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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Comments

  1. I smell a rat. No one in their right mind would sacrifice their seniority over petty offenses. Seniority and the ability to hold your preferred schedule, in addition to flight benefits etc… is too coveted that no one in that position would sacrifice that.
    I’m not saying it is a smear campaign but if the truth ends up being a smear campaign to encourage Delta FAs to unionize, I won’t be surprise. Not sure who to believe but it seems like somebody is trying to make an example of her.

  2. Working at 79 has nothing to do with union or non-union. A mandatory retirement age is age discrimination. It is illegal. All of you that don’t like it should write to Congress, go up against the AARP.

  3. @Tomek. Either you have a faulty keyboard or I have a hard time imagining, given your typing skills, that you have a Masters Degree. By the way, It’s a Job..not a “Hob,” said over and over in run on sentences.

    Wow, you took three weeks training in emergency procedures. Impressive! That’s quite a commitment! In that time you learned to do what? Disarm an aircraft door, press a button to activate a slide, and yell, “Evacuate”, over and over. I have training in swift water rescue and wilderness emergencies…I don’t believe that makes me qualified to make $250k a year should I still be raft guiding like my earlier days.

    So, it’s interesting, nearly 20 years since 9/11 and you believe it’s necessary to say that “flying is dangerous” as a result. Please tell me which airline you work for as I think the executive team at your carrier should be made aware that its employees think that, like a fire fighter or police officer, that air travel is so dangerous they should be making three times the salary. I am sure the press would also be interested in understanding more as to your assertion that flying is so dangerous.

    In 2020 the airline industry in the U.S. will suffer one fatality in the past decade. This was not due to highly trained flight attendants. This is because of better security, more advanced technology, and evolved training of pilots. More people actually die taking selfies. Thus, I find your argument laughable. Shopping mall security guards probably deal with more drama in a day than you do in a year.

    When there is a medical emergency on board the first thing a fight attendant does is look for a trained professional in the medical or EMT field.

    If a passenger becomes unruly or a threat to the other passengers/crew, 9 times out of 10, when serious, it’s other passengers that step in to help in restraining the person. Need I remind you that it was not the fight attendants that single handedly overwhelmed the hijackers of UA 93?

    In the case of Jennifer Riordan, the passenger on Southwest that was the only fatality in the past 10 years, it was the fight attendants AND passengers (including an EMT and two doctors) who fought to hold her inside and save her life. Why? Because THEY are highly trained. And in the case of the EMT probably only making $20 an hour.

    Go ahead, keep living in your dream world that you somehow fall into the category of either a high risk position or one that will save people’s lives single-handedly. Keep insulting trained professionals in actual high danger fields like the military or first responders, who make a third of what many high paid senior F/A’s do. Or, at the least, make the same as those newly hired. These, the same people you need on an aircraft when things go south…and who I would rather trust my life to than you, the person who had three weeks training in a controlled environment and who will most likely not have one minute of actual REAL experience in life saving situations.

    Even if you were “highly” trained and “truly” risking your life each and every day, what makes you so much better as to deserve equal or higher pay than a police officer or fire fighter? The only thing you share in common with them is a uniform.

    Seriously, go take your “Masters Degree” and get a new job. Spare me the sob story of how a flight attendant’s life is so dangerous and difficult. I certainly don’t think it’s glamorous, any more than ours whose butts are in the seats and eat cold turkey sandwiches for dinner at 7PM in the Des Moines airport. But if we decide we don’t like it we just stop and find a new career or position. We don’t try to look for empathy from others and spin Union talking points about danger and life saving skills. I don’t imagine that many people buy in to your nonsense rant at all.

