‘Snitches on a Plane’: Some American Airlines Flight Attendants Complain About New Inflight LOSA Monitoring

American Airlines is sending auditors on flights to monitor flight attendant safety performance. It’s a partnership with the flight attendants union – which doesn’t appear to have asked for anything in return, despite being in protracted negotiations and reporting out to members little progress.

Some flight attendants are calling LOSA-C, the Line Operations Safety Audit-Cabin program the “snitch” program. It was announced this was coming 15 months ago and was supposed to start this past fall, but the airline is only just now recruiting flight attendant observers for it:

Flight attendants observe other cabin crew work their flights and file reports without identifying the crewmember or flight. They only collect safety-related observations and flight attendants can’t get in trouble for what’s been documented. Observers have to get the consent of all crew to monitor the flight. It’s not a ‘check ride’ monitoring how crew perform their service duties.

According to the union, this is how the program works:

1. An APFA line-qualified Flight Attendant, who has been trained as a Cabin LOSA Observer, selects a flight to observe.
2. The Cabin LOSA observer will introduce themselves, explain the Cabin LOSA Program, and ask all Flight Attendants if they would like to participate in the program.
3. If all Flight Attendants say yes, the Cabin LOSA observer will occupy a passenger seat (Cabin LOSA observers will never take a jumpseat from a commuting Flight Attendant), and the observers must receive a yes to observe the flight from every member of the crew. If one crew member objects, no observation will take place.
4. The Cabin LOSA observer will not interfere with crew duties. The observation is confidential, and the observer does not record the flight number, date of the observation, or any employee information.
5. Once the observation is over, there is no debrief – the observer will thank you for allowing them to observe and may offer you the opportunity to provide crew comments.

Some crew find working in new domestic ‘Oasis’ galleys, that have limited workspace (because it’s been condensed to make room for more seats) challenging enough as it is and are uncomfortable with the program set up to watch them work. American highlights that it hopes to see lower insurance costs out of the program, improved employee morale (?), and lower costs from workplace injuries. Here is one such communication:

Crew don’t seem to entirely believe the company that participation is voluntary, and that refusals are kept anonymous. Several call it the ‘snitch program’ in social media and private groups.

American Airlines is not monitoring cabin crew service. There’s no report on whether they serve predeparture beverages, address customers by name, or hang jackets in first class. After all, they believe flight attendants are here primarily for your safety.

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. Really? What corporate genius ( or consultant) thought of this b.s ?
    Someone that never held a real airline job or worked in a customer service position.

  2. Imagine how good life would be if someone/something caused the FAs to stop spending so much time loudly talking in the first class galley! I am so tired of this moronic rudeness, hard to believe they don’t realize how disruptive they are. I don’t care if they sit around half the flight, just shut up while they do it.

  3. This sounds like a non punitive time and motion study. Cabin crews who do everything by the book should not have any problems.

  4. I called BS on this total waste of time in the real world observer would not identify themselves and verify that procedures are done correctly and report any problems. Why bother even doing this if nothing comes of it. How is this going to save an insurance when there is no productive outcome of the product And the flight attendants can say nope, I don’t wanna do this

    The hotel in the retail industry this is done checking on staff to make sure they are in compliance with safety protocols.

    Do I really need a flight attendant or can I give a safety demonstration or just sits there and plays on her cell phone when she is supposed to be doing other things?

  5. @Phil C … +1 . Dictator societies do this to force obedience on the serfs . Spies usually give their hand away , and are then shunned by others .

  6. I just wish that FA’s would be consistent with the pre-flight beverage service. It’s completely hit or miss lately on AA, and the excuses provided (except for “Catering isn’t here yet”) are boarding on funny/absurd, with the number one being, “We want a quick turn-around” where we still have 10-15 minutes to go before the plane is finished boarding and we boarded early to begin with. And we are talking about 8 FC, not 20. I realize these are first world problems, but if you say you are going to offer something, then make sure it’s consistently offered? Sigh.

  7. @Phil C and @Alert – you both must either be FAs or are very paranoid and insecure in your current job. Many companies have similar such programs to monitor work and policy compliance (some can do it simply by reviewing electronic data). As noted above this program is already in effect for the cockpit. If good enough for pilots it sure should be good enough for FAs.

    My problem with it is 2 fold. First the person has to identify themselves so the in flight crew knows they are being monitored (which would obviously lead to better service and compliance with company policies) and secondly everyone has to agree to it (WTF) or it doesn’t happen. If you REALLY want to check compliance do it anonymously (like many retailers do with anonymous shoppers or restaurant critics do). BTW, reports should identify employees and those with multiple low grades should be fired. Why should the airline (and paying customers) put up with sub standard performance?

    As for the 2 trolls comment about “dictator societies” and that the “genius” that thought of this “never worked in a customer service job” that just shows your bias and paranoia. Anonymous audits are not only common corporate best practices but companies need to ensure their employees (especially customer facing employees) are complying with policy and best representing the company. You 2 obviously are low performers afraid something like this will be done to you.

