Here’s a really sad story that nicely reinforces the idea that “no good deed goes unpunished.” In this case, a man who was kind enough to offer his American Airlines first class seat to an unaccompanied minor was essentially accused of being a child predator. Shame on the flight attendant for twisting a noble act into a shameful one.
Kind Man Offers His American Airlines First Class Seat To A Child, Flight Attendant Freaks Out
A man was traveling on AA2655 from Portland (PDX) to Dallas (DFW) who hold Concierge Key status with American Airlines. That’s AA top-tier, invite-only status and one benefit is the ability to board before general boarding begins.
Upon boarding his flight he noticed that there was a young unaccompanied minor sitting in economy class. Let’s pick up the story from his account, which he shared on Flyertalk:
After sitting, I told the first FA that I would happily give the [minor] my seat and take his if he was flying solo. I know how hard it is to fly alone at that age and I figured it would make the staff’s job easier with regards to keeping an eye on him.
The FA in first thanked me and said she’d ask. Once we took off and the seatbelt light clicked off, on her next pass she mentioned she hadn’t heard back from the rear FA and she would later; I offered to ask myself if it would save time and she told me to go ahead.
I walked back and asked the FA and was taken aback by her response.
”Why would you want to do that? Do you know him? Why do you want to separate him from his group?”
I tried to explain I didn’t know there was a group, nor did I want to separate anyone. I also had zero desire to sit next to any children, nor did I even know there were any others. She looked at me with a visible look of disgust and I apologized for interrupting her service.
I chided myself for making the obvious mistake of sticking my nose where it didn’t belong – but I was glad the situation was behind me. Sadly, it wasn’t.
So let’s pause. Was this child traveling in a group or not? That isn’t even clear. If so, then you (if you greatly stretch to give her the benefit of the doubt), you can understand why the flight attendant found the whole request odd. But if the child was traveling alone, then I have little sympathy for the FA position.
But then things got weirder:
As I stepped off the plane, I noticed an AA staff member who waved to me…I told her I was in a rush and that we could walk and talk. I figured this might be a customer survey or a follow-up on a lost bag or something else. Instead, it was an interrogation on whether I felt it was appropriate to try and talk to children on planes and if I had approached this boy at PDX. I felt very much that I was on the verge of being accused of a crime or being a pervert or some kind.
The AA agent asked me if I could stick around for a moment (at this point I was at the escalator for the sky train). I told her no and suggested that unless something was urgent enough that I needed to delay my outbound to London that I would be hopping on the next sky train. As I headed up the steps, she promised someone would be “in touch” to discuss the concerns raised about my conduct.
I suppose my main concern is whether there is some proactive action I should be taking to “clear” my name? All I was trying to do was help someone out who might be having a stressful flight. I didn’t even talk to said child, let alone any other passengers on the flight. Needless to say I’m very confused regarding this FA’s response and worried that I will be somehow written up as a problem flyer.
How sad that the man’s kind deed was turned against him. How sad that he faces, at minimum, an internal investigation at American Airlines, for trying to be a gentleman.
View From The Wing points to a number of examples of overactive FAs reporting passengers whom they had no business reporting.
This is a human problem. This is a common problem. And it is disgusting.
View From The Wing provides an update from the passenger:
[American Airlines] contacted me after and apologized profusely. The rear [flight attendant] completely misunderstood my request and thought I was trying to trade seats with someone else so I could sit near the group of [unaccompanied minors].
She felt terrible when she talked to the front [flight attendant, whom he’d originally made the offer to]. I was given some miles and learned a valuable lesson that I should ignore attempting to do anything nice for any other person whilst flying, lest I be considered a nonce.
Still not a good look, AA!
Stories like this make clear to me the sad reality that it is just taboo to offer your seat to a minor. Here, he didn’t even approach the boy. But his gesture of kindness was unfairly twisted against him and I feel quite bad that he was, in essence, accused of being a predator for such a noble act.
image: American Airlines
Seriously, AA! That’s why I am stay away from AA at any cost. So MANY AA crew are looking for troubles and it makes me sick.
