Coach Passengers Don’t Get Drinks Because Of American Airlines Flight Attendants Union

The President of the American Airlines flight attendants union Julie Hedrick sent a note to cabin crew members where she takes credit for preventing their airline from offering full beverage service in economy.

APFA has been successful in pushing off the return of a main cabin beverage service into 2021. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the last thing we need is increased opportunity for passengers to remove their facial coverings on the aircraft. The battle for a safe environment on board is already challenging. We have kept this airline flying, and the care and treatment of the front-line employees should be this Company’s number one concern.

American Airlines offers a full beverage service in front, but not in back. They’ve tried to bring drinks back into the main cabin for passengers, but flight attendants pushed back asking not to be required to offer this service.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants is a weak union with financial challenges and suffering from infighting. While around 8000 of their members were furloughed by American, barely a critical word was spoken of management – even though neither Delta nor Southwest furloughed any flight attendants. And as their members were about to be let go, they discussed what credit cards they could use for their business expenses.

And yet this latest missive is the most combative I’ve seen them yet. They were starting to talk about a new contract before the pandemic. Now they’re signaling to their membership that their employer may be seeing givebacks.

To be clear, American has a demand problem, not a labor cost problem, and we will not entertain discussions on concessions. However, the Company is using the pandemic as an excuse to worsen our work lives. Fatigue-inducing trip construction continues to be a significant issue, with multiple legs per day, unproductive sit times, and short layovers.

Furloughs are wreaking havoc with the lives of those flight attendants who remain. The airline’s head of inflight warned cabin crew their jobs would be miserable if they didn’t take early outs. They’ve reduced staffing on aircraft and employees now regularly complain about the trips to which they’re assigned.

Unsurprisingly, the union’s solution to everyone’s problems is… more airline subsidies which would keep management secure in their jobs.

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. @lovemyjob – The “story” about the baby not getting milk came from a AA F/A who I’ve known for over 10 years and my wife has known for over 20. She is a caring person and I’ve never known her to make up anything. So don’t call her a liar when you don’t even know her. You’re just another POS F/A that should be fired!

  2. @ E Young – Everyone, everyday puts their life at risk to do their job. Getting in your car to go to work involves risk. My employees put their life at risk to take care of our customers and get them the products they need. They were all told at the start of this joke of a virus that if you don’t feel safe, are afraid, you can go on leave and your job will be here when you return. F/A’s for the most part are a bunch of lazy people who don’t want to do anything but sit on their ass and watch movies. If you’re afraid of the virus then you’re just a coward. Stay at home and hide under your bed, but don’t talk down to the people that allow you to live a very comfortable life doing nothing.

  3. Do you think serving main cabin is a great idea during a major uptick in COVID cases? It’s not about not wanting to serve, it’s about keeping masks on passengers. Flight Attendant’s have enough trouble with this already. Add in alcohol and loss of inhibitions and you have a recipe for disaster and super spreader events.

  4. @B Cameron – Bite me. Most of the F/A’s are so fat they couldn’t get themselves off the plane in an emergency. I guarantee you that in the case of an emergency it will be the passengers that get everyone off board not a bunch of lazy F/A who are too busy watching movies to even know there is an emergency. It will be the ex military, military, police, firemen, etc. that will take action. Trust me I will never put my life in the hands of a F/A.

  5. @ B White – 10 years ago I would have agreed with you about the F/A being great professionals. But over the past 10 – 15 years the profession has gone to hell in a hand basket. You have a bunch of tired old ladies who should have retired 20 years ago but for whatever reason are still on the payroll. Then they started hiring the youngsters who are only in it for their “travel benefits” as Jetting Julia and others put it. I took my first plane ride in 1969 and it was amazing. Traveling in coach back then was better than First Class today. There are still some good ones left but maybe 10%. The rest just need to go.

  6. The problem is really that they went from ombeing professional stewards and stewardesses to “flight attendants” which not only have a negative connotation associated with a lack of service but is also totally impersonal about the role. They are literally just there attending to the plane but not there to actually get down to business. Political correctness has no place in modern society. Bring back the stewardesses!

