American Airlines Flight Attendant Caught Recycling Orange Juice For Unsuspecting Passengers

A passenger on an American Airlines flight from San Diego to Charlotte was appalled on Friday when he saw a flight attendant “pouring orange juice back into the original container” that had been poured out for passengers.

I was shocked not only did she pour one cup she poured several cups back into the original container.

My most generous explanation for this might be that the crewmember pre-poured several glasses in order to offer predeparture beverages to first class passengers. Perhaps she was offering juice and water only, and passengers either took the water or declined drinks, and so the orange juice sat unused. The juice still sat outside of the container, and should have been disposed of.

On the other hand, the flight attendant’s cost consciousness flows from the top. Upon assuming the role of CEO, Robert Isom told employees not to spend a dollar more than they need to. I can understand how a loyal employee would think pouring unused orange juice back into the container might save money for American.

The passenger complained to the airline and reports that they were “offered..2500 reward points” which they say they declined.

Six years ago an Emirates flight attendant caused a worldwide stir when caught pouring champagne from a glass back into the bottle. If it’s necessary to pre-pour predeparture beverages then at least offer water, orange juice, and champagne!

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. All you winny.
    Crew bashing people.
    You should purchase your own private aircraft and serve yourself all the food/ drinks your petty heart desires.
    A bunch of grown ass people crying over drinks , food.
    Airline food , Drinks !!!! Get a life.
    Especially number one crew basher Gary!!!

  2. Meh.

    If these are indeed entirely unused cups of OJ, returning it to the carton is not something I would do. But I would never go to social media in outrage over it.

  3. Could this instead be a “clean” way to dispose? I have no clue how disposing of liquids work on an airplane. But could the FA be doing this to be able to seal the liquid and a container instead of pouring it into a trash that could leak?

  4. I travel 1st Claas on all my flights with American, how this should be handle is welcome the passenger once seated. than offer water or juice. At prices of our ticket, I am sure this could handle better, makes on think about the food service and if its recycled.

  5. At this point, I think you are stretching to find something to write about! If the orange juice was pre poured and therefore unused, then why the outrage? We are such a wasteful society. The carton and cups are both basically not refrigerated, so why not save it for another pour later? The person who took this photo should have better things to do in their life! The fact that this is even being “reported” just is another example of why our society has first world problems.

  6. Looks like Franke’s understudy, Isom, is cutting costs exactly when AA needs to increase its premium revenue (and experience) to differentiate its service.

    Most notably, Isom shouldn’t have terminated the AirPass program, in which tens of thousands of corporate customers were willing to prepay hundreds of millions USD in advance for future Y and J class travel at $1-$2 per mile.

    This is one of the primary reasons Warren Buffett bought insurance companies (GEICO)…the ability to earn mega interest on customer premiums/deposits!! But Isom can’t even manage or enhance a simple, prepaid travel program aimed at elites!

  7. I’m not sure what’s worse but I’ve seen FAs drink out of the tall water bottles and then pour
    into the pre departure drink service etc
    Or refill the bottles from the onboard water tanks 🙁
    Perhaps isolated and hopefully not typical and likely won’t kill you but might make you sick
    Signed another whiny crew bashing poster without life 😉
    To that original poster please do teach the genius how to spell whiny lol

  8. NY state has regulations that if a diaper is removed from the packaging but not used, such as if two diapers were pulled out by mistake, the home health aide cannot put back the diaper into the package.

  9. This alone would not be a major issue. But when you place it in the context of everything else happening at AA related to service, experience, reliability and labor relations it’s just another example of how AA has gone from the best airline in North America to being one step above Spirit and Frontier.

  10. Meh. Many US airlines flight attendants used this practice over the years. It was poured in a plastic cup and unused and poured back into it’s original container. It’s a non issue. Relax!

