When a FA doesn’t know the rules!

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  • Anonymous


    Here is a copy of an email I sent to Delta about my most recent flight.

    I was a passenger on Delta flight 6121 from ORF to CVG at 6:45 this morning (July 27, 2010). I feel compelled to tell you that I was unfortunate enough to have the worst flight attendant to ever wear a Delta uniform on this trip.

    I have been loyally flying Delta since 2000. You can check my flying history and see I fly Delta a lot I have also been involved with the aviation industry in different facets for over 20 years. In all that time I have never experienced this kind of rude and unprofessional flight attendant as on this particular flight. The Captain announced the her name as Kat, I’m not sure it that is short for anything, or with a “C” or “K”.

    I boarded the plane and took my seat. While the other passengers were boarding I was listening to my music through my headphones. When the boarding door closed I promptly turn off my iphone and unplugged my headphones. The headphones that I use are not battery powered and they also function as earplugs and I have used them as such on all the Delta flights I have taken over the past 5 years. During the safety announcement, Kat asked me to take out my ear plugs. I assumed this was because she wanted me to hear the safety briefing. After the briefing I put my earplugs back in so as to not hear the noise of the engines and other cabin noises. That is when Kat approached me and said she already asked me to take off the headphones once . I tried explained to her that they were not electronic and I use them as earplugs and showed her that they were not plugged in. She responded rudely with, “I don’t care what you use them for I said to take them off or I will call the captain.” At which time, not wanting to cause a scene I took them off and asked when can put them back in. She told me as soon as we take off.

    After take off and when we reached 10,000 feet I proceeded to get my iphone (which was in the “airplane mode” ) out to listen to some music and take a nap. That is when Kat, rudely exclaimed to me that I was not allowed to use a cell phone in flight. I knew this and tried, to no avail to explain that this was in the airplane mode and not transmitting a signal. Once again, she stated “I don’t care, I said you are not using your phone in flight.” So I put my phone away in it’s case on my belt.

    During the beverage service and after the fasten seatbelt light was turned off, I retrieved my ipod from my carry on, started to again listen to music and try to take a nap. After a couple of minutes or so and while I was dozing. Kat came by and slapped my shoulder to wake me up. She began verbally reprimanding me about using my cell phone in flight. She stated again that she warned me not to use it. As I tried to explain to her it was not my phone. She cut me off and then threatened to call the captain, because I didn’t listen to her. I then showed her my cell phone on my belt and told her what I was using was a MP3 player not a phone. After that she just walked away without apologizing for her mistake.

    I completed understand and respect the flight crews on Delta and the other airlines. I realize they have an important job. The actions of this particular flight attendant are certainly not a reflection of the customer service I have come to expect form Delta. I have handed out a number of “A job well done” coupons for great service. However, the rude, unprofessional and condescending actions from Kat are going to making me start to question my loyalty to Delta.

    I know there are rules in place for our comfort and safety and I understand that. What I don’t appreciate is someone abusing their authority and wrong accusing someone of breaking these rules. I knew all along thorough out this confrontation that if I said the wrong thing I could have been accused of being an unruly passenger. That is why I kept my head through out this situation. Until now, this ordeal has caused me a great deal of stress. I feel that Kat’s performance warrants some action on Delta’s part. And she needs some additional training in the current FARs and Delta’s PED policy. I find it hard to believe that all the other Delta flight attendants have it wrong. She could also use some addition training in customer service.

    I am going to seriously consider my other options in future travel because of Kat’s actions. And I also plan to share this experience with the rest of my co-workers and peers in the aviation industry.


    I’m surprised you did as you were told by Kat .. whats this “unruly passenger” thing? .. let her get the captain .. perhaps he had a better understanding of an I-Phone in flight mode than she did .. strange how people in uniform suddenly become so officious .. has been that way all through history .. reminds me of the Australian immigration people .. look sideways at them and they set out to be the most inhospitable cretins you’ll ever meet .. (but thats another story..)


    OzTraveller – you MUST obey all directions from flight attendants – even when they are wrong and/or stupid. It’s an offence – including in Australia – to not comply with their directions. MichaelP did exactly the right thing – comply, though pointing out that she was wrong – and then lodge a complaint with the airline afterwards.

    Quite perplexed by your comments about Australian immigration – I go in and out quite often and have NEVER had a problem. I find immigration officers from a number of countries to be much less hospitable than their Australian counterparts.


    Now John , surely you cant be serious… you MUST obey directions from flight attendants when they order you to pull your window shade down during a day time flight? .. you must turn off your I-Phone when listening to your I-Pod, because she doesnt’t know that there is such a thing as “inflight mode” ? .. no, I say again, get the captain .. most pilots are not quite so stupid as Kat ..

    Try entering Australia – any international airport – and not be an Australian citizen. They will put you thru the hoops at the immigration counter and then again while you are waiting for your baggage at the carousel … believe me, my visiting business colleagues from Asian countries have all had the treatment. Just because it hasn’t happened to you does not mean it does not happen.


    You might like to check the CASA legislation and regulations about “unruly passengers” and those who disobey the directions of flight or cabin crew …..

    By all means, in such circumstances ask to see the captain – but don’t be surprised when the captain declines your invitation (they tend to find such things rather trivial) …….