  7. I don’t know where you all are getting your info? It all sounds like gossip to me.even this article. They don’t serve drinks as a whole anymore because they can’t be liable everything is sanitary. All service, drinks are on request. There is no milk on board and it’s not that no one in main cabin can drink bc you can bring your own on. Some flight attendants were saying no to service when asked but it has now been cleared that they serve when asked. First class is just served if they want something. Quit jumping to the worst conclusion s and assume they are lazy bc most of them would rather be busy than sit during a flight. They have to follow the companies policies. Also @xmarine they know cpr and can shock your heart back to life. The drink service is the least important of life saving priorities. And if parents are that stupid to rely on others when their kids are hungry or thirsty that’s just bad parenting .

  8. I wonder what the lazy F/A’s excuse will be after the vaccine is out? They were lazy and doing next to nothing before the virus. You don’t know what the situation was with the parents was. Were they connecting? Had there been a delay? Our friend was one of the F/A’s and she said there was milk on board. To say it was bad parenting is inconsiderate. I’m lifetime platinum on AA with nearly 5 million miles. Counting all of the other airlines I’ve probably flown 6 million + miles and I’ve only seen 1 in flight emergency and that was on Delta to Orlando over 20 years ago and your life saving skills were so great the lady passed away in flight. I know CPR as well and I’m not touching you.

  9. @OneXMarine,
    We’re you burned by a FA? You sure know what’s best for everybody. I think you need to take a look at yourself. All you do is judge and spew hatred. I’m a frequent t flyer and I don’t agree with your statement that they are lazy and just want to sit on their burrs. Such a broad generalization of a workgroup. I’ve had outstanding FA’s on my flights. There are bad eggs in every workgroup. It to lump them all together and say such derogatory things about a workgroup is just stupid. And no sir, not everybody has the luxury of finding another job or staying home and it is not cowardice to be concerned, not “afraid”, about your health and possibly giving it to your 80 year old parents. Or your child who has underlying health problems. It’s not about me getting sick, I’m not afraid, it’s my loved ones that I could potentially give it to. I’m reading between the lines on all your posts and I don’t think you really care for anyone other than yourself. Maybe instead of trolling and making hateful comments, which you do a lot, you should look at yourself and stop spreading your “cheer”. Nobody wants to hear it. Stop being hateful and combative. There’s an elegant way of getting your point across without calling people names. Happy Thanksgiving sir. I hope your state hasn’t shut down and you can enjoy your loved ones on this holiday. Even if you think this is a bullshit virus it has been very real to a lot of people. Have some respect for them. I’m not going to spar with you so this is the last reply you’ll get from me but go ahead and degrade and belittle me for having an opinion. I’m a big girl. I can take it. I hope you find some joy.

  10. @XMarine

    And if you hate flying so much and you’re a Platinum on American. Not a Gold or Executive? You won’t waste many miles. Go find another airline to bitch about or drive.

  11. @OneXMarine

    That’s how you reply to somebody? Bite me? How old are you? 12? That’s how old you are acting. Actually I believe my 5 year old has better manners and respect than you do. Lifetime Platinum member? 5 million miles. Not that impressive. And I hope sir you are one of the first ones to try out that vaccine. You can be the guinea pig.

  12. I’m lifetime Platinum and AA used to be a great airline. F/A’s like you have ruined it. Thank goodness you have a union or you’d be standing on a corner with a cardboard sign or working a truck stop parking lot.

  13. @ E Young – I’m not going to spar with you either. I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. Burned by a FA? Hardly, I’m married to a retired FA who is disgusted by the way people are treated these days. And for the record she is the love of my life. I’m not going to sit by while you or anyone else defends poor behavior by F/A’s. Attacking parents because for some reason unknown to any of us why they were out of milk. Our friend is an excellent F/A who wants to do a good job and give good service so that AA survives. Personally I hope it fails and all of you get replaced by people that want to do the job.

