American Airlines First Class Passenger Kicked Off Flight After Demanding Predeparture Beverage

A first class American Airlines passenger was kicked off of a flight after requesting a predeparture beverage. He refused to leave after being told to do so a flight attendant and a pilot, so police were called.

He wants to know what he’s done. It doesn’t matter, he’s been told to leave and in the moment there’s nothing he can do about it. The request does not have to be reasonable. He’s going to have to comply.

About four minutes into video of the incident, the passenger’s phone was taken because he was recording the incident. Ironically video of the whole incident was shared online and it was clearly taken by an employee. Eventually he’s pulled from his seat, led out of the aircraft, and handcuffed on the jet bridge.

Since we don’t have video of what was said before the passenger was told to leave the aircraft, let’s assume he was rude when his request for a drink was denied:

Man forcibly removed from flight after refusing multiple requests to leave from attendants, pilot, and police. All started over being denied a pre-takeoff gin and tonic.
by u/losfathead in PublicFreakout

The passenger is largely being roasted in the comments on social media because he’s in first class and the altercation is over a drink. And it’s pointless to argue – escalating the situation only ends badly. But surely the airline ought to be calling the crew in here. Even if they weren’t going to offer predeparture beverages, they shouldn’t have escalated this either.

One of the key service elements of American Airlines domestic first class is the predeparture beverage. Passengers are supposed to be offered something to drink during boarding. The airline has emphasized how valuable this is for customer perception and handed out fortune cookies trying to convince them to do it.

Many flight attendants just don’t bother to do it, and the airline doesn’t actually do anything about it. The most important thing for the airline is an on-time departure, and sometimes there just isn’t time. If a flight boards late, and passengers are pouring down the aisle into the plane, flight attendants aren’t supposed to slow things down. And if ever questioned, all they ever have to do is suggest that they didn’t want to risk delaying pushback.

Since there are no consequences when they don’t do this part of the job, many crewmembers just don’t do it. Others are openly hostile to the idea.

  • Their pay is calculated on flight time after the boarding door closes, so they don’t want to work before then.
  • They don’t receive enough profit sharing, so don’t care if customers are happy and the airline profitable.

This is a comment about predeparture beverages an American Airlines flight attendant once left on this website,

You bought the seat in 1st. The service is optional. FAs are on board to save your ass not kiss it. …Are there no drinking fountains or restrooms in the terminal? …[Y]ou are so self absorbed , you whine about everything. Walk a day in someone else’s shoes for a change. Tip your flight attendant. They make less than minimum wage working double the hours they get paid for. You tip the waitress that brings your food why is this job any different?

It’s absolutely reasonable for a first class passenger to request a predeparture beverage. In fact it should be proactively offered. However if you’re a frequent traveler on American Airlines you know not to expect this. And arguing with your crew is never going to end up the way you want it to.

(HT: @bags)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I woke up this morning and WOW!!!! My family and I have enjoyed reading the newest comments on this article. Hilarious!!! We take bets on who is lying, who has barely graduated high school, who has never even been on a plane before. Our favorite is the power tripping F/A comments. We love those. Why? Because we know how uneducated you are are and how little you know about my industry. I would love 99% of you to wake up on Monday, go to the office and let someone come into your cubicle, proceed stand there and tell you what an idiot you are and then tell you to get the (blank) of out their face. I’m sure you’d love that for about 3-12 hours. HAAAA!!! NOT!!! Security would be called in 2 seconds. We are the security and eyes and ears of our pilots and company at 35,000 feet. We are going to nip it in the bud if we see it before we even get to that altitude. We are not required to get into the air with someone who has already shown a propensity to verbally be abusive to us and our employer stands behind it. I would hope your employer doesn’t allow you to be verbally abused in your place of work. If they do, I’d find another company.

    People just don’t think. No way would you allow this to happen at your office and it’s not going to happen in ours either. In 40+ years of flying I’ve had only 3 incidents that required intervention. Two were in the air and one was before we left the gate. Needless to say, the one at the gate resulted in the passenger finding another flight. The two in the air were grown men traveling with their wives and they decided to take out their frustration with their bad business deals and trouble at security on me, THE FACE. They surely couldn’t take it out on their wives because I couldn’t divorce them. Their wives were so embarrassed and I felt for them. I’d have a divorce lawyer lined up upon landing if my husband acted like that.