    You comment about Australian immigration doesn’t resonate with my experience; I find them unfailingly polite, professional and also good-humoured.


    Interesting combination of things here:

    – Obeying Cabin Crew: I told the lady from Qantas in no uncertain terms how I wanted my window blind when I was woken up on a BKK-LHR leg. I had fallen asleep against the window with the blind up and was woken up to close it. I reminded her that having paid for the seat and checked in early for the flight to ensure I got a window seat, and noting that it wasn’t comprising the safety of the aircraft to have the blind up or down during the cruise phase, I would prefer to keep it up. Stumped (although annoyed) she retreated. I was seething to have been woken up.

    As for Australian Immigration – nothing but polite & friendly when I arrived from NZ last year.


    Ahh yes the old “you must obey me” shenanigans, the last vestige of power of the once so glamorous FA job.

    The Delta safety briefing goes like this (excerpt):
    “Please discontinue the use of all electronic devices at this time, and be certain to properly stow all tray tables, footrests, and in-seat video units where applicable. Smoking is not allowed on any Delta aircraft, and Federal law prohibits tampering with, disabling, or destroying a lavatory smoke detector. Lighted signs are visible throughout the cabin, and Federal regulations require you to comply with all signs and crewmember instructions. ” It does not say FAs are God and if they tell you to undress you have to.

    She was absolutely right to insist earphones to be out when doing the safety briefing and at take off. All too often people do not listen to the briefing and just keep ipods (or iphones) on. The easiest way to ensure this does not happen is to make sure the earphones are off. Quite a number of other airlines do the same.

    Now the the fact that she did not understand that iphones come with in flight mode is just bizarre, how long has she been flying?

    A lot of what gets dressed up as safety or security concerns these days, especially with US carriers is just nonsense. Who can forget the switching off of inflight maps in case we set fire to our underpants over US soil?

    Common sense (both from pax and FAs) seems to have unfortunately vanished these days.


    On my one visit to Australia the immigration official was both polite and humorous.

    I had my rude FA experience on Northwest about 10 years ago and have avoided US airlines every since ( except when I have had to use them for US domestic flights )


    Gentlemen, when I added immigration personnel to my previous post, I was merely remarking how a uniform can turn a normally reasonable person into something resembling a prison guard. How often have we seen that on board certain airlines, and especially with the old frumpy past-their-use-by-date FA’s of some US international airlines. Each of you have responded that you have only found the Australian immigration people polite and courteous. Good for you. You are saying this because you are a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I don’t want to get onto the subject of racism here of course but regrettably it’s true (in more places than Australian immigration) that the colour of your skin, heritage etc. can put you in second place before you even start when you come up against a uniform.


    OzTraveller – you couldn’t be further from the truth: my skin colour is anything but White Anglo-Saxon and my religion is truly not Protestant!

    I take you point, and in the spirit of limiting thread drift, let’s return to the OP’s post.


    Must say I find the actions of FAs in general to strongly colour all other elements of the flying experience. A great seat, good catering and decent IFE can all be spoiled by an impolite, apothetic or incompetent FA.

    Similarly, I often choose airlines for travel that may not have the best amenities but on which I’ve had consistently excellent experiences with their staff.

    My vote for “worst FA” goes to Continental. AA close second.


    I personally think the FA is quiet a Bit*h…. I had encountered the same problem when I flew domestically with an Indonesian carrier. She politely asked me to take off my headsets and turn off my BlackBerry, but then i explained to her that I have turned the Signal off and put it on “Airline mode” and she said, “oh ok, sorry to disturb you” and smile than walk off…. I think that is what exactly that Delta airline FA should do.


    I lived in Sydney for 2 yrs & fly there 3+ times a year as around Australia, & have done for 15 yrs.

    I have Never found Australian Immigration to be anything but professional, courteous,well humoured, thorough, & actually one of the most effective Border controls in the world.
    They are actively trained in Psychological techniques, profiling, &work in a very Direct, honest, open manner, but all for the benefit of policing the borders of the Country highly effectively.
    I am not threatened by a thorough check, direct questions, or dogs checking my baggage, which is the norm in Australian gateways

    I am white, yes. Many of the Australian Immigration & Customs officers are from many backgrounds, as are the arrival passengers. I have never seen anyone being treated differently at any airport in Australia over 15 yrs.
    Often, when an Immigration officer “Mirrors” the passengers behaviour made to him, people don’t like it…generally they dislike to see their own behaviour reflected to them. It is a psychological technique.
    I am instilled with confidence at the most efficient checks on customs & Immigration in Australia.
    If we had it here (No exit or border controls on departure from LHR for eg…so many people arrive but we do not know when or if they have left?!!!), we would have less problems in the UK.

    Being polite, co-operative, well humoured & assisting any official in any country to make their checks they are required & employed to do, always enables the same behaviour to be reflected back.

    It is the Immigration officers employed in LHR that need a Prozac Course, & to be taught some interpersonal and social skills, & realise we are customers paying for their service.

    I choose not to fly American Airlines generally, even though i can travel either way to Australia from the UK. I do not find their services reflect any of the finer qualities of the Middle or Far Eastern / Australian Airlines, as the on ground in the US overall, so i stick to the Eastern routes.

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