  14. My first real job in my airline career was working for a large regional Royale Airlines (that’s another story). My second airline was Braniff #1. Braniff’s 727-2XX were configured 20 & 110 and crewed with four flight attedants 2 in first one served preflight drinks until we were airborne and first class was fed and watered, then the second went and helped the two in coach. We had 5ths in first not miniatures.
    Had a good friend friend who worked in fight scheduling at DL, this is thirty years ago. There were two things that happened to first class customers as soon as they were seated, a tray with two cups (glass or plastic) of ice, two miniatures, one can of whatever you drank or mixed and two bags of peanuts. DL had “consistent mediocrity” and the customers loved it.

  15. I said Bite Me because I shouldn’t say what I really wanted to say. You have a 5 year old? Any idea who the father is?

  16. My first airplane flight was January 1969 when I went in the Marines. Travel back then was so different. Everyone dressed up to fly. Service in coach was better than you get in First Class these days although BA and Qatar are still amazing. I thought it was still pretty good until the late 90’s and then things started going downhill. After 9/11 they weaponized the F/A and the last 10 years it’s gotten really bad. Hopefully though bankruptcy the airlines will be able to get rid of the unions and those F/A that don’t want to work. Some passengers need to clean up their act as well.

  17. @OneX Marine
    I’m not a flight Attendant. I’m a physician but thank you for assuming that. I would be honored to be a FA. I like you fly a lot. I’m not married to a FA or been burned by one. I respect their profession and understand we are living in a pandemic. They are not lazy there are some bad ones just like you sir are a bad representation of your profession. Sorry you don’t understand anything about viruses and the transmission. And yes I have several children and I am married to their father and have been for 15 years. And I repeat, they have better manners than you. You’re married to a retired FA? She should be ashamed of you trolling these pages and always bashing flight attendants. Do you not have anything better to do with your time? I see you as a typical misogynistic man who cannot communicate or get their point across without belittling people, a workgroup that is predominantly women. Referring to them as fat. I’m sure you’re not anything to look at either sir. Once again Platinum? Not impressive. Take your miles and find another airline. And also get a life, become a productive part of society. You sir are the problem. Good day

  18. @OneXMarine

    Ba ha ha ha ex marine. Duh. Of course ex marine.. Did you even make it out of mommys car to cry for a day at boot camp? Obviously you should say NEVER a marine. You, little boy, are a Grade A weak tiny little pussy. And your “wife” which we all know is just the teenage boy you try to touch, only makes you seem weaker. I’d spar with you all day fool. In person. Cause fake ex marines scare me as much as this fake virus. And you baby boy are quite obviously a fake marine. I do wonder, as does everyone who read your stuff and is relentlessly making fun of you, if you’ve ever actually been on an airplane before? Its fun to play pretend isn’t it? Consider changing your screen name to something more fitting like Bieberf!@$÷r. Or DumpyBreadLoaf or the most fitting, something along the lines of, unloved lapband, dad bod, no wife, cries himself to sleep, untalented, loser? Just a thought…that would be a lot to type for you. Im excited for the fat guy liar angry rant to follow cause low self esteem small genitaled ladyboys such as yourself always “see red” and continue to entertain….get an actual wife or a fu#$ing fish little one and see if something can love you back for 10 mins. Ha ha. Fall down the stairs today. Fingers crossed.

  19. I’ve been a long time since I’ve been with AA, and am VERY DISAPPOINTED that some of the flight attendants don’t want to serve drinks while in flight. Several of the other carriers do offer drink services during the flight, but apparently AA doesn’t want to go that way. Shame on you, AA! If this continues I will certainly take my business to other carriers.

  20. @Gary: I remember when the union had a long, ongoing dispute with mgt. over a decade ago. I was flying from Raleigh, NC to DFW. Whatever they were doing, the cabin crew were “minimally communicative”, uncaring, and unhelpful to passengers. A few days later a road warrior explained to me that this was their response to the ongoing dispute with management.

    I did not know this crew. My requests were simple, reasonable, and within he job description (like a request for some water and an ETA). Yet they decided that I, and other passengers, should endure this interpretation of “work-to-rule” in order to further their industrial dispute. They saw nothing wrong with treating passengers like this. That is the kind of people they are.

