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Don't even consider flying American to Shanghai

Posted Mon August 24, 2009 4:22 pm, by Wesley R. written to American Airlines, Inc.

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I recently had very poor service on a flight from Chicago to Shanghai, July 18. The flight attendants were all rather old women. This may be a product of union rules, but it made me feel unsafe when you consider the possibility of an emergency. While this may be a desirable "reward" route, they weren't very friendly. One was so obese that she ran into my shoulder nearly every time she went up the aisle during the 13 hour flight, and never once apologized. Another turned off my overhead light without asking. The final straw came when one addressed my wife as "YOU," when it came time to raise the seat back for landing, not "Ma'am," not "Miss," certainly not "Doctor." This would be shockingly rude service even from a teen at a fast food place. Are they taught to assume that Asian-looking passengers can't speak English well enough to be offended? This was the absolute worst airline service I have ever received.

If this crew is at all representative of senior flight attendants at American Airlines, then they need to send them all back to be completely retrained. Better yet, go out of business and free up a route for a competing airline that knows how to serve passengers.


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by Wesley R. Posted Tue August 25, 2009 @ 5:01 PM

I was inspired by the intensity of the defense to do a little
research. The respondents have made it clear that I personally don't
know rudeness when I see it.

Of the airlines offering Chicago to Shanghai service, only Asiana is
rated a Five Star airline by Skytrax. Seven others are rated at four
stars: Korean Air, EVA Air, All Nippon Airways, Turkish Airlines,
Lufthansa, Air France, and British Airways.

Here comes the big surprise, American Airlines comes in at three
stars, for "poor or less consistent standards of Staff Service." Their
rating on JD Power was identical.

Wouldn't a little training help with the inconsistency? Just sayin'


by RedheadwGlasses Posted Tue August 25, 2009 @ 1:48 PM

Do you know why you had "older" flight attendants with American
Airlines? Because they haven't hired new flight attendants in 20
years (told to me by an AA flight attendant the last time I flew).

You seriously think some hot young thang who's 22 is going to be
better at handling an emergency than a 50-year-old woman who's been
doing that kind of work for over two decades? I don't think so.

And I don't think flight attendants are the only profession that can't
tell that someone's a "doctor" just by looking at them.


AWESOME POINT! the seasoned staff knows how to handle themselves in a crisis. a young inexperienced person might panic instead n/t by PepperElf Tue August 25, 2009 @ 2:51 PM

You need to be fit to handle a crisis. by Wesley R. Tue August 25, 2009 @ 4:17 PM

so you've personally tested each employee on their capability to handle emergencies then by PepperElf Tue August 25, 2009 @ 8:26 PM

However... by Just Jeffrey Wed August 26, 2009 @ 9:00 AM

So I guess.. by Harleycat Wed August 26, 2009 @ 10:14 AM

I agree that they're bitches by RedheadwGlasses Wed August 26, 2009 @ 1:20 PM

You just reminded me of something by Venice Wed August 26, 2009 @ 4:30 PM

you know.. personally... by PepperElf Wed August 26, 2009 @ 6:58 PM

Something you may not know by RedheadwGlasses Wed August 26, 2009 @ 8:45 PM

by batmoody Posted Tue August 25, 2009 @ 12:17 PM

You think it's ok for you to assume these women can't do their job
because they are old, but how dare they assume you can't understand

Obviously, if a flight attendant had to tell your wife personally to
put her seat back, she didn't hear or understand it on the speaker.

And how in the world would a flight attendant know your wife is a
doctor. Not that it matters. On a plane she should be treated like
everyone else.


by PepperElf Posted Tue August 25, 2009 @ 12:15 PM

i wasn't aware airlines were suppose to scan the passenger list to
pick the doctors out

is it actually on her tickets?

and i don't see where the age should be an issue
if the airline judges them capable of performing their duties....
should they be fired just because they "look old"?

as for "YOU"
that all depends on the context in which it was used.

and how do you know they did it because she's asian?


by Just Jeffrey Posted Tue August 25, 2009 @ 7:11 AM

It's remarkably bad business to teach your crew to be rude to Asian
people when their route is to China. I have to imagine that there are
more Chinese and Chinese-ancestry passengers on such a flight than,
say, to Senagal.

