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AA Domestic F (passenger and service) Follies

AA Domestic F (passenger and service) Follies

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Old Apr 18, 16, 1:44 pm
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AA Domestic F (passenger and service) Follies

My afternoon flight from PBI to DFW on Sunday featured a host of situations that I'll nickname the AA domestic F Follies. I wish I could say that these flight experiences are rare, but it seems that AA domestic F travel continues to be driven downward by passenger behavior.

To begin, we boarded 15 minutes late, after a wordy speech from the captain how "several" passengers had got sick in the cabin upstation. That explanation notably raised the anxiety level in the gate area. PBI passengers are already an uptight group (a pushier-than-average customer profile, holidaymakers going home, and old-timers with high expectations).

As soon as the gate agent called for F boarding (I had a paid A ticket), I stood up and picked my way through the gate lice. One woman standing with an enormous backpack turned and (it appeared) purposefully bumped into me with a loud "oh, excuse me," as I tried to maneuver around her. She then rotated back and her backpack knocked another man off his balance. Like me he had only a briefcase, and he was also seated in F. As multiple passengers tried to make their way to the scanner, the flustered gate agent admonished at least half that they should wait for their zone 3 boarding (but he let them board anyway). As I approached the line entrypoint, a man blocked my access with his rollaboard. As I asked gently, "first class boarding?" He made an exaggerated gesture allowing me in front of him and then followed me down the jetbridge. At the aircraft door I overheard him berate the FA: "I had a first class seat on a previous flight so I'm boarding now." After cursing under his breath as F passengers put away their carry-ons, he made his way to 27E.

The FA was great, but I've noticed lately that AA no longer keeps a second FA in domestic F through the meal service. So the whole service now takes about 90 minutes from takeoff until the last cookie gets cleared. Still she did a fantastic job, and the meal pre-order feature appears to have reduced the once loud complaints about entree selection in the final row.

The one difficulty with this meal service was a continuous stream of people from coach into the F cabin. At some point mid-meal, the FA made a PA announcement to please utilize the coach toilets. Immediately after that announcement, a skinny-jeans, middle-aged woman stormed into the F cabin with what appeared to be a used diaper. Another PA was made (the coach toilets are free, please use them). While skinny jeans was still on the loo, a grandmother and young girl walked into the cabin from coach. Our harried FA intercepted them around Row 4, and pointed them back. The girl immediately lost it, crying, grabbing at dining trays, etc. I turned around to see if the coach cabin was blocked -- nope, no cart in the aisle.

Around this time, one of the other FAs came forward to help control the front of coach, and the interruptions died down afterward (hint to AA, start the short subject/ movie as soon as the 10,000 foot bell rings -- the distraction helps to calm nerves.)

We landed an hour late, and there were coach passengers shouting and elbowing into the F cabin right up until the moment we deplaned.

I'd like to see some kind of improvement to F boarding and cabin discipline. Maybe line up passengers beforehand (at T-35) and check boarding cards while they wait inside the tensa-barrier (this is how EasyJet does their paid early boarding in Europe). The current situation is anything but premium.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 2:06 pm
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Without a massive reconfiguration of gate areas that would effectively segregate paxs by boarding order gate lice are here to stay. What pisses me off more than gate lice are the F paxs that 20 minutes before F boarding are already in the boarding lane as though the a/c is going to leave without them. I've seen crew and wheelchair coordinators being blocked by some blockhead in the Priority Lane. Of course one or two F paxs leads to more F paxs lining up way early and unless you want your bags over row 6 while you are in row 3 you need to join the same fray. Moreover, IME this trends seems to be becoming much more prevalent.

I've also noticed recently that on the 737/32B/757 the F cabin is now being served by one F, which was the way LUS served the LUS 321/757 F cabin. Not a biggie on a longer flight. Most FAs keep Y paxs out of the F lav while they are trying to get the service completed and a little afterwards so that F paxs get a crack at the F lav first. Given the never ending rise in human crudeness I doubt that inflight will bet much better in as far as politeness and civility. Welcome to the world of 2016.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 2:41 pm
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Sorry for your experience. I would not be happy if the main cabin pax continues to stream towards F lav even after the FA announcements, if it hinders actual F pax using the lav (they could actually be taken away by law enforcement, as it can be interpreted as interfering with the crew regarding congregating near cockpit).
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Old Apr 18, 16, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
Without a massive reconfiguration of gate areas that would effectively segregate paxs by boarding order gate lice are here to stay. What pisses me off more than gate lice are the F paxs that 20 minutes before F boarding are already in the boarding lane as though the a/c is going to leave without them. I've seen crew and wheelchair coordinators being blocked by some blockhead in the Priority Lane. Of course one or two F paxs leads to more F paxs lining up way early and unless you want your bags over row 6 while you are in row 3 you need to join the same fray. Moreover, IME this trends seems to be becoming much more prevalent.

I've also noticed recently that on the 737/32B/757 the F cabin is now being served by one F, which was the way LUS served the LUS 321/757 F cabin. Not a biggie on a longer flight. Most FAs keep Y paxs out of the F lav while they are trying to get the service completed and a little afterwards so that F paxs get a crack at the F lav first. Given the never ending rise in human crudeness I doubt that inflight will bet much better in as far as politeness and civility. Welcome to the world of 2016.
The best AA approach to the gate lice was an experience a few weeks ago at DFW. At T-35 or so and before any boarding announcements, The GA asked her F pax to line up inside the priority tensa-barrier (only about 10/16 did so), then she preboarded wheelchairs through the normal lane, then she closed that lane and boarded F already sorted in the priority lane. Then she made her first boarding announcement.

