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Passengers arriving in the U.S. on an American Airlines flight from Mexico recorded their flight attendant threatening, “Darling, I can make it very difficult for you in customs.” The exchange reportedly followed a tense, racism-tinged conflict on the aircraft after the cameraperson’s elderly mother took ill on the flight, causing the crew member to become irritated.
American Airlines is doing damage control after a group of family members recorded their flight attendant threatening to make their immigration process difficult in retaliation for a testy exchange on the plane. The ugly incident took place following a flight from Mexico to the U.S.
As the short video clip posted to social media begins, the person taking the footage can be heard confronting the flight attendant about her behavior during the flight. The airline employee at first attempts to ignore the provocation, but then loses her temper and responds in a completely unprofessional fashion.
“You were very rude to us,” the passenger armed with a cellphone camera begins before other family members chime in to cajole the uniformed cabin crew member.
“Darling, I can make it very difficult for you in customs,” the crew member retorts with a smirk before the short clip ends.
To make matters worse, the family involved in the exchange says that the airline worker attempted to make good on her threat, by later urging customs officials to treat the group with suspicion. The family says the crew member’s actions on the flight were at least as disturbing as her attempted abuse of power on the ground. The large group of relatives (all of whom are of Asian descent), say that their request for some assistance related to their elderly mom’s health issue was met with an unexpected racist response.
“We tried to explain that my mother felt ill from the flight and tried to properly dispose of her throw-up and Carol’s response was ‘Oh please, I’ve been dealing with you people for 30-years,’” family member @LeleMarieC wrote in a later Twitter post. “My family did not expect that response, as we had nothing to do with her career choice and her hate for her job for that matter. As soon as she said that out of line comment I pulled my phone out to record. My family said we didn’t want to argue we just wanted her to understand the interaction and how she was incredibly rude. She proceeded to insult and threaten us which is what is captured on film.”
American Airlines officials appear to be taking the matter seriously and have promised to investigate the matter. The airline immediately issued a statement vowing that “Discrimination has no place at American.”
“In our culture, every interaction with a customer or team member should be grounded in respect,” the airline wrote in a near-instant response on social media. “Please DM your travel and contact info.”
In our culture, every interaction with a customer or team member should be grounded in respect. Please DM your travel and contact info.
It should be noted that following a flight attendant around the airport with a video camera (for whatever reason) is something akin to following your waitress home because she forgot to bring a side of ranch dressing. On the other hand, the flight attendant’s wildly inappropriate threat was completely inexcusable – no matter what provocation she had endured.
FlyerTalk members have their own strategies for the all too common problem of dealing with a grumpy flight attendant. In nearly every instance, the world’s largest expert travel community advises to simply avoid interacting with the testy cabin crew member. In situations in which passengers have confronted ill-tempered flight attendants, the end result is almost always that everyone involved loses.
Were these family members innocent victims of an unhinged airline employee or did they contribute to creating an unnecessarily tense situation?What is the best way to handle a rude cabin crew member? Is it best to simply avoid engaging with the surly airline employee or is ignoring rude, racist or unprofessional behavior only helping to propagate the problem? Flyertalkers are having a lot of fun trying to agree on all the right answers right now in the TravelBuzz forum.
An on-going strike by Eva Air cabin crew that began in mid-June has now just come to an end. Cabin crew at the carrier commenced industrial action over wages and working conditions. Talks between the union representing the crew and the airline collapsed this month, but an agreement has been reached.
After staging what Reuters reports as the longest strike in the history of the Taiwanese aviation industry, an end to the labor action by cabin crew at Eva Air has now been agreed, Taiwan News reports. A notice of the cessation of the strike was also posted on the airline’s website.
Cabin crew at Eva went on strike on June 20th and according to Reuters, the industrial action initially showed no signs of coming to a halt. The website stated that the strike has disrupted over 2,000 flights and affected approximately 405,000 travelers.
