A flight attendant for Spring Airlines, a Chinese carrier, has been sidelined after venting about what “idiots” her passengers were. I’m rather sympathetic toward the flight attendant…but only to a degree.
Spring Airlines Flight Attendant Faces Job Termination After Calling Passengers “Idiots” And “Trash”
“Hu” works for Spring Airlines, a budget carrier based in Shanghai (sidenote: we call it Spring Airlines in English, but apparently the Chinese name literally means “Spring Autumn Airlines”). On July 19, 2023, she posted a tirade against her customers via her private account on the Xiaohongshu social media:
“All kinds of trash can travel by plane, and summer travel is exactly like transporting idiots.”
Perhaps I have just become immune to this sort of sentiment based upon the many flight attendants and pilots who are friends and say the same thing about their passengers (privately, of course), but I really don’t see the problem here with her words alone.
The problem here is that she captioned a photo of herself in uniform with these words. That’s a no-no not just in China, but also in the West. Expressing such sentiment is indeed unprofessional and frankly counterproductive, but doing so in uniform (which gives the sense, even if only implied, that she somehow represents the company) is certain grounds for discipline and potentially even termination. Spring Airlines is now inveighing to see if this was a one-off incident or a recurring pattern.
A spokesperson told the South China Morning Post Ms. Hu has been relieved of duty while the investigation is pending and will be “dealt with in line with the provisions of the airline’s employment manual.”
For better or for worse, airline employees are “on the job” when they represent themselves in company uniform on social media (and indeed, sometimes even when they are not). Most airlines have strict social media policies in place to guard the reputation of the company. Here, Hu should have known that expressing such condescension toward passengers would backfire.
image: Spring Airlines