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American Airlines

TV Legend Publicly Shames American Airlines Flight Attendant

TV Legend Publicly Shames American Airlines Flight Attendant
Jeff Edwards

Film, stage and television star LeVar Burton used his fame to make American Airlines regret treating him shabbily on a recent flight.

Airline passengers have come to expect a sometimes-less-than-cheerful approach to customer service from certain legacy carriers in North America. Those wiling to spend a bit of extra money on premium cabin seats aren’t immune to a seeming disinterest in passenger comfort either, but when a slighted passenger has nearly 2 million followers on Twitter registers a complaint, company officials tend to sit up and take notice.

On Sunday, LeVar Burton, beloved host of the popular television show Reading Rainbow took to social media to read the riot act to American Airlines. The star of Star Trek: The Next Generation let his fans know that he was “in no mood for disrespect” from American Airlines.

Burton first tweeted about his frustration shortly before his flight from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) departed Sunday evening. “@AmercianAir after paying for two 1st class seats and being unceremoniously bumped back to business, I’m in NO MOOD for disrespect!” the actor told his followers.

Later, Burton, who is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Kunta Kinte in the award-winning miniseries Roots, further explained his dissatisfaction in a later post which singled out a specific American airlines employee. “Yes, I’m referring to you, flight attendant manning the boarding door on @AmericanAir flight 2225!” Burton wrote. “Your attitude leaves MUCH to be desired!”

Just moments before the flight’s scheduled departure, the star took one last shot at the surly airline employee. “To the flight attendant on @AmericanAir Flight #2225, who when asked for a blanket said, ‘Put on a sweater, Honey.’ Not funny or helpful,” Burton posted.

At this point, the American Airlines social media team took an interest in the matter and requested that the actor make contact with them on a slightly less public forum. “@levarburton Can you please meet us in DMs with your record locator, LeVar?” the airline said in a friendly and helpful sounding tweet. “We’d like to look into this further.”

View Comments (41)


  1. milesandmoremiles

    June 12, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Another clueless celebrity trying to recapture past fame. how could he be bumped down to business class on the flight that’s only has two classes service?

  2. thesaints

    June 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Maybe he mistook Coach for Business…

    Anyway, isn’t he a lot more best known for Star Trek than for Kunta Kinte ?

  3. Chuckles

    June 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Some of us older farts still think of ROOTS first when we think of LeVar 🙂

  4. JetBunny

    June 12, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    @milesandmoremiles the equipment was changed to a plane that has 3 classes of service, with pods in business class. However, they were actually OK with the seating – it was how they were treated and spoken to by the FA that was the issue.


    June 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Isn’t that flight currently being flown by a 787?

  6. Dawn Menzie

    June 12, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Since noneof you have obviously ever purchased first class tickets I can understand your ignorance. First of all they purchased first class tickets, which are substantially more expensive than coach and in many cases more expensive than business class. So yes, how can you bump someone, who has spent a chunk of money, and bump them down to less expensive seats? So you know, there is a difference between first class and business class!! Mr. Burton is not a clueless celebrity, he taught most of your kids how to read!!!


  7. Lakeviewsteve

    June 13, 2017 at 9:03 am

    If he is so special why not fly in a private plane or on his broom?

  8. fly747first

    June 13, 2017 at 9:16 am

    As someone already stated, this was a 2-class aircraft. AA only offers 3-class service on JFK/LAX/SFO and the daily 77W MIA-LAX flight. Also, it’s kinda funny he refers to AA as American Air, haha.

  9. ucfjoe

    June 13, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    I think was a equip swap to 77W. Three class. I’d be a little annoyed if I were him. What if he was Row 1 and then reticketed to Row 7?

  10. tacostuff

    June 14, 2017 at 2:19 am

    @fly747first: What you said is not true. There are other routes that sometimes have three-class aircraft. For example, JFK-BOS often has a three-class A321. AA may not always sell this route at three class, but I have been on this flight many times and it does exist. It wouldn’t surprise me if ORD-LAX has the occasional three-class aircraft too.