At one point, talks between crew members and the airline collapsed. Speaking earlier this month, Judy Hsiao, media liaison officer for the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union, which represents the airline’s crew, said, “The company is still delaying. We urge them to put down their prejudices and sign an agreement with us as soon as possible.”
Staged as a protest against wages and working conditions, One Mile At A Time reports that the airline and the union have at last come to an agreement. The strike officially ended on June 10th and the agreed-upon wage and working conditions will come into effect in January of 2020.
Passengers affected by the strike can seek out more information here.
FlyerTalkers are growing concerned about the unannounced changes being made to the American Express Membership Rewards program in the Netherlands. The Dutch Membership Rewards website now shows a limited number of transfer partners and charities where members can use points.
Is the American Express Membership Rewards program coming to an end? On the FlyerTalk forums, some are reporting serious changes to their options with the points currency – going from many transfer partners, to just two or fewer.
FlyerTalker StewieD was the first to notice the changes. In their experience, the number of transfer partners were limited to one airline partner or four charities. When they contacted the company to inquire about the changes, they claim a customer service agent said: “We have removed all rewards based on our customer input. You can still earn and collect points, and transfer these to charity.”
Adding to the confusion, some FlyerTalkers say nothing has changed for them. On the forums, janwillem writes: “I just logged in on the Dutch Centurion website and I could transfer to any of the usual partners.”
When we checked on the status of Membership Rewards transfers in the Netherlands, the options were indeed reduced to three partners: Air France-KLM Flying Blue, British Airways Avios and Radisson Rewards points. In addition, four charities still accept points as a donation to further their causes.
“It went from hundreds of options to a handful reward options,” StewieD wrote in a follow-up post. “I guess if you’re into booking points to hotel/airline you don’t mind, if you use the MR points for anything else, it’s all removed now.”
While the changes constrain how points may be used, some don’t see it as a life-altering event. FlyerTalker iamjessie offers: “The options that were available previously consisted mainly out of gift cards which were a terrible redemption anyway…I guess they were removed since nobody used them.”
Fortunately, these changes seem to be isolated to Europe. The only major change to happen to the U.S. American Express cards is the reduction of Priority Pass benefits to holders of The Platinum Card from American Express. FlyerTalk reached out to American Express to find out about the changes, but have not received a response as of press time.
Every Friday, FlyerTalk looks back at the week’s most charming individuals. While there are always plenty of contenders for our Worst Passenger of the Week column, only one lucky flyer can take home the glory.
Naomi Campbell very nearly made the cut for Worst Passenger of the Week after going public with her divaesque pre-flight seat sanitizing routine. Seeing evidence of a different inconsiderate passenger in action, however, it looks as if the former supermodel should instead be nominated as the “Smartest Passenger of the Week.”
A viral video of a flyer casually scrolling through the touchscreen in-flight entertainment options using his toe on a recent flight has proven surprisingly divisive. The footage posted on social media has been dubbed, “The worst thing that has ever happened on a plane” with some other tongue-in-cheek reactions calling for Interpol to deploy unprecedented resources to catch this particular scoundrel before his footprints cover every interactive screen in the western world.
Although public sentiment leans decidedly toward the “Yuck!” camp, there are (of course) contrary opinions. Despite the fact that the now-infamous air traveler does not appear to have any disabilities requiring special accommodations, there are those who vigorously defended his energy-saving, albeit unorthodox approach to in-flight channel surfing.
“This is not that big a deal,” one commenter wrote. “I would bet that the average hand has more germs than the average barefoot. It may violate social norms, but it is definitely not the worst thing that has happened on a plane.”
In another dissenting opinion, a frequent flyer suggested (quite correctly) that the onboard display pales in comparison to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 100 or the downing of Korean Air Flight 103 by a Russian missile. Apparently, a new low bar for behavior when it comes to commercial air travel has been set.
