An American Airlines flight attendant took to the PA system on a flight to Charlotte and ranted about passengers. His conduct was 100% justified and I am happy he decided to speak up and shame the hapless passengers who refused to behave onboard.
Flight Attendant Sounds Off
The incident occurred onboard American Airlines Flight 2511 from Los Angeles (LAX) to Charlotte (CLT) on June 7th. While the flight took off on time, poor weather delayed the arrival into Charlotte. No one was excited about the delay, but a pair of passengers used the delay as cue to remove their masks and refuse to follow crewmember instructions.
At one point, a flight attendant took to the PA system to admonish the unruly passengers.
All we’ve done is be flight attendants the entire flight. We really did experience the delay just like you. We have not eaten also. We’ve been delayed here too. We’ve catered to you the entire flight and we do it because we love this job.
But the fact that we get insulted and mistreated by passengers over things that we cannot control. It is disgusting. We’re just going to go to Charlotte because we do not want to escalate this, but shame on the passengers who have made this flight a living hell for the flight attendants.
Passengers responded to the message by a smattering of applause. Note at the time the plan remained to continue to Charlotte. But the weather did not improve and the flight eventually had to divert to Raleigh Durham (RDU).
On the ground in Raleigh, the situation took a turn for the worse. The same passengers apparently rebelled further, again refusing to keep their masks on and then hurling vulgar insults at the flight attendants, including calling one flight attendant a “fat gorilla.”
Amazingly, it appears the rebellious passengers were allowed to remain onboard and the flight ultimately continued to Charlotte, arriving at 9:41 pm, over four hours late.
Delays Put Flight Attendants In The Firing Line
Flight attendants have a tough job acting as mask enforcers, but throw in a delay and things can really get messy. Even with frequent communication (which inevitably helps to mitigate passenger frustration during delays), some passengers will not accept the fact that weather leads to flight delays. #clueless
Taking to the PA to vent frustration may seem immature or misplaced, but it an understandable human reaction to what occurred. In fact, I’d argue it a reasonable and justified under the circumstances; a plea for calm and a plea for other passengers to rally around and help enforce order.
Think about it: flight attendants are outnumbered by about 50 to 1. Yes, they hold the authority (in consultation with the captain) to remove unruly passengers, but if a rebellion occurs they can only do so much. On nearly every occasion of passenger malfeasance, it is not just flight attendants but other passengers which step in to assist when a passenger refuses to comply with crew member instructions.
It doesn’t help when in-flight services are limited to a canned beverage and cookie on a 4+ hour flight. Nor does it help when legroom is tight, there are not screens at each seat, and flight are again full.
But these lack of onboard services cannot excuse the poor behavior. There is simply no excuse for it. And condemning the passenger in front of the plane was a shrewd move to prepare other passengers to step in if the unruly passengers did not clam down.
The Life Of A Flight Attendant Is Different Than Advertised
When the Chris Bohjalian novel was adapted for an HBO Max series earlier this year, The Flight Attendant, former Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco advertised a glamorized view of flight attendants working. Jet setting around the world, and [spoiler alert] becoming romantically involved with a handsome business class passenger (Michiel Huisman) before [spoiler alert, again] finding a dead body – may have misled the public and potential future crews of the realities of the role.
Flight attendant training is substantial and difficult. As flight attendants note on every flight in the United States, they are primarily there for your safety (as is much of their training) rather than customer service. The reality of surly customers mad about weather delays is not something an executive producer wants to address, but is far more likely than being swept off your feet by a wealthy, attractive customer, in Bangkok.
I applaud the flight attendant for pushing back and shaming the passenger. These are difficult days to fly and while I detest flight attendants who use COVID-19 as an excuse to hide in the galley and avoid being attentive or go on unjustified power trips, I also recognize what an incredibly difficult job flight attendants have right now. No human being should have to endure the abuse of simpletons who attack the messenger (concerning mask rules).
If you are frustrated by weather delays, direct you prayers upward. If you are frustrated by mask requirements, that’s the Biden Administration, not American Airlines or the flight attendants on your flight.
These are difficult times, but the bad behavior must stop. Since ejections and fines do not seem to be working, maybe shaming passengers over the PA system will…
(H/T: View From The Wing)