American Airlines Reminds Flight Attendants Not To Provide Better Service To Coach Passengers

American Airlines has sent a reminder to flight attendants not to go above and beyond for passengers in economy, as first revealed by aviation watchdog JonNYC. The airline told cabin crew that they shouldn’t give economy passengers blankets, pillows, or treats from business class. American framed this as consistency, which is to say making sure that there are no occasional surprise and delight moments in the coach cabin.

As part of our commitment to ensuring a consistent customer experience, please refrain from offering Premium Cabin amenities/service items (i.e. pillows, blankets, amenity kits, and certain food items) to customers who are not seated in a Premium Cabin.

No meaningful effort is being made, of course, to ensure a consistent customer experience in premium cabins – such as that predeparture beverages are provided consistently.

Since there’s little actual enforcement of service standards – aside from telling flight attendants not to go above and beyond using company resources – some cabin crew feel emboldened to create their own makeshift barriers that ensure they aren’t approached by passengers.

While American Airlines is telling flight attendants not to offer amenity kits to passengers in economy, prior to the pandemic Delta actually made that a standard for their international coach product along with a welcome cocktail, hot towels, and mixing and matching choice of appetizer and entrees with dessert served as a separate course.

Delta hasn’t returned to this. Indeed, Delta’s operation overall isn’t as good as it was prior to 2020. But they repeat the mantra of ‘premium’ over and over while American – with an equally high cost base and need to for customers to pay more – is telling crew not to do little extras when warranted to make passengers more comfortable. Indeed, a year ago American told flight attendants to keep passengers from moving to otherwise-empty seats that have extra legroom. And this isn’t even The Onion.

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. O for the good ol’ days when we loved our passengers and did everything we could to put smiles. on their faces. So happy I’m retired from this miserable industry. Can’t even stand going to the airport now. It really saddens me that the airlines have made sure that every pax is miserable. Just can’t imagine not treating my pax with the utmost love and respect

  2. American has a long way to go to reach ” average ” international anyway.
    So as long as it’s not going to cost money why not allow the cabin crew to be true ” hosts ” not robots .
    There are some who still enjoy their work and are a credit to the company.
    The rest – well we know about those already!!

  3. I sure hope that our flight from Belize to Indianapolis in January 2024 is a good flight experience. We are flying delta down to Belize in December 2023. Please let the flight be safe and joyful.

  4. @Tina. You should talk to @Tim Dunn. He’s constantly complaining that @Gary hates Delta and goes out of his way to criticize them.

  5. Used to fly BA transatlantic over 50 times, but as time went on every little basic service disappeared and on my last few flights economy (cattle class) made BA like any other cheap airline. So this year flew AA to the states and that to has become so basic as to rival Ryanair and similar airlines. Surely giving an extra blanket or pillow only serves to give a better more comfortable and contented customer. We always hear this drivel about safety and the interests of the customer but both my flights from Charlotte NC to Lauderdale and later return were late but not the slightest small bonus on either flight to mitigate the time wasted. They all need to look at Jet Blue for a comfortable customer friendly airline.

  6. @John says:

    Tell me again why you insist on flying American. Take another airline and make one change.

  7. I will be traveling on an extended trip to Italy next Fall. Although I have points on a few airlines which cross the Atlantic (American ones), I have pretty much decided to save up and spring cash for Business Class on the Italian carrier ITA.

  8. Obviously that also goes for Executive Platinum’s sitting in coach. Not a single FA has thanked me for being a EP since before Covid while in Coach and only twice in FC.

  9. I can belive this article. I flew ba to dallas and flew aa on the way back. I thought in previous years ba has been battered with bad press but couldn’t fault them. Fantastic service from the ground crew to cabin crew. I had awful service on aa. I asked for a brew mid flight and was disgusted how I got treated same with breakfast service. I got a black tea and simply asked for milk and she slammed the whole carton down on my table. Not acceptable with the money you pay. I won’t be flying with them again. When there’s a lot better out there.

  10. AA sure loves its free bailout from taxpayer dollars though. Next time we should refrain from helping a legacy carrier from going bankrupt and let the competition show you how it’s done.

  11. This saddens me to my core. I fly American and Delta all the time. Delta was my go to when my kids had to fly unaccompanied when I had to deploy and that was a lot. Well, I have no words….