It appears that American Airlines’ recent maintenance and operational issues may have broken at least one passenger beyond repair. A flyer at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) was arrested following a cringe-worthy temper tantrum in response to a delayed flight.
Police say Felix Alberto Brandi-Rivera was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct after throwing the sort of fit at the gate usually reserved for a toddler. Footage of the incident shows the 38-year-old walking in circles, shouting at airline workers, knocking signs to the ground and at various points removing both his shirt and pants.
A fellow passenger who recorded the public meltdown, reports that the performance had been going on for nearly five minutes before she decided to start recording. Police say it took them about 2 minutes to respond once they became aware of the disturbance.
Unfortunately, his petulant protest did not speed the boarding process at all. Instead, when police arrived, the cranky flyer was handcuffed and led away from the gate, making it very unlikely he would reach his destination anytime soon (at least slightly worse odds than patiently hoping and waiting for the AA flight to depart).
Interestingly, stripping one’s clothes in response to unwelcome news for the airline has become something of a tradition at this American Airlines hub. In 2015, a passenger at the airport was arrested after calmly stripping completely naked to protest the fact that he had been involuntarily denied boarding on his overbooked flight.
Men who wear toupees almost always think their hairpieces look natural and they are almost always wrong, perhaps none more spectacularly wrong than this passenger arriving at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN). Police say the air traveler from Columbia was hiding 500 grams of cocaine worth an approximate $30,000 under his oversized toupee.
“Performing routine controls on arrival flights considered ‘hot’ the officers detained a Colombian citizen from Bogotá who had the appearance of a tourist on first impression but later attracted their attention due to his notable nervousness and the disproportionate size of the toupee he wore,” Spanish National Police said in a statement. “When proceeding with his identification, officers saw that underneath his hat, he was wearing a wig that because of its size prompted suspicions he could be hiding an illegal substance underneath it.”
In this case, it appears an alleged drug mule failed to keep the contraband under his lid, causing a hair-raising discovery by customs officials. Photographs released this week of the suspect attempting to tease his way through an immigration checkpoint show that neither a professional blow-out nor a crafty buzzcut would have helped to conceal this powdered wig from detection.
This would-be smuggler likely made one last check in the mirror of the lavatory before disembarking and thought to himself, “No one will be able able to tell.” The suspect then confidently showed up at the customs checkpoint wearing what looks very much like a dead rabbit humping a large bag of cocaine.
Once again, leaders from America’s largest carriers are taking their problems with Qatar Airways to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. President Donald Trump met with the chief executives of several carriers on Thursday, July 18, 2019, over their concerns with foreign airline investments.
The chief executives of the world’s largest airlines spent Thursday, July 18, 2019 at The White House, once again discussing airline investments and their legalities. Reuters reports President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with the top leaders of several airlines, to discuss the state of international aviation today.
In attendance at the meeting were the leaders of American Airlines, cargo carriers Atlas Air and FedEx, JetBlue and United Airlines. The outspoken leader of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al-Baker, was also present, marking one of the few direct meetings between the executive and his American counterparts.
The rivalry between the “American Three” and the “Middle East Three” dates back to 2015, when the American carriers alleged their Middle Eastern counterparts accepted billions of dollars in illegal subsidies disguised as state-ownership investments. In 2018, the United States made agreements with the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as a result of the open skies debate, promising more transparency in accounting practices.
One of the topics reportedly on the agenda was Qatar Airways’ 49% purchase of Air Italy. Cabinet-level members have expressed concern over Qatar’s investment and the addition of new flights between the United States and Milan.
Although White House officials did not provide details on the meeting, The Partnership for Fair and Open Skies is declaring a victory for the American carriers. In a press release, partnership managing partner Scott Reed thanked the president for his time, and added: “We had a productive meeting with President Trump today to talk about the importance of American jobs and not letting foreign governments break their agreements with the United States.”
