American Airlines is Reminding Flight Attendants Why Predeparture Beverages Matter

Via JonNYC on Twitter:

Marshall Jackson just wrote about American’s challenges offering predeparture beverages in domestic first class.

It’s always striking to me that legacy American Airlines crews so rarely offer anything to drink prior to takeoff. Naturally the priority is an on-time departure, and it’s difficult to move around the cabin during boarding of a single aisle aircraft. But other airlines – including legacy US Airways crews – get this done far more often than American flight attendants do.

You can call this a ‘first world problem’ and it is. But American is reminding their flight attendants that it’s part of the service, noting that “first impressions are lasting impressions.”

One of MJ’s commenters writes in to offer a flight attendant perspective that they’re going to get written up if they delay a flight for predeparture beverages — they aren’t offered because of the airline’s pressure for on-time departures. “We get written up by agents if we do them or passengers if we don’t. We can’t win”

In fact it’s absolutely possible to do predeparture beverages without delaying departure 90% of the time. The other 10% is when you don’t do predeparture beverages. (Or if the flight’s catering has been delayed.) It’s something Delta reportedly does well.

This morning in fact,

  • American didn’t begin boarding my flight until published scheduled boarding time. That’s amazing.

  • We pushed back six minutes early.

  • And the crew managed to offer predeparture beverages — not just prepoured water or orange juice, but passengers’ choice. They had even brewed coffee for the 7:05 a.m. departure.

I tweeted this borrowing AT&T’s tagline, “#RethinkPossible”.

It’s a small thing, but when you run from one flight to the next you easily go 90+ minutes without access to a glass of water. Predeparture beverages are a nice feature of domestic first class (and there aren’t many of those). They’re appreciated when offered, and make the boarding process feel a little more civilized even.

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. United I guess has American beat on that one. They always offer a drink before take off. I think only once this last year and that was due to late arriving aircraft and turn around that I didn’t get offered one.

  2. For a variety of reasons, I find that an offer of PDBs or the lack thereof is very important to my having a good feeling about the flight and the crew.

    On another site, not MJs, a commenter said that local laws prevent airlines from offering PDBs at certain times like Sunday mornings. I know lounges, e.g. CLT and DTW have these restrictions but did not think they applied to aircraft at the gate. Even if true, those restrictions would apply to a small percentage of flights. Do local blue laws affect the ability to offer PDBs?

  3. While I’m not a big pre-departure beverage person. I’ve noticed that American REALLY has let this slip lately. I also think it’s WAY more important on a longer flight than on short commuter runs like ORD-STL or LAX-SFO, etc.

  4. I appreciate predeparture beverage service, but honestly I would trade it in a heartbeat for consistent boarding at the stated time (currently 30 minutes for most domestic flights). The arbitrariness and randomness of current boarding times is frustrating, especially given that it seems uncorrelated (in my anecdotal experience) with how full the flight is.

  5. The AA (legacy) FA’s are being reminded that PDB is part of the whole service and that it is expected of them to do it. I have a very good friend who is a inflight supervisor for legacy AA and he been reminding his crews what is expected. I wish ghost riders were allowed on flights so the crews who do not provide this service would get a talking to. However, my friend is being told by crews that the turn around time for aircraft’s don’t allow PDB, which is totally wrong, he reminds them that Legacy US FA’s have no problem doing this service, of course there is some in galley fighting between the AA FA’s against the US FA’s. I really wish AA would do something with the FA’s who do not follow the service that is outlined, this only shows how cheap the airline is, and I don’t feel that is correct, it just shows how lazy the AA FA’s are.

  6. Honestly, as a loyal US Airways flyer, this was one of the biggest disappointments in the merger. I was so used to PDBs I didn’t know on American it was the exception rather than the rule.

  7. As a legAAcy AA FA I can tell you we are not getting paid during boarding or prior to the at least 1 hour SI before flight . We are not respected by management or Company and they make this very clear to us . And you wonder why morale is bad???