  11. BigBossman

    June 14, 2017 at 11:22 am

    It has been a 788 everyday back to at least 3 June:

    There is no “First Class” on this flight, just lie-flat business seats (Pods) and economy + and –

    Maybe Mr. Burton is the one that needs to clarify his statements first.

  12. John Aldeborgh

    June 14, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    In my opinion anyone who has been as fortunate a LeVar Burton should be more accommodating than the average person and not take out his rage on normal working people. Maybe he woke-up on the wrong side of the bed or had a fight with his partner or who knows what. The same is true of the FA. This nonsense, to me, and summarizes everything that’s wrong with Social Media.

    Find me a person who hasn’t been subjected to this kind of experience at some point in his life. This will most likely result in the FA being fired and his/her life ruined. Is that really fair – I hope not, or we’re all doomed.

    I only hope the people condemning the FA are given the chance to be judged so harshly and publicly in their job performance, at some future point in their careers. What’s fair is fair.

  13. bigbuy

    June 15, 2017 at 3:24 am

    Never heard of the guy.

  14. rjlon

    June 15, 2017 at 3:36 am

    Looks like equipment change to a 3 class 77w. On 2 class routes business is sold as domestic first. In which case he wasn’t bumped. Looks like higher status pax got lucky. No one needs attitude but why should someone expect better treatment because they acted in some TV shows? Surely all pax should be treated courteously?

  15. Travel & Leisure

    June 15, 2017 at 3:38 am

    What’s all this negativity about? I too, buy first class seats. The reality of getting an upgrade went away a long time ago. Regardless of where he was moved to, he didn’t get the seats he thought he paid for. Not only that, he was poorly treated by the FA when he asked for a blanket (or it could have been a water, go to bathroom, or whatever). FA should say what they have to offer and not suggest what they don’t have (the sweater).
    He should have had a boarding pass with his seat marked on it. If he wasn’t in that seat at takeoff and the equipment was the same as it was when he got the BP, then I hope he did get all of his money back and a chunk of miles into the account.
    BTW, some people think AA is Alcoholics Anonymous, not American Airlines, so saying American Airlines makes sense. Just saying….

  16. arcticflier

    June 15, 2017 at 3:48 am

    Why is it necessary to immediately aire any grieveance on social media instead of simply contacting Customer Sevice?

    Am I the only person left who treasures privacy in the digitsl age?

  17. arcticflier

    June 15, 2017 at 3:50 am

    I don’t know how America can still be accused of racism…I remember back when getting bumped down from First to Business would have fallen under the category of, “White People’s Problems”.

  18. stevens397

    June 15, 2017 at 3:52 am

    US used to make truly crappy cars. Then a large influx of imported cars started coming to our shores and the US industry realized they had better get their acts together – and they did. I imagine the same will be true in the airline industry. Open up routes to good foreign carriers who know how to take care of its customers and watch how customer service will suddenly become a priority.

  19. skyken

    June 15, 2017 at 3:55 am

    American Air is an abbreviated form of American Airlines and the company will investigate. If found in favor of Burton, the FA will at a minimum be subject to additional training up to firing as you would expect if she grossly negligent or disrespected.

  20. SamirD

    June 15, 2017 at 4:06 am

    Having been bumped from a premium cabin to a lower one because of an equipment change, i know the inconvience. It alsotook almost a month and several followups with aa to get a refund of the fare difference.

    So in the midst of what is supposed to be a relaxing flight, the additional stress of being treated rudely is not welcoming at all. Sure, it rough for all involved, but if youre taking liberties with that as an excuse to not do your professional duties,, then reporting such actiivites to a higher power is an option.

    The Internet has allowed factual information, so matter how small, to be released publicly ie published. This can be used maliciously as we all know, but it can also be used as a check and balance for those abusing their powers or not doing their job.