Let's be clear: your charge is not that this particular flight
attendant was showing her own racist tendencies. Your charge is that
airline's training program includes the instruction to their employees
to be actively racist towards a decent sized group of their customers.


Compare and contrast by Wesley R. Tue August 25, 2009 @ 4:22 PM

There's a difference betwen a customer service problem... by Just Jeffrey Tue August 25, 2009 @ 5:59 PM

by RowdyRetailer Posted Tue August 25, 2009 @ 1:03 AM

I need YOU to raise your seat back to the upright position.......hmmmm
sounds fine to me.

I need the Doctor to raise your seat back to the upright
position........unless you wearing a stethoscope around your neck, how
is the flight attendent to know you are a nurse, or better yet a

Good Day


Or by Just Jeffrey Tue August 25, 2009 @ 7:04 AM

Is anyone else picturing by Fungramma Tue August 25, 2009 @ 10:11 AM

I was actually thinking of the scene... by Just Jeffrey Tue August 25, 2009 @ 1:07 PM

by olie Posted Mon August 24, 2009 @ 10:32 PM

I'll admit right now that I have not been on a plane that is large
enough to fly from Chicago to Shanghai.

My latest flight was 2 seats on each side of an aisle. The aisle
appeared to be just wide enough to accommodate the attendant's
cart--much less anyone weighing more than, say, 150 lbs.

As for addressing your wife with a title: How in the world is anyone
supposed to do this without insulting someone? I know I was not
terribly happy to be addressed as "Ma'am" when I was 25. But "Miss"--
I was married, thank you, at 22.

And, really, did the flight attendant KNOW that your wife was a

The main issue here: Did you get to Shanghai safely?
That would be my big concern.

After that: Did the toilets work? Could I breathe without a mask?
For a13-hour flight--were you offered some type of non-alcoholic
beverage? I assume you *knew* that the flight would last 13 hours, so
you had your own snacks.


What type of aircraft were you on? by Nate. Mon August 24, 2009 @ 11:23 PM

The best I can find is that it was a CanadaAir Regional Jet by olie Tue August 25, 2009 @ 11:31 PM
by Even Steven Posted Mon August 24, 2009 @ 6:11 PM

Maybe she assumed that your wife didn't understand the captain's
announcement, which is always made before the flight attendants walk
the aisles repeating the instructions. You ask if they are taught to
assume things, but you seem to be doing a bit of that yourself.
Good luck finding that mythical airline that no passenger will ever
complain about.


"Unicorn Airways #371 now boarding to Happyland" by Chadg Tue August 25, 2009 @ 8:17 AM

Good luck at rationalizing rudeness by Wesley R. Tue August 25, 2009 @ 4:32 PM

I was only speculating on why your wife needed to be personally reminded. by Even Steven Wed August 26, 2009 @ 3:47 PM

by Nate. Posted Mon August 24, 2009 @ 4:50 PM

Did you personally witness anything that would lead you to believe
that they would be unable to perform properly in the event of an
emergency. Just because they were "rather old" does not mean they
cannot perform their job functions. That is ridiculous. The issue of
the obese woman is not too convenient, but the aisles are narrow.
Maybe she wasn't aware she was bumping you. Were other passengers
being bumped around as well?

Maybe there was a reason for turning off the light - was it while you
were getting ready to land? Usually everybody has to put everything
back to normal such as seats, windows, etc. prior to landing. Was it
possible you missed an announcement instructing you to do so?

As for addressing your wife as "you", I doubt it has anything to do
with her status as a doctor, female, asian, whatever. Maybe she was in
a grumpy mood - I might be if I had to fly from Chicago to China...
While it is unacceptable, I highly doubt it was racially driven.


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