A not-so-excellent flight attendant…

This morning I flew from Los Angeles to San Diego on United Express (operated by Skywest). Usually I find Skywest flight attendants to be top notch, though this morning professionalism was lacking somewhat.

This flight was operated by a 30-seater EMB120, and the lone flight attendant barked at passengers to turn their phones off when the door closed. As soon as he did the safety demo, though, he walked to the back of the plane with his head firmly planted against the wall, as if he was in time out. I couldn’t tell if he was sleeping standing up or on his phone, but after observing him for a while, it was clear he was texting. He did this until we got to the runway.

The second we took off, he once again started typing away furiously on his phone while in his jumpseat, in full sight of all passengers. Once we leveled off, once again, the flight attendant went to the very back of the plane and again assumed the “position.” You would’ve thought he was sleeping, but I once again saw the light from his phone. He then spent probably five minutes in the lavatory.

This raises a couple of obvious issues. First of all, practice what you preach. Flight attendants should be role models for passengers. Of equal importance, there’s a safety issue when, during taxi, the flight attendant isn’t at the main cabin door if an evacuation becomes necessary. Being in the rear of an EMB120 with your eyes facing a wall (as opposed to the cabin) doesn’t make you all that alert.

On the way out I couldn’t help but comment “I hope your phone has good battery life.”

Comments

  1. Unlike your normally good experiences, I have had mediocre to bad experiences with flight attendants on regional carriers. I have seen the texting behavior you describe just after I have been yelled at to take my macbook air out of the seat pocket in front of me (granted, I was in an exit row). Sleeping in the jump seats, extended time in the lav, and limited English skills are frighteningly common in these smaller planes.

  2. I usually end up on a regional carrier once or twice a week and I have come to accept the fact the cabin crew members on these airplanes are just there because they are required to be there.

    OK, they are at the bottom of the food chain, but THEY accepted the position and should demonstrated some interest in passengers beyond going through the motions.

    May not be exciting work, but they are being paid (OK, not very much). Just hope I never need them in an emergency.

  3. I saw one the same way texting and continue until about just take off, I was tempted to take his picture, but afraid he spit on my food 😛

  4. Folks, please don’t lump all RJ staff into the same bin. Lucky is right. Skywest staff are generally fantastic, and this was an exception (a pathetic exception for sure!)

    If you want to pick on RJ staff, put Mesa at the top of your list. Or did that they finally get kicked out of the UA pool?

  5. Skywest does tend to have pretty good FAs. One of the most professional FAs I’ve had was on a 20 minute EMB-120 SFO-SMF flight.

  6. Next time take a picture in which he can be identified. The one thing these people should be able to do is take care of our safety. If they can’t, they should find another line of work. I would have no problem pushing him in that direction.

  7. Next time take a picture in which he can be identified.

    Very risky. United, among other airlines, is ultra-paranoid about having pax take unapproved photos of employees, even when the photo is taken for the purpose of identifying a badly behaved employee (who, say, refuses to provide his name). Trust me on this one.

  8. “Hi! I’m a reporter for XXXX. May I ask you a few questions? I’m doing a story on Flight Attendant duties and compliance with FAA directives. And your name is?”

  9. Who cares if United is paranoid. It’s a public place and the law is absolutely clear that anyone has a right to take a photograph. They even sell cards on the Web for photographers to show anyone who objects explaining the law regarding this.

    I’m not about to let some corporation cow me into giving up my freedom. If they want to they can chuck me off the flight and I’ll see them in court. They’d lose. The law is crystal clear.

  10. That kind of behavior is just totally unacceptable. I’ve luckily never seen flight attendants texting during a flight. I agree that flight attendants should practice what they preach and behave in the way they expect the passengers to behave. I do agree with some of the earlier comments that it would’ve been great if you could’ve done something to get disciplinary action taken against the flight attendant.

  11. There is a simple way to follow up. Send United or SkyWest an email or letter. Tell them the flight number and date of flight. They can follow-up with that flight attendant, since there was only one onboard. This kind of behaviour would never be tolerated by his manager.

    Also, you can send an anonymous message to the Federal Aviation Administration if you witness a safety professional violating a Federal Aviation Regulation–such as not being in the assigned position for take off and landing. The Federal Communication Commission prohibits cell phone use during flights under 10,000 feet.

    By the way, the flight attendants at many regional airlines do an outstanding job for very low pay. They put up with behaviour that is despicable. And imagine having to remind hundreds of people every day to do simple things–like put their bags all the way under their seats, some of whom don’t speak english. Flight attendants are as responsible for the safety of everyone on their plane, and they rarely receive the recognition they deserve. So when you have a good flight attendant, a simple thank you is all we ask.

    Finally, you do not have a right to take a photo of a flight attendant or pilot. If you request his or her permission, you can. But all Americans have a right to privacy. Even if you were a journalist, you have an ethical obligation to obtain permission before publishing someones photo. It’s common sense.

  12. No matter what the pay, they are there for specific reasons and following FAA Regulations and Company policy is at the top. It’s an embarrassment to other F/A’s who do follow proper protocol to be stuck in a stigma that is not accurate for the whole. As for you and all other Passengers who experience this, it’s wrong that you should be in this situation. This Flight Attendant who is there to ensure your safety and Provide you with Service is focusing on a text. How comforting is that? It’s not. I recommend you write a professional letter to SkyWest as to your experience, giving the Flight Number & Date. If you have a first name that would also be helpful. They need to know! They are one of the more respected Regional Airlines in the sky. They will take your information seriously.
    My Thoughts: I think cell phones need to be more widely controlled with the Flight Attendants. This F/A is Completely unprofessional and a mockery to the rest of us. The Profession is wasting away with “Flight Attendants” who don’t take their profession serious. And if it’s NOT a profession to you – Move On, Get Out! You are not doing any of us any justice and you’re definitely NOT protecting the Flying Public.

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