  8. @jns … I have respected your experienced comments in former posts . But I regret to say you are wrong about this one . This will create needless tension among colleagues . How would you like it if someone were reporting on your inadvertent mistakes ?

  9. I have a question that surely doesn’t belong here. On many flights with 2 FAs, I notice they say cross check, then all clear 2 seconds later when one is at the front and one is at the back. Surely they haven’t actually checked each other’s doors right?

  10. Just so you know Jon., I’m a flight attendant and I always do pre departures unless I haven’t gotten catering, or severely late, or 20 passengers. I really believe there will be improvements once we get a much needed contract. I personally blame the company because of the low morale. However, even though I blame the management, I would never take it out on my passengers. I enjoy my job and love making my passengers feel welcome. ❤️

  11. So if this was Boeing instead of AA flight attendants, who would oppose a program reviewing Boeing factory work to insure inadvertent mistakes were identified and corrected?

  12. @Alert, at times I have had to work with others inspecting what I did as I did it. It is not great as it adds pressure. If I had screwed up, penalties would have applied, unlike what is stated in this article. I have also had time and motion studies done on my work while the whole workplace was being studied. The first time and motion study I was involved with I did on myself although I didn’t know what I did had a name at that time. It made me twice as productive as my older brother was on a piecework job whereas before I was only as productive as he was. I have also had bosses tell me to do things that would have likely got me injured or killed if I had did them. I have a strong sense of self preservation and resist being hurried into doing something dangerous. I pointed out that the voltage of what I was told to lock the equipment on to was much higher than the equipment’s rating. You and I have different backgrounds so we have different opinions. I do not discount your opinion in this case.

  13. FAs say their job is safety, not customer service. So why not install cameras to watch them, instead of tapdancing around monitoring them? Anything for safety, right? Oh, yeah, because they are not there for safety, they are just lazy union unskilled labor looking to do as little as possible.

  14. Suppose a Cabin LOSA observer is ready to take a flight to a tropical paradise like Honolulu, but the observer cannot get the consent of all crew members to monitor the flight. If one crew member objects, no observation will take place. Does the observer still take the flight without being required to document any safety-related observations so they can enjoy a free trip to the beach at American Airlines’ expense? What a great safety program. Lather, rinse, and repeat on the return trip.

  15. @huey judy
    Ok self center one.
    Fly on a private jet to avoid F/A talking loudly.
    Or better yet purchase yourself a good pair of headphones.

  16. Why the bitching. Just shut up air waitresses and do your job. You are trained in safety. Focus on your job not your mobile phones and back room banter. Lazy.

  17. AC,
    I am a retired corporate executive that was on an advisory group for both BA and AA back in the 80’s and early 90’s. I actually traveled First and Business on both airlines (domestically and Internationally) for my job and gave input into the groups. Thusly, I was anonymous to both Flight and Cabin Crew. And being a LOSA and having to first gain permission from the crew to effect a monitoring ride is simply too weak and “PC” for me.

  18. @sexy_kitten
    All clear is not about the doors. It is a crew courtesy in regards to a common aviation practice.

  19. We’ve done this at my airline for years. The main difference is that some are announced and others aren’t. It’s a data collection program that allows my employer a chance to understand what parts of procedure should be emphasized in future trainings. Things like door arming/disarming procedures, cabin safety checks, etc.
    The program is non punitive and isn’t used for discipline.
    The American program shows that the real issue is that there’s no trust left by the employees for their leaders, that should be a far bigger concern for American.

  20. LOSA is not something that American Airlines has invented. It has been running around the world as an ICAO initiative for around 30 years and nobody else seems to have had a problem with it.

  21. A waste of resources if it is not done anonymously. Everyone suddenly drives the speed limit when they see the state trooper ahead. Not monitoring for poor service as part of the program is another lost opportunity, although it only highlights AA does not care about cabin service. @Grandma Doodle, thank you! If there were more AA flight attendants like you, as a 20+ year Exec Plat, I would be flying more instead of opting to drive.

  22. If everyone would do there job for what they were hired for and not there. Nationalities. No know what I mean. Who pays your wages??????

  23. An observer comes on board. A paying customer gets kick off the plane and stranded.. Both times I flew with American, they left me stranded and extorted me for more money. I would walk to my destination before I did business with that crap company.

  24. Of course the AA union and flight attendants don’t want accountability. Too busy on their damn phones and ignoring passengers. If there is 40 seconds of turbulence, they immediately shut down service for the duration of the flight. It’s pathetic. And if I hear one more time about how they are “here for you safety” I’m going to throw up. Lazy and entitled is a bad combination. American Airlines excels in that category.

  25. Pilots have had a LOSA program for years. It’s great. It helps trap errors in a non-punitive way and identifies best practices crews are using to successfully complete flights. I know it’s cliche, but if you aren’t doing anything stupid, you don’t have anything to worry about.

