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FA Calls Out Doug Parker Over “Super Bad” Travel Experience

FA Calls Out Doug Parker Over “Super Bad” Travel Experience
Jeff Edwards

An American Airlines cabin crew member used a recent employee Q&A session with CEO Doug Parker to raise some concerns about her recent trip as a passenger in the business class cabin of an international flight on the airline. The outspoken employee told her boss a gate agent’s rude reaction to emotional support animals left her wishing she flew Air France.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, perhaps deserves credit for his efforts to schedule face time with rank-and-file workers in the midst of mounting employee morale issues. Based on the frank comments American crew members have made at the regular roundtable discussions, the airline executive is either incredibly approachable or incredibly loathed.

In January of last year, a captain tore into the CEO over the uncomfortably cramped conditions in the lavatories of airline’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The dressing-down led the Parker to make the surprising admission that he had not personally flown aboard the then brand new planes. More recently, a flight attendant had no concerns about telling the American Airlines head honcho that when it comes to premium cabin service, the carrier’s standards “suck compared to United and Delta.”

This week, View from the Wing’s Gary Leff gave us yet another fascinating behind the scenes look at the latest chance for groups of American Airlines employees to meet with their CEO. Once again workers were not afraid to air their grievances in a very direct manner.

When a flight attendant highlighted the differences between recent off-duty journeys as a passenger on Air France and a similar trip on American Airlines, she summed up the experience succinctly, saying, “…we had super bad experience with American.”

The cabin crew member said she was surprised to receive a post-flight survey from Air France, but not from American. She also noted that the primary cause of her dissatisfaction was the way she was treated by gate agents who were apparently vocally displeased that she was traveling with not one, but two emotional support animals.

Parker seems to have learned a trick or two from his experience dealing with disaffected employees in recent years. Rather than addressing her animal companion-related issues head-on, he instead offered the most politically polished responses. “Our survey results do show us, particularly on international flights, other than 767s which are old, the product that we’re putting out there and the product that our flight attendants are delivering is as good as any international carrier out there,” Parker replied in the especially deft comments reported by Leff.


[Featured Image: Adam Jeffery/CNBC]

View Comments (22)


  1. Centurion

    June 25, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Something is so wrong on American Airlines I looked at shorting the stock. I looked up the price and it was already less than half of 52 week high so I skipped my short as it was to late. But something is very wrong. It is not just 737 max issues. Something is wrong and I can not figure it out. I am a legacy customer

  2. Icecat

    June 25, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    A flight attendant needs two emotional support animals? Maybe the employee needs to transfer to another position.

  3. DCAFly

    June 25, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    We don’t have the whole story – I wonder if the FA also travels with 2 emotional support animals when she is working her flights? She does use “we had…” in the quote so perhaps it was her traveling companion(s) who had the animals.

    Saying their international product is as good as another carrier suggests he’s a) stupid b) deluded c) a flat out liar. Or maybe d) all of the above.

  4. rjpjr

    June 25, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I hope the gate agent asked the passenger to produce the doctor’s (doctors’?) orders stating that two animals were necessary. Does the crew member fly with those animals when she is working? Of course, the need of a support animal in the cabin should not be a reason to exclude a person from working on a 77, right? But maybe on a ERJ.

    This incident is just beyond comprehension, Although I certainly get the AF/AA part.

  5. diver858

    June 25, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    AA Pilots, FAs have no one to blame but themselves for enabling Parker’s hostile takeover. If they think things are bad now, just wait until the next recession.

  6. fotographer

    June 26, 2019 at 1:46 am

    where is she taking her 2 “support” animals to? and why?
    better to let some of us question Mr. Parker

  7. alexmyboy

    June 26, 2019 at 5:02 am

    for once I am glad we have Delta in Michigan

  8. drphun

    June 26, 2019 at 5:47 am

    Didn’t the airlines or the FAA come out with a policy statement saying that more than 1 emotional support animal is never acceptable?

  9. jgriffin7

    June 26, 2019 at 6:08 am

    Emotional support animals are in no way protected under the ADA. Only service animals who are 1) required due to a disability, and 2) trained for a specific task. And FYI, those are the only questions that can be asked; no doctor’s note is required.

  10. trmoncrief

    June 26, 2019 at 6:10 am

    The whole emotional support animal is WAY out of hand.

  11. peterk814

    June 26, 2019 at 6:53 am

    This FA is off their rocker. So their job is flying around in planes and yet, she needs an ESA when flying for pleasure? Its high time the government got involved and banned ESA all together. If there is not a legitimate reason for you to have an animal due to a health issue (not mental health), you should not be flying period.