    I’ve never seen anything remotely similar from Dallas’ other major airline, Southwest.

    I have never forgotten this and have an abiding feeling of not caring for all their tribulations in the pandemic. They lost any support in a situation that would seem to instinctively engender support.

  21. No one is ” getting it” from the top management to the F.As that American Airlines needs to change.

  22. Maybe you should give up being a physician and become a F/A. Yes just a platinum and I don’t care if it impresses you or not. I was EP for several years but I bought my own business (2 of them actually) and now I don’t have to travel nearly as much. I’ve had COVID and it was like the flu. My wife had it and it was like a sinus infection. My daughter had it and it was like a head cold. So I do understand this virus. I’m not trolling these pages, I just happen to enjoy Gary’s blog and he puts out some very good information. As far as my wife goes she is disgusted with the way F/A’s conduct themselves, and this was before COVID. She was a great F/A and saw the direction AA was going and took early retirement. You may not like my opinion but I have a right to have it. I don’t share your opinion but I’d fight to the death for your right to have it. What gets me fired up is that not 1 F/A on here or any other blog admit that many of them don’t do their job, and this was pre-COVID. If I’m attacked I fight back and I’m not always polite about it. I make no apologies for that. I’ll die standing before I’ll live kneeling. I’m not a physician but I do employ people and I pay 100% of their health, dental, and life insurance. They get paid vacations, sick time, and holidays. You may not much of an opinion of me but your opinion is like a $3 bill. It isn’t worth much.

  23. @Southwest Airline Passenger

    Are you basing your opinion on the movie? and are you talking about the FA in the back of the plane that had a severe injury?

  24. So if there’s a demand problem, cut the number of flights and lay them off.

    I bet they sing a different tune then.

  25. I would also fight for your right to have an opinion. I don’t believe in belittling people for it. I’m glad you can speak for the hundreds of thousands of flight attendants that are employed. I would like to hear what your employees have yo say about you. It’s nice you provide all those benefits but it doesn’t mean you treat them with respect. If I had to put money on it I’d say no. And don’t reply with I’m the best boss ever because I’m sure they would not tell you the truth. I’m glad you and your family survived this virus. I personally know the personal toll it’s taken on many families who weren’t as fortunate. It is not like a bad cold or just a cold for some. But again It doesn’t surprise me you don’t have compassion for those that have been forever affected by this virus. Now I’m done because you are not worth any more of my time. I’m glad you are so superior to the rest of us peons. Now continue to spread your hate. And your opinion is also like a 3 dollar bills sir.

  26. Don’t be more than you can afford to lose. I would never say I’m the best employer in the world because I know I’m not. But my employees don’t quit and I’m not the highest paying game in town. Over the years they have given me gifts at Christmas and celebrated my birthday so I can’t be the worst in the world either. And your assuming that I don’t have compassion for people because I don’t buy into the “the sky is falling” story being pushed. I read the other day that 480,000 people die each year from cigarette smoke, including 41,000 from 2nd hand smoke but yet we still sell cigarettes. People chew tobacco and use Skoal which can give them cancer and yet it’s still sold in stores. It’s about choice. I am a combat vet from Vietnam with 40% disability, all of my immediate family have passed away, and it’s wrong of you to say I don’t have compassion for people. You say these things only because I disagree with you. If I go into a store, restaurant, or any place with a mask policy I put one on. If people come for meetings wearing a mask I ask them if they would be more comfortable if I put one on. Not 1 has said yes, they are happy to take theirs off. You attack me for my dislike for the poor service from F/A and speak of things you have no knowledge of. Before you call me small minded think of all the people losing their businesses. Small business got 4 weeks of PPP and the airlines got 6 months and want another 6 months. And the airline personnel have zero respect for their passengers who are the taxpayers who are going to have to pay for all of that free money they received. I don’t believe that you are a physician but I have no knowledge of that. I do know that you are a liar because you said you weren’t going to respond early this morning and here you are!

