United Cracking Down On Flight Attendants In Overhead Bins

United Airlines is cracking down on flight attendants posting photos of themselves online posing inside of overhead bins.

For the last couple of years flight attendants have been taking the #overheadbinchallenge – posting photos of themselves in overhead bins on social media. (The photos themselves have been happening for decades.)

The pace seems to have picked back up last summer after a Southwest Airlines flight attendant greeted boarding passengers from inside a bin, scaring some of them, with a video that was posted to Facebook.

Most of the recent photos seem to be coming from American Airlines crew.

According to flight attendant blog Paddle Your Own Kanoo United is instructing flight attendants not to post these photos anymore – or risk discipline.

Management at the airline has told flight attendants they don’t think posting these kinds of images on social media is professional and have demanded the practice stops.

For the time being, United has decided to avoid formal disciplinary proceedings for first-time infractions (although conversations will be recorded), repeat offenders could find themselves in a whole lot of trouble.

United has also instructed employees to stop posting the ever-popular photos of crew posing in aircraft engine cowlings.

It’s understandable that an airline wouldn’t want to have to take a maintenance delay if an overhead bin was damaged. And HR is certainly going to prefer to tell employees not to do it – it’s harder to sue the airline for an injury that way. On the other hand, heaven forbid a United Airlines flight attendant look like they’re having fun at their job… Last summer Southwest Airlines, for their part, backed up their flight attendant’s “brief moment of fun.”

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. If United would make greater efforts telling FA’s that being haggish dragons is not professional, that’d be great.

  2. Good! Southwest Airlines started this idiotic trend…flying is a serious venture! If you want to be entertained watch the movie or go to an amusement park! Truly unprofessional behavior! Yes, I am a United Airline customer for decades!!! Thank You!!!

  3. Thank You! Southwest Airlines started this idiotic trend…flying is a serious venture! If you want entertainment, watch the movie or visit an amusement park! This behavior is unprofessional at best! I am a frequent traveler and customer of United Airlines for decades! Thank You for putting an end to this absurd behavior…Southwest should follow suit….keep it PROFESSIONAL!

  4. Flight attendants can fit inside an overhead bin but Qantas insists on weighing by carryon bag under the guise of “aircraft safety limits.” Whatever haha.

  5. Never ever had anything but the top professionals on any and ALL of my travels with SOUTHWEST! I would be the first and fastest person calling them on it…and I’m in a wheelchair so I would dare them to say anything but yes-mam to me! Try me!!!

  6. Stop being fun suckers, relax it’s a tough job let them be human. Security is not being damaged by this.
    They could be doing much worse as a recent report on the challenges of this job attests to.

  7. I fly for United Express and embarrassed for these images. This does not represent the professionalism that I believe we should hold ourselves up to as flight crew.

  8. Tony the reason why carry on weights are important is due to the assumed weight of each passenger plus a bag. It’s not what the aircraft can hold…its weight and balance.

  9. jfhscott hit the nail on the head here. I don’t give a shit about how “professional” your flight attendants are. If they behave with manners, treat passengers like customers, and adhere to safety regulations (the last part they always already do) – then who gives a flying F about “professionalism”?

    “Professionalism” is the ideology of white people in the boardroom who feel they have to uphold themselves to some standard because they’ve already cheated on their wives and need to repent in some other dimension of life.

  10. Sorry, Jason, but you are totally wrong. To say “”Professionalism” is the ideology of white people” is not only ignorant, but also racist. As a professional scientist myself, I understand the importance of conducting oneself as a professional while doing ones job. It is about doing your job properly to the standards of ones profession, and for a flight crew that is largely about maintaining safety and setting a proper example for passengers. And while it may be “fun”, climbing into a luggage bin isn’t professional or smart.

  11. Sorry, Jason, but you are totally wrong. To say “”Professionalism” is the ideology of white people” is not only ignorant, but also racist. As a professional scientist myself, I understand the importance of conducting oneself as a professional while doing ones job. It is about doing your job properly to the standards of ones profession, and for a flight crew that is largely about maintaining safety and setting a proper example for passengers. And while it may be “fun”, climbing into a luggage bin isn’t professional or smart.