    So many of us have bent over backwards for passengers (offering PDBs, proper sequence of preference — don’t forget you all can pre order your preferences which most don’t do but then yell at us when we run out of choices— and sequence of service) Due to staffing on a domestic flight , FA1 (because FA3 and it 4 is being used and abused in Main Cabin) is solely responsible for relaying status of bags and seat dupes to agents, assisting the myriad of MC and FC pax issues, communicating with flight deck on flight information, making PAs and when catering finally arrives LATE, we then have to double check counts and verify meal set ups and equipments in no less than five carts . All the while greeting every passenger with a smile many of whom are rude and don’t even acknowledge us. Then we get jackets thrown on us and the agents are ready to close the door.

    First world problems ? I think so.? After all this I 95% of the time offer juice/water with the open option of anything else … And most snobbishly whoosh me away with a hand gesture.

    Respect and manners go a long way.

  8. Yea first world problem…it’s really not that important. I can tell you as a US Airway FA based in Philly, we hate doing these PDB, most of you be so ungrateful. The AA FAS do it far more than we do, and this merger is a nightmare…they even want me be cooking meals in first class now, you should all bring your own food and drink if it’s such a big deal and stop whining like babies. If you think it’s easy to be an FA, come walk in my heels for a week, you’ll quit in a day.

  9. The only time I don’t do a full PDB is when the boarding is delayed. I usually offer water to all in first. But I won’t hold boarding for longer than it takes to pass out 16 glasses of already poured water. And I believe that should be the focus… getting off the gate as soon as possible.

  10. I am an AA Flight Attendant. I often fly number one and always try to do a pre-departure service and offer the passengers their choice of beverage. However – One big problem lately has been issues with catering. Either it doesn’t get there on time or the catering is incorrect. Ice, meals, supplies, sodas, or wine is missing. The carts are consistently packed and loaded the same way every flight. Prior to the merger we rarely had catering issues. Lately, every single flight has an issue. So it takes extra time to ensure all the catering is checked and correct for the flight. If there are issues, then that takes more time to contact the correct departments to get what we need and may not be able to start the service if we don’t have the correct supplies. Add to that we are under new pressure to be done with boarding 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure time. When the agents come down they want the door closed ASAP. We can’t serve drinks after the door is closed. Per FAA only safety related functions are to be performed after the entry door is closed. So we are always trying to gauge if we have time to get started with the service or are we going to be able to do one row, then stop because the agents are going to be there to close the door, and then we have to commence with preparing the cabin for departure. I like to do pre-departure beverages. I think it sets a nice tone for the flight. However, it’s not always in our control to do so.

  11. I was surprised at a 950 pm AA flight from Dfw to the west coast this week. Not only was no pre-flight drink given, but the only food offering was nuts. Most other airlines would have at least a snack (perhaps a salad) and maybe a cookie.

  12. I am a LUS F/A and I do PDB. I find it frustrating and annoying when I get to someone’s row and ask them if i can get them something before we leave and they either a. give me a blank stare, b. ask me, “what do you have”, c. have their noise canceling headsets on and do not reply. I seriously had an EP ask me what I had the other day!! I have to stop boarding to do PDB’s and it is irritating that people don’t have it together enough to tell me what they would like. I had a guy ask me what kind of scotch I had and when I told him Dewars he kind of argued with me and said… Glenlivet? I was like seriously… I do not have time for this. DEWARS. Help a girl out… know what you want.

  13. Theresa we all know that you do not get paid until the door closes, does that mean you just going to stand around and do nothing until the door closes? No you have responsibilities that need to be taken care even though you aren’t being paid, one of them is PDB. Pretty simple… If you don’t want to do your job, then quite, it’s fairly simple.

    Ryan catering issues having been a problem and they are bring address, in the perfect world these issues would be taken care and fixed over night. However, communication goes a long way with passengers if there is late catering or miss catering.

    Paige there is always ways to deal with people who aren’t the most pleasant to deal with, the people with head phones this is a simple one, “Honey, sorry I didn’t disturb you while you were listening to Easy-E, what can I get you to drink.” I heard this on a Delta flight a couple of years back, it blew the wind out the guys sail, and myself and others got a good laugh out of it. Also each airline does carry different drinks, I can’t remember what Alaska carries or American cut some people a break.

  14. I have a hard time believing this flight wasn’t a regional airline. It is far easier and more likely to happen if you’re on a e175.
    I think that should be looked at credit should be given if it was.