  12. How sad that we can t form an alliance to treat every customer with pride and dignity, no matter the class of seat. If only we could treat everyone the way we want and desire to be treated , this world would be a better place. As a Nurse, I treat EVERY patient as if they were family, doesn’t matter your status. AA should strive to do better!

  13. So many people complain about the level of service not “what it used to be” take a look at the passengers boarding, if you walk down the aisles of Walmart you see the same group, spandex stretched so tight the fat pushes through highlighting their camel toe, entitled attitude! When there’s 1 FA per 100 should in economy what do you expect? You pay the cheapest price and expect first class a$$ kissing!!

  14. Let’s remember that in the post-deregulation era, the airline industry did not work as Alfred Kahn predicted.

    Instead of Cadillac airlines, Oldsmobile airlines, and Pontiac airlines, we have Yugo airlines.

    Air travel is like milk. Whether it’s a national brand like Dean’s, a store brand, or the small boutique dairy, it all tastes the same.

    Air travel is a commodity. Maybe you are required to be loyal to an airline, because of a contract with your employer. Maybe because you live near a hub city, you fly the hub carrier.

  15. I can’t afford business class but I will say that I understand from a service perspective. When one manager/shift does something special for someone it is great! The problem is when that ask for it from the next service point, inside the same company and get told no (for whatever reason) supply, company policy, etc..Some people lose there minds and it can unravel to a huge problem. Now sprinkle some diversity in there and everyone is offended. I have seen managers comp a $200 meal because this same situation. And companies don’t want to deal with that while they are pinching pennies for an oversold flight.

  16. Do it once and 1)the coach passenger will say “Well they it to me the last time” and 2)other passengers seeing someone getting extras will be offended if they can’t get the same amenities. I’m all in favor of consistently.

  17. @williamronda

    When was the last time you flew AA? They haven’t had peanuts for decades. You sound like an absolute joy & no FA on any airline would want you on board. Take a bus please.

  18. We recently flew r/t DAL – FCO (Rome) on AA in Coach and was appalled at the rudeness from the majority of the flight attendants. We were very excited for the flight because prior trips across the pond on other carriers was delightful. The hurried service and unfriendly atmosphere was unacceptable. So expensive yet so disappointing. .

  19. I think there’s a favoritism issue here. If they give one or a few coach passengers amenities they can’t give to all, that raises concerns. Does someone have an interest in someone? Did someone bribe someone? Did someone invent a birthday or honeymoon?

  20. An attendant got angry because I asked for a drink while sitting in first class that wasn’t during the regular service. Excuse was people in coach would see & want the same. Seriously

  21. Flying these days is like cattle going to slaughter if travelling economy. I’d rather stay home.
    Domestic airlines are digging their own graves. I hope their staff has guaranteed pensions.

  22. Every airline will have customers with a bad experience. I love Spirit for its no frill and I buy what I want(big seats, etc). I get GREAT deals to Orlando, Houston, and Las Vegas. I have it my way.
    I also fly American Airlines(Business Class) a lot and have never had a bad experience yet!!! I plan on flying American Airlines to Rome next year.

  23. AA should be thankful they are still a company after their bailout! The gall to act inferior to ANY passenger is appalling! They with Finnair (a One World partner) need to take lassons from other wel respected airlines!

  24. Can just people boycott the airline and see if they will survive without the government help..

  25. What’s the big deal? Since COVID, there is virtually no service on AA in coach other than drinks on most flights. No real snacks for sale, no EP recognition or preordered snacks and minimal service in First. It’s a race to the bottom.

  26. Please, travel Virgin Atlantic to Eurrope (London) in Economy class and you will experience truly one of the best customer service in industry (Economy class).

  27. Kindness and customer service has taken a huge decrease since COVID and it does not matter the industry. Unfortunately that industry relies on people and there will be an airline that does go the extra mile and other will lose. Sad really.

  28. Last US carrier I would now choose to fly….. such a shame they were great many moons ago.
    Most of the F/A’s look and seem that they just jumped out of bed and really dont give a s**t about anyone or service of any kind.

  29. Wait, I’m confused. AA is asking FA’s not to provide free to economy passengers what business class passengers pay extra for? Shame on AA. You’re right, Gary! Economy passengers should always receive the same treatment as business class. I’m glad you’re sticking up for the have nots for once. Us poor people deserve all the business class amenities as well!

