American Airlines Offers Voluntary Business Class Service Training To Flight Attendants Who Feel Like It

American Airlines has a message for flight attendants: if you want to learn to do your job better, come by on your own time if you feel like it.

Flight attendants don’t feel they get the service training they need to know what’s expected of them inflight, or how to deliver it.

Premium cabin service, as one flight attendant explains, doesn’t get additional training beyond a crash course in basic training. Flight attendants say that they don’t even all get to practice international service in training and their two practice flights are domestic, so they don’t get to practice on real international flights either. Many years ago, long before the US Airways merger, international service used to be a full week of training at American, giving everyone hands-on experience.

American is addressing the challenges of working the business class galley, which can be one of the toughest positions on an aircraft. Today and Friday they’re running voluntary sessions for whomever feels like it.

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Are you frustrated when you get called out to work business class galley? Has it been so long that you feel like you need a refresher? Don’t cry! Take BABY steps and come to the Business Class Galley Workshop held tomorrow, October 21, or Friday October 25th starting at 11am (both dates) down in ORD K19 ops! ALL BASES are welcome. Whether you stay 15 minutes or an hour, you are guaranteed to walk away more knowledgeable and more confidant than you did walking in. This is a “hands on” workshop where you will be setting up actual carts and inserts. Arrive at your convenience and stay as long as you want. Stop by while commuting in. Swing by while you sit reserve. @ordarnmusic and @namaya22 will be there to answer all of your questions. Hope to see you at one of the training sessions this week!

A post shared by AASTEWS Living Life In The Sky (@aastews) on

Are these recent reports from American Airlines international first class really that surprising, when there’s so little emphasis on what service delivery for premium customers looks like at American?

american airlines international first class
American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER First Class, Credit: American

Fundamentally American Airlines needs to explain to employees who they are and what their priorities are. If they want to earn a revenue premium for the investment in business class seats and lounges they’ve made, they need to offer training and message to employees that they are a premium airline. Too much of what they do sends the opposite message, and even airline President Robert Isom says they focus on matching Spirit and Frontier which is a problem.

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’m not sure it takes special training to serve American’s premium cabin. The main difference is you address pax by their name before delivering diffident service.

  2. I wondered why something like this was put out on @aastews (on instagram). To me, I would never put something like this that my employer listed internally in public. @aastews is actually is a fun account to follow, and shows that many people who work for AA do try to have fun at their job and are enthusiastic about it. I guess that’s why the person behind @aastews is anonymous AFAIK 🙂

  3. I’d be totally fine with economy service in the business cabin.. if AA business were much cheaper than their competitors.

  4. Really though, business class is all about the seat and sleeping. Give me 2 bottles of water and keep some self-serve food in the galley area for me to grab at my leisure. Then you don’t need to serve me at all for the entire flight.

  5. I agree with other commenters that service isn’t the differentiator here. The best service in the world isn’t going to turn you into a 5 star airline if you don’t have the hard product to match. And the pricing AA has is atrocious.

    Example: I’m going to Japan in a few weeks and this last weekend I was shopping for a return flight… no awards were available on the specific date I needed. I snagged EVA NRT -> TPE -> LAX for $2300 / ticket (there are two of us.) I *wanted* AA (for status / to complete my Hyatt challenge), but NRT -> LAX on AA (or JAL codeshare) was $5200 / ticket.

    Seriously, why would I pay more for an inferior product? This BYOB training ain’t going to fix this problem.

  6. American Airlines should offer their hands-on galley-training workshop to passengers who want it. As advertised, we could arrive at our convenience and stay as long as we want. Trainers would be able to answer all of our questions so passengers would appreciate the complexities of inflight enhanced premium cabin service like filling the snack basket, serving warm nuts or offering a pre-departure beverage. After training, passengers could share their knowledge and learning experience with the AA business class flight attendants. We would know what’s expected of them and how to deliver superb AA cabin business-class galley service.

  7. Training will never address those hating the CEO & company
    They need to be immersed in a service culture where they see it as a pleasure
    to serve and assist guests and passengers for the greater good and all parties pleasure and satisfaction.Its good business
    AA ATTITUDE equals not good

  8. I like the idea of a refresher course for flight attendants who want to up their game and this really shows that if AA was serious about improving its service culture, then really all they need to do is give each employee a weeks training. If they incentivized this, then they’d probably see rapid results.

    Sadly, I don’t see AA being able to take the initiative to do this. The best I can tell, AA management appears to have the same level of pride in their work as the DMV or postal service. Basically, they show up to get a check and keep their healthcare. A private enterprise run like a government agency.

  9. As a transportation consultant in marketing and customer experience at the premium level, it is just amazing how AA and Amtrak are on parallel tracks with management teams disregarding what was so carefully built-up in the past. Now they follow the Soviet model of one size fits all by tanking their premium services in a race to the bottom focused only upon cutting costs; instead of growing the premium business in respect to its higher levels.

    From my own long-term experience with AA, I have finally walked over this summer to Delta which still provides an acceptable domestic FC. It is simply marvelous not to have to contend with AA’s half-ass service in FC which has struggled to match the level at the Automat. If AA smugly thinks that it can save on cutting training and making it voluntary on the employee’s time, Parker et al should just look over at Amtrak to see the end result of poor recruitment, insufficient training, and non-existent management.

    Should any serious recession hit our nation, AA will be ‘up the creek without a paddle.’ What Ries & Trout extensively wrote about re market positioning will become self-evident for AA, just as it has at Amtrak under ex-Delta CEO Anderson.

  10. That Instagram account is a gold mine highlighting poor service, bad attitudes, and gift giving (gift cards and chocolates from passengers).