Blame 9/11. Since then FAs were given a power that they never had before: make people’s lives miserable. Many FAs are great but the mentally ill, jealous, losers will use that power anytime they feel like it. This FA is a disgusting person. I personally saw myself in a somewhat similar situation where I saw a teenager flying solo a few times and they looked scared. I thought of my kids and had the thought of offering them my first class seat as a nice gesture but I am glad I didn’t. By the way, I was upgraded a few times at the gate when flying international with my family (they needed my coach seat and per my status I was offered a business class seat). I always gave the seat to one of my kids and they had the time of their lives and were treated like kings by the FAs.
Thanks a lot, bin laden
Bin Laden did not require us to overreact by building the massive TSA security theatre and empowering FAs to act like little dictators = we decided to react in that way ourselves.
In addition, though, the continual trend towards discount air travel and “cattle car” style acccomodations on board airliners is responsible for a large part of what we see with passengers today. Behavior on airliners has become like that found on city buses – or worse – as the hoi polloi travels by air in ever-increasing numbers.
Flight attendants are underpaid, overworked, and confronted with some of the worst elements of the human race. They are the front line workers that bear the brunt of the industry’s structural problems and the lack of government support to help remediate it.
As to this incident, not sure it deserves the amount of coverage it has received.
Just flew AA this morning out of DCA and had a charming crew, on a full flight, who went out of their way to be helpful, kind, and resourceful to each and everyone that needed something on that 55 minute flight.
Yawn, that is the standard response from people who can’t/refuse to take responsibility for mishandling a situation. Everyone plays the underpaid/overworked card and everyone feels underpaid/overworked.
Look, the FA jumped to conclusions right away and if they stepped back for a moment and properly understood the situation or at the very least, went up to the 1st class FA and got a better understanding of the situation, then this would have been a nothing burger. It wouldn’t have gotten to the point where the guy gets interrogated after the flight. That is the major issue here– had the FA in the back talked to the 1st class FA during the flight- she would have had a better understanding of the situation and not had this poor guy interrogated after the flight.
The FA could have done a better job and should have done a better job handling the entiriety of the situation.
I’m tired of people making excuses for ones incompetences. Clearly AA knew the FA mishandled the situation with their apology after the fact.
*** If being a FA means you are grossly overworked and underpaid, then why do so many people apply for positions? Delta hires 1 out of every 200 applicants. When they were hiring for 4,000-6,000 positions recently, they got over 1 million applicants. If FA’s are so overworked and underpaid, why would so many people apply for the job? It’s because it’s a great job that pays well, and judging by some of the FA’s on my flight who sit and do nothing– they aren’t overworked.
As far as why do so many apply for FA jobs, I imagine it sounds a lot more glamorous than it is. People probably think it’s all getting paid to fly to exotic destinations when the reality is most FAs are serving snacks to slobs flying from Iowa to Florida
Yes, but they still have the option to quit if they find out it is not glamorous. Their choice so not excuse to do a poor job. My next door neighbor is a top FA for Delta. Great guy and probably worked his ass off to get where he is now. He was 25+ years between old NWA and later on Delta. He choses his own schedule, but works mostly as the lead purser on international Delta One and during the summer he spends most of his time at home by his pool and only does the minimum required. Thus, every work starts at a low level but if you work hard you will get to the nice places you want.
@shoeguy: It is their choice to work as a FA. My local burger joint has a “We are Hiring” in front of their store if they are not happy with their current job.
Ah yes, America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. What a sh!t country.
And you live where??? Why are you reading an American travel blog? I can guarantee you live in a country that needs a visa to come here and you definitely have it. LOL!!!!
Okay, I’ll take the bait. The US isn’t all “that”. Those of us in Australia enjoy a peaceful existence with a stable government, decent healthcare for all, and generally a happy life.
When my Australian coworker explained the generous vacation rules over there, I realized just how wrong we do it here
You should keep your big, dumb pie hole shut and go back to where you came from.
It’s actually the opposite. Flight attendants in the U.S. tend to take advantage of union blackmail so they do the bare minimum work, are rated worst in the world for service by passengers, get insane non rev travel benefits, and get above average pay with seniority. We have great grandma age people working as flight attendants at the big 3 because they juice the job as much as they can get out of it.
Such a disgusting low bar for such an abomination of an airline!! Their flight crews have a beef and resentments with everybody and everyone is out to get them. Pathetic!! The only good thing they’ve got going is their First catering. Too bad United dropped the ball on that one!!
I’ve always considered doing this, too. I’m happy I haven’t.