    The only consistent thing I’ve seen lately is that you’re not happy when AA does the wrong thing and you’re not happy when AA does the right thing. Flying sucks. Flying AA sucks. But I would never ever be upset as an economy passenger that I didn’t receive the first class amenity kit from a FA. Find something real to complain about next time, please!

  30. Well… why not you try coming to Malaysia? Malaysia Airlines is well known for Malaysia Hospitality (MH). You want blanket or pillows… not an issue. Even if you’re in economy, you will be treated special. Of course if you’re in business class, you will be treated like royalties.

  31. Delta has the exact same policy. It’s just not enforced because delta passengers are bred to be entitled, they whine and cry when they don’t get their way. The flight attendants live in fear of being fired even when doing their job by the book, just because some Chad or Karen didn’t get something they never paid for. Not a single item from a premium cabin is supposed to go to economy. Not a meal, not a blanket or pillow, not even a bag of chips.

  32. I stopped using American for bad service yrs ago I see it’s gotten worse . Stop flying American they treat customers who made them like trash.

  33. If you want premium items upgrade or buy a better ticket. Very misleading article and title.

  34. I would say that they were doing fine regarding a consistent experience. Consistently when I fly with American the flight attendants are not available except during beverage service. They gather together, usually in the back of the plane, sitting and talking and doing as little as possible to improve the customer experience or assist customers with needs.

  35. Air lines are selling me on just driving my self there, instead of spending money with them. I spend all day sitting around in the airport getting treated like a criminal, when i could of just drove.

  36. How would you feel if you paid a higher ticket cost for premium economy to get extra legroom and enhanced service and a basic economy paying passenger just decided to move into the empty seat next to you, getting the services you paid extra for? This is why the rules are enforced. If you want better seat, service etc then pay for it.. And no it does not violate FAA regulations to block access to a galley during flight. Egress requirements only apply in taxi take off and landing per regulation . You really should educate yourself a little before posting your rediculous article

  37. From my experience with AA’s business and domestic first, the service already ranges from not that good to bad

  38. Recent AA flight (Oct 2023) from Chicago to Tucson in a coach window seat was uncomfortable/cramped. No snacks or water were offered on the four- hour flight. Business Class received meals.

    Last year a connecting flight was canceled and I was unable to use the AA flight to the canceled MX air flight. Insurance did not compensate and AA was not willing to provide another convenient flight within a year of their unusable flight.

  39. Fair is fair. You get what you pay for. No different than any other business. If you went to a dealership and can only afford a Yugo, why should you get the Cadillac just because it’s sitting in the lot?

  40. I find it very sad that Americans feel so entitled. I’ve spoken to many people from Europe where airline service is quite good. Think about it, if we Americans didn’t act like we (most of us) maybe our experiences would improve. As a nurse I have found the same entitlement attitude from many patients who seem to think they get their own personal nurse.
    Try being thankful people. Yes economy doesn’t give much just the basics. I have flown every US airlines and being a considerate and polite passenger goes a long way. If you want more, charter your own plane. I certainly don’t expect my economy seat to afford me extras unless I pay for them.

    Are there rude flight attendants, yes are there rude passengers yes!

    Sadly I don’t see Americans improving and I have seen their behavior in US vacation spots.

  41. The regulations (look at d):
    14 CFR § 25.813 – Emergency exit access.

    § 25.813 Emergency exit access.
    Each required emergency exit must be accessible to the passengers and located where it will afford an effective means of evacuation. Emergency exit distribution must be as uniform as practical, taking passenger distribution into account; however, the size and location of exits on both sides of the cabin need not be symmetrical. If only one floor level exit per side is prescribed, and the airplane does not have a tailcone or ventral emergency exit, the floor level exit must be in the rearward part of the passenger compartment, unless another location affords a more effective means of passenger evacuation. Where more than one floor level exit per side is prescribed, at least one floor level exit per side must be located near each end of the cabin, except that this provision does not apply to combination cargo/passenger configurations. In addition—

