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american airline Head Flight stewardess bullied and harrassed couple and then kicked them off plane

Discussion in 'American Airlines' started by Rex, Mar 1, 2017.

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  1. Rex

    Rex

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    On Feb. 11, 2017 my husband and I were catching a connecting flight from Philadelphia to St. John, USVI. We flew in from Boston and were delayed getting to Philadelphia by arriving approximately 10 minutes after scheduled departure time. When we arrived at the gate of flight 1165, the plane door was closed, but since there were a number of people on the Boston flight and no additional flights leaving that day, American Airlines flight 1165 reopened the plane. We had purchased 1st class tickets since we were celebrating retirement and an early birthday. The ticket counter staff were extremely rude, ripping up our tickets with no explanation and issuing new tickets and rudely telling us to get on the plane now. As we boarded the plane the whole flight crew was rude telling us to quickly take a seat. We told them we had 1st class tickets and one particular stewardess said “not anymore, keep moving”. We were told to take a seat wherever, but since everyone had a boarding pass with a seat assignment, there was mass confusion. As we took our new seats, the lady sitting next to us informed us that the Head Stewardess upgraded the people who were originally next to her and gave them our 1st class seats. I went up to first class and kindly asked if I could speak to someone in regards to our seats. That person informed the Head Stewardess that “This lady has a problem”. I was surrounded by 3 stewardesses. I immediately said I just want to ask if I could have the seats that we purchased. The Head Stewardess then proceeded to tell me” If you have a problem or are unhappy then you can get off this plane”, cocking her head towards the door. She then said “you were late and your lucky that you got on this plane”. I told her that we were not late, that American Airlines was late in getting us to our connecting flight. That seemed to infuriate her even more and she began talking down to me and repeatingly asking if I was “happy”, because I needed to be “happy” if I was going to stay on the plane. I said” alright, I’m not happy but I will take my seat and I do not want to leave the plane”. I thought it was over when I returned to my seat, but 3 minutes later the same Head Stewardess came over to me and asked “if I was going to give her any trouble, and was I happy”. I was beyond shocked. She kept it up over and over until my husband, (who has status on American) told her to “chill”. She then left and another 3 minutes later the person who was attending the ticket counter got on the plane and told us the captain is making you leave this plane”. Shocked, mortified etc. we got our things and my husband tried to talk to the pilot and he rudely said “get off this plane”. My husband asked for the Head Stewardess name and she refused to give it. She had no visible identification on her, covering her name tag with her sweater, which I now believe was worn on purpose. As we were exiting the plane, the Head Stewardess gave us a “bye, bye” wave.

    In conclusion, we could only assume, that either the flight and ground staff are extremely disgruntled employees, or perhaps having a “bad day” at our expense, could have been a racial issue (all of the ground and flights staff except for the pilot were people of color) or was it political???? This incident cost us well over $1,500.00 as we had to pay for the night we missed in st. john, a hotel room at Philadelphia airport and the cost of flying 2 people first class, never mind the emotional distress incurred.’ In our defense, we were only looking forward to a peaceful well deserved vacation and had no ill intent in our minds. We were celebrating retirement and an early birthday. We feel it’s important to get our story out there, because we really don’t want anyone else to have to go thru this truly awful experience. Lastly, the people who were upgraded to our 1st class seats, heard and saw the whole incident and did not voluntarily give us back our seats. We are seeking identity of Head Stewardess (I have a description of her), reimbursement of hotel in st. john, hotel at Philadelphia airport and want our advantage points back for lack of the upgrade. We are fearful that this employee has been given the power and OK from American Airlines to take down whomever she targets that day.
     
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  2. Mike Z

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Rex, I can understand the emotional component of getting removed from a plane or a bus or really anything that you feel you should be on. however, you need to look at things from a different point of view. You were indeed late for your connecting flight and American held the flight. This could have potentially impacted the earning potential that day of the flight crew or thrown off the next departing flight. Also, as the flight was closed out, the people rightfully were given upgrades. To ask that they be moved so you could have your original seats is a bit much. You then argued that you weren't late, but you really were. It doesn't matter why you were late, you just were. The crew of the next flight isn't interested in knowing all the details as they have a schedule they need to stick to and your last flight was causing them a problem.
    You say 'I told her that we were not late, that American Airlines was late in getting us to our connecting flight. That seemed to infuriate her even more and she began talking down to me and repeatingly asking if I was “happy”, because I needed to be “happy” if I was going to stay on the plane. I said” alright, I’m not happy but I will take my seat and I do not want to leave the plane”.' This seems a bit snarky to me and argumentative. Why not just say "nevermind, I'm good. Thanks for waiting"?

