Flight Attendant Making $250,000 A Year Says She Was Fired By Delta For Stealing Milk

Ida Gomez Llanos worked as a flight attendant at Delta and predecessor carriers for 57 years. She had the fifth most seniority out of all of their cabin crew. She was fired back in April, and she’s suing.

She says that her seniority meant she was earning $250,000 a year as a flight attendant and that Delta just wanted to replace her with someone cheaper and younger and she says “her bosses dismissed her for taking a carton of milk off a plane after her line manager gave her permission.”

Ms. Llanos reports that she was accused “of sleeping, of taking chocolates, not doing a good job” but says none of that is true, and she has letters of thanks from customers that suggest she provided exemplary service. She also says she was accused “of not being able to arm or disarm the doors” but she demonstrated consistently in training that she could.

She says she was a great employee,

I haven’t called in sick for thirty or forty years. .Every year they had a banquet for the top 1% who had the most letters from the customers. I went to that three times. I was nominated by the chairman’s club. I’ve had Flight Attendant of the Quarter; you get a little statue.

Llanos claims other cabin crew were out to get her.

Llanos said one flight attendant claimed she put Bailey’s Irish Cream in her coffee at work and stole a chocolate bar, despite the Arkansas-born 79-year-old protesting that she doesn’t drink and avoids sugar due to diabetes in her family.

And in another alleged smear attempt, one colleague took a photo of cereal packets next to a flight attendant’s purse, claiming Llanos was trying to steal food meant for passengers.

‘They accused me of taking nine cereals. I’m 85 lbs, I don’t eat a lot. What would I do with nine cereals? And I would never do it in the first place.

‘Somebody staged this… But it wasn’t my purse, because my purse was in a closet across the way. They were trying to sabotage me’

She began working for Bonanza Airlines in 1962. Bonanza eventually became Air West, renamed Hughes Airwest, which was acquired by Republic in 1980 and merged into Northwest in 1986 – and then into Delta in 2010.

Reportedly her termination was for “improperly pa[ying] a co-worker to work her position and later fail[ing] to work at her designated position on a different flight. She was also accused of stealing aircraft items for personal use and spiking her coffee with alcohol during a flight.”

According to Delta, “When a violation of company policy is identified or inappropriate conduct is reported, Delta conducts a thorough investigation to determine the appropriate course of action – considering many factors, including the employee’s overall performance record and length of service. Decisions like these are not made lightly or without a comprehensive review by many.” They seem confident they made the correct decision here.

U.S. labor law, of course, is different than in many parts of the world. In Australia a flight attendant was awarded six months’ pay after being caught stealing alcohol, because the government ruled such a penalty was ‘harsh’.

The case is Gomez Llanos v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., No. 19STCV41321 (Calif. Superior Court, Nov. 15, 2019)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Not sure what’s more of a surprise.. a FA making $250K/year or that she’s 79 years old and still working.

  2. A rotten way to treat a loyal employee. It’s pretty obvious that none of the accusations are remotely likely to be accurate.

  3. Why is a 79-year-old lady flying as a flight attendant? What is she supposed to do when terrorists try to hijack a plane or an emergency landing only gives her 60 seconds to get the doors open before passengers die? Pilots have to retire at what 62 or 65?

  4. The reason she could make $250K per year has to do with seniority, and is an extreme outlier. It’s the same reason a handful of very senior widebody pilots at Delta made close to $1M last year. When you reach the top single digits in seniority in your bid status (what airplane you fly, captain/FO, etc), you can take advantage of all types of contract loopholes that allow you to double or triple up your pay vs. actual flight hours flown. Without going into specific contract language, which varies from airline to airline, when you are in the top few seniority numbers, you can do things like get the premium trips, get them “bought” off you from the company because they need that trip for training (you get it removed but still get paid for it) then pick up time and a half or double time last minute trips that the company needs filled (which are awarded in seniority order). This means that at the same time you could be getting paid for a trip the company bought off you, while also flying another trip at double time, meaning you are in effect getting paid triple. When you are at the very top, you can massage your schedule to where this happens for almost every trip. This only applies to very few individuals, and is not something the bulk of flight attendants/pilots can do.

  5. I’d be interested to know how effective she is at her job at 79 and if other crew members have to pick up the slack as a result. I doubt she is boozing on the job though.

  6. Some of these comments are outright funny!!

    What an eyepopping is the $250K and 79.