  27. American is by far the worst of them all. I have recently flown in United, Delta, Southwest and American. Both flights on American I had broken seats, different planes. The TV went out 25 minutes before the movie ended. The FA and hate agents were not at all friendly, their announcements bordered on threatening and condescending. One flight was 2 hours late, sitting on the tarmac. I was moved to the last row after complaining about my seat and the FA was playing on her iPad the whole time. We can have water and a cookie but not a soda? I still have to take my mask off to drink the tiny water bottle. Delta and SW are the best, United was close to American but seats weren’t falling apart. These airlines made billions nickel and diming customers. They were broken long before Covid.

  28. E Young, I don’t know what your m.d. specialty is, but I am a Doctor of Pharmacy graduate and work as a clinical pharmacist in a big University hospital that only treats very serious illnesses, 50% being malignant diseases plus I was a F.A. for 10 years with Pan Am, so believe me, I notice the difference in atitudes. Too many lazy privileged primadonnas on the plane . And with once a year recurrent training in CPR, etc. don’t depend on one to save your life.

  29. LT Platinum on AA isn’t exactly impressive since you could spend your way to it with expenses on a CC

  30. @UA-NYC – It’s 3 million miles to life time platinum and that is a lot of spending. If you’re referring to my life time platinum status it wasn’t said to impress anyone.

  31. Former international flight attendant! American can serve first class but not coach? Interesting conundrum. Just that one pax is all it takes, doesn’t matter what class. We are not frequent flyers on AA but have millions of miles. This airline is the worst in the industry. Get off your lazy ass and serve a drink. Passengers in coach are paying big dollars for this shitty service. We did. Don’t take it out on the people that are paying your salary. BTW, its we the passengers that are! Horrible excuse to be lazy.

  32. @us-nyc – Put your money where your mouth is. $100K says that I am. Maybe we can get Gary to hold the money and confirm my status. Now either put up or shut up!

  33. I am an AA flight attendant, I’m not fat, old, or lazy (thank you very much) and although our first priority is safety, we are limited to what services we can provide based on the company’s policies & procedures… and more times than not, the Company overrides our Union. So before you judge and bash us, make sure you know all the facts. There is more than just one side to a situation.

  34. OneXMarine, thank you for defending our country in Vietnam. It was a different kind of cunning war that we had not fought previously. I have worked with several Pan Am F.As that worked the military charters to take our ” boys” to Saigon and bring our young men and body bags back from Saigon. They didn’t talk much about it- maybe PTSS a little. I can’t imagine in this day and age that a F.A. would do those charters period much less ask for special compensation.

  35. Carolynee, thank you. It was a different kind of war for sure. I had a TWA charter to Okinawa and American charter in and out of DaNang. The F/A were kind and attentive as they knew that some would be coming home in the cargo hold. Because they were MAC flights alcohol was not served but they ran their legs off keeping the soft drinks flowing. Continental from Okinawa to California was an entirely different story. Boarding in DaNang for the flight home for many of us it was the first american female we had seen in a year and they tapped us all on the shoulder as we boarded. The one thing that stuck in my mind was how good they smelled. DaNang was a very dangerous place in those days and boarding was done from the tarmac with Marines running on and off the plane. It was their job but the pilots and F/A that flew those flights were putting their lives in danger as rockets could have been fired on to the flight line at any time. I’m not aware of any commercial planes being hit during the war but I know the military had many destroyed at DaNang. It was a long time ago and I’m pleased that the young men and women serving today are treated well. Thank you again and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  36. Terri W – I have not flown since the virus came to town except for a couple of flights in February. But the issues being discussed here are pre-covid. We have friends who are F/A on AA and they tell some pretty ugly stories about their fellow F/A. You sound as if you might be one of the good ones and I applaud you, but your numbers are dwindling as I would assume your customer base. You see a slap at Delta and United on here but most are about AA. The F/A that called the police on the pax to Palm Springs because he called them out for not wearing their masks is just bad optics for AA and one that might cost them a 7 figure check. Most of the F/A on here are hiding poor behavior and performance behind the COVID. It started long before COVID and it’s getting worse if you take a deep breath and read the posts. Your customers are telling you that you’re not doing a good job and you’re saying you are. The customer has the final vote.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

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