  11. It’s actually quite tricky to dispose of liquids on an aircraft. Galley sinks can only accept certain types of liquids (i.e., essentially water) and are prone to blocking if other types of liquids (i.e., orange juice) are poured into them. It is possible that the FA was pouring the left over orange juice into an empty or near empty carton with the intention of putting the sealed carton into the bin. Plus, there is not a lot of space for rubbish on an aircraft. So, FAs typically try and stack all used cups before putting them in the bin to save space. That’s somewhat messy to do if the cups have liquid still in them. Given the person who took this photo made no mention of the FA subsequently pouring additional drinks from this exact juice carton, I think we can avoid the outrage and give the FA the benefit of the doubt. A picture tells a thousand words but those aren’t always the right ones.

  12. @Huy – Thank you for the perfectly plausible explanation. The FA very well could have been dumping the entire thing into the bin and just didn’t want the added mess.

  13. Anyone outraged needs to realize like @Huy said, this is how left over OJ is disposed of – to not fill the can liner with liquid. I swear the cancel culture and toxic entitled Karen culture will be the downfall of society.

  14. Who knew that Karen flew first class?
    There’s only so much OJ catered. If the unserved OJ cups were tossed, Karen would be very upset when they run out of mimosas earlier than if this “rEcYcLiNg” effort didn’t happen. It was a thoughtful FA. Karen and Gary, you are both a piece of work worrying about BS like this

  15. Wrong, flight attendants do this because putting it in the trash causes it to leak out of the bag and make a mess and can’t pour it down the drain because it clogs the airplane drains.

  16. In these days of unsanitary airplanes with crumbs everywhere and stinky feet everywhere, I don’t see anything in the article indicating how the orange juice in the cup was contaminated.

  17. Really, this blog is getting more like the National Enquirer everyday.

    Definitely could be a better way to dispose of then pouring it into garbage bags (which do leak)

    Could be recycling it for herself to take off and use at the end of the flight. OJ ain’t cheap anymore.

    If pre-poured to distribute and is unused / touched by passengers, so friggin what?

    I really hate schnorrers that waste food and drink.

    Could you post a blog that doesn’t rely on repeating the tattle tailing of others via social media? What’s the yiddish word for a nosy busybody, yenta?

  18. Have you all turned on the news lately? People in Ukraine and Palestine and many other parts of the world can only dream of that salvaged cup of orange juice. But you would rather see it poured down the drain.

  19. So you have guests over for dinner, put out a pitcher of iced tea, some take it, there’s leftovers and you put the jug back in the fridge. OMG, this has to really be the most stupid thing you’ve come up with. You know, there is an election coming up soon, go write about that.

  20. CRIMINY!!! This? This is you’re biggest problem in life?? Gary Leff has been and will continue to be, the epitome of the “Biggest Loser” in aviation circles.

    Still bitter about never being hired with ANY airline.

  21. American flight attendant here. We serve predeparture beverages in first class, orange juice and water, and time permitting other drinks. This flight attendant is pouring unaccepted and untouched orange juice back into the container. Smart lady. For anyone to think she is pouring orange juice from a partially consumed drink from a passenger is being ignorant. Slow news day View From the Wing?

  22. I’ve worked in food service. Once opened and poured that juice cannot be served in a commercial setting. What you do in your own house with leftovers is your business. Palestine and Ukraine are not commercial settings.

    Calling people Karens for this is a bit absurd. In the US the FDA does not allow reuse of previously served food products. Period. That includes juice, bread, cheese, meat, and even condiments. The FA was likely consolidating (“tetrisifying”) garbage for eventual removal, not getting it ready to serve on the next flight.

    If you have never followed food service rules, please consider they are entirely different than what you can do in a private setting. (Yes, the five-second rule doesn’t exit there either…)

  23. You can’t pour liquids down the drain while at the gate you bunch of rocket scientists . Usually we pour it into the lav toilet . The previous commentors are correct. If this is all the click bait info this dude has to offer I suggest skipping his blog.

  24. Flight attendants can not pour liquids down the drain at the gate. I’m sure it was just so they didn’t have to throw it in the garbage which can leak all over the galley floor. The constant scrutiny is extremely exhausting. I would love to go into this passengers home and film them!!

  25. She could have offered the juice to the barefoot travelers to wash their disgusting feet running on disgusting aircraft carpets. Mmm fresh and mint.