Such incidents are making people (self) reluctant to say or ask anything. You never know when even good intentions can suddenly go sideways. I feel terrible for the kind gentlemen
Not only was the FA out of line for contacting ground staff with a misconstued story, both she and the ground personnel should have first and foremost spoken to the FA in the first class cabin where the passenger was seated. That would have cleared up the misunderstanding in an instant. I also question how the ground person was contacted; was the cockpit asked to have them meet the flight? And the captain also did not consult the FC FA? The mind boggles at such incompetent communication and certainly needs working on before an emergency situation is also messed up.
This FA is in power mood .. disguised as concerned citizen … hopefully she can learn from “teachable moments.”
Too often AA can’t get out of their own way adding 2+2 and getting 8. The crew gets training in spotting human trafficking and (to some) there are predators lurking behind every door afterward. Sometimes people just need to take a breathe and realize most of the time something that looks like an orange really is just an orange.
When one takes the classes necessary to get badged at an airport, one of the classes deals with child abuse and traffic. So, it is understandable that a flight attendant would be cautious and concerned.
Don’t allow children in Business Class or First Class – problem solved!
Men should Never ask for children to have their seat.. especially in America and on American lol. Whats the urgency in having the young passenger move to 1st right after take off?. The child may not like the larger 1st seat and lack of visual comfort seeing others. Good intentions sometimes should stay in thought only.
Because people are sick and have displayed a disgusting mind nowadays. He was not asking to be seated next to the minor. That would definitely look suspicious. But no, he was just offering a nice gesture to a minor that was probably intimidated to travel alone. “Hey, let the minor take my first class seat and I will seat in the back”. What is wrong with that? How many times I opened doors to other people? How many times I let people leave an elevator before me? What is wrong with people?
Kudos to the FA. There’s a lot of G*Y predators in the air right now. I am certain that this person was looking to take this kid as a companion.
Troll somewhere elsewhere…
To extrapolate that from this story means you are obsessed with “g*y” fantasies.
This story 100% never happened. The person posted it for clout and people are gullible and believed it. And no one at AA is proactively calling people to apologize for something like this.
I don’t agree with you. The guy is anonymous. Why would he make it up?
The Rear FA’s actions only make sense if there was a misunderstanding, which it turns out, there was. And they felt terrible. And they apologized. Soooo…?
30 years ago, a British AirwaysFA asked my parents if I would switch seats with a man so I (a 16 year old female at the time) could sit with two tween unaccompanied females on a flight from London to EWR. The FA moved a an adult male to my seat.
Looking out for predators is nothing new.
Statistics show that men are overwhelmingly more likely to sexually abuse children. A grown man shouldn’t be so sensitive to blow back when he made, in my opinion, an odd request to get closer to a child. Maybe his intentions were a 100% pure but he shouldn’t be surprised that FAs in charge if the unaccompanied minor were suspicious.
I agree, Heather. I’m an airline pilot and I’ve witnessed a victim of sexual assault coming off one of my flights. It was awful to see the impact firsthand. I won’t go into details, since I’m using my phone for this on the way to employee parking, but it can happen without people noticing. In my experience, flight attendants have a lot to deal with and when they are in charge of an unaccompanied minor, they take their job seriously. This should be good to hear if you ever send your child unaccompanied.
For about the last five years all of the airlines have been training their employees to be aware of human trafficking and to take action by getting the authorities involved if they suspect it. Maybe this has caused some unconscious paranoia in some employees, but probably better safe than sorry.
The bottom line is that this was a misunderstanding. Maybe the FA could have been more professional, and maybe the passenger could have attempted to explain himself a little better, instead of taking the position of a victim so easily. “Poor me, I guess I’ll just never try and do anything nice again!” Look, I’m sure the passenger felt attacked and the flight attendant was probably stressed. More communication would have been helpful all around.
This article is not helpful, in my opinion. It’s clickbait that encourages people to make assumptions about others and causes negativity to grow. This kind of journalism doesn’t help anyone (except it’s author). It’s just inflammatory.
“but probably better safe than sorry.”
Whenever I hear that phrase, I get a gut feeling that “safety” is going to mean someone isn’t going to be sorry about hurting someone else.
But… in this case, the FA does appear to be genuinely “sorry” about jumping to conclusions and that’s to be applauded. Unlike the FA who got Matt thrown off of a flight for merely trying to reassure a power-hungry FA he didn’t mean harm taking photos of his seat, this one didn’t stick to her guns and they attempted to make amends.