On the opposite side, U.S. Airlines for Open Skies presented opposition to the Fair and Open Skies Act of 2019, introduced by the U.S. House of Representatives’ aviation committee. “This unnecessary bill only invites retaliation by our international Open Skies partners, with the flying public shouldering the greatest consequences,” the group said in a press release. “We strongly oppose this legislation and urge Members of the House and Senate to do the same.”
Delta Air Lines is collecting more data on its customers than ever before and airline officials say they have learned some surprising lessons as a result. For one, the carrier says that the industry-wide belief that passengers only consider price when choosing an airline may have been grossly overstated.
Delta Air Lines knows a lot of information about its customers – more than just knowledge gleaned from passenger surveys. The company has data about everything from meal preferences to when a particular passenger is willing to pay for extra amenities or simply choose the very cheapest, most basic fare available. Airline officials say this unprecedented access to data has taught them that the conventional wisdom indicating passengers tend to book the lowest priced airfare regardless of the product offered may be wildly misunderstood. Delta says a full 60% of its passengers considered a number of factors other than price when booking flights.
“We have all the data points from every step in your journey and we use that data,” Delta CFO Paul Jacobson told attendees of the CNBC @Work Human Capital + Finance Summit in Chicago on Tuesday. “We’re looking at a level of precision in the business that we’ve never looked at before, and a lot of that comes down to the psychology of the customer and understanding what each leg in the journey makes the customer feel like.”
The legacy carrier has managed to turn this newfound understanding of its passengers to its advantage. The airline has carved out a profitable niche that its closest competitors have yet to successfully match.
“I think when you look back and say what was wrong with this industry 5 or 10 years ago is we all thought that it was a race to the bottom and that the only thing that mattered to consumers was having the lowest fare,” Delta President Glen Hauenstein told CNBC News.
Earlier this month, Delta announced it would begin reintroducing some once traditional cabin amenities, such as multi-course dining service, complimentary welcome drinks, wine and cocktails for international economy class passengers. The airline said it will even once again offer hot towels in the main cabin.
“This is about investing in every single customer who chooses Delta, no matter where they sit on the plane,” Delta VP Allison Ausband said in a release announcing the new service standards. “The thoughtful touches we’re investing in throughout the new Main Cabin experience were designed by flight attendants with one goal in mind — delivering an exceptional experience that our customers will rave about and one that our team, the best in the business, is proud to deliver.”
EasyJet passenger service staff at London Stansted Airport (STN) have stated that they’ll be striking on July 25th for 17 days. The dispute has arisen due to a disagreement over pay and working conditions of staff at London Stansted Airport. EasyJet has said that it has contingency plans in place.
EasyJet passenger service agents at London Stansted Airport (STN) have announced that they will begin strike action at the facility on July 25th, The Mirror reports. The agents, who are employed via a contract with Stobart Aviation Services Limited, are taking part in the industrial action as part of a pay dispute. The strike is set to last for 17 days.
According to a statement by Unite, which represents the staff members, “The workers are angry over the company’s refusal to pay wages in line with similar companies at Stansted; its refusal to recognize Unite as a trade union for collective bargaining purposes; and a breakdown in industrial relations.”
Offering his comments, Mark Barter, the union’s regional officer, said, “Our members work unpaid overtime, experience staffing issues and lack basics, such as drinking water during their long shifts, while being paid up to 20 per cent less for doing the same job as their counterparts in other companies at Stansted. This unacceptable situation has only been compounded by the attitude of bosses at Stobart Aviation Services who have refused to fully honor the trade union recognition agreement that carried over when our members transferred over from Menzies about a year ago.”
“We hope that Stobart Aviation Services will do the right thing and avoid the possibility of strike action by engaging meaningfully with Unite to reach a deal on pay and trade union recognition,” he added.
EasyJet, however, has said that this action will not have an impact on its services. “We will continue to engage directly with Unite in order to deliver an agreement,” it stated.
