It Goes Both Ways: Rude Flight Attendants and Passengers

We keep seeing articles about so-called rude flight attendants. A story from a year ago gave American employees top honors in the rudeness stakes while a new poll passes the crown to Spirit. But are these stories missing the big picture?

Flight Attendants – Rude or Busy

We contacted a number of flight attendants for their reaction and will update when we hear from them. But based on recent (and older) conversations with the men and women who work cabins in the sky, we know they’re tired of this image. All have told us again and again that their number one job is safety and what may seem like rudeness to some is simply a matter of overworked people just doing their jobs. And yes, some flight attendants have complaints about rude passengers.

Are flight attendants ‘too old’?

Flight Attendant Complaints

These are comments we’ve either heard directly or came across in recent news stories.

Passengers that don’t follow directions: Some flight attendants say a few passengers are entitled and, “They don’t do what we ask.” When flight attendants or pilots make a request, you must obey. Failure to do so could get you kicked off a plane.

Passengers that try to tip flight attendants: As a veteran pilot told FareCompare, airline employees are professionals: “When leaving the doctor’s office, you don’t say, ‘Nice job, doc, here’s twenty bucks,’ do you?” One flight attendant told us he was once offered a $100 bottle of Scotch, which was regretfully declined.

Passengers treat flight attendants like robots: Many flight attendants have told us that passengers rarely smile and some never think to say “please” or “thank you.” Worst of all, is the lack of eye contact, or so an anonymous flight attendant told FareCompare a few years back. “When I am greeting passengers during the boarding process, there may be a hundred passengers coming on board who are walking within inches of me,” he recounted. “Out of that 100, I’d say maybe only 10 to 15 of them will acknowledge me or simply have any eye contact. I’ll say hello, and get nothing back. Now I don’t say hello until I at least have eye contact.”

The solution to the rudeness dilemma – for both sides – seems simple enough to us and it begins with three little words: Do unto others. If you have a rudeness story you’d like to share, fire away.


Published: April 24, 2014