American Airlines Flight Attendants Up In Arms After Snitch Rats Out Trainee For Dozing Inflight

An American Airlines flight attendant new hire was caught snoozing (supposedly for a few moments) on a training flight while properly seated in a passenger seat. A working crewmember photographed the trainee and sent it in to management. As with the two United flight attendants union officials caught maskless, and like everywhere else in society, virtually everything that happens in public gets recorded.

The new hire, a foreign-language speaker, was fired just a couple of days before graduation. And this has been highly controversial among American Airlines flight attendants who say it brief naps happen all the time.

  • They don’t like snitching on colleagues. The story I’ve heard is that the ‘snitch’ used to work for Emirates which is regarded to have a ‘snitching culture’. And there are threats of retaliation, with other flight attendants claiming to have photos of this flight attendant breaking rules in uniform.

  • There’s general sympathy for the new hire (which surprised me). Training days are long and there’s reportedly a medical condition that may have contributed to the brief snooze. Since the trainee wasn’t a working crewmember on the flight no safety rules were broken, though certainly company rules were (even if I see working flight attendants ‘resting their eyes’ quite frequently).

One flight attendant wrote (very respectfully) to Brady Byrnes, American’s Vice President of Inflight, and his response is going viral in ‘flight attendant social’. He’s instructed that she be given a talking-to for her email to him.

I have three general takeaways,

  1. The fired almost-flight attendant was a trainee, any violation can lead to being bounced.

  2. Crewmembers should not assume any solidarity as union members. They snitch on each other, and retaliate against snitchers.

  3. Byrnes offered exactly the wrong response. He should have thanked the employee for their concern, shared that he appreciates their looking out for a colleague – that’s a great instinct – but he hopes they can understand that they do not have all of the facts, and that he’s not at liberty to share more about a personnel matter. And end by emphasizing what a testament is that they’re so caring at work, please continue to be and continue to take equally good care of customers.

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. Dear Dinosaur,
    it is hypocritical at best to argue that AA mgmt is just trying to hold people accountable while not providing a detailed plan to do the same for union management.
    I am hardly defending management of any company but if you would spend half of the time you do cleaning up your unions that you spend finding fault with management, alot of things might end up better off.

  2. For those defending Brady for copying in the FA’s manager, you’ve missed the broader point.

    First, any sentence that begins “respectfully” is absolutely not. Second, he began his message by saying that the FA was out of line. Coming from a senior executive, that is absolutely a disciplinary message, and completely not in keeping with more modern and enlightened management styles that are more likely to result in customer service wins.

    He was pissed at the FA for deigning to contact him with this, and he made clear that the FA’s direct line manager would hear about it, with consequences for both.

  3. Yes Greg, follow the chain of command so this balony doesn’t reach me! I’ve got a golf swing to work on…..

  4. @greg. First off, you don’t know what the employee wrote to Brady so his first comment may have been quite tactful considering her comments. Second, it is standard policy for senior management to keep local management in the loop so frontline issues or ideas can be addressed. With over 130,000 employees spread out across the globe, you can’t expect AA senior management to handle each and every communication and follow up on their own. The system in place ensures each frontline employee receives a response in one form or another or from the department most likely to have a response to the issue brought forth.

  5. @EH
    You are clueless and to say that his response was correct is totally ridiculous.
    Just maybe the both of you need some training on people skills and leadership skills.
    In short your also saying that as a VP he is unavailable to his department.
    I say BULL !!!!!!
    Kudos to the employee that spoke their mind !!!!

  6. @crandall787

    I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

    But since I’ve been around a while, might I suggest that you not make assumptions before making statements for which you have no foundation. The point of my commentary was to demonstrate the methodology used to manage a global corporation with over 130,000 employees and implied that Brady’s response was standard operating procedures: a local manager would reach out to the employee writing. Happens hundreds of times everyday at AA.

    Bob Crandall, in the days before emails, wrote back to frontline employees or had someone more related to the employee’s concerns contact the employee. SOP.

    Considering some of us have been in positions requiring “people skills and leadership skills” might that indicate some success at those skills?

    Quite the assumption that I stated the VP is unavailable to his department. Never stated such and never implied such. The fact that you might not understand the means of management communication, and the mass of communication is overwhelming and vast at AA, doesn’t mean the VP is “unavailable”, it means communication often requires delegation.

    Now imagine you wrote to Brady with the tone you responded to me. Would Brady be correct to state you were out of line? Stating he was “clueless”, “need some training in people skills and leadership skills”, “unavailable to the department” and “BULL!!!” Neither of us is privy to the flight attendant’s note to Brady. Did she write in your style? Or did she write a factual note and express her concern over the situation as she understood it?

    I can assure you with a high degree of confidence that the employee was not reprimanded. You of course can think otherwise and continue to make unsubstantiated comments.


  7. @Crandall787

    I don’t feel this is a proper forum for this discussion. Can I have someone reach out to you to discuss your concerns?

  8. @EH
    True I don’t know you , and maybe you been around a minute.
    I’ve been around a long time myself.
    But for you to say i have no foundation on what I was writing about is vague on your part since you really don’t know me.
    But believe me EH I know just as much or more about this situation then you might want to believe.
    So don’t assume what other may know.
    No need for someone to contact me.
    I think for someone who has been around as long as you stated,can reply on their own.
    I see you had made comments to everyone who had some kind of opinion on Brady and his email.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion like it or not.
    Enjoy the rest of your day

  9. @crandall787

    My comments were to explain how Brady’s referring to having a Service Manager contact the writer was not retaliation but very standard so those interested would appreciate a larger perspective.

    Your comments also suggested that you were not aware of SOP for corporate communications since you decided ad hominem comments were necessary.

    I have since read the full exchange of emails and will reserve my opinions of them.

    On to other issues…


  10. I was on a BA training course in UK, I was robbed by a colleague who cloned my credit card and stole lots of money from my account the police were involved, the trainee did not show up for the course the next day so Police arrested him as he had previous for card fraud, I completed a full weeks training successfully with one week to go and they terminated my contract blaming my references, nothing wrong with my references they just did not want the bad publicity this was bringing, they employed a professional thief and were embarrassed about it so let everyone go who was involved even the victim!!

  11. Ironically, Byrnes often refers to the fact that he was, albeit briefly, a flight attendant. The emails from the concerned flight attendant did not strike me as rude nor out of line & definitely not warranting disciplinary action.

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