    In my opinion you should be due a refund for the flight they kicked you from. You can try for a credit or payment for the other expenses but I'm not sure the airline will see it your way. We have company contacts in a link above. just click there and find the AA contacts. Start by sending an email to customer service and if you do not hear back in a week go to the next contact and so on, waiting a week between contacting the next person in the chain.

    When you write you will need to shorten your message significantly and leave out the stuff you mention about it being a racial issue or a political one. Nothing you have mentioned would lead anyone here to believe there is any credibility to those remarks and so they don't support your case at all. In fact I would simply write that you believed the flight attendant was having a very bad day. (nothing about a power trip please) You need to be as polite as possible and avoid accusing the employees of having an agenda or being biased.

    Good luck with your appeal.
     
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  3. sas80

    Staff Member Advocate

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    @Rex you were not refunded the value of your ticket for the flight which you were asked to deplane? If not, you should definitely contact American, via email, succinctly explain that there was a misunderstanding, and ask for a refund.

    Hindsight is 20/20. If you desire even more compensation from American, it might be wise to explain that, after speaking with a few people, you now realize the protocol that occurs when a flight is delayed and, had you been previously educated, you would have known that acquiring your initial seating arrangements was out of the question, and you would have been grateful that the plane simply waited, putting the on-time status of the route in jeopardy for you both.

    Good luck!

    @Mike Z I'll take a virtual long island iced tea :)
     
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  4. Christina H

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    Sounds like an unpleasant experience.

    I have some questions -- did you purchase a first class ticket or did you use an upgrade via miles (you wrote "want our advantage points back for lack of the upgrade"). Did you end up flying to St John the next day? If so in what class and airline?

    it is very rare that an airline reopens the door to accommodate late arriving passengers, even when the delay is no fault of their own (your case). The flight had closed out, upgrades given, standby passengers (if any) seated. The staff wanted everyone to sit so that the plane could take off soon -- there may have been issues of crew timing out or needing the gate for another flight.

    It is not uncommon for gate agents to rip up an old boarding pass, that is so no one is confused -- it was happened to me when I have been upgraded -- so there is nothing to read in that situation. And when trying to rush the accommodate the late arriving passengers, the emphasis may have been on speed and not niceties. That is not the time to ask people how they are, the priority is getting the flight out.

    What I think is problematic is that this is a flight sequence that is sold with a connection of what, 45 minutes in PHL? I get so annoyed with these unrealistic connection times that are sold by the airlines.

    I agree that all speculation as to what was going through the mind of the flight attendant is not helpful.

    What were your actual costs? Did you have to buy a new ticket to fly to the USVI? I am a little unclear on that.
     
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  5. AAGK

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    I am 100% with Rex on this. The airline should pay her for the room in St John and the airport room and refund the tickets. It should also contact her to apologize and let her know she is welcome on the airline and it appreciates her loyalty.

    I understand that the airline does when people are not at the gate on time, etc, and how seats are given away. I just don't care as I have always found these policies concerning.

    The story begins where Rex approaches the FA to ask for her original seats. That sounds perfectly reasonable. I would ask the same. The FA then went crazy, as Rex was not "lucky" she got on the plane. The airline made a business decision that it would be cheaper to hold the plane, rather than book hotels, arrange new flights, deal with bags, etc. Rex replied that she was not happy but she wants to stay on the plane. That is an excellent response to an idiotic question. Unfortunately, psycho FA could not let this go and decides to waste more time and cause more delay bc she then goes to this pax's seat to continue her harassment. Insisting a pax repeat some phrase is abusive and a colleague should have told the FA to take a time out.

    I will assume not everyone at this airline is insane and that the FAs upgraded folks before the decision came down to hold the plane. This must have only affected a handful of people as first class ticket holders who were also on the delayed Boston flight. The LW paid the airline for the seat so it either sold it again at a discount or moved up some elites. The airline should not have done that and allowed the first class pax to take their booked seats. It must have taken far more work to shift people out of assigned seats then to just leave everyone where they were. I hope that the LW gets reimbursed.