  15. I have been flying for almost 29 years. Unless a flight is really late, I ALWAYS provide a PDB. While we may not technically get paid until the door closes, our duty rigs start an hour before the flight leaves so we ARE getting paid. And even if we weren’t , do we think we are the only workerbees in the world to work off the clock? Try being a teacher and then complain about the PDB.

  16. American dosent pay their flight attendants until after you leave the gate!!!! Nor do they get any more compensation for going the extra mile

  17. Well Tony seems to know alot with how to deal with these issues, maybe you should get off da soapbox and work for us. If you don’t like what you be getting on the now mergered American then go else where. Management doesn’t care about you or us. There are plenty of passengers out there be willing to pay for da low cost fares we now have. Please fly Delta or Alaska if they’re so great, cause you cry and whine like a spoilt five year old, but still fly American, so suck it up cupcake.

  18. It truly doesn’t matter what flight attendants do or don’t do, many/ most passengers will always find a problem or something to whine about no matter what.
    CEO Parker and his predecessors have continually trampled on,stolen from and disrespected the AA/US flight attendants.
    Instead of moaning and groaning about the flight attendants and service,why don’t you all demand that airline CEO’s share the wealth with its employees. I can guarantee that if they did,things would be much better for all involved.
    Until that time each and every one of you need to grow up and stop whining about the small stuff.
    Get over it. It’s a plane ride.

  19. Wow, some angry FA comments on here. I fly between 210-250 segments every year (have for a long time) and am very appreciative of a full PDB. I rarely see the dismissive attitude reported here by any of the fliers around me. I also find it “interesting” that DL and pmUS FAs pretty much always provide this service unless there is a quick turn or an uncatered aircraft. And AA management has it 100% correct… First impressions matter. Taking your frustrations with management out on your customers is a pretty bad strategy IMO… I know where I’ll take my business and I’m not alone. Sitting on a pmAA flight right now and was offered a full PDB… a happy passenger is heading to DFW!

  20. @Monique maybe you need a to go back and reread my post. First off PDB is part of the stand of service you are suppose to give, so stop whining and just do your job, if you don’t want to, then quite there are other people who want your job and will follow company policy. Once again, I wish the unions would allow ghost riders to get lazy FA’s like you fired and get people who want to do their like they are suppose to. So stop taking you frustration out the passengers who fly your airline because if we don’t fly your airline then you wont have a job. It’s pretty simple there missy.

  21. I have been a flight attendant with American for 27 years. Before I get started, I want to say that I am not a disgruntled employee. I am quite happy doing what I do. I always do some sort of PDB whether it is a tray of water or if I luck out and can offer a beverage of choice. However, as much as some of the customers don’t want to believe us and just call us lazy, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. I also noted that one customer said that we could explain to the customers…well trust me if I don’t have time to just serve you a quick PDB then I don’t have time to explain. Most of the flight attendants I work with out of NY are professional and hustle to get things done to get you out on time. We do the best we can with the time we have under the pressures of the “on time departure.” The customers (frequent fliers) know in all reality who the “lazy” flight attendants are and when we are crunched for time. So I ask the customer to look at each situation before getting upset over 1 drink. If we start the boarding process at departure time, you should understand you most likely won’t be getting a PDB. I don’t agree that there is a difference between airlines either. It doesn’t matter what airline you are on, if there isn’t time or catering, then you simply will not get a PDB. It is a very “me, me, me” world now-a-days and I think there is a real lack of respect for flight attendants in this day and age.

  22. The comments from FAs here are shocking. Cabin crew the world over are able to perform smiling, warm, personalized service often earning pennies on the dollar compared to what you make. Want a real challenge? Try working for an ME or Asian carrier where you can get fired over a spurious complaint from a frequent flyer or because you went up a pants size, all while earning half or less of what you do.

    Be grateful you are employed, and be grateful to the customers who make your employment possible. Don’t like your job? Quit.

    Remember one thing , however. Despite the snow job you have been trying to pull since 9/11, you are not primarily there for our safety. Most of you will never encounter a single instance in your career where you do something to affect the safety outcome of a flight.

    You are there to serve.

    You are in the service industry.

    No different than a waiter, a bartender, or a member of hotel staff, your job is to make sure your guests are satisfied. Perhaps we need to return to the days when you were required to maintain certain standards of appearance and hygiene, as well as comportment and have a smile at all times. When you were correctly called not “flight attendants,” but stewards and stewardesses.