A passenger traveling from Cleveland was heartbroken after his backpack went missing while he used the restroom. Police tracked down the bag using surveillance cameras but discovered an airline cabin crew member had picked up the bag and brought it with him on his departing flight. When questioned, the flight attendant offered a dubious explanation for his actions.
A passenger at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) breathed a sigh of relief this week when police reunited him with a carry-on bag containing his driver’s license, passport and wallet. The results of the police investigation, however, should give the flying public pause.
“My wallet’s in there and my passport,” the despairing passenger can be heard telling officers in police body camera footage. “Oh God. Everything.”
According to a report by Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW, after viewing airport security camera footage, the missing carry-on bag was tracked to a flight attendant who had already boarded a departing flight. When the airline employee was questioned as to why he was in possession of the passenger’s belongings, the crew member gave a highly suspect account of his actions. Bodycam footage obtained by the television station shows the exchange between police and the flight attendant.
“Well sir, I saw an unattended bag,” the unidentified airline worker offers as an excuse. “I was gonna give it to the gate agent.”
Cops didn’t appear to buy the dubious sounding explanation.
“So, you’re gonna take an unattended bag,” one of the investigating officers challenged. “You don’t know what’s in it. And you’re gonna take it onto a plane that’s going somewhere with all these people on it?”
In the end, police declined to arrest the crew member and instead suggested that the victim contact prosecutors if he wished to press charges. The extraordinarily lucky flyer had to rush to catch his departing cross-country flight before he could consider that decision.
In this case, it turns out the victim had, in fact, left his personal items unattended while he visited the restroom. The story appears to have a happy ending for everyone involved. Not only did the careless flyer discover that nothing was missing from his bag, but he also managed to catch his departing flight just in the nick of time.
The grateful air traveler took a few precious moments to properly thank police before dashing to make his plane. “Can I give you a hug?” he can be heard asking officers in the footage.
KLM has caused controversy after it advised that breastfeeding women may be asked to be covered to avoid offending other passengers. The controversy was sparked following a Facebook post by a passenger, who claimed that a crew member tried to get her to cover herself with a blanket while nursing.
KLM has provoked the ire of customers after stating that breastfeeding women may be requested to cover themselves while traveling with the carrier in order to avoid causing offense to fellow travelers, The Guardian reports.
The controversy began after Shelby Angel, a passenger on a recent Amsterdam-bound flight from San Francisco, posted on Facebook that she was asked to cover up with a blanket while breastfeeding her daughter.
Quoting an excerpt from Angel’s account, the outlet reports that she felt “uncomfortable and disrespected” when the member of cabin crew offered her a blanket. She went on to state that she always breastfed her daughter with discretion and made a formal complaint to the airline.
Angel’s post prompted criticism via Twitter and the company responded by saying, “Breastfeeding is permitted at KLM flights. However, to ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.”
In addition to being noted by FlyerTalk forum users, the incident also prompted members of the public to query the breastfeeding policies of other carriers. For example, the outlet reports that British Airways stated that it doesn’t have an official policy with regards to breastfeeding, but stated that any passengers who wish to feed their child should “please speak with one of the crew when you are board”.
Offering her comments on the incident, Ayala Ochert of campaign group Better Breastfeeding, said, “In their effort to avoid offense in the tiny minority of people disturbed by the sight of a child feeding, KLM has instead chosen to offend a mother trying to feed and nurture her child.”
Shereen Fisher, the chief executive of another campaign group, Breastfeeding Network, stated, “The recent poor treatment of a KLM customer who happened to also be a breastfeeding mother is another disappointing example of how treating people badly is not only bad for business but perpetuates a myth that breastfeeding in a public space is likely to invite controversy.”
In a statement, the carrier reiterated its policy, saying, “We would like to emphasize that breastfeeding is permitted on KLM flights. However, we strive to ensure that all of our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on-board.”