  4. @Stuart I am not going to waist more time to have conversation with shameless troll and bully like you, so this is my last post in reply to all the angry insults you have made towards me and people in my profession. Finding typos in my text and making fun of me does not make you smart, it puts you in the line of losers who wait for the opportunity to disrespect others because they can not handle their own insecurities. Your pathetic explanation based on few articles you have read in newspapers is only one-sided view of an outsider who finds joy in insulting others to feed their own sorrow because they live the life of a looser. Have you heard about Asiana and San Francisco crash, where flight attendants stayed inside burning plane cutting off passengers from their seat belts? What about US Airways 1549 landing on Hudson and badly injured flight attendant helping people get out of the sinking plane? What about Neerja Bhanot, Pan Am flight attendant who died in line of duty shielding three kids from being executed and saved countless passengers by hiding their passport from hijackers? And Qantas flight 1737 in 2009 when two flight attendants restrained hijacker trying to enter the flight deck despite being stabbed several times. Every week airlines experience many medical emergencies with no doctor present onboard. Yes we ask for a doctor first because it is perfectly logical to have one help when available ( I can not believe that you are so brainless to bring that example). But there are many flight when we have to put our skills and training fully into work. Just last week on one of the Delta flight coming from the Caribbean flight attendant performed CPR for over an hour on the passenger ultimately saving her life – no doctor onboard. Cases like that do not even make the news. Yet you are an “expert” I guess. It does not surprise me that low life individual like yourself hiding behind your smartphone or computer screen is all of the sudden so brave to insult and disrespect us because he feels we do not deserve money we earn after decades of performing the job. What really gets me is that you have a nerve to undermine my friend’s role, who lost their life in 9/11 operating hijacked flights. You are pathetic waste of human flash, how dare you? Maybe a screen protects you from exposing your identity, but the ugliness of your bully character and disrespect you show those who died on that day is beyond comprehension. Their names are engraved in 9/11 memorial, they are heroes along with many others who died that day. You should be ashamed of yourself by insinuating they played no or little role in trying to prevent this tragedy. I hope some other people jump in here to tell you how wrong, pathetic and insulting you are. I have friends who are veterans, former police officers and EMTs working with me as flight attendants because they feel this job is continuation of the purpose they found in their previous careers. Your words are insulting to all of them. Go back to school and learn another language, travel a bit to see other cultures. It will make you understand that perhaps you should appreciate more of what you have, instead of being jealous of what others make and do in their life. You are a true example of why our country is in moral crisis. People with no values and respect, like yourself, hiding behind screens making insulting statements and trashing others for the benefit of their own ego. At this point however It does not matter who you are, you are no one, empty space – after what you said about us, my friends who are proud to do this job and keep your ass safe while you are flying. No need to respond because for me this is my last post and I continue conversations only with those who are respectful. You fall very far from this category

  5. Wow @Stuart you really need some help man. I am a veteran and firefighter and what you said is complete nonsense and highly insulting. Tomek is completely right, you are just a bully and your life is filled with jealousy. The fact that they train for 4 weeks does not make them less professional and deserving good pay than us at our job. Some of my friends who retired at Fire Department work as flight attendants. It is a great job, although hard in the beginning. I think you should think about changing your job, seems like you are really unhappy individual. But the insults man, especially about 9/11 flight attendants…..that’s a shame bro, I am praying for you, you have a lost soul

  6. @Tomek.. That’s great.. and that makes you worthy of making $250K a year as you argue? You are doing a job in which 1% (if that) of your career will involve actual life saving moments. And you deserve more than first responders who spend their entire lives doing so on a daily basis?

    @Trevor have you read her previous rants? She is actually implying that a flight attendant is more deserving than a first responder or military and worth $250K a year. If you are such, as you say, tell me that you think a flight attendant deserves better than veterans and fire fighters who put their lives on the line every day. Or even a mall security cop. That’s an argument I would love to have.

  7. @Tomek Oh, and, I am fine with my identity. My personal email is antwerpenseven@gmail.com. Feel free to contact me and tell me yours. You can start by explaining how as a flight attendant you consider your work a dangerous occupation. I am sure many are interested in your great expose on the dangers of air travel today and why, as you imply, we might consider whether putting our children on a plane. Bring it on.

  8. Thank you Trevor, I can handle his insults about my education and worthiness on my job, but he really crossed the line with my coworkers who lost their life in 9/11, stating that they did not do much at all, when in fact some working up front were the first to be killed by the hijackers. And his constant insulting comments about lack of training and pushing buttons to open or arm doors – he is just a low life person with no knowledge and high level of ignorance. This is on the top of the fact that he assumes that I am a female (wrong, Tomek is a male foreign name from Eastern Europe). Maybe that gives him more bully power. Regardless I appreciate you comment. We have lots of former Firefighters and Veterans at my airline, actually I am flying with one of them now. They are absolutely amazing human beings and highly respected coworkers. Thank you again and Thank You for your service!!!

  9. @Tomek. Perhaps read. I “implied” that 9/11 flight attendants were PART of the equation with others, the passengers who rose to defend as it was clear flight attendants were not in any way equipped. Spin as you must in your Union speak language that makes you seem like a defensive wall that is worthy of three times the salary of a first responder.

    And, as well, could you be a bit more obvious that you are either posting as Trevor or he is a friend?

    Get with the program in your four languages. You are no more worthy of $250K in salary than a mall security employee who I am sure would be happy to share 40 years of history, as you have, of a few random moments that lives were saved. I would imagine that more restaurant employees have saved lives in random moments than you profess.

    When you wake up from your Union meeting let me know and we can talk.