  21. izzyizzo

    June 15, 2017 at 4:14 am

    “I spent more on my flight than my FA makes in a week! This can only be better if I publicly shame her.”

  22. GordyUK

    June 15, 2017 at 4:27 am

    on the plus side, AA responded within an incredible 8 minutes.. If that had been BA, they may have responded 4 days later, giving the weather at LHR and to have a nice flight 😉

  23. drabnosiop

    June 15, 2017 at 4:31 am

    Why so many snarky comments about Burton? He wrote respectfully after being treated shamefully, as is a revered airline custom these days.

  24. JimVan

    June 15, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Oh, the humanity! I guess a has-been actor needs to catastrophize his first-world problems to get some attention.

  25. Pavane

    June 15, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Perhaps he sensed–rightly or wrongly–that there was a racial profiling reason he was asked to move vs. someone else?

  26. sperkins921

    June 15, 2017 at 5:37 am

    I find it humorous that many are saying that because he’s a celebrity he shouldn’t have tweeted or should be ‘more accommodating’. He didn’t say “do you know who I am?”. He PAID for 1st class. He was bumped. Whether to coach or to business does not matter. How many of us would have been just as upset to PAY for one class of service and be sat somewhere else? I know I would, and I’m certainly no celebrity.

    Also, if you notice, he mentions he asked for a blanket and was told to put on. a sweater and addressed as honey. I’d be just as upset. While the FA’s primary task is to ensure safety, certainly to be asked for a blanket is not far out in left field in terms of requests they see during the course of performing their normal business duties? And to address someone as honey is not acceptable. If they don’t want us calling them baby or honey or sugar? They shouldn’t do it to us.

    The FA isn’t likely to be fired for this, no more than the surly attitude of the gate attendant- no worries there. But to think that because LeVar is a celebrity he shouldn’t complain is laughable. That’s like saying when we have bad service from a company we shouldn’t complain because we’re not celebrities…..

  27. Disneymkvii

    June 15, 2017 at 5:39 am

    How is he a “TV Legend”? I’ve never heard of him and don’t recognize him.

  28. nutwpinut

    June 15, 2017 at 5:51 am

    It sounds like he was more pissed off by the attitude. He was probably irritated by being bumped, but the attitude was worse.

    “Put on a sweater, Honey.”
    I would be irritated if someone said that to me, without a follow up, if I asked for a blanket.
    That was only one example he sent, it sounds like there were more. Something happening at the door.

    When you book a ticket online at for this flight, it shows as first class, not business class. He might have confused MCE as Business Class.

    Although I love Star Trek Next Generation, I remember him best with Reading Rainbow.

  29. canddmeyer

    June 15, 2017 at 5:59 am

    No surprise. This was probably the same FA that said to the passengers on the flight I was on from DFW-SMF, “thank you for y’all being good little boys & girls”, as well as other statements talking down to passengers from the beginning to the end of the flight. When disembarking, everyone gave the b-t-h a cold icy stare, and the pilot & co-pilot were frozen in shock at the eye contact made to the FA. No one said goodbye or thanks for flying AA, and passengers never uttered a word. I opted not to fly Attitude Airlines for a while.

  30. weero


    June 15, 2017 at 6:27 am

    This is FlyerTalk, not CNN or Rolling Stones magazine – you guy cannot just print Twitter spam from some actor as the truth without at least checking it for consistency when it comes to aviation fairy tales.

  31. genen

    June 15, 2017 at 6:50 am

    OMG is everyone on here a FA? No other profession would put up with as crappy customer service as FAs in general. The virtual monopoly with 3 main carriers in the US combined with unionization of FAs gives us services that makes Taxi the Licence bureau people look like customer service geniuses.

    Who cares if Lavar is a celeb or is rich. Shorty service is shitty service, the only difference is the airline takes notice because he has the followers. If every FA was fired it would be a great day for business air travelers. A fresh start does wonders for quality! Just look at international airlines with FAs in their 20s and how they treat passengers compared to the average 50 year old FA on US carriers. I don’t care how old they are if they do their jobs as well as the 20 year olds, but those union jobs sure build up a big chip on their shoulders year after year.

