On Tuesday I wrote that American is encouraging their flight attendants to offer predeparture beverages in premium cabins.
It’s an ‘optional’ though desirable service element, in that flight attendants aren’t going to take the time to offer beverages if it delays a flight. A late boarding that’s done quickly for instance, the priority is an on-time departure.
But it’s certainly possible most of the time. Delta manages it consistently (and they have better on-time performance than American does..). Yet American flight attendants have been inconsistent at best at offering this.
You can call this a ‘first world problem’ and it is. When you run from one flight to the next you easily go 90+ minutes without access to a glass of water. Predeparture beverages are a nice feature of domestic first class. They’re appreciated when offered.
The good news is that American’s reminder in crew communications that “first impressions are lasting impressions” seems to be working — at least for now. Both my flights on Tuesday offered predeparture beverages. I was offered something last night as well — just water prepoured on a tray, but this was a flight that was 10 minutes late to board.
The less good news? The folks in the comments of my post identifying themselves as American Airlines flight attendants.
I will not serve pre departures till we are paid for boarding the aircraft
I’ve found that legacy US Airways flight attendants are more likely to offer predeparture beverages than American ones. Monique disagrees and points out that they’re now expected to do more service than they used to as US Airways (remember, US Airways elites were hungry). She said,
Yea first world problem…it’s really not that important. I can tell you as a US Airway FA based in Philly, we hate doing these PDB, most of you be so ungrateful. The AA FAS do it far more than we do, and this merger is a nightmare…they even want me be cooking meals in first class now, you should all bring your own food and drink if it’s such a big deal and stop whining like babies.
The most common themes in flight attendant comments were:
- They aren’t being paid until the door closes, so why should they do ‘extra’ work before then?
- American won’t offer profit sharing to flight attendants. If flight attendants don’t control profit, then it shouldn’t matter what service they provide.
- They’re often miscatered and that eats up time they could have served beverages.
Some of course just don’t like their customers very much and want tips. (Should you tip flight attendants?)
You bought the seat in 1st. The service is optional. FAs are on board to save your ass not kiss it. …Are there no drinking fountains or restrooms in the terminal? Why do people come on and want to use 1st class bathroom when it’s the right by the boarding door and extremely inconvienient. Because you are so self absorbed , you whine about everything. Walk a day in someone else’s shoes for a change. Tip your flight attendant. They make less than minimum wage working double the hours they get paid for. You tip the waitress that brings your food why is this job any different?
DP made an impassioned case that they have lots of priorities and that drinks aren’t that important (again, though other airlines’ flight attendants manage them also) and also offered that serving drinks and hanging coats aren’t part of their job, since in all of the training DP received “[n]ot one time have they shown me how to pour a drink or hang a jacket.” That’s sad if true.
To say the issue stirred passions would be an understatement. One response to a passenger commenter? “STFU you uneducated [expletive] MORON!!!”
A year ago I wrote about whether flight attendants deserve to be paid for time spent during boarding. Most people intuitively feel that they should. In a formal sense they may not be, but in a very real sense they really are paid for that time regardless of how the calculation is done.
Most flight attendants in the U.S. are represented by unions and the terms of their contract — when they are paid, how much, what kinds of expense allowances they receive (to name just a few items) — are intensely negotiated over long periods of time by specialists acting on their behalf. And each contract is a balance of costs, getting the most for flight attendants and those things their union has determined are most important, and ‘giving’ on those things they consider less important, as the airline looks to balance their total labor costs.
In other words, flight attendants and their representatives have carefully considered and agreed to the current method of pay in exchange for other benefits they receive and in exchange for the wage they’re earning for the time that is paid.
Although in fairness, some of American’s flight attendants — seemingly disproportionately represented in the comments here — don’t much like their union.
Definitely read all the comments.