  12. Seriously they look pretty friendly in those bins and besides they weigh considerably less than the total sum of luggage that gets put in the bin on average flight. I think if they were posing pictures I’m putting it on the company website with the slogan the friendly Skies people should smile.. personally I get uncomfortable when people are uptight and stuffy like a Victorian librarian. I say let them pose in the bins! They deal with a lot of other stresses of passengers I should be allowed some time to unwind and build team spirit.

    Furthermore chastising this Behavior especially considering how lightweight most of the people appear to be in the photos presented I think to publicly admonish them is bad press for the airline given the image of the oppressive Airline! For the love of God nothing will it relieve stress and represent the company in a happy way!

  13. United Airlines has bigger fish to fry than a flight attendant taking a fun picture in a bin or engine .
    The airline is a mess – and needs to get there act together .
    UAL ranks close to the bottom in customer service surveys …. and management there is Atrocious !!!

  14. Most flight attendants at regional carriers, like United Express and American Eagle, are so grossly overweight, l doubt they could hoist themselves up there, nevermind squeezing themselves in.

  15. If only UA told their FAs to stop chucking water bottles at customers who DARE to ask for it, followed by a blood curdling stink eye…..

  16. How about they focus more on making each passenger put their one carry-on under their seats so others can use the overhead?

  17. @Jason inadvertently validates a point that is already obvious to many, although it goes unspoken: certain “groups” are generally incapable of professional behavior, so why expect it from them?

  18. Your flight has been delayed. 4 hours because a member of the flight crew was caught in an overhead bin. That member has been taken to a local hospital and we are seeking a replacement. There was also damage to the plane which must be repaired.

    Still think crew members need to act like 5 year Olds?

  19. Not one of these flight attendants are United employees!
    Gary Leff, why put United’s name on something that there aren’t pictures of?
    Where is your real source?
    These are the things that give United a bad name. Most flight attendants at legacy United are professionals!

  20. @Janet – I am not showing United employees because United employees face discipline for doing this, do you want me to highlight their photos? I’ve corresponded with United flight attendants over this.

  21. Well thanks for using photos of non untied FA’s for your article Gary. Thanks for using pictures without permission. I’ll have you know; my inbox has been flooded with hate speech, and racial slurs from a photo that was posted almost 4 years ago. Everyone has been reported to Instagram, but this shouldn’t have even happened.

  22. @No Name – I don’t think you understand how Instagram works. Public posts can be ’embedded’ in other media as described in Instagram’s terms. I did not “use[..] pictures without permission.” I’m sorry to hear your “inbox has been flooded with hate speech” I guess nothing on the internet should surprise me though I fail to see how that makes any sense at all under the circumstances?

  23. @Gary Leff – I sometimes see in the twitter or instagram comments section “Hi i’m a journalist with XYZ network, can we use this post on air?” So I can see from that perspective what ‘No name’ is talking about, however I agree with you 100% that a public post is public, damn it!

    It’s like asking your wife’s dad for her hand in marriage. It’s just going through the motions, it’s not really a request for permission.

  24. A fair and balanced article. Let them have a little fun for god’s sake. Another great article Mr. Leff.

  25. Once again Gary, I’m asking you to please remove the first photo and hyperlink from your article. Your story is made without using my photo. I don’t work for United airlines, and your article has been shared all over the internet with my face and picture from years ago. I expressed to you earlier the hate speech and racist messages I’m getting because of this post. Do you not care?

  26. Southwest tries another ‘cute’ trick (think annoying safety announcement) and others want to follow…I’m waiting to see a UA/AA FA try to get into a CRJ200 overhead. Should be interesting. I wonder when we’ll see a FA try to slide down the jetway bag slide….(shouldn’t give anyone ideas.)
    Speaking of FA professionalism, I boarded a mainland to Hawaii 737 flight yesterday, and one door FA was looking at his cell phone, and the other was snacking on something in the galley. Wish I had my camera out…the male FA did say welcome however….

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