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Old Aug 10, 2010, 6:05 AM
stevicus stevicus is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: TUS
Posts: 34
Default Why has service deteriorated so badly?

Hello, I just joined after reading an article about a flight attendant who wigged out on a flight, opened up the slide exit, slid out, and drove home. There was a link to this site. I quickly became interested in all the different complaints, as these are things which I've noticed about flying over the past several years.

I did a lot of air traveling when I was younger, back in the 70s when my parents were living at opposite ends of the country. I just remember that the service was better back then. I can't say that I've experienced any of the horror stories that many people have posted here, but based on my own experience, I'm not really surprised by them either. It's just the callous, uncaring attitude that I noticed more than anything else.

Personally, I can't say that anything horrible happened to me on any recent flights: I paid the fare, got to my destination in one piece, and got my luggage back undamaged. They did the minimum of what I expected without any major incident or problem, so I guess I can't make any official "complaint" in that respect. It's just that the overall experience was pretty negative from a customer's point of view.

I suppose what really bothers me is that, if I get "attitude" or bad service in a store or a restaurant, then I can easily make the choice not to go back there again. That's not really the case with airlines, because there may not be that many choices available, especially if you live in a smaller city which is only served by a few airlines. Realistically, there aren't a lot of choices available. If you already have arranged travel plans and a set schedule, then it's not that feasible to just change airlines at the drop of a hat. It's even more of a problem if you're 2000 miles from home and in a strange city. You're stuck there, disoriented, and all you want to do is just get home. You just have to sit and take their guff because you don't have any other practical options.
Old Aug 10, 2010, 6:55 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

Great article. I especially like the part where he grabbed a beer on his way out. That guy will be a legend at JetBlue for the way he left.
Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
Old Aug 10, 2010, 10:59 AM
flysometimes flysometimes is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1

I was astonished to read the NYT article about the flight attendant escaping from the plane ( It has come to my attention that flight attendants are just not happy people; they have to herd people into the plane, tell passengers what to do and also do safety checks.

A lot of times it's the passengers who are idiotic and make the jobs harder for the flight attendance. I have witnessed so many passengers forsaken safety concerns for selfishness such as standing up prior to seat belt sign is off to get the bag so they could get out of the plane faster, blocking the corridors which is technically a work space for flight attendants, etc.

We just have to act more civil!
Old Aug 10, 2010, 2:53 PM
cortney cortney is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 288

we talked about this on our flight from LEJ-DFW today. and this guy did what so many of us (im sure all of us) wanted to do at one time or another. i think this guy was having a bad day, was hit in the head with the bag, told the pax to apologize (from what another new story said, he wouldnt appologize) and the flight attendant blew up about it. but we all LOVE that he grabbed a couple beers and down he went lol. our instructor told us at the beginning of training "if you blow a slide, grab your stuff, go down and run, because you'll never work here again". but dealing with passengers out of JFK are tough (did summer flying from JFK-MBJ)...thats why i love the company i work for. troops never complain!!
Old Aug 10, 2010, 3:18 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

Just about everyone on the ticket counter I was just at, was applauding the guy. The plane was still moving, the passenger was in the wrong, cursed out the guy, then hit him with his carry on luggage. The guy snapped.

I read a book once called "Plane Insanity" by Elliott Hester. He used to be an FA on American Airlines. The passenger fist fights, drunks, yelling, and generally holier-than-thou attitude finally got to him to, though he left in a more normal and approved fashion.
Old Aug 10, 2010, 8:24 PM
Jetliner Jetliner is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 495

The flight attendant should not have done what he did, but neither should the passenger.

People sit around and say they don't understand why service has gone downhill and why complaints are up. It's a complex issue, but there are a couple key points that I saw over the years. The first is people just like this passenger who think they are above the rules. And it's not just the airlines, you see this everywhere. But for some reason people think that they now have the right to treat the agents however they want to. So imagine working an 8 hour day with flight delays and there is nothing you can do, and having people treat you like it's your fault alone.

And I still am good friends with many of the people I worked with who are still out there on the front lines. There are many good examples of this crap. Yesterday one of them had a lady come up about to read him the riot act because security had turned her around to go back and check a bag. Apparently in all her time of flying nobody had told her that her purse was a personal item and counted. So with that and two other bags she could not go through. Granted that sort of thing is loosely enforced, but that is the TSA, not the airline.

On the side of complaints, I don't think the number problems has increased over the last 15 years as people think. What has changed is the number of people who complain. The biggest reason why is that 15 years ago you didn't have email and online complaint areas. You had to actually make the call or write the letter and put a stamp on it. By then many people cool of and don't send it. How many complaints today start with something like "as I sit here at the gate...."