    Carry on. Waiting for the next F/A bashing article, but in the mean time heading on a great Europe trip with a Fabulous crew! See you all soon. I’ll be THE FACE with the big smile. Introduce yourself as VFTW reader.

  2. Stewardess/steward (doesn’t deserve the title Flight Attendant) on a power trip. Dude just paid your weeks salary for a cushy ride and you turn it into a farce because you’re lazy and think you’re more important than the airline and the customer.

    AA, we’re it actually a major carrier would terminate any of the cabin crew involved. But of course we know AA gonna AA.

  3. Oh, boy. That comment posted towards the end of the article was cringy. It’s flight attendants like that who give the rest of us a bad name.

    I’m a 37 year flight attendant (not at AA) I always try my best to do a good job for all my passengers. Sometimes, we don’t have the time, supplies or staffing to meet company service standards or passenger expectations. And boarding is certainly a stressful and hectic time for both passengers and cabin crew.
    Patience, courtesy and understanding goes a long way for both passengers and crew.

  4. Let’s face it, a drink before takeoff is a nice touch but not something to go ballistic over. Whenever other passengers side with the crew, you know the customer was as obnoxious as this guy seemed.

  5. I have traveled several times in different air lines and I haven’t have no problems. Travelers were very patient, attentive and pleasant. The crew very friendly and ready to assist in any situation.
    I don’t understand why some people are rude and careless, specially in an airplane.

  6. This just shows how first class service is a concept long gone. Actually any kind of good service idea is already getting lost. The communist idea of “do you think you are better than me?” And “I dont earn enough money to do a decent job” will slowly destroy every aspect of human service. If you dont tip nowadays they think you dont deserve service. I feel like society is coming into a point where pple are acting like prostit… And any concept of moral responsibility and kindness is being flush down the toilet. Funny think is that for sure this FA would complaint if she would get in a restaurant the kind of service she provides for 1st class passengers. So sad

  7. I tried every way I can to avoid any US or Western based airlines, maybe with the exception of Delta when taking international flights. I always try to pick those based in Japan, Taiwan, etc. US domestic, I have no choice and so I also have zero expectation for service. Any service is just extra bonus.

  8. You have to comply with a flight crew member – it’s a federal crime to not comply. AA FA’s do as little as possible – we barely got two drink services on a 6+ hr flight. No snack/food for sale offering. Don’t know if it’s contractual or complacency or a shortage OF FAs, but they get away with a lot compared to every other airline I fly from. BOS.

  9. It’s very simple. If a flight crew tells you to get off the plane, act like an adult. Get out of your seat and exit the aircraft. If you refuse to comply with the flight crew you will be arrested.
    If you have been wronged, there are countless lawful options available to you to address the matter after you have peacefully left the plane.

  10. I love how nowhere in this article does it mention the fact that the passenger sitting behind the one removed told the police that he had been “acting aggressively” towards the flight attendant, as all of the other articles written about this incident mention. But sure, let’s assume he did nothing wrong anyway…..

  11. Look, people should be used to sh-tty service from airlines and yet people keep pi’s-ing money away with them. One of the worst industries in the world

  12. Shame on American airlines, the pilot, the fight attendants for such an appalling decision. There’s no reason to kick a first class pax off the plane just because they rudely asked for a drink. As an EXP of AA I feel really sad for this pax and really shame on you AA. The FAs these days are getting easily offended for every small little thing and don’t realize they are there to serve customers.

  13. I don’t bother with 1st class on domestic airlines anymore. The price isn’t worth any extra the airlines provide you…. Very little. When traveling international, I try and get an Asian carrier as they understand the premium of paying 10x the cost of economy…

  14. AA is an airline anyone should avoid……if you continue to utilize their service, then you re just asking for crappy service. Guy may have been a jerk about it, but if as an airline you say your first class passengers get a pre-departure drink, then that’s what you should make sure your attendants do. He called them out on it and in turn they kicked him off. FAs have always been kind of on a power trip but this seems to go beyond that. I’ve heard other stories about their FAs being beyond rude so this really isn’t all that surprising. I haven’t flown them in over 20 years after they stole 20K in airline miles that should have never expired. And when I called them out on it, their response was essentially ‘too bad so sad’. Sometimes I’m just really surprised that they are still in business

  15. The fact is this: when you are given a request or an order from ANY crew member it is incumbent upon you to obey. Your whiny “feelings” mean nothing, the safety of the passengers and crew are paramount. Screw this fool, he got exactly what he deserved.