  10. @Tomek I respect your profession, I fly quite a lot and I see how hard you guys work, plus all the stories I hear from my friends who work at airlines. Be safe man, people tend to have strong opinions those days, we are more divided than ever, but I am hopeful we will make it throe. Peace brother

    @Stuart I have read all comments and it seems people have opinion before they know the facts. Some comments are harsh, you can not discredit the fact she has been on the job for 60 years and besides seniority she has more experience than anyone on the job. You have someone commenting above that he was her passenger on many flights and she was well deserving her status and income. I read Tomek’s comments as well, I do not think he ever mentioned that he deserves 250 K more than EMT, veteran or police officer. He was just saying that it is not fair to say they do not deserve that income after 60 years of flying, as many, including you, have stated. And then you say that he does 1% of life saving events of those who do it every day like doctors or EMTs. Man, do you realize that in Afghanistan there are people who serve and do not hear gunshot fire their entire deployment? Does that make them less deserving to have all benefits or status than those who fight on the battlefield every day? Instead of spending energy and time bullying those who earn 250 K as flight attendant after 60 years on the job, maybe you should advocate for those EMTs who earn 20K and are struggling. You chose the wrong battle brother and you are attacking wrong issue. Inequality of income is a fact in our world today, but Instead of degrading jobs and professions of others we should fight to upgrade income of those who are underpaid. That is all man. I think you went a bit too far with your statements. It is one thing to have an opinion, but the other to degrade another person’s entire career, life and education to place yourself above the others to prove the point. And that comment about 9/11 flight attendants….come on man. That is just purely wrong

  11. I am a retired Delta Flight Attendant. Had the pleasure of flying with Ida. She is a hard worker and was wonderful to the customers. We were working a very long flight and she pulled her load for over nine hours. Before I retired from Delta several Flight Attendants asked me “When was I going to retire” or that “I should retire.” I filed a complaint with Delta Human Resources and they did nothing. Ida is an example of Delta wanting to get rid of senior Flight Attendants so they can hire junior flight attendants and pay them next to nothing.

  12. This story needs to be fleshed out more. There is a real scary story here. Lets start with explaining how her compensation is fairly high, no I am not saying its $250,000. I know who this lady is and she flies high time international trips back to back and her salary is the top pay at over $63 an hour plus she gets international pay, possibly purser pay and she gets per diem. She was a hard worker. But what is perhaps more important is this. These are the tactics that Delta uses. They are known to put crew members on your flight to be able to accuse you of various things. And they will embellish the facts. Think about this, if they were to fire, suspend, or put on probation everybody that took something off an aircraft water, milk etc. Delta would not have a staff. She was being watched and therefore targeted. When they want you gone they will use unsavory tactics to do it. There are many, many stories and there are many lawsuits that are under the radar. There are a lot of flight attendants that cannot pursue their cases because it is a lengthy process, it is expensive and then you have people who believes all of the accolades that this company has received. This company has deep pockets and is highly regarded, a lot of flight attendants choose not to tell their stories out of FEAR. There is a lot of validity to her story. It should not be but it is going to take more people to come out and tell their stories.

  13. Delta flight attendants have a top out pay at right around $70 an hour. They do not get paid for boarding, sitting around an airport waiting for their plane to get in, delays, Ect. They are only paid per flight hour. Average flying in a month is around 80 to 100 hours, so you do the math. 250,000?

  14. @trevor If @Tomek is using 9/11 as a reason to justify his job is “dangerous” and thus deserves more pay than yes, I will respond accordingly to point out facts. This, nearly 20 years later.

  15. There is no math to do on this story. Delta pays a senior flight attendant $70/hour or $200/hour. For whatever reason, this was approved through bankruptcy courts (countless or numerous??) and Delta agreed to that to come out of bankruptcy. Luckily, USAir didn’t purchase them, but I digress. Lawyers, doctors, self employed professionals, judges, Amazon investors, politicians, you name it, make 250K per year with half her tenure. But since we know she makes 250K, it is reasonable to expect that Delta is incentivized to target her. Disparate treatment is highly actionable and we should ask delta how many employees have been investigated for taking milk or similar incidentals. And delta should be willing to explain their answer.
    But I can promise you this: Delta wasn’t complaining about her pay or targeting her when she was working for one tenth of the value she provided. They probably didn’t complain when she was buying company stock that later became worthless. And I bet they won’t be blaming her for exposing her to 50+ years of radiation at high altitude (maybe pilots get it worse in the cockpit, i don’t know).
    I would like to see her settlement: free first class travel 12x/year, 5 years pay, atty fees, and of course: retirement benefits. All for a glass of milk.

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