The Quality of FAs

 
Old Jun 21, 08, 12:45 am
  #1  
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The Quality of FAs

Just completed a RT JFK/LAS in first class. Non stop going, but didn't like the nonstop coming home, so did a later flight which connected through DFW. I truly cannot believe the way the quality of the FA service has deteriorated. A sourpuss who was sarcastic to boot on the nonstop going to LAS. A great FA LAS to DFW who really was into service and had abundant smiles. Then another sour one from DFW to JFK on a dinner flight who disappeared totally the second half of the flight. OK, I can understand lack of service in coach where the flight is treated as more of a commodity. But in First? I am a Platinum member and find that First class (domestic) does not even resemble the First service I received in the 80s. I'm doing Rome from JFK in August and am hoping against hope that the Business Class experience is a little better with International.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 1:40 am
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tt7
 
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I would have to say your experience is fairly typical of AA.

There are many, many people in the AA system who work hard every day to provide first rate customer service .... and then there are those whose indifference demolishes all that effort in no time at all. It appears to be a fact of life that in AA's union-based, seniority-based staffing sytem, dealing with the non-performers simply doesn't happen. In any other business, they would have been fired long ago.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 1:42 am
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I assume that your last F flight was the one in the 80s to which you are comparing this one.

Things change.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 2:11 am
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Originally Posted by tt7 View Post
I would have to say your experience is fairly typical of AA.

There are many, many people in the AA system who work hard every day to provide first rate customer service .... and then there are those whose indifference demolishes all that effort in no time at all. It appears to be a fact of life that in AA's union-based, seniority-based staffing sytem, dealing with the non-performers simply doesn't happen. In any other business, they would have been fired long ago.
I guess this is a YMMV situation as this experience is not at all "typical" of my flights. I've flown 80,000+ miles this year (all F/J incl. 4 FCO flights) and I have encountered great service on the majority of occasions, and a few flights where the FAs were not esp. "chatty" but certainly not bad.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 8:09 am
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My experiences this year have been the opposite of the OP's. When I have been upgraded to first, the service I have received has been outstanding. So much so that I felt obligated to write in to AA to commend the FA on the service I received.

My experience has shown that there are far more hard-working employees than not, unfortunately, it's those employees that provide poor service that stand out about 10x more.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 8:19 am
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it is truly sad to hear, and I'm sorry you received poor service, but one could say that the quality of the pax has diminished since the 80s as well.

Back in the 80s, it was a truly different world and both the pax and FAs didn't have chips on their shoulders. FAs actually had something to serve and do during the flight, and the PAX actually respected (because of the service received) the FAs because of the hard work that they did.

Today, just like Chiil1974 said, a bad FA will stand out 10x more than a good FA, and will be noticed a lot more. As others have said, it's becoming the norm to receive poor service than receiving good or exceptional service where it should be.

Best thing to do, write to aa.com/customerrelations and let AA know how much you were disappointed, and how you feel the service should have been that of the 80s that you remember!!!
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Old Jun 21, 08, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by Cabledon View Post
I am a Platinum member and find that First class (domestic) does not even resemble the First service I received in the 80s.
You are just now noticing that domestic F isn't what it used to be in the 80s? Have you not been flying or just not flying F?

Originally Posted by Cabledon View Post
I'm doing Rome from JFK in August and am hoping against hope that the Business Class experience is a little better with International.
My experience with international J has been mostly very positive. Hopefully, your experience will be positive as well.

Of course, no matter how good it is, it won't be like the 80s, so don't set your hopes too high.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 9:34 am
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My experience with international business has been mostly good. Just a few bad experiences. And, yes, unless I am careful to remember all flights, the bad ones stand out in memory.

Attitude seems to vary somewhat from crew to crew. It seems as if a tone is either purposefully set by the crew leader, or emreges through by a chemistry between crew members for good or for perfunctory service.

I have flown only AA internationally for many years now, and so no basis of comparison with others.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 10:42 am
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2008-50 domestic segments this year, all F except 5 RJs

2007-114 domestic segments all but 8 in F. 8 International-All F(where available)/C.

Granted that there are those that are content to do the bare minimum (or less), hide behind their union, and stand out like a shining beacon of (insert your description here), a huge percentage of the F/A's that I have flown with been more than professional, and have accomplished their job very well.

However, as pointed out earlier, the 80's FA is gone, through no fault of their own. But alas, so has the 80's passenger.

Sweat suits vs suits. T-shirts vs shirts. Flip flops vs shoes. Shorts vs pants. Shorts vs dresses. Rude slogan/designer(?) t-shirts vs ties. IPOD vs hats (yes, hats AND gloves). A sense of entitlement vs a sense of wonder. Move it vs excuse me. Attitude vs adventure.

I have ginormous respect for F/A's. I could never do their job for even one segment-Mrs Dallas49er has reliably informed me that I don't seem to be able to do nice well. So be it.

Yet for all the dreck that they go through, if the fit hits the shan, F/As are the ones that are going to be yanking women, children, and adult males out of their seats,pointing them in right direction until everyone is out, and THEN be the last out.

Perhaps respect should go both ways.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 10:47 am
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I have been on the receiving end of mostly good and a fair amount of outstanding FA service on all my flights in all cabins this year and most flights in general since the 80s. Sure, I've encountered a few bad apples and downright lazy FAs but they are definitely in the minority. If New York to Vegas is the only flight in first you have flown since the 80s, you should fly more before you make a generalization that the quality of FA service has deteriorated.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 11:27 am
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Originally Posted by Dallas49er View Post
However, as pointed out earlier, the 80's FA is gone,
Umm, no, the 80s FA is still flying (just older and making 13% less salary). What is gone is 80s cabin service, and airline profitability.

