Earlier this month my wife and I were flying from Miami back to Boston. Everyone was aboard with 20 minutes remaining until departure. I mentioned to my wife that the first class flight attendant was not bothering to offer drinks—not even soft drinks—and wasn’t very attentive. During the meal, she was polite but very slow. She never thought to refill a drink until asked.
After the meal, she came up to us and said, “Do you remember me?” I told her I didn’t, and was suddenly wondering what my wife was thinking at the moment. “You wrote the blog about me,” she said.
She was correct. Two years ago, right here (http://www.contrarianconsulting.com/travesty-on-american-flight-1758/), I wrote about a crew of flight attendants who would not help two elderly, very heavy women—one blind and one sight-impaired—place their luggage in the overhead bins. A man with a cane and I had to go over to help them. Furious, I asked the flight attendants why they weren’t helping.
“We’re not allowed to, according to American Airlines policy,” I was told.
“Well how about ethical and humanitarian policy?” I asked. They were mute.
The flight attendant now reminding me of this told me my blog post had reached American management (who had told me there is no such policy of “non-help.”) It had caused her significant paperwork and stress, she said, along with the other two employees involved. She was subject to a great deal of inconvenience (as were the two passengers she had not helped, I imagine).
“And you’ve been checking manifests for two years to find me?” I asked, stunned.
“Yes, I figured that some day I’d fly with you again. I wanted to tell you if you had just spoken to me at greater length I could have explained everything. I’ve been working this job for 25 years.” (That was a telling comment.)
“You all had the chance to speak to me on that flight,” I said, “and what I saw was completely inappropriate behavior.”
After she went back to her duties—deliberate and slow—my wife said, “That is sad, not realizing what she did wrong, unhappy that it caused her some paperwork, and thinking about it, trying to find you again, for two years.” We were aghast.
“Yes,” I said, “and she certainly doesn’t represent the best service that American has to offer even on this routine flight.” (I had handed out a recognition slip on the flight down for outstanding service to that flight attendant. Today’s flight to Miami was handled quite well.) “Some people have 25 years of experience, and some have one year 25 times over and over.”
I’ll bet that entire crew still isn’t helping disabled people with their luggage.
© Alan Weiss 2015
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