    Anyway, when you get up that high in salary and age, you really have to be careful because I believe any company will be after you to obviously replace you with the much cheaper (in salary) younger generation.

  7. I’m a retired pilot and I happen to know Ida…..I actually flew several international flights with her and I thought she did a pretty damn good job, considering her age and diminutive size. She always presented a professional image; handled passengers in a helpful and respectful manner; and even did a great job taking care of the pilots. From my perspective this seems to be a purge.

  8. Keep in mind that the 250k is from a job that slowly built up her base pay over a 57 year period. This isn’t uncommon. What is uncommon, is that she wasn’t given some kind of buyout package ages ago. She likely has a point that Delta was looking for an excuse to get rid of her, and save some money.

  9. 79 and a 57 year career? I’m sorry but it’s time to move on. If she truly is earning anything close to $250K she should be able to retire. Some jobs just require more effort than others.

    I’ve worked with people in their 70s and 80s and while some are still half decent, others should retire but companies don’t want the lawsuits so they keep them and others have to do the work.

    And I’m not saying that as some 20/30 yr old, I’m in my late 50s and think I’m pretty objective on most things.

  10. Anyone jealous of the $250k salary for 57 years of experience may be shocked to learn of compensation packages for 0 years of experience in Seattle, SF Bay Area, and NYC tech companies.

  11. @Jerry
    If you said that to your grandmother she would slap you in your fat bearded vaping scooter riding entitled millennial face.

  12. People like her are why I have extreme hate in my heart for labor organizations and the legal community. At 79, she is 40 years past prime as a flight attendant from a safety and service perspective. Flying is difficult enough. Young, cheerful and robust cabin crews make the experience so much better. Now she is suing and threatens shareholders, threatens customers with higher prices to pay for any costs and threatens customers with poorer service because employees know it is harder to fire bad employees with the airline facing burdensome legal costs.

  13. I think here the real problem is how clumsy and undignified it is to fire a long time employee who should realistically have retired 20 years earlier. Like who does that to an old woman? And who are the four other flight attendants who are more senior????

  14. Delta is nonunion so they can fire anyone that they want.
    We don’t know what all was included in that $250,000 a year.
    Foreign language skills pays about $2 a hour extra as well as being a purser, international flights have a 1-3 day layover with extra pay
    profit sharing, paid holidays, overtime, etc. They only make about $65 an hour. Bette Nash has been working at AA since 1955 so there are lots of senior flight attendants. If you have seniority it’s a really great job.
    I hope she wins $5,000,000 or more.

  15. There is no reason in this world a FA regardless of age should be earning a quarter of a million dollars a year. But I do agree, at 79 she is almost certain to be useless in a true emergency.

  16. Somehow all these union haters, with “extreme hatred toward labor organizations”, don’t realize delta FA are not unionized?

    LMAO, If anything, this shows delta FAs should unionize asap. Relying on “relationship” with your boss is simply dumb. In front of profit and loss, your relationship will always be 3rd class.

  17. Once again you cite the case of a QANTAS FA and suggest , as you did in the linked story, that is was a determination of the Australian govt: WRONG…these determinations are made by the Fair Work Commission or by courts ( depending on the employment contract, salary level and other factors). They are NOT government but rather independent bodies.

  18. Cheaper, younger, (prettier)? Delta is just copying the way Donald Trump switches wives. Next thing you know they’ll be hiring them all in Eastern Europe …

  19. I used to fly in the Air Force – Air National Guard actually – with a female pilot whose civilian job was a DL flight attendant (she’s now a DL 737 captain, by the way). More than once she talked about working alongside an 80’ish flight attendant who basically used the beverage cart in lieu of a walker.

  20. I remember “don’t trust anybody over 30” and changing my mind as I got older. The Millies will magically change their minds as they get to the Boomer age range.

  21. To be clear – this is not a union thing – Delta’s flight attendants aren’t unionized

    Sounds like she knew how to maximize the bid system in the way we maximize upgrades and bumps

  22. For everyone saying how this is not a union thing that is not correct. Delta is non union but legacy wise it is only because of unions that anyone beyond 60 can work as flight attendants. It’s so ridiculous to think about a 79 year old woman walking back and forth through an aisle, serving drinks, and opening a door in an emergency or even dearming a door in normal operation.