    I am the EXP who greets you with a smile and a genuinely interested, “How are you today,” before settling into 1A. I am always polite, even when you refuse mandatory elements of service, or feel that chatting in the galley is somehow a more pressing matter than hanging the coat of hot, tired, paying premium passengers, (we don’t all play the upgrade game,) or getting us a beverage after we just hustled between closely banked flights. I never fail to say please or thank you, even when the response is, “uh huh,” or nothing at all. I never fail to send in a thank you online when you make me feel welcome and valued as a customer.

    Can’t do a PDB for legitimate operational reasons? No problem. AA policy says you should apologize to the cabin in that case. I don’t ever remember seeing that happen, but it would be enough. “Sorry, sir, wish we could, but we are tight on time, late catered, whatever.” Let me know you care. If you do.

    One more thing. When you hit 10,000 feet, unless the Captain has directed you to remain seated, get up. Put the magazine down, stop your chit chat, and do your job.

    I send 5 thank yous for every complaint. 80% of the crews out there on AA are really quite solid. The PMUS ones are generally excellent. But you better believe that if I don’t get a drink or an apology on boarding, or if you spend fifteen minutes after 10K feet dragging yours, I’m sending in a complaint. And I collect about $2K a year in vouchers doing so.

    The money’s nice, but I would much rather have the service I have paid for and been promised.

    Life is tough. Jobs suck. Get over it. Do yours. The rest of us don’t get to cry when the company is mean and greedy.

  23. @Tony, Missy, don’t be acting like you can talk to me like a brother, you be racist cause I’m black. I know your type. Well say goodbye to lots of those frills, cause a lot of the service will get dumbed down even more than it has already.

    Our company is now even getting rid of lots of da EPs wiv da new advantage qualifications.

    It may be included on the strand of service, but management tell us workers da most important thing is to get the plane out early or on time. Once the doors closed PDB not be required.

    Bet you don’t work for free, don’t be telling me it my job, my job is when I get paid, you be lucky I turn up to the flight and not have your flight delayed.

    Really, there are lots of people wanting my job, den where dey been over the past 32 years? All these new hire be starting da job and dey quit within a year or two and go to other airlines or leave altogether.

    Say hello to riding the bus when there are not enough FAS willing to deal with ur nonsense and dey cancel flights, dey can’t even keep the new hire that started beginning of dis year.

    So u be stuck wiv us for some time. Its a plane ride..get a book if you can read.

  24. My gurrl Monique be right. She ain’t Trippin’ , it be just a plane ride. She my gurl in Philly.

    I be tired of passengers comin to me , be complain in’ and talkin bout flying them other airlines. We can’t be helpin catering issues or dem delays and ya’ll be takin’ this mess out on us . Well maybe it be time to fly Delta .

    Y’all can keep on complain to management but they tell us PDBs be lowest priority during da boarding process . Many be tellin’ the new hire they is not required. That door needs to be close 10 minute before departure.

    Sequence of service be inconsistent anyway cuz catering mess up. And I ain’t about to delay da flight fo some juice . They got us tryin’ to cook on US air and I be having enough to worry about.

    If they airlines be so good why ain’t more of you on ’em if we be so bad ? Our CEO said we gon be like Spirit so get used to it and get ready .

  25. @Paige – to be fair, they did have Glenlivet and not Dewars on US – maybe he was just confused!

  26. I know I will get yelled at for this

    Theresa says “we are not getting paid during boarding or prior to the at least 1 hour SI before flight” complain to your union about this not to your customers or employer! Your union can make sure you are paid for it and then have your flight wages reduced to compensate for that payment. If you really do not like your job get a new job!

    Monique same thing. and you can go work at SW where they serve Peanuts.

    Some of these FA do not realize that nuts get served on a plate not in a bag. When you do your job wrong you get fired. It is your job if you do not like doing part of it GET ANOTHER JOB.

    Some FA think they are Kim Davis and feel that they can do only part of the job. If you do not want to serve PDB then 1. Work in coach 2. Get a new Job.

  27. Tony, you stepped in a world of $h*t. We don’t get paid until the door closes. We do get written up if the door closes less than 10 minutes before departure. I don’t care how many airlines you have traveled on. When I approach you and ask you what you want have your $hit together. You must have some Idea, be it HOT, COLD whatever HAVE YOUR $**T together. I am NOT GETTING PAID UNTIL WE PUSH!! YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER!!