  12. Tecopa

    June 26, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Taking on airlines for service issues is about as daring an undertaking as local media doing stories about waste in government. If only shooting fish in a barrel were that easy. To suggest that there is any redeeming boldness and “empowerment” in complaining (to use an undeservedly mild term) based on not getting the validation you think you deserve as just one of many customers (likely deadheading and not paying a dime anyway) is just another spectacle in the Victim Olympics,

    There may be reasons to “call out” service issues, but not getting the ego massage you expect when you drag two “emotional support” animals on board isn’t one of them.

    Parker’s diplomatic response contained a message probably too inscrutably clever for most to pinpoint – it was a credible pitch for the company and its employees that by sidestepping the specific complaint delivered a backhand to the anonymous complaining employee, essentially a patronizing response to a petulant little snot throwing a temper tantrum. Perhaps he was trying to do a little damage control too – every flight we’re greeted with an indirect threat if we don’t listen to the instructions of FAs. Who is going to feel safe and confident that such instructions are in their safety interest when they come from angry entitlement who sees no problem bringing a zoo on board an aircraft as though there’s something somehow normal about that?

  13. KRSW

    June 26, 2019 at 7:14 am

    If an FA needs ANY emotional support animals to fly on a plane, she needs to be removed from duty, period.

    She obviously isn’t stable enough to handle the safety needs of the 100-300+ passengers on a commercial aircraft.

  14. zitsky

    June 26, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Crew was flying with ESA. Will they all fit under her seat or will they inconvenience another passenger?

  15. Disneymkvii

    June 26, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Agree with all the above. 2 ES animals? But i’m sure she doesn’t need them while working 40,000′ in the air. I’m hoping she gets fired now that he realizes he’s got a moron working for him. No way this woman increases the companies stock.

  16. MitchR

    June 26, 2019 at 7:44 am

    I would be the first to agree that some AA employees are in serious need of sensitivity training. That said I have also noticed that their employees who are travelling believe that they have some sort of super powers and are entitled to breaks not offered to even top tier passengers. On a regional flight from ORD to CLE three employees barged into the line ahead and took up most of the overhead space in the first five rows with their carry ons. I was taking a quick trip for a lunch meeting, had only a small brief case, and didn’t want to valet check it, as I needed to work on the flight. I was on the bulkhead in first class so under the seat wasn’t an option. I asked the FA to help me get some overhead space and the employees produced corporate ID’s and told me that they didn’t have to valet check their bags.
    Don’t even get me started on “emotional support animals” or the issues that come along with them, much less an employee needing two.

  17. crunchie

    June 26, 2019 at 9:22 am

    I find it hard to believe or sympathize with the FA based on this article. I’ve abandoned AA despite having >700K lifetime miles primarily because of poor service in recent years so I’m not an AA fanboy. However, FA needing 2 support animals to fly sounds really unusual right off the bat. Were they her’s or her traveling companion’s? If her’s, does she routinely have them when on duty? In the half dozen C and Y TATL flights with AF in last 18 months, I’ve not found AF to have a good soft product both in the air and on the ground. Is the FA just mad because the GA didn’t give her special treatment as AA staff or perhaps didn’t cut her any slack with the animals (e.g. your word is not good enough, show me doctor’s letters)? Is this just another case of a DYKWIA backfire and the vip is seeking retribution?

  18. mvoight

    June 26, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    So, if she really needs emotional support animals for non work travel, how does she manage when she has to work on flights?

  19. waterskifly

    June 26, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Lot of miles on American, recently somethings gone awry. Today both first class flight attendants were venting about how awful their company was, during our 4 hour delay.

    Maintenance issues continue to arise, broken / damaged seats more frequent. I still think they have the best pilots… but the goal is to get from point A to B… in one piece.

  20. EPtraveler

    June 27, 2019 at 3:54 am

    Everything you all say above, I agree 100%. I wrote FAA complaining about ESA’s. I was on a transcon AA flight and there were 5 dogs on board as ESA’s. As for AA’s employees, most of the legacy AA employees are pretty good. But, USAir has ruined the AA experience. I hear/read bad things about Parker. Yes, let’s get there in one piece and Yes, AA does have the best pilots. But, at my level (Key), AA is starting to disappoint in some major ways. Legacy employees and flyers like myself need to throw out our expectations. American as we knew it is gone forever.

  21. Allentown

    June 27, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Years ago i left a scathing review of AA and all i got on Flyertalk was post after post (probably from shills or points loyalist s) admonishing me for daring to insult AA. I guess i am vindicated now (Congrats, you guys caught up to 7 years ago).

  22. EPtraveler

    July 3, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Dear Allentown: I did the same, left a review of AA and I got the same….all these admonishments. So, I only read Flyertalk and try not to contribute. This is probably my 4th post since inception. And, I joined early…I’m on your side, brother!

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