  23. The statistical fact is most Millies will never make it to 79 sorry to say. FAs are not there to perform feats of strength in an emergency. Someone with 57 years of service should know what to do in an emergency and be able to arm or disarm doors in their sleep.

    I doubt that Delta fired this FA to save money since the next person in line assumes her seniority perks and pay. This dismissal may give a union a good talking point in the next organizing campaign.

  24. Seriously?? What is everyones problem? How can you not feel sorry for a 79 year old woman who worked diligently for almost 6 decades for a company which is not giving her the benefit of the doubt a s treating her like garbage! I thought Delta was the one legacy carrier that has maintained a good reputation but guess what Delta— you blew it!! So what if she is making $250k a year? she earned it. I hope she sues them for millions.

  25. Well, if we have Presidents who are this age and older, why not let this senior keep flying?????? Apparently she was able to do the job. Something seems fishy in this entire saga. Something is missing. Delta must have had an airtight case as they had got to know they were opening themselves to a huge lawsuit.

  26. So many age haters in the comments. The age 79 does not mean you are incapable of doing your job. Raquel Welsh , Lainie Kazan, Linda Gray, are all 79 and not frail. Patrick Stuart, Ringo Star and Al Pachino are also 79. Right behind them at 78 years old are Martha Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Faye Dunaway also seemingly not frail and unable to lift 50lbs and all walk without assistance.

  27. Bless her for 57 yrs of service that warranted attainment of high compensation whilst also contributing to safe arrivals of an extremely high number of passengers throughout her career. Kudos for maintaining performance standards that allowed her to continue working in her chosen career.

  28. Good luck Hope you win. If you wasn’t doing a good job all these years they would have gotten rid of you a long time ago.

  29. I wouldn’t want a 79 year old FA on my flight. There should be mandatory retirement age for FAs just like pilots. Time to retire lady

  30. I think a lot if people forget that they have just one side of the story here. In reality, to keep DL union-free, the company had to adapt the same policies as unionized companies do. That way, the workers don’t feel cheated out of something. In reality, an FA cannot be terminated for a single offense unless it is theft or gross negligence. In reality, she was written up, recently, a number of times, for the same offense. She was, naturally, mad about being fired after all these years and a lawyer decided to take advantage if the situation.

  31. Of course they’re blowing her out because of compensation/age.

    Further, I think its safe to assume her performance has been exemplary, because she’s been on their radar for a long time I guarantee.

    Companies, like say Disney for example, are notorious for cleaning house before people hit 50 or 55 and a certain number of years of employment, to take future liability off the books, regardless of performance. Trust me, I know.

  32. I just can not believe that some of you can make such ignorant comments: she would be useless during emergency, there should be no reason FA should make 250K a year. Let me tell you, you have no slight idea what this hob is all about and how hard people have to work to get to this level as this lady. As FAs we are safety professionals and we rusk our life and health to fly you wherever you want to get. There are million reasons why FAs should be paid this high, including the years you have put on to serve the company. We go throe recurrent training every year to prove that we can perform evacuations and emergency procedures. She passed all of them and they are hard to pass. For someone to say she would be useless because of her age is just simply ignorant. You all have misconceptions about this job, you think we just serve meals, tea and coffee. Wait till you get passengers with heart attack or stroke on 38000 feet and there is no doctor onboard. Wait till your plane skids of the runway and you need to evacuate 300 people in 90 seconds. And if you are jealous of her income – start working for an airline and see how hard it is to live on permanent reserve with no life and ability to make any plans for the first 5-10 years, how hard it is to survive on starvation paycheck for the first 3 years. This is all for you to fly on Christmas or Thanksgiving to see your family, we work for you to get you save to your loved ones, when we can hardly see ours for years and you dare to to say we do not deserve the income after 40 years on the hob and sacrifices we make every holiday, every day of our career? Shame on you, all of you who say she would be useless or does not deserve the money.

  33. A general practitioner MD makes in the $200,000 range with lots of school debt. Time for pilots and F.A. to not earn an extravagant salary.

  34. @Tomek If you are “risking your life” as you say it does not bode well for the rest of us. How exactly are you risking your life as a F/A any more than all of us sitting our butts on planes for 200 days a year. Are you implying it’s unsafe to fly?