Another big issue is people don't take personal responsibility. Example: I had more than one occasion working the baggage claim where someone would be there from the wrong airline and should have been on the other side of the airport. That can happen, but the problem is these people would get upset and start cussing me out. I actually had one that was starting to get physically threatening. Why? I didn't walk you down there. It's not my fault you can't read the sign.

Also I don't get the complaints where people just insist that no boarding announcements were made and they got left off of the flight. Yet somehow everyone else magically knew it was time to get on the plane. And this guy is the only one who got left. But they still insist they were at the gate in time (couldn't have been in the bar where I just saw you walk out of...)

And I know that some of this sounds bitter, but again, you try working in those situations where people do that to you and you will get bitter.

It's also amazing what people want compensation for. They want their full ticket refunded because someone looked at them sideways.

I think as has been said that the JetBlue flight attendant did what many of us have been tempted to do. Doesn't make it right, but the increasingly bad attitude and treatment by the passengers over the years has done this to the agents. Do I blame the passengers? Damn right I do. I have seen so many agents who started out on the job happy as can be and happy to come to work, only to be soured over the years. It used to be that people would dress up to fly and such. Now it's all Greyhound with wings.
Old Aug 10, 2010, 8:46 PM
oldschoolflyer oldschoolflyer is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1

While I agree with many of your points about passengers becoming more defiant and demanding, I think you need to blame the airlines for creating the monster in the first place. It's the airlines that have allowed the level of service in the industry to drop to the current levels.
Where it used to be a privledge to fly on an airline, as you state, it's now just a glorified bus ride. Who's fault is that? It's not the passengers. Airlines have allowed mediocrity to become OK......and they back that up by telling everyone who will listen how low their fares are. As a result many of the employees have taken the attitude of "well of course our service sucks, look at how little you're paying."
Eventually you get what we have in most of the complaints on this website....pax getting frustrated at poor service and employees getting frustrated at passengers having the audacity to complain.

Our expectations of service levels have creeped to all time lows. Until there is a change in this trend airlines and passengers will continue to be at odds with each other. One trying to give as little as possible and the other trying to get as much as possible. Unfortunately a no-win situation.
Old Aug 10, 2010, 9:17 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

Part of it is due to the creeping cancer started by SWA, but a large part of it is the new rudeness that is prevalent everywhere.

But I gotta address the behavior of some (not all) of the passengers. They grew up in the cyber-age and have a hard time in the real world. You know the real world. That place where you`re not hidden by the assumed anonymity of a computer screen, where you interact with real live people. Where if you do something stupid, say something stupid, you will have real consequences to pay.

It's a part of the overall rudeness that has become the norm. Because the interwebz is a part of mainstream life now, and people can act as they will, they forget how to act in the real world (REAL WORLD: See above)

For all, you get what you give.
Old Aug 10, 2010, 9:49 PM
Cynthia Cynthia is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 3

As with Stevicus, I too arrived at this site via the NY Times story about Steve Slater. While here, I did a little clicking around to read some of the complaints. What a window into current attitudes among the posters!

I am shocked at what some people consider to be "poor service." Minor inconveniences, so-called rudeness, unprovoked yelling by FAs (I'm skeptical), mechanical problems/delays (Hello? Would you want to find out about this inflight?) it never ends! Some of these people sound like prima donnas raised as hot-house flowers.

I am not a frequent flyer. Doing a quick tally, I've probably flown a couple dozen times in my entire life on various airlines, but I have never experienced anything that I would consider bad service. Perhaps I'm one of the lucky few, although I'm more inclined to think I am one of the average majority.

I tend to agree that airline policies contribute to frazzled flyers and FAs. God forbid, they should provide more leg room, better quality seats and refrain from packing their customers in like sardines. Plus, charging for checked baggage? What a crock!

However, there seems to be an ever-growing feeling of entitlement with passengers. Too many people demand 4-star service for cheap fares. Where is this coming from? Were they all spoiled rotten by their parents? Is the gov't (taxpayers) their major source of income and health care? I don't want to get into a political discussion, but I really do feel that this has something to do with it.

And now we have TSA policies to deal with - some logical, others ridiculous. Certainly to some extent, as far as both sides are concerned, the events of 9/11, "the flying imams", the shoebomber and the underpants bomber have added to the general anxiety of all.