  16. The flight crews job is to get you safely from point A to point B. He could have politely waited for his drink but decided to get mouthy.

    In the end we see a man child facing the consequences of his actions.

  17. @Talent Hacker
    You don’t know what he said to the FA. Would you like your wife, daughter, sister, mother to be subjected to some sexual verbiage or other harassment? Ps…I didn’t think so.

  18. The fact that a flight attendant is not paid until the door closes is not an excuse for taking it out on the passengers by passive aggressively not offering the pre-flight beverage. The union should take start time up with management. If you sign up for the job, do the job and take some personal pride in what you do. That pre-flight beverage is an example of how little goes a long way to create a positive experience for those who pay the ridiculously high price for their seat and the company should back it up.

  19. Since 9-11 the pendulum has swung and FA have been drunk with power. Before 9-11 FA had to put up with a lot of crap from passengers and the airlines rarely supported them or had their backs. Which was wrong on the airlines part, but now with the new air regulations and emphasis on security the FA have become very thin skinned and in a lot of cases create and escalate problems to feed their starved sense of self-importance. Prior to 9-11 I loved flying and since my job required I fly about 25 round-trips a year i looked forward to it. Thank GOD I now only fly about 3 or 4 trips a year because I hate the whole process. Especially American’s, Delta’s and United’s FA nazis. Nowadays when I fly I expect a sh*tty and rude experience from the moment I walk through the airport doors until I walk out of them by all the people that work in the American domestic airline industry. And rarely am I disappointed. In the old days rude service was sn outlier now it is the norm. So my best advice to domestic travelers is keep your mouth shut, do as your told and don’t have any expectations of a happy experience. And hopefully you’ll get to your destination with the lowest level of stress possible in any situation that arises along the process.

  20. Before COVID, the F/A’s in First Class almost ALWAYS served a beverage, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic being offered. Immediately with COVID, all of that changed as well as the discontinuation of all meals and snacks. Those are SLOWLY coming back but the F/A’s be ame accustomed to NOT providing service. The guy was not the asd#+&*. He paid for First and was expecting actual First Class Service. I’m an Exec Plat and no what I’m talking about..

  21. I think all back airline personnel all of a sudden think they are so so superior. All you have to do is fly frontier and you will see how you are treated. So unfortunate for that gentlemen he did nothing wrong and said it himself he did not want any trouble.

  22. I was on that flight, he was drunk, screaming and cursing when the polite Steward told him it would takena second.

  23. @Larry Ciummo – it’s a federal rule not to interfere with crew’s duties, which is different than “not to comply” even if the two are often conflated.

  24. @Joseph
    You hit the nail right on the head!!!
    Izzy/ Gary you should read Joseph reply!!!!!
    Makes so much sense.
    Thank you Joseph!!!!

  25. entitled first class maggots wouldn’t know how to work for a living, probably a useless turd who thinks that their place in life is due to something other than pure luck.

  26. Flew AA Cabo to Phoenix this past January (coach) on a Friday afternoon. It’s only a 2 hour flight but NO ONE received any beverage or snack service. And while deplaning, all the FA’s were either busy in the galley or seated looking at their phones. Back to Southwest I go.

  27. Flight Attendant definition – someone who serves passengers on an aircraft. That is their JOB. If you’re not going to serve customers (specially someone that payed first class) then get another job. But, of course, If the customer is loud and obnoxious then kick his a** out for disturbing the peace.

  28. The worse part of the story is the FA comment at the end. I now live I. Asia and tipping is a no no. Such a difference than Americans who expect to be tipped because they chose a profession that has little base pay. Or pick a profession that doesn’t pay as well and then also want people to tip. As someone who has worked in the hospitality industry, it’s out of control.
    Of course when we fly first class we like certain perks, but we also know they may not always happen. America needs a good dose of patience:

  29. I just flew on Korean Air. The flight attendants were great. They helped people stow their luggage and moved some of it around after asking permission, so more people could get their luggage stowed. When it came to meals, the flight attendants served them efficiently and the food was tasty, especially the bibimbap. The flight attendants were also pleasant to talk to. A transpacific flight can be long but a good cabin crew experience makes it better.