  26. Anyone who has ever worked in food service would know this is not allowed. If the flight attendant was planning on throwing it away and not serving it again, they should at least have recognized how it looked.

  27. With only so much space in the galley , .. consolidation might be in order ..?? Just saying

  28. To all of the pro flight attendant people-HOW DO WE KNOW IT WAS UNUSED ?
    The FA could be doing on the sly. Drain issues or not it looks BAD , especially for American who has done some stupid things to it’s customers. This is another reason I would never fly them.

  29. ask yourself this: if you poured OJ in your home for yourself or your family and it was untouched would you discard it or, (assuming it hadn’t been left out for 3 hrs..) return it to its original container for future use

  30. I promise everything thing that gets sent to you, you don’t have to post. A lot of FAs do this. If they threw excess full cups into the trash can the trash would leak by take off and make a mess. They can’t throw it down the drain because it would clog them. These cups were more than likely not even touched. Slow news days???

  31. She was probably pouring it into the container to dispose of it. Everyone one knows what “assume” mean, right?

  32. I feel compelled to gently point out that the orange juice incident seems trivial compared to major issues affecting people worldwide. While it’s human nature to focus on everyday experiences, I believe we also have a responsibility to widen our lens. There are those among us struggling each day for basic needs and fighting injustice . I know we all want health, safety and community . My hope is that we can lift each other up and make progress on things like critical global issues that impact so many, not silly orange juice disposal on American Airlines.

  33. People please after the flt lands it goes in the trash, they don’t move it to another flt, the plane gets reserviced with new juice,water and food, plus the glass container can not go back into the cart with something in it, so the easiest way pour it back and put it in the cart.

  34. VFTW seems to post nothing but airline bashing posts. Reminds me of school children bullying their peers. Grow up and post something news worthy

  35. AA wants to save always money and do less for passengers. Its the worst service ever and please don’t drink coffee. I always ask for a can, at least wasn’t open prior.

  36. No need to do that. I work for American catering and there is 15 containers of 1 liter OJ onboard a plane for domestic flights

  37. If you think this is bad, did you hear abt the bed bug jfk- Del oct 23rd cancellation? It had been flying around for 4 days with a known infestation. Passengers were delayed up to a week and only offered 10,000 points. Worth about $100.

  38. It would be nice if AA would give an official statement as to what their policy is on unserved, but already poured beverages. Their silence doesn’t exude confidence. BTW, there may be official policy on things, but then the problem is the FA who doesn’t follow it. Here’s something I witnessed pre-pandemic. Sitting in 1B, I saw an FA drop a whole basket of bread roles onto the floor, then looked around to see if anyone was watching, and picked up the rolls and put them back in the basket. So it doesn’t matter what policy is – if you have employees who don’t follow it, we are screwed.

  39. I’ve been a Flight Attendant for 45 years. What the public doesn’t know and/or care to understand about our jobs is why these crew bashing posts exist. We work up to 15 hours in a three by five foot space from which we serve beverages and food for up to three hundred people. By law we get no bathroom breaks or lunch hours where we can sit. We do not have but a couple of jumpseats in this said small space into which we endure passenger yoga, intrusions into our space and bored photo takers scrutinizing our every move. In this small space we carry every item we need to serve all the drinks, meals and snacks. Each item is managed because we carry just enough for the bare minimum. We are provided with sinks that do not accept any liquid thicker than water and must find other ways of disposal. We are provided with large water bottles from which we are allowed one for each crew member that we mark with a sharpie or other method and then we drink from it. We consolidate juices for economy of space and for disposal. We create small moments of privacy to eat by curtains, turned over carriers or seat belts because it is not human to expect to live 15+ hours in this small space without a moment to sit, eat or rest. Please go into your nearest hall closet and stay there all day, work from there, eat there. Then, if you choke, have a heart attack, your child vomits we have to jump into what we are really paid for, being first responders. Really people, really.

  40. First class passengers, I saw one saying “with the price I pay, juice and water”, well Flights attendants serve you pre departure drinks without getting paid, they only get paid once the doors are closed, this policy should be illegal, they do a lot of things on boarding process and also need to bartender.

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