    (a) There must be a passageway leading from the nearest main aisle to each Type A, Type B, Type C, Type I, or Type II emergency exit and between individual passenger areas. Each passageway leading to a Type A or Type B exit must be unobstructed and at least 36 inches wide. Passageways between individual passenger areas and those leading to Type I, Type II, or Type C emergency exits must be unobstructed and at least 20 inches wide. Unless there are two or more main aisles, each Type A or B exit must be located so that there is passenger flow along the main aisle to that exit from both the forward and aft directions. If two or more main aisles are provided, there must be unobstructed cross-aisles at least 20 inches wide between main aisles. There must be—

    (1) A cross-aisle which leads directly to each passageway between the nearest main aisle and a Type A or B exit; and

    (2) A cross-aisle which leads to the immediate vicinity of each passageway between the nearest main aisle and a Type 1, Type II, or Type III exit; except that when two Type III exits are located within three passenger rows of each other, a single cross-aisle may be used if it leads to the vicinity between the passageways from the nearest main aisle to each exit.

    (b) Adequate space to allow crewmember(s) to assist in the evacuation of passengers must be provided as follows:

    (1) Each assist space must be a rectangle on the floor, of sufficient size to enable a crewmember, standing erect, to effectively assist evacuees. The assist space must not reduce the unobstructed width of the passageway below that required for the exit.

    (2) For each Type A or B exit, assist space must be provided at each side of the exit regardless of whether an assist means is required by § 25.810(a).

    (3) For each Type C, I or II exit installed in an airplane with seating for more than 80 passengers, an assist space must be provided at one side of the passageway regardless of whether an assist means is required by § 25.810(a).

    (4) For each Type C, I or II exit, an assist space must be provided at one side of the passageway if an assist means is required by § 25.810(a).

    (5) For any tailcone exit that qualifies for 25 additional passenger seats under the provisions of § 25.807(g)(9)(ii), an assist space must be provided, if an assist means is required by § 25.810(a).

    (6) There must be a handle, or handles, at each assist space, located to enable the crewmember to steady himself or herself:

    (i) While manually activating the assist means (where applicable) and,

    (ii) While assisting passengers during an evacuation.

    (c) The following must be provided for each Type III or Type IV exit—(1) There must be access from the nearest aisle to each exit. In addition, for each Type III exit in an airplane that has a passenger seating configuration of 60 or more—

    (i) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(1)(ii), the access must be provided by an unobstructed passageway that is at least 10 inches in width for interior arrangements in which the adjacent seat rows on the exit side of the aisle contain no more than two seats, or 20 inches in width for interior arrangements in which those rows contain three seats. The width of the passageway must be measured with adjacent seats adjusted to their most adverse position. The centerline of the required passageway width must not be displaced more than 5 inches horizontally from that of the exit.

    (ii) In lieu of one 10- or 20-inch passageway, there may be two passageways, between seat rows only, that must be at least 6 inches in width and lead to an unobstructed space adjacent to each exit. (Adjacent exits must not share a common passageway.) The width of the passageways must be measured with adjacent seats adjusted to their most adverse position. The unobstructed space adjacent to the exit must extend vertically from the floor to the ceiling (or bottom of sidewall stowage bins), inboard from the exit for a distance not less than the width of the narrowest passenger seat installed on the airplane, and from the forward edge of the forward passageway to the aft edge of the aft passageway. The exit opening must be totally within the fore and aft bounds of the unobstructed space.

    (2) In addition to the access—

    (i) For airplanes that have a passenger seating configuration of 20 or more, the projected opening of the exit provided must not be obstructed and there must be no interference in opening the exit by seats, berths, or other protrusions (including any seatback in the most adverse position) for a distance from that exit not less than the width of the narrowest passenger seat installed on the airplane.

    (ii) For airplanes that have a passenger seating configuration of 19 or fewer, there may be minor obstructions in this region, if there are compensating factors to maintain the effectiveness of the exit.

    (3) For each Type III exit, regardless of the passenger capacity of the airplane in which it is installed, there must be placards that—

    (i) Are readable by all persons seated adjacent to and facing a passageway to the exit;

    (ii) Accurately state or illustrate the proper method of opening the exit, including the use of handholds; and

    (iii) If the exit is a removable hatch, state the weight of the hatch and indicate an appropriate location to place the hatch after removal.

    (d) If it is necessary to pass through a passageway between passenger compartments to reach any required emergency exit from any seat in the passenger cabin, the passageway must be unobstructed. However, curtains may be used if they allow free entry through the passageway.