  11. @mark g
    That is insuling to the postal service
    Our postal service both at home and work is great and delivered by the same carrier ( at work) with pride and a smile!
    DMV on the other hand …….

  12. If i want my employees to get some or more training, we pay for the training and we pay for them to do it on company time. Not “come in on Saturday and give up part of your weekend.” without getting paid. Not only is that stupid, it shows just how valuable AA thinks the extra training is. Not worth anything.

  13. I realize the flight attendents work hard put up with many rude obnoxious customers in all classes and you r not happy with the CEO. However when u have customers who pay a premium in business or first you should not be short on providing outstanding service to the best of your abilty without the underlying attitudes. AA should invest a week of training on their time and not to say to come in on your time to better the quality and attitude of service for the airline as a whole. The last two trips I flew in business the flight attendents were in such a hurry to throw drinks dinner etc at you as fast as they could with no smiles. What snack basket I never saw it. Paid alot of money to treat myself on international flights and was surly disappointed.

  14. As a former Legacy US Airways FA we spent a week of service training. We were taught to walk plates on and off our hand not to placing your thumbs on the china. International and Domestic were separate as service is completely different. If American is unable to teach their crews proper first class or BC service training they don’t deserve the business. International crews should be properly trained on the companies dime if they truly care about its premium customers.Doug Parker and Dennis Muilenburg should get together and create their own 737 airline. It’s a match made in heaven or up in the clouds where their heads are!!! I’m glad I don’t work for them anymore and I avoid AA at all coasts. I fly Delta Air Lines now that have job that affords me to buy my FC tickets… AA forgets it’s employees or former employees are customers too and could be brand ambassadors is treated like valued asset. It’s really America West fold don’t let them fool you…

  15. We fly out of CVG so Delta is the logical choice for us, and I have been springing for seats in First on all of our leisure travel just because it makes the whole experience so much nicer. The seats are fine, but it’s the whole level of service that makes it worthwhile to me. A nice attitude and a little butt-kissing goes a long way. Believe it or not, I’m 52 years old and have never flown AA, so I can’t comment about their allegedly craptastic service, but no way on earth I’m going to spring for expensive seats just to receive subpar cabin service. Delta staff and crew seem genuinely happy to be there and make travel a positive experience. No point in looking at United or American when I’m perfectly satisfied with Delta.

  16. The “voluntary” service training just highlights the messaging to both staff and customers that AA is not aiming to be a premium airline. This is truly sad, because I’ve had some amazing FAs in C and F to Asia who obviously cared about providing premium service. However, it is clear that such gold star FAs do not get company support for their effort.

  17. I call total BS on this. When was the last time a FA in premium cabin was less than 80 years old. Since this is bid by seniority and a FA can do two flights a month and be done, it will not matter how many your FA’s take this training. Just two weeks ago I flew first class from HKG to DFW. I had upgraded my business class to first with $550 and 25,000 miles. AND IT STILL WAS NOT WORTH IT! No after take off drink, wrong food even though I reserved it and we talked about it before takeoff. Zero service as they just went into the galley and read their books. There were only 6 of us for christ’s sake. I twittered AA about all of the bs and they offered a $75 apology which I. refused. They might as well be training monkeys to do first class service.

  18. I find this all very hard to believe.

    On my last LAX – LHR flight in F, the FAs completed dinner service with speed I’d only associate with Olympic athletes. They then set to their crossword puzzles as though they were being coached to get into Stanford.

    There’s no way they weren’t coached – they practically threw the plates, never once refilled a glass and yet they had pulled the curtain and were so engrossed in their crosswords that they couldn’t even hear the call button.

    These skills are taught. By pros.

  19. To the ones who felt the need to post a nasty comment… please do fly another airline. Just as you don’t want crappy service we don’t want crappy passengers. In case you did not notice it goes both ways.

  20. No Anou, it does NOT go both ways. Some of us pay thousands of dollars with the expectation that somehow the first class experience will be better than the cattle car experience where you apparently dwell. Your comment perfectly expresses the AA sentiment about the passengers. And remember, when we do all leave your crap hole of an airline, you will be back to workin the streets.

  21. Anou:
    1. We are revenue, YOU are expense. To put it in perspective, sometimes we pay more than you make in a month for that seat. Would YOU pay that kind of money out of your pocket to have YOU as your FA? Honestly?

    2. Think about this: If you are not a part of the solution, YOU are part of the problem.

    3. We don’t start out as crappy passengers. Perhaps if you and your bretheren took an HONEST look in the mirror, perhaps you would realize your crap service and even s***ier attitude is the reason YOU have “crap” passengers.

    4. I hope you are not a troll, but a FA who is about to take your attitude and retire to a job at the DMV or TSA.

    Best of luck!

  22. Anou does NOT speak for THIS fa.

    AA has become an embarrassment to work for. They have adopted the LCC model and everyone has suffered for it.

    We have no mission statement.

    Parker is like trump…never wrong and only wants to believe his own lies and bs. And unwilling to step aside for the better good. So everyone is brought down.

    AA uppers think everything is just find. They stubbornly close their eyes to reality. I will ALWAYS do my best and provide great service but AA makes THAT a challenge.

    Parker is like a football coach. He came in with hope of having a “Great” team but hasn’t been successful. The team has become fat, lazy, angry, complacent and stagnant. Nobody wants to come to practice and the fans are starting to stay away.

    It’s time for a change of direction with a new coach.

  23. I am an EP and I never take American internationally. I take Qatar and other one world partners when I can. AA just can’t compete when it comes to service, you are usually treated as an inconvenience. Why should I give them my hard earned money to feel that way? Hell, AA is way behind DL and falling further and further behind UA every day.

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