  26. This program is in response to FAA requirements to monitor safety. It has nothing to do with service.

  27. This is probably not a good program. BUT the airlines need something to make sure their FA’s are performing their duties adequately and properly. The quality of FA’s is so hit or miss and there is apparently no way (that I see) to weed out the bad ones. They probably need “secret shoppers” to fly in a seat to see what is really happening in the air. This takes away a revenue seat, but in the end is probably worth it if the airline can get rid of (or retrain) its poorly performing FA’s. The gulf between a good FA and a bad FA is really striking, and I don’t see the situation improving.

  28. As a retired AA Captain who has had numerous LOSA Observers on my jumpseat, I happen to think the program does what it says. It is anonymous both with who is working the flight and the flight number and date.

    When they first announced the program, every pilot ( including myself) was skeptical. But guess what? It works.

    We did review LOSA data in recurrent, which I found interesting and useful. It made me think. And it was more about trends and not individual flights.

    Perhaps the FA’s can point out to the tiny gallies and how they are a safety issue (I happen to think they are).

  29. Service and Safety are 2 different things. FA are there for safety. Those if you idiots commenting about poor service clearly need to learn the difference. If I was an FA your entitled whining and petty bitching would have me ignoring you to.

  30. LOSA is a normal occurrence within the airline industry. It’s not about the employee, but about the procedures that the airline uses. If deficiencies or concerns can be identified that might help with the issues of safety or improvement of operations is what LOSA is about. Poor company communications would help new employees to the airline industry understand this.
    It helps the airline adopt new procedures that can improve safety through an independent and confidential process..
    LOSA is beneficial for all involved in the airline industry.

  31. The scare mongering and lack of information and throw in the title….

    LOSA ain’t a snitching program. It helps identify unforced or forced errors…i.e mistakes that are consistently made due maybe lack of training or guidance or an error introduced because us being human we change tasks because of time constraints or other reasons.

    It’s utilized successfully with the cockpit crew for years with no one ever receiving discipline over anything. But has helped identify areas of improvement in safety. It’s glaring weakness is when it’s corrupted by management get glowing safety audits to help reduce insurance costs. In reality it actually benefits the employees more

  32. Here’s an idea. . .do the job your paid for and then you wont’ have to worry about being reported and you likely will get a raise (new contract).

    Quite do as little as possible and think you deserve to be rewarded for it.

  33. I saw the window was open last week but I needed to update my cover letter. The next day I went back to submit my application and it was closed! I will never make that mistake again, I will apply immediately.

  34. This is nothing new I worked for American in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was terminated for being a Disabled veteran. American has always encouraged snitches. It’s sad that this is still the corporate culture and psychology. It makes for a horrible work experience that breeds sexism and racism.that encourage employees to be cut throat with each other. This does not create cohesion of esprit de Corp but a very nasty work environment. Racism was rampant when I worked there and from the looks of it, not much has changeg

  35. LOSA is common among airlines. Usually, though, it’s conducted by a non-partisan retired airline employee specializing in specific aspects of the industry ie, training, maintenance, etc.

  36. Even though it’s a BS program, staff shouldn’t have to worry if they’re doing everything correctly. Airplanes are the top place I want safety to be followed to a T. It’s like being followed by a cop. As long as you’re not breaking the law, you have nothing to worry about.

  37. If the AA flight attendants don’t like this, get a new job! The flight attendants in this country (especially at AA) moan and complain about everything that might make their performance better. That why they suck at AA. Period.

  38. @Jorge El … +1 . Well said . By the way , being a disabled veteran you get a thumbs up !

  39. Stop hiring by skin color and only apply merit based practices and you wont have to worry about junk like this.

  40. Pilots have had LOSA for years now. Competent pilots have nothing to worry about (as should competent FAs). No one is 100% all the time and these observers take information back to training, identify trends in performance that could lead to issues and contribute to policy or training that solves the potential issue before metal is bent.

  41. Just a thought…why not staff the aircraft with an additional flight attendant instead of someone watching the safety protocols.

  42. I’ve been observed by a FA in this program at American Airlines and all they did was sit in the cabin and observe what was going on, and briefly interviewed each of us and asked about what our safety concerns are. It wasn’t a big deal. And they emphasized that there were multiple legal agreements in place to ensure our identities were kept safe.

    Stop making news over nothing Gary. Focus on the contracts the FAs at multiple airlines haven’t been given. .

  43. We pilots have LOSA audits all the time. It’s a good way to identify issues and rectify them without getting up in everyone’s business. Most of the volunteers are fellow peers and always get a good laugh out of things we complain about. It’s also a good time to get opinions about what the training department needs to focus on, or their short-comings. On the pilot side, it’s super-confidential as the FAA is big brother watching the COMPANY making sure personal info isn’t released. I think it’s a great way for risks and hazards to be identified.

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