  32. Herbie555

    June 15, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Let’s say this wasn’t a celebrity. Let’s say it was regular RoadWarriorJoe#1, en route to a client meeting. There’s an equipment change and he gets bumped down a class, then gets rejected on the simple ask for a blanket. But he isn’t a celebrity, remember, so when he tweets the same discontent, nothing happens.

    That makes it better?

    When it happens to each of us, we’re upset, but without the power to gain remedy. Is that why it’s so easy to blame Burton and tell him to shut up and fly like the good cattle we are?

  33. uygi

    June 15, 2017 at 6:56 am

    You pay for the seat, you expect the seat (or better); it doesn’t matter what cabin. If the airline sent him back to a lower cabin, they should be been profusely apologetic and contrite.

  34. dsearls

    June 15, 2017 at 7:01 am

    He should have started with AA’s formal channel: . Failing that, and since he’s adept at Twitter, he should have DM’d the airline first. Then, if that failed, the next step should have been to tweet @AmericanAir with an invite to DM. Only if that failed should he have brought out the kind of heavy weapon he wielded first in this case. (I have no relationship with American, by the way. I am a 1.5 million mile @United flyer, however—and have had no bad experiences with that airline. Also many good ones. Just saying.)

  35. viking737

    June 15, 2017 at 8:07 am

    This flight was operated on a 777-300 instead of a 787.

  36. Rabb

    June 15, 2017 at 9:13 am

    There seems to either be a lot of sheep posting, a lot of ignorance ( and unlike Dawn I don’t understand it) or AA shills posting. Could be all of the above. You go LaVar hold their collective feet to the fire.

  37. crumb

    June 15, 2017 at 11:46 am

    @fly747first, why should he refer to them as anything other than @AmericanAir on Twitter when @AmericanAir is the handle for the company’s official Twitter account?

  38. USAoz

    June 15, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    LeVar Burton ? Who ? Not a legend, not a celebrity, not a star, just a very average actor.

    What a princess.

  39. arcticflier

    June 15, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Weero wrote above:
    “This is FlyerTalk, not CNN or Rolling Stones magazine – you guy cannot just print Twitter spam from some actor as the truth without at least checking it for consistency when it comes to aviation fairy tales.”

    For example, I consider the expression “honey” to be a southern term of good natured endearment or politeness.
    Perhaps the FA responded, “We don’t have any blankets remaining, you might want to put on a sweater, honey”.

    As for getting bumped. Do we know he paid for a First Class seat? Or was he earlier bumped up to First and then lost the bump.

    There is just too much unknown here except for one fact, we have a guy with a bajillion followers on social media and who jumps to social media to complain prior to being an adult and following proper channels to air a grievance or misunderstanding.


  40. alawrencenyc

    June 16, 2017 at 10:26 am

    I agree completely with those who talk of 2 classes of service on flight 2225, that’s the norm and I’d bet that’s the configuration from which Burton chose his 2 seats. It is possible that another plane was substituted on flt.2225 this past Sunday which was outfitted with 3 classes of service and Burton was given a new boarding pass with a lower number row number on it. This would have made him, a not regular flyer, believe he’d been downgraded when in reality all that had happened is he had NOT been UPGRADED.
    That he was so disgruntled and verbal about the issue from the moment he entered the plane until who knows when makes me question why none of the staff took the time to explain to him what had happened. ORD is not a hole in the wall – the first Flagship, probably more Concierge Keys, etc. – and there are plenty of AA staff handling important fliers. Maybe Burton’s attitude was so belligerent for some other reason – stress, drink, medication – even before he got on the plane that he would listen to no one. I hope to hear the resolution of this issue soon.

  41. Bretteee

    June 17, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    To call him honey and tell him to put on a sweater is really crass and disrespectful.

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