All I can say is, I have nothing but respect for those who spend a majority of their waking hours in an airplane. It must be an extremely difficult job and I'm amazed more airline employees don't go off the deep end like Mr. Slater!
Old Aug 11, 2010, 2:14 AM
stevicus stevicus is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: TUS
Posts: 34

I can understand it when customers become rude or unreasonable, it can put an employee in a bad mood. Some customers are pretty nasty. I just saw a video of a woman who punched out two fast-food employees and broke a window because she couldn't get her Chicken McNuggets. It's insane out there. I don't know what it is.

Personally, though, I don't go looking for trouble, and as I said, nothing really horrible happened to me. It's just that my impression is, all other things being equal, mediocre and unfriendly service seems to be the rule with airlines these days. Most of the time, I try to be nice. I smile and say, "How are you today?" But more often than not, I get a sour expression where they're just going through the motions.

At least speaking in the passengers' defense, the thing is, when we get to the airport, we don't know what the heck we're doing. Apart from the old pros at air travel who fly weekly or monthly, many of us do this maybe once every couple of years, so right off the bat, there's feelings of confusion and a wee bit of anxiety (perhaps more, depending on how nervous someone might be about air travel). Carrying all this luggage around, trying to figure out which line to go to check in. Long lines. Waiting. Pushing your bags a few feet forward every minute or so. Only 2 or 3 people working to check-in passengers, while most of the other workstations are closed and unstaffed.

In situations like this, it never fails. You see several people checked in rather quickly, and then, there's invariably one couple or group which seems to take a long time. You're standing in line, waiting patiently for your turn, while somebody is holding things up with what appears to be some sort of irregular procedure. Sometimes, they have to consult with their coworker who is taken away from his job of checking in passengers, holding things up even more. Then, they make a phone call and then somebody else who looks like a supervisor comes out, and they talk some more. I just don't understand it. Most people are checking in in 1-2 minutes, while someone has to take 10-15 minutes. I used the self-service terminals they have there, but you still have to hand off your luggage to somebody. It doesn't seem like it should be that complicated.

So, after you get through the check-in, you're a bit relieved after lightening your load, but a little more worn down due to the lines and aggravation. Then, comes the security checkpoint, which can produce even more confusion, anxiety, and aggravation. I agree that they're necessary and they're here to stay, but they can still raise one's level of aggravation and stress. And again, the lines are long. You have to take off your shoes, empty your pockets, go through the body scan. Then everyone is huddled in some corner putting their shoes back on and gathering their belongings. (Some airports provide benches for people to sit on while they put back on their shoes.)

Then, you walk quite some distance to your gate while you sit and wait for the boarding call. Hopefully, it'll be on time. But even before you get on the plane, your aggravation level might be a bit higher than it would be in most routine situations.

When it comes to carry-on bags, I only carry one bag which fits nicely under the seat in front of me, but I see people bringing in these rather large bags which they're having trouble getting into the overhead compartments, and taking an inordinate amount of time in doing so.

And then...there is...the seat. I'm 6'4", so I have to crouch down, squeeze into the seat, and then try to find my seatbelt which is invariably stuffed in between the cushions. I can't get comfortable at all, because there's no room. So, I decide to grin and bear it, since there's nothing I can do about it. Still, even before the plane takes off, I'm thinking to myself, "I can't wait until this is over." On the last flight I was on, the guy next to me kept taking his shoes off, and his stinky feet kept drifting over to my side. But I still kept my cool. I couldn't get too mad at the guy, since he was just as cramped as I was. Still, it was pretty unpleasant overall.

I can understand that with the economy and other business-related factors, they have to start charging for the extras that we used to get for free. I truly understand that and can even sympathize. I'm perfectly willing to pay, but all they had was some kind of snack package which wasn't very appealing. The flight attendants weren't mean or unprofessional, but again, they just didn't seem too happy. I don't think any of them smiled once.

So, from the passenger's standpoint, we have to deal with confusion, anxiety, aggravation, minor irritation upon minor irritation. Most mature adults can still contend with it and get on with their lives, but it's still not a happy experience. People who might be less stable or a bit intoxicated might not be able to contend with it so easily and end up blowing a fuse.

Maybe there's a certain psychology that comes with this. I often feel, when riding on an airplane, as if I'm in some kind of temporary "alternate reality." Just the constant high-pitched hum from the engines can make it hard to hear what the flight attendant is saying or the captain's announcements over the intercom.

