Mistreated, Harassed and Assaulted by a Flight Attendant
I am writing this in total disbelief. I hope US Airways will understand the gravity of what I am about to recount and take the appropriate measures to make it right.
This abuse needs to end and by bringing this story out in the open, hopefully airlines will start taking responsibility for their declining customer service, allowing passengers and paying customers to stop feeling mistreated and harassed by airline employees.
I am a 30 year old female executive who travels every week all across and outside of the country, nationally mainly on US leading airlines, internationally or whenever I can on Asian airlines who are among the few that still have incredible service.
I still remember back in the 90s when flying was a fun and glamorous experienceâ¦ When flight attendants would remember that a large part of their job description is to serve the customer, and where one received the service that is expected in a first world country and the land of âthe customer comes firstâ.
I am sure many of you have experienced the changeâ¦. Service has been declining, customer service has gone down to the bare minimum and passengers often find themselves dealing with rude check in representatives, airport personnel, gate agents and, worse of all, flight attendants.
In the past few years, these unacceptable experiences have become the routine, and the people I happen to talk to seem to have given up to the idea that this is how it is, and that the airline industries decline (USAirwaysâ in particular) is just at the beginning stages. I constantly witness passengers getting yelled at, or being mistreated for taking too long in putting away their bag in the overhead bin, or treated rudely for requesting something during the flight. The sad thing is that this is something that by now, we are all used to and expect when we fly â¦ unfortunately.
But yesterday, I had the most unbelievable experience of all. USAIRWAYS shame on you! I was traveling to Saint Louis on a US Airways evening flight. I travel US Airways multiple times a week because of its convenient flight schedules from Miami. Because of my loyalty and the many flights I take every month, I have received a Preferred Status and am often upgraded to first classâ¦ Not that I would expect this to mean something, but it makes the whole experience even more scandalous.
I was waiting to board the plane, where I was assigned the very first seat to the right as you walk in the cabin. I was on the phone with my CEO discussing an important meeting we had that day. As I walk into the plane, I hear a flight attendant scream to me in a rude and demeaning way âYOUR BAG IS TOO BIG (which it isnât, as it is a standard carry on size)ââ¦ Being on the phone I did not realize the screaming was directed at me, so, as we are instructed to do, I went ahead to open the overhead compartment immediately on top of my seat. Here, plenty of space to put my bag as the compartment was completely empty with the exception of a small black bag. As I am about to push the black bag to the side to fit my carry on, the same flight attendant roughly GRABS MY ARM and yelling again says âDO NOT DARE TOUCH MY BAG!â Still on the phone and in disbelief I respond that I had no idea the bag was hers and that all I was trying to do was place my suitcase in the bin assigned to my seat. At that, with the same tone, she responds âYOU HAVE TO GO ALL THE WAY TO THE BACK OF THE PLANEâ (which seemed unnecessary since the plane was half empty and there were plenty of empty bins between the first class cabin and the end of the plane.) Since I had people behind me who were trying to board the plane, and since I was assigned the first seat at the front of the plane that has plenty of extra space and leg room, I pulled to the side with my suitcase, allowing people to make their way to their seat instead of slowing down the boarding processâ¦ Another Shout âMAâAM YOU CANNOT STAND THERE WITH YOUR BAG, IT NEEDS TO GO IN THE OVERHEAD!!!! IN THE OVERHEAD I SAID! GO TO THE BACK OF THE PLANE!!!â At which I responded that I was just waiting for the passengers to board so I would not block the entry way and made my way to the middle of the plane where a much more professional flight attendant smiled at me and helped me store my bag.
Displeased by the discourtesy and approach of the flight attendant (who should help make the passengersâ experience a positive one), I decided to ask for her name so I could file a complaint as soon as I arrived in Saint Louis. Enough is enough! And I also figured that if passengers start taking the time to report these incidents, the flying experience might improve for passengers all across the country. After all, I wouldnât expect US Airways to be able to fix what they donât know is broken.
The flight attendant did not like the idea of being reprimanded. So, a few minutes later, while I am sitting down reading my new book, she asks me to deboard the plane. âMAâAM STEP OFF THE PLANE!â, âMay I ask why?â I replied.
âDO YOU WANT TO FLY TODAY OR NOT? she said, with her unlikable manner. At which of course, I said yes. âTHEN STEP OFF SO THE GATE AGENT CAN HAVE A WORD WITH YOU.â âNo problem, I said, I would like a word with him too.â
The gate agent (who then I found out might have been the pilot) asked me what had happened. I explained and he apologized profusely for the experience, suggesting I report the incident and writing for me on a piece of paper the information about the flight so I could file a complaint. Throughout this process the flight attendant was standing close, worried, and raising her voice while trying to plead her case by denying what had happened.
I thanked the pilot for his concern and apologies, and took my seat. The pilot then pulled the flight attendant aside and explained to her that such behavior is unacceptable. She started making up lies and blaming everything on me saying that I was the one with the problem and again denying the entire incident. Compelled to clarify my side of the story and EXHAUSTED from having to experience such lack of class and professionalism, I got close again and reiterated that such behavior is unacceptable and that if in my line of business if I dared to treat customers half as bad as she had treated me (and others, I am sure) I would have gotten fired a long time ago. The pilot once again apologized, told me I had every right to complain. At that point, glad I had at least had a chance to voice my mind; I sat back in my seat.