    (e) No door may be installed between any passenger seat that is occupiable for takeoff and landing and any passenger emergency exit, such that the door crosses any egress path (including aisles, crossaisles and passageways).

    (f) If it is necessary to pass through a doorway separating any crewmember seat (except those seats on the flightdeck), occupiable for takeoff and landing, from any emergency exit, the door must have a means to latch it in the open position. The latching means must be able to withstand the loads imposed upon it when the door is subjected to the ultimate inertia forces, relative to the surrounding structure, listed in § 25.561(b).

    [Amdt. 25–1, 30 FR 3204, Mar. 9, 1965, as amended by Amdt. 25–15, 32 FR 13265, Sept. 20, 1967; Amdt. 25–32, 37 FR 3971, Feb. 24, 1972; Amdt. 25–46, 43 FR 50597, Oct. 30, 1978; Amdt. 25–72, 55 FR 29783, July 20, 1990; Amdt. 25–76, 57 FR 19244, May 4, 1992; Amdt. 25–76, 57 FR 29120, June 30, 1992; Amdt. 25–88, 61 FR 57958, Nov. 8, 1996; Amdt. 25–116, 69 FR 62788, Oct. 27, 2004; Amdt. 25–128, 74 FR 25645, May 29, 2009]

  42. AA Cat Ranchers are the worst in the industry. All they want to do is complain about their lack of contract and they feel the best method to show their displeasure is to take it out on the passengers. If they had a single brain cell among them, then they would ALL be treating the passengers like valued partners to garner support for their outlandish wage requests (50% increase). What they fail to realize is that they have zero unique skills and that a monkey can be trained to do their job in a matter of weeks and therefore they are 100% expendable! They spout off about how they are there for your safety, but I guarantee the 90% of them could not save you if you actually needed but they would respond to their failure as “it is not really my job”. I hope that AA management makes an example of them and fires 75%, especially the old, angry battleaxes they have on international flights. Hell management could begin firing them on the spot with just random uniform checks, which is well within the rights of the airline to protect its image.

  43. Give people a keyboard and oh how they love to find the negative side of any experience. As previous posts have stated, if you want 1st Cl amenities, pony up. I have been an AA customer for years and sit in both 1st Cl or coach depending on the length of the flight. Flight attendants have always been helpful and professional. They aren’t there to cater to my every whim. Comfortable flight safe A to B and I’m good.

  44. Your headline is very misleading. AA Tells F/A’s Not To Provide Better Service To Coach Passengers… that is NOT true. They did not say “don’t provide better service…” they did say to keep consistent with the service level of the cabin. I’ve been a f/a for 30+ years – and you provide the Best service CONSISTENT with that cabin. How many times did a coach passenger ask for champagne from First Class or a first class pillow and blanket – because the last flight I was on I got one … and everyone around them is watching to see why they are so special … So – be fair with your headlines.

  45. Really not an issue the concept of service died in this country decades ago and airlines including American are no exceptions. Not a single US based airlines makes it among the top ten airlines in the world..

  46. I miss Pan American Airlines and Trans Western Airlines of the 1960s and 1970s. Back then the airlines aspired to great service with attractive and attentive stewardesses and on-time service. Now, it is a race to the bottom with the airlines each vying to see which one can outdo itself in providing the worst service, most delays, most cancellations, and most lost luggage.

  47. Sadly, as its always been, there is not one single US based airline that can compare/compete with foreign air carriers, especially the Asian, Arab or European ones. Pretty sad.

  48. @SWM Such a BITTER LITTLE PERSON. You couldn’t hack it as a Flight Attendant! It’s a job not for the weak in stature or minded. You would never get hired. YOU HAVE ZERO IDEA OF WHAT A Flight Attendant has to put up with. People like you for one!

    Sorry the media has zero idea what we are asking for contractually, so educate yourself. We want a fair contract and we have kept AA flying through the worst. Not just the glorified Circus monkeys flying the plane, that don’t deserve half a million a year to sleep 6 hours across the oceans. FA’s are the face and hard workers on the front line. Along with Gate & Ticket agents. How about AA share the wealth with the mechanics that keep the planes flying? Seems they stupidly gave it all to the tantrum throwing Pilots.

    Ba-bye Clueless

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