I should write a complaint. But within minutes, the “offending” flight attendant came to my seat, berated me, and assured me that the 300 passengers wanted to be awoken for ice cream. I pointed out that business class clients paid thousands of dollars to have uninterrupted sleep. She then suggested that I poll all 300 of my fellow coach passengers about ice cream to prove that she was right. My reply was that doing so might get me arrested when the plane landed.

I did not get very far with United customer service, who offered me 5,000 frequent flier miles for my trouble, but did not promise any meaningful changes.

The real rub: the inflight movie was halfway done. Yes, I ate the ice cream. And I thought about sending pizza to the house of United’s chief of flight operations at 3AM.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

TJJ March 16, 2015 at 3:24 am

I'm sorry, but this is hardly a "flight from hell". I also find it hypocritical that you still ate the ice cream despite your discussion with the flight attendant.


guest October 28, 2015 at 1:43 pm

If she had woken me up, I'd take the ice cream too. I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep.


jonasgal March 16, 2015 at 6:50 am

Yes, I agree TJJ! I see nothing wrong w/getting ice cream! I LOVE ice cream, especially CHOCOLATE! MMGood!


lnelson1218 March 16, 2015 at 8:30 am

Agree with the other poster, not a flight from hell, but very annoying that you actually managed to get to sleep to be woken up for a snack. Most of the flights I have been on usually the crew leaves the sleeping person along.


Guest March 19, 2015 at 12:19 am

Wow. What a horrible experience. You were awoken to ice cream. Life must be hard for you.

I can't believe you actually took this up with United customer service. So what? You could have just said no thank you and politely mentioned that you'd prefer to not be awoken for any meal services. But not for people who have been wronged like you! You MUST be compensated for having to close your eyes and fall asleep again.


Guest March 23, 2015 at 12:56 am

First world problems, man. First world problems.


Traveler1 December 31, 2015 at 7:19 pm

I'm very glad they did take it up with United. Good. If you don't complain, things will remain the same. Fuck your idea of absolute compliance at all times, even for these "first world problems". In fact, I'm certain the third world does it better. Maybe they've got rickety old planes and hijackers but I bet their flight attendants have the sense not to wake passengers who actually can manage sleep on a flight for ice cream.


pesmit March 25, 2015 at 8:37 am

I've seen the opposite…passengers trash an attendant for not waking them up…as for this post, I don't think the hallowed halls of the UA executive suite are going to change things… on the other hand, the fact that United actually engaged in some form of customer service is something notable in itself…


Alex March 27, 2015 at 9:04 am

I would love to be woken up for that reason.


samantha June 1, 2015 at 11:47 am

Flight attendants are not allowed to carry your bags nor pick them up for you but they can assist you. Flight attendants job descrpbtion is not to carry your bag. I am not sure why people think this. policy is policy.


sean williams June 1, 2015 at 11:52 am

united airlines not the subco side gives flight attendants points for sick leave late check in year customer complaints etc. if you have family leave your ok.. 24 points a year your fired. united airlines give the flight attendants policies on flights. they must do what the person who wrote the service for the flight says or they get written up.


dntulsa November 25, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Don't get out much do you?

How would you react if you genuinely had a flight from Hell?


Rdelrigo August 22, 2016 at 2:34 pm

I don't think the OP is so angry just about being woken up for ice cream rather that this was an extremely long overnight flight and the time when most people should (if they are able) be sleeping. Would you wake up your significant other or child for a snack at midnight for no other significant reason?

If this would have taken place at a more appropriate hour, say a midday or evening flight it would have been different. I can't ever sleep on planes (partly because of anxiety and partly due to insomnia). During the day I'd prefer to be woken up for a drink or snack but if the flight attendant did not it wouldn't be a big deal. I were on a 10 hour+ transatlantic flight in the middle of the night I would be livid if I managed to get some sleep and were woken up for a stupid ice cream cone.


Dianna Bennett September 13, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Excuse the lateness of my response…just saw this. Flight attendants in my day, retired TWA and Delta, were trained to never awaken a passenger, especially on an International flight. I can't imagine trading ice cream for rest.


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