I know it's popular to complain about FAs and service but I rarely have problems on domestic flts. Int'l FAs tend to be more professional in approach, and excellent service is more common, but then they're only doing 1 flight most times.

I think the problem is pax expectation. I have flown dozens of flights in First Class, yet I have never paid a single first class fare. I like the system that rewards me for my loyalty, but honestly, AA is not making much money off me. I should be the last one complaining. If you expect little more than a big seat and a marginal meal you'll be pleasantly surprised most times.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 11:29 am
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I break quality service domestically as follows:

Excellent service - FA is working the cabin 80 percent of the flight time
Good service - FA is working the cabin 60 percent of the flight time
Poor service - FA is working the cabin less than 60 percent of the flight time

Attitude helps but most FA's have a good attitude in my experience. Its the nature of the job and all of us have bad days. Of course, even with bad days, we still have to do our job, i.e., work the cabin.

Y should have FA's working the cabin the same amount of time as F. Of course, since there are two FA's in Y and many more pax, there isn't as much time for personal attention.

As for working the cabin time, FA's deserve breaks like the rest of us. That being said, breaks of no more than 25 minutes on a two hour flight, 36 minutes on a three hour flight, etc. seem pretty reasonable.

I have around 50 domestic F segments so far this year. Using my definition, 75 percent have been excellent, 10-15 percent good, and 10-15 percent poor.

In some ways that's good (and I commend Sluggoaafa, Skylady and other FA's who routinely provide excellent service) but it is a little lower than my experience on F9 and B6 where I have 30 segments so far this year. Their FA's are almost always working the cabin 80 percent of the flights.

Who to blame - certainly the union culture may have some role (I'm certainly no fan of unions) but I tend to think AA Management is to blame. I'm not familiar with the service rules but suspect that AA Management has not set out express rules requiring FA's to be working the cabin. If they have, then they need to be enforcing the standards. Unfortunately, like all of us, I'm sure some of the excellent FA's occasionally look around and say "I'm working like crazy while XXX is shamming. It's not worth it." Management enforcing the standards will help eliminate this problem.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 12:02 pm
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Originally Posted by gemac View Post
I assume that your last F flight was the one in the 80s to which you are comparing this one.
Things change.
Clarification (it should have been in my original post). I flew weekly from 1987through 1997, almost all if it on AA or TWA. After 1997, I started my own business locally and now fly 3-4 times a year, all on AA since TWA folded. So there have been many experiences since the 80s, but the most recent one was by far the worst. My FA from JFK to LAS told the customer in front of me that the beer was frozen and then got sarcastic with him when he said he didn't want anything to drink. I had witnessed disappearing FAs before, but had never seen unprovoked sarcasm before.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Dallas49er View Post
......

However, as pointed out earlier, the 80's FA is gone, through no fault of their own. But alas, so has the 80's passenger.

Sweat suits vs suits. T-shirts vs shirts. Flip flops vs shoes. Shorts vs pants. Shorts vs dresses. Rude slogan/designer(?) t-shirts vs ties. IPOD vs hats (yes, hats AND gloves). A sense of entitlement vs a sense of wonder. Move it vs excuse me. Attitude vs adventure. ..........
I would agree about the ingrained sense of entitlement and poor manners in the younger generations, of which I am a member. However, I don't agree your with your implication that the change to casual wear is generally negative, as seen with your "negative new vs good old" comparisons.
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Old Jun 21, 08, 1:59 pm
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Originally Posted by jakuda View Post
I would agree about the ingrained sense of entitlement and poor manners in the younger generations, of which I am a member. However, I don't agree your with your implication that the change to casual wear is generally negative, as seen with your "negative new vs good old" comparisons.
actually, he's spot on. Just this past week I worked 5 transcons back to back (working 10 days straight with a 24hr break last sunday-monday flew in on the all-nighter sunday morning, flew out monday afternoon)

On one transon, JFK-SFO, I had a family of 6, ranging from 5yrs old to 16yrs old and the parents in their mid-40s (I'm guessing). The kids were exceptionally well mannered, polite, and were dressed in very nice 'business attire'. The father was the one who used his miles for his wife and himself, bought full fare tix for his kids.

On the same flight, had a full fare pax who was rude, waved off the FA, and demanded his glass to be refreshed after ever sip. He was inconsiderate of others, dress was very sloppy, and he looked like he literally just crawled out of bed.

The next transcon flight I worked a family of 3 was in First and again, the kid (about 15-17) was very polite, well mannered, and dressed very modest considering most kids that age wear pants that are baggy, and are all about the 'bling'. Not sure what the fare was for them.

However, same flight on the other side was a pax who was very demanding, disheveled looking, and was very rude to the FA.

Each of the 'rude' pax received their first entree, as did everyone come to think about it, but it just comes down that even when we are trying to provide the best service we possibly can, there is still going to be some sourpuss who won't like it.

I know when I come across it, I take it personally and wonder what on earth did I do wrong...I have to always think outside of my little world that not everything is as perfect as I think it should be (on the plane).

I have noticed that when people dress up, they have a special sense of Pride with them...kids behave better, adults are a little more mannered than the ones who are just in shirts/jeans. Of course it's not to say that all 'casual' pax are rude and inconsiderate, but it's just an observation that I have seen. Just like I'm sure a pax can tell the difference in service from a FA who properly wears their uniform during the flight from one who doesn't have their blouse shirt buttoned all the way up, or a male not wearing his tie.


Yes, the 80s are gone, along with the quality of service, the quality of FAs, and the quality of pax. It's a completely different world out there, and even though some try to make it a pleasant one, not everyone is going to be happy.
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