    A vast majority of us are highly educated, providing tremendous returns for a company and I can point to hundreds of colleagues in that mold that would be ecstatic to make that kind of money. You are doing what? It’s absurd. You are hardly risking your life as you say nor doing anything so amazingly valued beyond providing service and receiving basic training for emergencies. Now, our military? That is risking your life and doing service above and beyond and deserving of the best. You? Sorry, go get a waitress job at Denny’s if it’s so hard on you.

    Really, so you know how to open doors and activate slides in an emergency…BFD. Please, go find another job as it seems you are so miserable. Oh wait, you can’t…forgot…you really have no other abilities other than to demand something you don’t deserve.

  35. Delta is non-union and Georgia is a right to work state. Unless she has a contract Delta can fire her for any reason (or no reason at all). I’m sure her salary, along with almost certain decline due to her age, are reasons but they really don’t need one. She can sue for age discrimination but that is very difficult to prove since the burden is more on the employee to prove it than the company to prove it didn’t happen. Also, not sure many people will be sympathetic to a 79 year old making $250,00 a year. She needed to go off into the sunset years ago.

    BTW, doesn’t sound like just Delta if other flight attendants, on numerous occasions, have accused her of inappropriate actions.

    Just go away lady – BTW, I am 61 and retired.

  36. @Stuart oh how absolutely ignorant you are Sir, no words. First not even once I mentioned I am unhappy doing what I do for 27 years, I love my job and I am highly educated as well (Masters in International Relations) and speak 4 languages fluently, so probably you have chosen the wrong profession if you are unhappy with your income. In contrary I believe you show that you feel miserable because all of the sudden you found out that there is a job, which you consider probably low end, which pays more that you ever going to make. Oh wow, I feel sorry for you but I am not surprised since you think that what we do is just serving coffee. You say what is the bog deal to open the doors and evacuate. Come to the training center and try it Sir, you are so smart and highly educated you think you probably know it all. I would be glad to see you fail miserably. You think it is basic training. We spend 3 days on service training and 4 weeks on learning the emergency procedures, evacuations, ditching, survivor skills, medical procedures, how to fight fires onboard, how to act and react in case of highjacking or attempt of breach of flight deck. Am I suggesting flying is not safe? Have you slept throe 9/11 Sir? I think you really need to get in touch with reality. In case you have not noticed it is not even safe to go to the movies those days, but difference is that you are there by yourself, on the airplanes you have highly trained and experienced professionals to save you in case tragedy happens. It is BFD but I doubt you would ever recognize or understand it because of your high level of ignorance. And by the way Sir, I do not demand anything, I simply work hard for it, something I would suggest to you before you cry that your income is lower than mine. Go and provide those amazing returns for your company and hope for the rest of your lie that they will pay you close to what I am being paid for protecting you from harm when your ignorant self flies on my flight. At the end we will see who is miserable. Me working hard all my career to earn 200 K after 27 years or you making all that money for your company and getting screwed all your life. Good luck lol

  37. @tomek amazing ! Couldn’t of said it better myself. Preach bro preach. These people are just mad and miserable we get paid to have the best fucking job in the world and wish they thought if this 20 years ago in their prime, because yes I know these are all boomers hating. Per the mental fucking data I’ve gathered on all of my flights. Almost everyone over 40 is bitter and miserable. Under 35 sweet as can be….. I WONDER WHY THAT IS ?? AND yes I’m also a flight attendant that used to be a professional RN. Now I fly and flip houses on the side because I CAN. Going to Cabo as we speak for 26 hours for work. Suck my BEEEEP lol.

  38. Who gives a damn how old she is. She earned that salary through hard work and dedication. Delta didn’t seem to have a problem paying her the salary all these years and why would she jeopardize it by stealing. I believe it happened just the way this flight attendant said. It’s a damn shame that they would fire an excellent employee over something so small: I hope she wins her lawsuit.

  39. Wow you people have some real growing up left to do in your lives. My employees and I All know Ida from all the flights we go on. She is the Sweetest and nicest lady you would ever meet. She works circles around her younger colleagues. The $500,000 my company spends a year flying Delta I will now be taking my business elsewhere because of what they’ve done to this woman. She’s a saint she was the only FA that could help calm my kids on their first overseas flight. I’m also sure that after I told my other Friends and business they will be doing the same thing and not using Delta Airlines any longer

  40. @Jerry if anything – learn history – baby boom is post WWII c1945 at 79 she was born in 1940 possibly 1939 a Baby Boomer she is not.

    Otherwise stop trying to be a trendy lil millennial prick as I tell my grandson

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