Then, the flight finally lands, but you can't get out until everyone unloads their carry-on bags from the overhead compartments. So you have to wait some more. You have to navigate through a strange airport to either try to find your connecting flight or the baggage claim. They're not always that clear about which baggage claim you're supposed to go to, so that can be a bit confusing and aggravating. Then you have to wait for your bags, which can sometimes take a while. By this time, you're just totally drained.

I think for some people, particularly if they're used to being in control of situations, it's hard to not be in control and essentially at somebody else's mercy. The airline employees have the upper hand, since they generally know what's going on, while we don't.
Old Aug 11, 2010, 4:04 AM
Butch Cassidy Slept Here Butch Cassidy Slept Here is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Nearest Airports: COD, BIL, WRL
Posts: 577
Default Sky Nazis and their “stripes”

If the only negative image one ever had of a flight attendant was when it related to an f/a going bonkers over safety or other relevant issues (ie: intoxication) I don’t think we would have ever heard of the term “Sky Nazi.” The fact is there ARE flight attendants, based on media accounts; postings on this board, and elsewhere, who manage to turn a plane into a flying police state and succeed in making Iran look like a liberal democracy. What does “safety” have to do with denying a female customer boarding because the f/a feels she is “provocatively” dressed? Then there are the “write-ups” some f/as apparently live for: A grandmother who won’t delete a cell phone video, a customer who says they will write a complaint letter, and again, shall we not forget American Air’s “Helen The Orange Juice Lady.” So why, praytell, should we all be in a rush to kiss some f/a’s butt when he does something he can’t lie his way out of?? During Mr. Slater’s (the JetBlue f/a) “perp walk,” an arrogant smirk was very much in evidence. “What I did was a big joke and nothing will happen to me” appear to be his thoughts. Perhaps if Slater has to do six months in jail he will get the message that his f/a job (or former job) does not immunize him from criminal prosecutions and the penalties. Mr. Slater’s anger over a clear violation of safety rules may have been appropriate. However his subsequent behavior and demeanor suggests he has been taking considerable delight in making the flights of many completely miserable for no good reason.
[B][I][COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial Narrow]We HATE to fly--and it shows![/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial Narrow][/FONT][/COLOR][/I][/B]
Old Aug 11, 2010, 1:43 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 20

Butch, no one is questioning the safety violations, I do think customers are sick and tired of seeing other customers/passengers/guests "breaking the rules" and "thinking it's ok"
Dammit don't we all wan't to be out of that flying tube the minute the wheels hit the ground? Call someone on our cell phone even though waiting five minutes will not change anything?
People believe they are "entitled" to do whatever the hell they want wherever the hell they want to and those of us with some decency and consideration who sit back and follow the rules are tired of seeing it.
Maybe next time the entire plane should just start unloading the overheads while the seatbelt is on.
I am NOT excusing his behavior but I and other passengers UNDERSTAND IT.
Old Aug 11, 2010, 6:44 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

Excellent post Stevicus. Through listening, I have found that a LOT of the slowdowns in the check in line (the people that take 15-20 minutes) is because they either booked multiple legs of a flight with different airlines themselves, or booked through a 3rd party like Orbitz. And something got missed.
Old Aug 11, 2010, 9:15 PM
stevicus stevicus is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: TUS
Posts: 34

Originally Posted by INTLGIRLY View Post
Butch, no one is questioning the safety violations, I do think customers are sick and tired of seeing other customers/passengers/guests "breaking the rules" and "thinking it's ok"
Dammit don't we all wan't to be out of that flying tube the minute the wheels hit the ground? Call someone on our cell phone even though waiting five minutes will not change anything?
People believe they are "entitled" to do whatever the hell they want wherever the hell they want to and those of us with some decency and consideration who sit back and follow the rules are tired of seeing it.
Maybe next time the entire plane should just start unloading the overheads while the seatbelt is on.
I am NOT excusing his behavior but I and other passengers UNDERSTAND IT.
Personally, I wish that people wouldn't bring so much carry-on baggage into the plane. It just holds things up even more when it comes to boarding and deplaning. It's also more hazardous, as people can get hit in the head with these heavy cases. The airlines indirectly encouraged that by charging a fee for checked baggage, so now people are trying to get around that by bringing in as much carry-on as they can get away with. I just carry one small bag with me, enough for a laptop and papers. I don't even need to use the overhead compartments, and I can just grab my bag in two seconds and be out of there.

And yes, I'm sure ready to get out of that flying tube as soon as I can.

For that reason, I don't generally use my cellphone until I'm off the plane, but I notice that a lot of people do. I think some people might be addicted to their cellphones, and going without it for a couple of hours might make them jittery. As for me, my only thought is going outside for a smoke.

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