  28. Monique, don’t pull the race card, missy! No one cared or knew if you were black. Take some advice; learn the English language and how to spell. It might help when American fires your lazy ass. I bet your co-workers love it when you walk on board.

  29. OMG Monique I am embarrassed for you. While I do not condone Monique’s stance. We are not servants Tony. Get your $h*t together, have an idea of what you want. I am no mind reader and if you are in First Class know your $h*t. I DO NOT HAVE THE TIME TO TELL YOU ALL THAT I HAVE TO OFFER!!! If you want something KNOW WTF you want and ask for it, if I have something similar I will give it. GET OFF OF YOUR PHONES, TAKE OFF THE HEADSETS!!! we will be much nicer I am sure!!

  30. @ David I am LUS, we have not had Glenlivet for quite a while. Seriously??? He ASKED me what I had an then basically argued with me! WTF!!! I know my $hit I TOLD him what I had. I have 18 people to serve and I am trying NOT TO HOLD UP BOARDING AND I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS BS!!

  31. I am a LAA fa for almost 40 years out of JFK. Prior to the merger pdb were done 90% of the time. However, with the cutback in catering, outsourcing etc. catering is now arriving DURING boarding. How is a fa supposed to count meals, trays etc and then organize a pdb service particularly when they board the passengers thru 1L , all banging their way thru the cabin with their wheelies, babyseats etc? Also, 3 years ago a flight was catered with appropriate amounts of beverages, ice, snacks etc. On a 4 hour flight in FC I get 2 small cartons of apple juice and 3 of oj, 3 bags of ice, 1set of limes( about 1/2 lime)! Give me supplies and I’ll pour till the cows come home! PS to Horation, I’ve had a gun to my head ( literally) been hijacked, multiple air emergencies, tons of turbulence, passengers having heart attacks, sick people etc- I AM NOT JUST A SKY WAITRESS! When was the last time your waitron safely got your butt down an emergency slide!

  32. @Paige I have ordered drinks then being told by the FA who rolled her eyes, “We don’t carry that.” So I did make up my mind but your airline didn’t carry what I wanted to drink. I’m a RN, and when I had patients who would rather talk on their cell phones then listen to me, I went off and took care of my other patients, and when I got back to them and I did tell them why I passed them up. As I pointed out before, there is a way to let people know that their behavior caused the issue.

  33. @Monique have you contacted the NAACP yet about how I spoke to you? BTW, in my current position I’m salaried, my salary is for 40 hours a week, but the last 4 months we are in the middle of a computer conversion and I have been working 60 hours a week, so missy, I know all about not getting paid while working… Sounds like it’s time you hang up your wings and get a job that is only 9-5.

  34. People will hate this idea, but there is one easy solution here: Tipping. Money talks, (and motivates,) BS walks. When I take the Acela from NYC to DC in First, I start the journey with a $10 bill on delivery of my first drink. Crews on those trains are as spotty as AA cabin crew, but that tenner always makes for a never-empty glass and lots of smiles, and I’ll leave them another at the end if the service is consistently excellent. If FA’s could grab an easy hundred in cash on every segment, there would be a lot more smiles.

  35. Wow, either Monique is a troll or she is the s****iest FA in the system. The irony is that most of the biz travelers in F are salaried employees in their jobs that work well over 40 hours in any week.

    Maybe if the FAs in this thread hate working with the public so much, they should find a line of work or a position at AA that doesn’t involve dealing with people. My job is customer support and I am asked to do things regularly for customers that don’t appreciate my efforts at all, and some that are simply wrong about how to solve the problem I am assisting with. My response is not to “phone it in” but to do my best to satisfy the customer – who is, by definition, always right even when wrong. That’s because I am an adult, not some petulant child who takes out their frustrations on the customers they are paid to serve.

    I now know to look out for a chip on her shoulder, race card playing, lazy FA who wants to do the absolute minimum. If you can’t handle putting ice and soda in a cup, maybe you should look at what you have done with your life and take actions to make it better. I suggest you start by quitting the job you hate so much so we don’t have to deal with your incompetence any more. Just don’t try to take a job that involves writing or spelling in any way. Or serving drinks, so McDonald’s is out as well.