You claim communication is vital but this is a good thing in that now passengers (particularly men) know to be careful when interacting with minors on an airplane. If we take your “better safe than sorry” to its logical conclusion, the passenger said just that: It’s safer to not do a “nice thing” when a possible communications issue may ensue and cause trouble. The unaccompanied minor was perfectly safe in coach albeit less comfortable.
Let’s get this straight. The flight attendants are responsible for an unaccompanied child flying from the moment
he steps into the aircraft until the gate agent at the arrival gate personally takes him off the flight and into the jetway.
If there are seats available FAs will move the child closest to where they are working to keep an eye on him.
In this case, the gentleman offered his seat to the unaccompanied minor. The airline procedure is that if an unaccompanied minor’s seat is changed, the FAs and gate agents must be notified IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!
THIS IS RULE NUMBER ONE IN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY AROUND THE WORLD – NO EXCEPTIONS.
If the passenger offered his first class seat to the child and moved into economy class…how can there be any
communication between the two?
I don’t think this situation is as much about FAs as it is about sex predators fear and paranoia. Pretty common everywhere. It’s best not pay attention to anyone – never mind children – lest you’re risking being accused of a creepy behavior and invading someone’s safe space. Don’t look, don’t talk, definitely don’t touch – stay in your lane: https://www.staturepr.com/news/75-of-men-are-too-scared-to-chat-up-women/
Maybe he was watching Gladiator moves….
“don’t allow minors in 1st class” and ” there are a lot of gay preditors ” flying, really? When do we stop bashing the gay and young population to be “politically correct. Dis AA do any FA refresher training? I agree with the comment of the person that said just don’t fly AA. They are just incapable of filling the FA job with good and kind people. The FA should not be a social Nazi enforcer and judge, but just do their job for the safety and pleasure of the customer. No good deed goes unpunished, no lack of courtesy.goes unrewarded.
I was not able to read every word of every comment. But this might be like Shakespeare’s comedy of errors and not enough communications between people.
For example, I see the man’s good heart, who wanted to help the unaccompanied male minor. Our daughter flew this way many times. Sometimes she was the only one, and sometimes she was with others. So either the man could have asked the first FA if there were other unaccompanied minors or the first FA could have told the man that either the said male minor was with other minors and therefore should stay together or the male minor was alone and could exchange seats with the permission of the FA that was actually responsible for the minor(s). Or the first FA who might have not been responsible for the minors, could have handed over the offer to the FA in charge to work out the offer and the communications.
What I am simply talking about is what is being lost my many humans tthroughout the earth and that is their humanism. Simply respecting the dignity of all people.
a humanistic Buddhist living in America
Good on FA. The guy was definitely trying to mol*st a kid. It’s common knowledge that unaccompanied minors fly together. Just another g*y pedo.
Somehow I’m not surprised. AA is damaged beyond repair. For several reasons I just started flying AA again after five years as UA 1K. The degradation of AA is appalling.
I remember flying alone many times as a child in the early 70’s cross country, my parents made a point at the gate ( maybe now thats where the problems begin ) to have an FA keep on eye on me since I was only 7 years old. They escorted me to my seats and made numerous stops to check on me. I had no problems except the cigarette smoke, lol.
If the FA really thought this is what he was doing I could see their actions as justified. That child’s life is in that FAs care. Period. It was a simple misunderstanding that they worked out and corrected in the end. This article seems a bit dramatic tbh
I’ve often thought that one of the major airlines should come up with their own version of a “trusted traveler” program for in-flight. Give the elites the option to opt-in to the program, the airline does a basic background check on the traveler, and then markets it to parents sending their children as unaccompanied minors. I.e. Fly with us, and we’ll sit them next to one of our elite travelers who’s been screened and we know will not only alleviate any fears for your kid since they are frequent fliers and know the drill, but also alleviate your fear if they are safe.
As an man you are guilty untill proven otherwise in the current climate
Hmm.Definitely two sides to this one.AA was clearly offensive approaching the man,a loyal customer, in a disrespectful manner during and after the flight.However…Ive flown first/business many times and don’t give a hoot who is in my cabin and certainly didn’t go nosing around who is in economy class.Why did he,a grown man do that?MYOB