    Also, If the seat poacher was in earshot and didn't offer his free upgrade back, he is not a nice person.
     
    #5
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  6. Rex

    Rex

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    yikes, this is mean!!. Isn't the job of a flight attendant is to be courteous and helpful? Your twisting everything.
     
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  7. Rex

    Rex

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    omg, thank you with all my heart. I have never had a problem with any flight crew in my life. thanks for validating. I was bullied, targeted and harrassed. And yes, actually I could have kindly gone up to those poachers and asked if we could please have our seats back, but I thought I should go thru appropriate channel.
     
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  8. Kate C

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    Okay what happened to you was bad but in my opinion, you lose credibility by calling the people in what had been originally your seats poachers, they didn't take your seats, they were told by the flight attendant that they were being upgraded. Settle down a little with your invective. If the shoe is ever on the other foot and a FA upgrades you, are you going to refuse the upgrade? Also why are you bringing race into this? Your own recital of the facts does nothing to support that and it further undermines your credibility.

    I don't think asking politely about the seats was a mistake but I also think that at that point people had been upgraded into them and if the flight attendant was being difficult, you simply do as you are doing and request a refund for the first class fare as you didn't get the benefit of that.
     
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  9. mmb

    mmb

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    I can only speak for myself, but I think my initial reaction that they were indeed opening the doors to admit late passengers would have been a huge relief to me. After all, I had a lot to lose if I wasn't on that plane.
    When told I had lost my first class seats, I think I would have been disappointed but immediately would have gotten over it and just have been happy to be on my way AND feeling that the diff in cost would be refunded to me, eventually.
    How often have we read on this site, that the doors, once closed, NEVER open?
     
    #9
  10. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    If you have not boarded the plane by the time printed in your boarding pass, you are late and your seats are given away.

    It sounds like you did not have at least 2 hours in between your connection. Am I correct? That is where you made your mistake. Never book a connection with less than 2 hours in between connections.

    Had you done that arriving 10 minutes late wouldn't have mattered and you would have had your first class seats.

    In the future always leave 2 hours or more in between connections.
     
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  11. Grandma

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    Just a couple of thoughts.
    Airlines, GAs, FAs etc. have the right to move, upgrade, downgrade any passenger at any time for any reason. Even if those passengers were on time.
    Passengers are required to seat on their assigned seats. (That can be other than the booked ones.)
    Those passengers were not poaching your seats. They sat on their assigned seats.
    When doors first closed, passengers were already buckled up, luggages, carry-ons stored. At the time when they reopen the door there is no time for "musical chair" game.
    GAs usually tear up replaced BPs.
    FAs wearing sweater not to conceal their names, but because they had to stand at the open door during (de)boarding. (On that day the weather was pretty cold in Philly.)
    FAs are not required to give their names to passengers.
    It is always the captain's final decision to remove passengers. (But you have not requested his name.)
    You are entitled to get back your points you paid for the upgrade. (I assume they reacccomadeted you for a next day flight?)
    I do not want to defend or judge those FAs. I was not there, I do not know who said what, but there are always two sides of every story.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  12. Kahhss

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    When the OP talks about people "poaching" their seats, makes unfounded racial accusations towards the staff, categorizes literally every single person as "rude", suggests that FAs "take down" whomever they choose to "target" and purposely tries to frame standard harmless actions (like tearing up invalid boarding passes) in an exceptional negative light then it's difficult to provide reasonable advice because the complaint as written is not really credible.

    Let's break this down into its component parts with the facts that can be established:

    1. The original poster (OP) is late to the gate (not due to their own fault but that really isn't important) and the flight is closed.
    2. AA reopens the gate to allow these passengers to board (something that rarely happens).
    3. OP boards and is supposed to "sit anywhere" because the ground crew is trying to get the flight off the plane.
    4. OP then confronts the flight attendants in the front of the aircraft after boarding is closed (which generally means that everyone should be sitting down).
    5. Something happens during that confrontation that causes the flight attendant to have to revisit this with the OP at their seats. There ensues another confrontation.
    6. OP is removed from the plane.

    Now what is not clear is whether they ever made it to St. Johns, whether they flew first class on that trip and the costs incurred. But at this point it's tough to advocate without this being re-written in a form where further facts beyond the ones above can be established.
     