I don't mind lining up when requested, but I don't like the scrum when F boarding begins, with people (possibly intentionally) trying to block boarding out-of-sequence for called passengers. In an ideal world, F would board last with all of its bins empty and the jetway clear.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 4:23 pm
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It really seems unfortunate that the airlines don't recognize that allowing (or failing to subdue) this unfortunate behavior really dilutes the 1st. class product.
Certainly at the gates and most importantly in the air.
I guess it doesn't really seem to bother them as they are still selling the product at a premium.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 4:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Forklift Steve View Post
It really seems unfortunate that the airlines don't recognize that allowing (or failing to subdue) this unfortunate behavior really dilutes the 1st. class product.
Or else, most people are just kind of used to it.

But that flight does sound like a nightmare, definitely the PBI factor (you should try flying PBI-LGA/JFK. )
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Old Apr 18, 16, 4:44 pm
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
Or else, most people are just kind of used to it.

But that flight does sound like a nightmare, definitely the PBI factor (you should try flying PBI-LGA/JFK. )
Yes those flights are "interesting" to say the least.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 5:20 pm
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I actually think two of those issues are related - by releasing the 2nd FA to help serve coach, that FA is going between FC and coach often. And that means the curtain doesn't stay closed. However small the barrier to entry, that curtain is the difference between just a few people from coach going to the forward lav versus a constant stream.

I had the same experience yesterday - not only was there a constant stream of passengers from coach going to the forward lav, but the FAs even let the coach passengers stand between 3B/3E.

IMO I vastly prefer the order on UA flights where they have separate cordoned off areas for each boarding zone. I've booked flights onto UA just because I know what a ridiculous scrum some of the AA boarding areas will be. AA hasn't seem interested in solving this issue.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 5:33 pm
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Not sure how much it helps - but every time I see a gate agent who strictly enforces boarding/group zones, I thank them. I know there will always be lice, but at least they will have a reminder for the next time. Perhaps the AAgents could start lice-shaming...?
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Old Apr 18, 16, 7:37 pm
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I do the same, and have given out AApplause certificates when I have them on hand for GAs who do this. While they obviously have more pressing things to attend to as boarding is about to commence, it's very nice to see an agent who enforces the rules.

And I second the call for lice-shaming.



Originally Posted by mrtrickdk View Post
Not sure how much it helps - but every time I see a gate agent who strictly enforces boarding/group zones, I thank them. I know there will always be lice, but at least they will have a reminder for the next time. Perhaps the AAgents could start lice-shaming...?
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Old Apr 18, 16, 8:20 pm
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Originally Posted by fastflyer View Post
In an ideal world, F would board last with all of its bins empty and the jetway clear.
This. A thousand times this. Between the gate-rushing and being whapped in the head by idiots with giant carry-ons and no idea how to control them I can do without a PDB.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 8:40 pm
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Originally Posted by born sleepy View Post
I can do without a PDB.
Then you're on the right airline! :P

I don't mind the boarding procedure if everyone follows it, but the F passengers who don't understand that they're supposed to board via the priority lane are particularly problematic in the airports I fly in and out of.

I also get dirty looks if I try to board from the priority lane when I run up to catch a tight connection and see they've already started boarding.

I also find that the gate agents don't give enough time for F passengers to make their way through the gate lice before just calling EXP/PLT and passengers traveling in F get stuck behind Y elites fairly easily.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 9:49 pm
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Originally Posted by josmul123 View Post
I also get dirty looks if I try to board from the priority lane when I run up to catch a tight connection and see they've already started boarding.
I always board late and always use the priority lane. Fortunately, I don't pay the slightest attention to the glances of the folks in boarding groups 3 or 4. The PDB situation is even worse than before, there's no reason to be on the plain earlier than necessary.
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Old Apr 18, 16, 10:33 pm
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PBI seems to concentrate cluelessness and self-importance....

Gate lice seems a perfect term.

A massive pet peeve are coach passengers that feel justified at blocking access to the line when first (and any group higher than them) is called. Also, I will make it a point to thank agents that enforce boarding order.

And I couldnt care less about people looking at me in the priority lane- one thing: I just walk to the head of the line, and stand there with my BP in hand, seeking to get eye contact from the agent, but I wont push into a line. THis way the agent gets acknowledge/control, and it just seems more polite. Occasionally I have to wait a few pax, but better than the 30 people I just walked past
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Old Apr 18, 16, 11:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Exec_Plat View Post
PBI seems to concentrate cluelessness and self-importance....

Gate lice seems a perfect term.

A massive pet peeve are coach passengers that feel justified at blocking access to the line when first (and any group higher than them) is called. Also, I will make it a point to thank agents that enforce boarding order.

And I couldnt care less about people looking at me in the priority lane- one thing: I just walk to the head of the line, and stand there with my BP in hand, seeking to get eye contact from the agent, but I wont push into a line. THis way the agent gets acknowledge/control, and it just seems more polite. Occasionally I have to wait a few pax, but better than the 30 people I just walked past
I think this has been discussed in other threads before, but I kind of blame the group numbering system for some of this behavior. Group 1 people seem to think they're going to be the first on board when they're in fact the 3rd or 4th group to board depending on which procedure the GA actually follows. I like to see the good in people, though they may just be dumb.
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