  36. I’m an AA flight attendant that tries to do pre-departures if possible. But I can honestly tell you that since the merger it really hasn’t been possible. Most of the time we aren’t catered until well after boarding has started, and our catering is usually incorrect. We are also now being written up by agents for performing a pre-departure service, as they feel it impedes the boarding process and D-0. Don’t let AA management fool you. They may tell you the customer that pre-departures are important, but in reality the only thing that matters is D-0. And about morale? Yes, it is in the toilet. A CEO saying that we have no effect on the bottom line will do that.

  37. The CEO has stated “Flight attendants have no impact on the bottom line”.
    So quit bitching when you slap the hand that feeds you. They arent even getting paid
    You are lucky they even show up consistently. Would you work for free? Per Diem
    Isnt a wage so that trite argument is not going to work. When you learn to respect
    The very people you rely on as a key member of your organization then perhaps
    All your fantasies about flying will come true. Until then , buck up buttercup.

  38. Horatio..
    Apparently you didn’t know as much as you think you do. AA fas are not allowed to accept tips as per management.

  39. I’m a rather new flight attendant, been at it for about a year now and I am neither jaded nor lazy. I love my job and I am a genuinely kind person who cares about providing good customer service and the impression I leave passengers with about my airline. I want to say that for flight attendants like me, pre departures are still difficult to complete everytime. I think it’s difficult for passengers to understand what exactly your #1 first class flight attendant is doing up there, please keep in mind that everything that needs to happen before departure is happening in, best case senerio when boarding starts 30 min to departure as it is supposed to and the boarding door needs to close 10 min to departure, that gives us 20 min (in a best case scenario) to have that plane ready, not just first class, but the whole plane. The first big impediment to getting out into the aisle to start taking drink orders for every row and then running those drinks out to you is the fact that passengers are boarding down that aisle. On a full flight, the min boarding begins it is usually a pretty constant stream of people coming through right up to the point boarding ends, the aisle is not wide enough to manuver through while people are trying to get down it with their luggage without causing delays in the boarding process and continued congestion. We have to think about departing on time bc I assume that this is important to you the passenger as well, we are trying to provide you good customer service by not impeding boarding so that we can get you to where you are going on time or even early if we can. Not only do I want to help you get out on time but I know that the agents job is very centered on this and the company wants this too, one little delay for the company at the beginning of the day could have a snowball effect for the rest of the flights that plane is taking that day. It is my experience that boarding Of passengers usually takes at least all of those 20min, meaning when the last passenger has walked through first class the agent is hot on their tail handing me the paperwork for the flight and looking down the aisle saying “why are there still people in the aisle? Why are there still bins open? Are you ready to close the door?” When the agent comes down and hands me that paperwork it is the only signal I get to let me know boarding is actually complete, it’s at this time that I have very important and FAA regulated and company regulated PAs I need to give, I need to make sure that if anyone doesn’t wish to travel to our destination for any reason that they know this is their last opportunity to do so and I actually have to look and make sure there isn’t anyone who wants to, then, per FAA regulations I need to make sure that all passengers are seated and all luggage is stowed and bins are shut. Of course this doesn’t always go as smoothly as we would all like it to. Throughout the entire boarding process we are not only trying to stay out of the way in the aisle to keep things moving but we are also helping passengers who have been given the same seat for whatever reason, passengers who can’t find their seats, elderly and handicapped passengers who need help with their luggage, passengers who can’t find room for their luggage, making room in overhead bins bc someone took up rollerboard spaces with small purses or coats, rearranging, refitting, taking a multitude of questions from passengers, trying to assist those who ask us for different seats, trying to explain the FAA regulation to those in bulkhead rows that none of their items may be at their feet and trying to find room for them in the bins, getting everything shut, and asking passengers to sit down, making sure the FAA regulations for who may and may not sit in an exit row are being followed and briefing passengers on their responsibilities there, while much of this is being helped by my number 3 and number 4 fa throughout the cabin, they have to call me at the front and relay a lot of these issues to me so that I can relay them to the captain or agent to get them taken care of, two passangers with the same seat assignment, I need to get that info to the agent and then they need to get the new seat assignment to me all while I’m not allowed to leave the aircraft even to step into the jet bridge and then I need to get