    #12
  13. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    This is a sad tale involving tension, frustration, anger, mistrust, being stubborn, ignorance, lack of flexibility, self-absorption and inability to see the whole picture. It happens far too often these days when flying is not an enjoyable activity, but something you put your head down and just deal with. I'm sorry it happened but happy that you made it to your destination.
     
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  14. AAGK

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    I'm surprised by the replies here. If the word poacher offends, then substitute another. If I received a free upgrade and then the folks who paid for the seats showed up and I heard them asking for them, you bet I would give them their seats back bc that's the right thing to do. Airlines screw pax all the time but that doesn't mean pax have to take advantage of that. I would feel awful sitting in a seat I didn't pay for and I would immediately offer it back. So maybe not a poacher, but a selfish and greedy seat hogger for sure.

    Also, I don't understand why no one is bothered that a woman was removed from a flight for absolutely no reason. The question she asked the FA was appropriate and reasonable. I still do not understand the answer and yes, I know what the rules allow. While the letter included some distracting info, it wasn't so distracting that I could not see that a pax was removed from a flight who should not have been. She deserves compensation. It was probably also humiliating.
     
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  15. AAGK

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    Also, the airline did not do these pax any favor. That is a naive assumption that I'm surprised to here from such experienced travelers. The airline made a business decision likely based on how much it would cost to deal with the displaced pax if the flight took off without them. Airlines have no problem slamming a door in someone's face when it wants to. If the FAs don't like it, don't take that out on the pax. Take it up with a supervisor. If this plane was in such a hurry, why waste time moving people's seats around. The latecomers could just hop into their f seats in front and the plane would take off. The end. The FA further delayed the flight when she approached the LW's seat and continued to harass her and have her removed from the plane. I still have not heard one reason why this couple was kicked off the plane. Maybe it was racial. I actually assumed the pax were African American and the FAs were white, but i didn't read anything in support of the racial theory so I disregarded it entirely.
     
    #15
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  16. mmb

    mmb

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    @AAGK -- to be sure -- you have only heard one side of this story so far.
    It's not like her fellow passengers created a ruckus in her defense.
    We just don't know the other side and apparently most of us have some doubts.
     
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  17. sas80

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    where'd @Rex go?

    As far as the upgraded passengers, it is highly unlikely that they received a FREE upgrade. It is more likely that they put their name on the list to trade some miles for the upgrade, and that is how they came by it. In that case I think it is perfectly reasonable for them to stay put. They did nothing wrong.

    I'm confused as to how someone in first or business class could hear someone in business or economy having a conversation about seats they didn't receive - unless the passenger walked the plane and sought out a flight attendant in the other class, and the conversation was a bit heated, and/or loud. We all know, in this post 9/11 era, you don't cause a scene on an airplane, not even a small one.

    In fact, free upgrade or not, if I were sitting in my newly upgraded seat, and I saw another passenger and flight attendant having a 'conversation' about seating, and I know myself and my newly acquired seats were involved, I am staying OUT of it. If they need my feedback, they know exactly where to find me, but I am not putting myself at risk by interjecting myself in any strangers conversation on an airplane that is seconds from taking off.

    Nope, not going to do it.
     
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  18. Kahhss

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    I think most people here understand the difference between being understanding/sympathetic towards a consumer and blindly believing everything that is written. The replies here reflect that balance.
     
    #18
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  19. AAGK

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    Sas, the LW said she did walk to the front of the plane to talk to the flight attendant and returned to her seat when directed.

    Kahhss, since we only have one side of the story, what is your theory about why this woman got thrown off the plane. Unless it involves danger to the pax or crew, the removal seems like an extreme abuse of power. The FA also delayed the plane further for everyone else. I hope she had a solid reason.

    I think airlines must report this data to the DOT. If Rex is still around, submit a request to the DOT under the Freedom of Info Act to see how the airline officially characterized the incident. The additional delay would have to be explained as well as your removal.
     
    #19
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  20. Kahhss

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    The airlines do not have to report this to the DOT. Reporting is at the discretion of the crew member. Only 79 were reported last year. Thus trying to chase a FoI request is going to be all but useless. The only reason they're reported is to get people put on the additional screening list, the no-fly list or subject them to the possible $25,000 penalty from the FAA for interfering with a flight crew. I would all but guarantee that this incident hasn't been reported. Rex would just be chasing her proverbial tail.

    If you'd like my theory on why they were removed feel free to message me. Speculating further would be a violation of the CoC.
     
    #20
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