Continental Airlines Complaint - Rude, offensive flight attendants
On Friday, July 31, 2009, I was a passenger aboard Flight 48- ATL to EWR in seat 20-D on the aisle. I was appalled by the rude treatment I received from the two male flight attendants, one was very tall, and one was short, in comparison. At 10:39 I boarded the flight scheduled to leave at 11:14. The coach cabin was quite hot, and after finding my seat, (I had no carry on except my small handbag) I inquired of the steward (the shorter of the two), whether or not he believed we would indeed be able to take off as scheduled, whereupon he informed me in a very unpleasant tone that he had no idea, and that we sure couldn’t take off until I took my seat, implying that my questioning him would cause a delay in the plane’s leaving. I took my seat.
The flight was not terribly late leaving and the cabin cooled down quickly, so I was pleased and relieved. As the attendants served drinks I asked the shorter one for a can of tomato juice; when he poured a glass for me, I asked again for the whole can. Rather than saying “Sure, here you go,” or “No problem” he merely turned and glared at me and without a word set the can down on my tray table. Later, he came down the aisle shouting “turkey or ham, turkey or ham, turkey or ham….” like a vendor at a baseball game. I had no idea that Continental was still serving food and was surprised when another passenger told me they were handing out sandwiches. I was amazed at this man’s utter lack of civility; he appeared to have resented having to serve the passengers anything and the whole cabin was like the proverbial “cattle car.”
After the 13 year old girl in the middle seat and I had assisted the approximately six year old Asian girl in the window seat who spoke NO English with her snack and drink, we gathered up the refuse and consolidated it all on my tray for ease of collection. When the very tall steward came down the aisle to collect, it was all ready for him. Up to this time I had had absolutely no interaction this man. He said something to me that I did not understand and when I said “what?” he shouted “hand it to me.” I was amazed as it has always been my experience that attendants prefer to pick things up themselves in order to sort them. Incredulous, I shouted back, “You want me to hand it to you?” He replied in a most unpleasant manner, “Yes, you have to hand it to me.” Whereupon, I picked up as much of it as I could at once, and placed it firmly on top of the cart. He then said to me, “That’s assault; you have assaulted me.” I could not believe my ears and informed him at once that I most certainly had not assaulted him. He said it again, in a threatening manner. The man obviously does not understand the meaning of the word “assault.” Indeed, it would have been impossible for me to have assaulted him as I, a 65 year old woman, strapped in my seat and blocked in the seat by the service cart, had no ability to do anything but sit and be threatened by a huge (I would estimate 6’3”) and very intimidating man towering over me. The exchange ended with his threatening me that I would be “dealt with” when we landed. I was terribly frightened that he might indeed have the power to have an Air Marshall detain me.
But I am not one to be intimidated for long, and as I passed him while deplaning, I informed him that I would be waiting for him at the gate and that we would get the matter settled to which he replied, “Yes, we will; see the man in the red coat.” I stayed in the gate area for at least five minutes, but could find no such man at the gate so I went to the adjacent help station and spoke with “Frederico” explaining what had happened. Frederico went over to the gate and was gone for some time. Worried, and concerned about my husband who was waiting for me, I followed him back to the gate, where he was talking to the man in the red coat who had now appeared. They asked me the names of the flight attendants. I did not know them as they wore no name tags I could see, but I felt they would be coming off the plane soon and we could settle the matter easily as there were only two male attendants on the flight and one was short and one was very tall. That is when Frederico and the man in the red coat informed me that the flight crew had already exited the plane and left the premises. So it seems that the steward really was not worried about having been assaulted by me, but merely wanted to intimidate me and make certain that my flight was as miserable as possible. He succeeded.
Flying is difficult enough these days; it would seem to me that the very least a passenger can expect is simple courtesy. A response would be appreciated.
I got a response; a customer service person said "I am sorry for the unprofessional behavior of the flight attendants.
Not assuaged by this, I wrote again:
I would like to express to you that I thought long and hard about my original complaint, weighing the inconvenience in time and energy expended in my writing it against my indignation at the way I and others on the flight were treated. Thus, rather than just dropping it as I was inclined to do and can now see I would have been better off doing, I persevered.
I was not asking for an apology from someone who had nothing to do with the situation, but truly thought it my responsibility to let the airline know what had happened and how I (and other passengers) had been treated by its employees.
Judging from you letter, it seems to me that you do not understand the seriousness of this incident. “Demonstrating an unprofessional demeanor,” as you characterized it, is hardly descriptive of the actions of the two flight attendants in question. Is it possible that you missed the part where I explained that one of the men implied that he would have me “dealt with” when we arrived? I could take such a threat to mean nothing less than he would attempt to have me arrested or at least detained for questioning. That, Mr. Vaughn, was an egregious and unwarranted action on his part. He was hostile, offensive, and threatening and succeeded in causing me a great deal of anxiety. In these times of heightened security, I well know that a passenger can be removed from a flight or detained at the end of one if he is said to have been obstreperous or unruly, and judging by the man’s basic hostility and absurd accusation that I had assaulted him, I had no doubt that he might well have accused me again whereupon the security officers would have had no choice but to detain me. I have a background in criminal law and I well know that the mere accusation of assault can, at the very least, result in detention if not criminal action. Of course I would have had no problem defending myself against such a ridiculous accusation, but the inconvenience and embarrasssment of such an occurrence happening weighed heavily on me. I was in Newark to meet my husband and some friends for a long week end’s holiday.
That I do not know the names of the men seems irrelevant to me; however as I think of it, don’t flight personnel usually wear ID badges? The employees at the desk outside the gate were clearly identified by their nametags. But then Continental Airlines must surely know which of its employees were working Flight 48- Atlanta to Newark on July 31, 2009. If not I can give you a further description: one was white, about 5’ 9”, medium build, olive complexioned, Mediterranean background with dark, straight hair, brown eyes and appearing to be about 40 to 45 years old. The other man was black, medium complexioned, very tall, I would estimate 6’ 3”, athletically built, with close cropped black hair, brown eyes and I would judge in his mid to late thirties; it was he who threatened me. There was a third attendant, a woman, who was in the First Class section; I had no interaction with her.
It is all well and good for you to assure me that “management will act appropriately” and that “necessary corrective actions” will be taken by your In Flight Management team, but it is of little comfort; indeed, it seems to me to be your way of attempting to assuage my feelings and disposing of my complaint expeditiously.