it to the back of the plane where the issue is. It’s a bit chaotic even if it might not look it. I often have multiple calls coming in from the back of the plane to tell me info I then need to relay to the appropriate division to get it resolved before we take off, often this is all happening during boarding, all at once. The other big thing that is happening during boarding is catering. This is important, especially on a long flight I feel it is important for me to make sure my passangers are going to have everything we need for the next 4-6hours bc there is no stopping somewhere in the sky to get anything, all the water, cups, toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, juice, alcohol, food that I have on that plane to serve you with is often being brought into the plane as you are boarding, in that busy 20 min window. Once they bring it all on it is then my responsibility to make sure I have everything and enough of everything and that is often just not the case. If you are upset about not getting a pre departure, imagine how upset you would be if I didn’t have half my meals, or a couple of the meal trays and set ups, or if I ran out of cups or toilet paper or water, when I’m not catered headphones. I really have to meticulously check all of this and when things are missing or I don’t have enough of something I have to then call that department up and try to get them back to the aircraft again, before it’s time to get the door shut. Once I finally get my catering, which often doesn’t happen until well into the boarding process, I have to not only check for everything and call for what I’m missing but I then have to get it all ready to go so that I can start your service once we reach 10,000 feet. There is no other time for me to get the meals in the oven, the nuts in the ramekins, the ice cracked, the coffee in the pot, etc other than during boarding as soon as I am catered bc once we have to close the door I am doing FAA regulated procedures and I am required to take my jumpseat until 10,000 ft. So, going back to the agent coming down the jet bridge after the last passanger boarded and giving me that paper work and saying, “are you ready to close the door yet!?” I have to make sure everyone is seated and all overheads shut, I have to make those important pas, I have to communicate with the captain and ask if it is ok to close, I have to close the door, I have to make sure all FAs onboard have armed their doors, I have to make sure the cockpit is ready for me to shut their door and then I have to get the safety demo going. Now I don’t know what you or anyone else is capable of completing in 20 min and honestly, usually less time, often we are already late before we’ve even started, but getting all of that taken care of and going around to every 1st class passenger and taking their drink orders and then making all their drink orders and giving them out, amidst all of that, with time to spare for them to actually drink them before I’m required to then take them all away (as we are taxiing out I am not supposed to allow you to keep those drinks) is honestly pretty difficult to do much of the time. If I don’t get it done it is not because I didn’t care to or am lazy, it’s because I just wasn’t able to, and if I didn’t go out and apologize to you for not doing it, it’s bc honestly there was no time for that either. While my job may seem ynportant to you and you may think of me as only a waitress or bartender in the sky, I do have some very serious FAA regulated safety and security procedures I am constantly working to comply with and company pressures to depart on time, with often many roadblocks thrown into the mix. And for the commenter here who so brazenly declared we sky waitresses will never see an emergency onboard, though this comment had little to do with the pdb issue at hand and was instead just sort of disrespectful, I have only been a flight attendant for one year and I have had to do two emergency landings and had two medical emergencies of passengers onboard who I had to preform first aid and CPR on. Many flight attendants have been at this for 25-30 plus years and trust me when I say they have seen and assisted through some very serious events in the air. Anyway, I think throughout the rest of your flight you should be able to tell a good flight attendant from a bad one, please cut us some slack, if you are familiar with air travel you should know that things hardly ever go as planned in this industry and we all have to try to be flexible and accepting of it, you just aren’t going to get 160 people on a little metro tube and expect that everything is going to work out perfectly for everyone without a few hiccups here and there, but hopefully we can do the best we can for as many people as possible and get you to where you are going safely and comfortably.

  40. Horatio Glastonbury,

    Your comments make you sound logical and civil. Thank you for all the nice comments you send in to AA through the year.

    Pre-departures are NOT mandatory at AA. It is a service strongly recommended. If a myriad of circumstances prevent PDB, an apology to the cabin is not required. Not one flight attendant will ever be reprimanded for either of those actions or lack, thereof.

    The Association of Professional Flight Attendants is not actually a union. It is a company affiliated association. In fact, the president of APFA is awarded positive space, first class, free travel for themselves and immediate family FOR LIFE. So, don’t assume that the association does too much to promote leading or even industry standard compensation for their work group.