FlyerTalkers are debating the curious case of an individual who claims they were “misinformed” about their flight options with American Airlines. The passenger says they spent over $3,000 on tickets to attend a wedding, accusing American’s customer service agents of giving him bad information. But as forum members pointed out, the devil may have been in the details.
Spending over $3,000 on a non-premium, domestic ticket would be enough to send anyone into a fit of rage. But one flyer is trying to accuse American Airlines of deliberately forcing him to pay that amount in airfare, alleging a campaign of “misinformation.”
The original post detailing the accusations was written by Panama Jackson of The Root and subsequently commented on by One Mile At A Time. According to Jackson’s post, his troubles began after booking a basic economy flight for him and his wife on Orbitz from the Washington, DC area to Dallas for a wedding. But after purchasing tickets, he discovered the ceremony would start within minutes of the original flight’s scheduled touchdown.
After one phone call with American, Jackson claims a customer service agent agreed with his assessment that he needed “to buy a new ticket to get there earlier.” He did just that, purchasing a second one-way ticket to arrive in time for the wedding, with the understanding that they could get home on the return leg of the original flight.
Post arrival on the one-way flight and one hour before the wedding reception, Jackson writes he received an e-mail from Orbitz informing him their original itinerary was canceled. This is where the writer claimed to be “a victim of the ‘no-show’ policy that American Airlines, and many other airlines, employ that states if you miss the first leg of your flight, the rest of your ticket is canceled.” After speaking to American on a profanity-laced phone call, he states there were no other avenues of recourse – he would have to purchase a new flight home, putting the total amount spent on flights at over $3,000.
Was Jackson a victim of misinformation from American agents? Or did he misunderstand the terms and conditions of his ticket? In American’s conditions of carriage, the rules are clear: “Tickets are valid for travel only when used with all terms and conditions of sale. Your ticket is valid only when: Travel is to/from the cities on your ticket and in your trip record, [and] You meet all the fare requirements.” In addition, American’s conditions of carriage prohibit any ticket that exploits fare rules, including: “[Purchasing] a ticket without intending to fly all flights to gain lower fares (hidden cities),” or a ticket to “Combine 2 or more roundtrip excursion fares end-to-end to circumvent minimum stay requirements (back-to-back ticketing).” If the rules are broken, American may “Cancel any unused part of the ticket,” or “Charge you for what the ticket would have cost if you hadn’t booked it fraudulently.”
While Jackson did not intend to defraud American, the rules clearly state that if he intentionally misses the first leg of the flight, the airline can cancel the entire ticket without refund. In this situation, American – and the alleged comments of the customer service agents – would be correct.
FlyerTalkers agree that while Jackson’s situation was unfortunate, the problem may be due to a lack of understanding of the details. On the forums, AAdamE writes: “Seems like it all boils down to what the phone rep actually told him which we do not know. Did they tell him you need to book a new “flight” OR “trip/itinerary?” Sounds like he isn’t really detail oriented so I wouldn’t be surprised if he misunderstood what was being told to him.”
FlyerTalker freeagent agrees that not understanding details did not play into his case: “I’d be willing to bet that the victim was unclear of the differences between ticket and flight.” Meanwhile, mvoight is more sympathetic to the customer service agents than the writer: “I do not think it is up to the phone agent to answer every question not asked. He bought a ‘ticket’ for his entire trip. He was told he needed to buy a new ticket. The assumption should be to buy a whole new ticket.”
And AA100k, who books over $25,000 in American airfare annually, offers this advice to future flyers: “When you spend a lot of money on an unchangeable ticket you’re playing with fire. The [American agent] probably neglected to tell him that he would forfeit the whole itinerary if he skipped the first part and I can see how that could happen but I don’t believe the [American agent] was trying to screw him over.”
The lesson to be learned here is clear: before booking any ticket, double check your travel dates, the event dates and any other pertinent details. Otherwise, trying to change it all may come with frustration and unanticipated change fees.