  30. The guy should of left the aircraft and addressed the issue with AA mgmt. If you buy a first class seat, you expect the premium service which includes free drinks. The American Airlines FA manual states a pre departure drink should be served to FC unless there is a catering delay. Its not their choice to not do their job and make a bs story.

    It looks the the captain in the video was wearing American West epaulets. If the FA’s are there for safety, they should be fit for duty and be required to have a FAA medical check similar to the pilots.

    Delta use to have a in house psychological exam as part of the pilot interview process. There was a rocking chair and had to decide to rock or not. There are so many FA’s on power trips who think the public needs to “obey” and not comply. Regulations should require all FA’s to submit to mental and physical tests every 6 months.

  31. The American Airlines Flight Attendants are in contract negotiations and want to be paid for pre departure duties (like Delta’s pay). They are purposely not providing pre departure drinks as a job action. The FA was an instigator and should never of let the drink issue get to that level. The man was not drunk, the flight was not delayed , and catering was not an issue.

    American should fire the FA dereliction off duty.

  32. Wow. I would usually never even think to comment on a story like this but actually watching it and seeing it is beyond something else. Disgusting “customer service” from American Air. That guy was what you’d term “belligerent”? I don’t even think he raised his voice. Then you send 3 animals in to rip him off while an employee records it? Disgusting disgusting behavior. The FA should be fired and the captain should be ashamed of himself.

  33. Best two comments:
    Dan says:
    April 8, 2023 at 11:03 am
    I don’t bother with 1st class on domestic airlines anymore. The price isn’t worth any extra the airlines provide you…. Very little. When traveling international, I try and get an Asian carrier as they understand the premium of paying 10x the cost of economy…
    Mark Urbis says:
    April 8, 2023 at 12:59 pm
    Before COVID, the F/A’s in First Class almost ALWAYS served a beverage, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic being offered. Immediately with COVID, all of that changed as well as the discontinuation of all meals and snacks. Those are SLOWLY coming back but the F/A’s be ame accustomed to NOT providing service. The guy was not the asd#+&*. He paid for First and was expecting actual First Class Service. I’m an Exec Plat and no what I’m talking about..
    Why I agree:
    As seat pitch has shrunk, I have purposely booked 1st class or premium economy on domestic flights. Now, I know not to expect 1st class service, only a good (not 100%) chance of sufficient legroom and overhead bin space. Pre-2020 chance of 1st class service on 1st class domestic, 90%; post-2022, 30%. I don’t know why. That’s how it is, now.

  34. @Art Goldman…1) an employee did not film it. One of the first class passengers did. 2) why would the F/A be fired? The Captain is the buck stops here guy and made the final decision. I guess maybe he should have been fired if you think someone should be fired?

  35. This guy was quite obviously drunk. his behavior at the end proves it when he went from the “bellicose” stage to the “lachrymose” stage.

    FAA regs do say that FAs are not to serve alcohol to intoxicated pax.

  36. I think it’s funny that people are sticking up for this whiny ass idiot all over a frick’n drink.Wow. I don’t know what first class is like but all this over a drink. Guys got a problem

  37. “I wasn’t there to see it. But I hear Byron Hadley started sobbing like a little girl when they took him away.” – Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding. 1966.

  38. Seems like they need to stop advertising and selling services they do not provide especially because employees are not willing or able to do it as well

  39. I was on this flight, it was already leaving late so they were trying to get everyone seated and get the plane to Chicago so people wouldn’t miss their connections. This guy asked for a drink as he boarded and was told there wouldn’t be pre-departure beverages. After everyone was seated he got up and approached the FA again and asked for a drink and was told no again. They asked that he sit down so the plane could leave and he wouldn’t until the pilot told him he was off the flight. His antics made the plane an additional 20 minutes late and I’m sure some passengers missed connections because he refused to leave the plane when asked by FA’s, gate agents, the pilot and eventually the police. This was completely under his control to avoid and he clearly thought his concierge key status was also a “get out of jail free card”, which it was not.

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