    The CEO of AA, Mr. Doug Parker, has stated that the flight attendant work group, along with every other group, except management, does not impact the bottom line. So, while the AA/US Airways management would like to appear they are concerned about you and all the other passengers, they have decreased staffing, cut catering budgets, and demoralized employee morale with one slap in the face after another since the merger.

    So, yes, many issues should be addressed with Mr. Parker. Unfortunately, he has essentially told everyone that he isn’t listening nor interested.

    This is a marketing ploy, only. If AA cared about the customer experience, their actions would be different. Lip service.

  41. Have you ever thought that maybe the lack of PDBs is because we are working for FREE during boarding! Your not getting a drink because we are BUSY getting your jackets hung and checking catering and doing safety checks on things you spoiled people have no clue about. You bought the seat in 1st. The service is optional. FAs are on board to save your ass not kiss it. Have some respect and think about the big picture. Do you get unlimited drinks after take off? Are there no drinking fountains or restrooms in the terminal? Why do people come on and want to use 1st class bathroom when it’s the right by the boarding door and extremely inconvienient. Because you 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?

  42. @Start with the facts should start with facts, rather than claiming “The Association of Professional Flight Attendants is not actually a union”…

  43. Please keep in mind that you are one person and I am one person, except as that #1 flight attendant, I am the one person that all 160 passengers issues are coming to, I am the one person relaying important problems and info to the agent, I am the person the captain is talking to and when he or she needs my full attention, I need to stop making your drink, I’m the person who has to make sure everyone and everything is in compliance before we go, I’m the one who has to drop what I’m doing to call catering back bc we are missing 5 meals and 10 water bottles, I am the one who has to make sure those things arrive in time, I have to stop making your drink to take a call that there is a broken seat in the back, I have to drop what I’m doing to check on overhead bin space and let the agent know if we do or do not have anymore room, I’m the one who is not only trying to greet every passenger that enters that plane but also be aware of anyone or anything suspicious or dangerous I might see entering that plane and report it before it is too late. I am preparing the flight, fielding calls questions and instructions from passengers, agents, caterers, ground personnel, mechanics, pilots, and other flight attendants, and I am trying to give you room to get on the plane and get seated and stowed so that we can take off. If I can’t be your personal waitress amidst all of this it’s not because I don’t want to give you the best service I can, it’s quite simply bc I am only one person being asked to do many many different things at once for different people. Please understand.

  44. As an EP I can surely tell you I’m not going to bitch about a drink I can obtain once in the air. I’ve always said if I’m that thirsty, there’s always a water fountain leading up to my gate. My main concern is safety, the whole crew getting me from one place to another safely , not what drink I should be getting before departure..FAA once told me they are primarily there for our safety, food and beverage service are Just an extra. I’ve never had a bad experience with any. There are more important things to worry about than a damn drink.

  45. Maybe if we got paid for boarding, we’d care about getting you your glass of water. Or maybe you could do like us flight attendants do and bring your own water, seeing as how we also end up running between tight connections without a second to buy food or drink. Maybe if our company tried to take care of us even a little bit, is try harder to get you your ore departure beverage, but our company puts us last, so why bother?

  46. Doug Parker says the flight attendants don’t contribute to the profit so why bother. F/a and agents are continually beaten if the door isn’t closed 5 minutes early. No drink serving allowed once the door is closed per the FAA

  47. As a flight attendant for American, I can say first hand that the experience you receive in-cabin is a direct reflection of our managements inability to lead the company and treat its employees in a respectable manner. We are constantly berated and abused, by both management and passengers alike. We’ve grown tired of working for free, which is exactly what we’re doing when we are offering you you’re PDB on your free upgrade, all while fighting a continuos flow of traffic. Hanging your coat, helping you stow your ridiculous amount of baggage, and hearing you complain about how American is the worst carrier in the world, is all done for free, and with a fake smile beaming from my face. I also know that as soon as we’re in the air, you’ll be on GoGo complaining about the service, just so you can get those precious AAdvantage miles. Stock up while you can. I hear the EP pool is about to get much smaller.

  48. I’m amazed Delta can so consistently offer PDB’s (over 90% I’d say for me)…..all the while dealing with all the same issues….

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