Lack of professionalism from airline attendants reflects badly for customer service

Last week American Eagle flight 3823 leaving Kennedy Airport and heading to Washington, D.C. was delayed for hours because two flight attendants got into an argument just as the plane began to roll away from the gate. The flight was scheduled to leave at 3:10 Wednesday afternoon, but what should have been at the very worse scenario a 15 minute delay as the captain of the flight brought the contentious employees into the cockpit area for a private conversation and a reminder that employees are obligated to work together for the benefit of everyone’s safety and convenience, instead turned into a four-hour flight delay.

It seems one of the attendants had been on her cellphone as the other attendant told all of the passengers over the intercom to turn off their phones as the flight was preparing to pull away from the gate. That particular attendant allegedly chastised her working partner over the intercom thus embarrassing the other person in front of passengers, and one can only guess how quickly the situation turned into an ugly scene. There can not be an argument that the lack of professionalism from the two flight attendants could ever be rationalized. And as one passenger asked what ever happened to customer service or even the rights of passengers, it would seem that American Eagle had no idea as to the answer.

Let’s face it; had a similar argument ensued between passengers, someone would have been arrested, or at the very least been thrown off that particular flight. In this situation however, the plane turned around and passengers had to wait for hours while the airlines searched for a replacement crew. In the interest of customer service, why didn’t the airline split the two arguing attendants up; one could easily have changed from the front of the plane to the back of the plane, or better yet why weren’t the individuals mature enough to dismiss their verbal “hissy” until the end of the flight and all passengers had safely deplaned in Washington?

Adding to an already poor customer rating for scheduling delays and cancelled flights because of pilots calling in sick and crews filing maintenance reports, the Fort Worth based airlines owned by AMR Corporation who also owns American Airlines, continues to score low grades for customer satisfaction. In fact, in 2010 American Eagle was dubbed “America’s Meanest Airlines.” Ouch!

No matter what the industry or the government regulations, customer service is expected. In this particular situation the passengers all suffered. According to the airline’s press release, the employees were meeting with their supervisor the next day. Surely there should be acceptable protocol for disagreements between employees while on the job. Passengers suggested that someone should have pulled rank and ordered the attendants to proceed with their assignment in order to accommodate the paying customers.  Customer service should never be placed on the back burner in lieu of unprofessional behavior. Airlines owe it to their passengers to either ensure better training or perhaps sending these two employees packing their own bags and finding new jobs somewhere else.

2 Responses to “Lack of professionalism from airline attendants reflects badly for customer service”

  1. Jeff Toister said:

    Sep 26, 12 at 11:01 am

    You make a great point: the actions were committed by two employees, but the ripple effect impacted the entire plane (passengers and other crew members) and the negative PR focused on American Airlines as a whole.

    Is American Airlines really responsible? In the long run they are. Their bankruptcy proceedings have led to a lot of uneasiness among employees, which may have contributed to the argument and lack of professionalism. In an effort to run lean and mean, there are often no additional crews readily available to relieve attendants in a situation like this.

  2. køb fritidshus said:

    Sep 27, 12 at 8:13 pm

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