The moment the pilot locked the cockpit door, the flight attendant started harassing me and walking down the aisle pleading passengers to please sign a petition against me to help her keep her job.
To my disbelief, a couple of bored passengers who hadnât even witnessed the incident as they had not boarded the plane yet when it occurred, found it amusing to team up with the flight attendant and support her mobbing.
Although this made me uncomfortable (after all the flight attendant was walking around soliciting passengers against me and harassing and laughing at me together with the rest of the crew), I kept reading my bookâ¦ âIt takes a man to suffer ignorance and smileâ I was taught.
The harassing however did not stop. Feeling extremely frustrated and uncomfortable, and also determined to make a point -- as I donât believe that a Premiere Member (or ANY PASSENGER FOR THAT MATTER) should ever have to go through such an implausible experience on a commercial airline -- stunned that a flight attendant instead of doing her job would walk around the isle soliciting and harassing passengers, I decided to take my bag and step off the plane. Something that I NEVER in my life have done or was put in the condition of considering before.
As I walk out, the same flight attendant starts clapping and cheering and the couple bored passengers tagged along. I WASH IN SHOCK!!!! I did nothing but exercise my right to be treated with courtesy and respect.
I want to clarify that I am in no way a rude person, anyone who knows or works with me will tell you that I do not go around mistreating people, I am very involved in charitable organizations and at no point throughout this incident, other than complaining and addressing my concerns, did I ever act out of line. Exercised a right, is more like it.
Anyway, returning to the gate I asked to be rebooked on the next flight (which happened to fly out the following morning). The supervisor, hearing the story, and herself in disbelief, asked me to please get back on the flight: âAS A CUSTOMER AND PREFERRED PASSENGER YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE ON THAT FLIGHT AND BE TREATED WITH COURTESY AND RESPECT. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND THIS IS NOT HOW WE TREAT OUR CUSTOMERS, I WILL ESCORT YOU IN THE PLANE MYSELF AND MAKE SURE THAT THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT IS TAKEN OFF THE FLIGHT SO THAT YOU CAN GET TO YOUR FINAL DESTINATION WITH DIGNITY AND UNHARASSED. IF YOU GIVE UP THIS FLIGHT SHE WILL HAVE WON THE BATTLE AND THIS IS NOT THE MESSAGE WE WANT TO CONVEYâ¦â
After thinking about it, I decided âwhy notâ after all I had early meeting in St Louis the next day that I could not miss. The supervisor then asked me to wait at the gate while she talked to the crew.
After 10 minutes in the plane she walks out âI AM SO SORRY, BUT THE SITUATION HAS NOT BEEN RESOLVED, SO WE WILL HAVE TO KEEP YOU ON TOMORROWâS FLIGHTâ. âWhat do you mean has not been resolved?â I asked, at that point severely tired and surprised.
âWELL, THE PILOT SAID THAT HE IS NOT COMFORTABLE HAVING YOU AND THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT ON THE SAME PLANE, HE SAID THAT ALTHOUGH THE FLIGHT ATTENDENTâS BEHAVIOR WAS OUT OF LINE AND UNACCEPTABLE, YOU STEPPING INTO THE CONVERSATION WHEN HE WAS TALKING TO HER COULD BE TAKEN AS A SIGN OF AGGRESSION (aggression??????)â¦ AND SINCE THAT IS HIS SHIP AND HE ULTIMATELY DECIDES, HE FELT IT BETTER FOR YOU TO TAKE THE NEXT FLIGHT. I AM SO SORRY MISS, PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGIES ON BEHALF OF USAIRWAYS.â And she handed me piece of paper with www.usairways.com telling me to go online and file a report.
AGAIN, I AM SHOCKED. Not only was I treated with disrespect, harassed and bullied. But the flight attendant got away with it and ultimately I was denied reboarding on a plane I had left on my own accord. I cannot believe that US Airways would allow such behavior, and especially, even though at fault and after being reprimanded by her superiors, she would be allowed to go around soliciting passengers asking them to sign a paper to help her keep her job. And the clapping.
Yes, it is true that I stood up and spoke to the pilot expressing my unhappiness and complaining about the service, but in no way different than any of you would complain about poor service anywhere else. Also, last time I checked, the United States was a country that granted freedom of speech and freedom to express oneâs own opinions. I guess that does not apply to US Airways.
I cannot believe that this incident would go unpunished and that the flight attendant would be able to make up stories, behave in such an unprofessional way, and ultimately get away with it.
I will make sure that anybody out there who had similar experiences or has been subject to crabbiness and lack of respect while flying US Airways, will speak up. This is ridiculous and needs to stop.
Last but not least, this ended up costing me over $300 dollars in Taxis and overnight stay as the earliest available flight was the following morning.
I am confident that US Airways, will realize the severity of this and take the approapriate measure to make it right.
Until then, I will never again fly US Airways and will make sure none of my employees and acquaintances do.