I flew JetBlue Mint a couple of days ago from New York to Los Angeles and was so impressed. While the seat and food as such were great, it’s the service that impressed me most. The gate agents provided clear and professional announcements, as I boarded I was told “enjoy your Mint experience,” and the flight attendants working in Mint were incredible.
It really put into perspective the DMV-esque experience I’ve become accustomed to at legacy airlines. While some employees at legacy airlines are great, I’ve also found some gate agents to be among the most hostile people in customer-facing roles.
Twitter user @seoulcialite has uploaded a video of his experience at Charlotte Airport last night, where he witnessed an American representative being extremely rude and condescending to passengers. He recorded that, and the American representative told him “sir if you’re recording, that’s against the law, we can take you to jail for that.”
— David Yi (@seoulcialite) August 4, 2016
It just absolutely blows my mind that any private business allows their employees to treat customers that way. I’ve never seen a restaurant or hotel or store or any other business where it’s considered acceptable for an employee to threaten to send a customer to jail. Yet somehow it’s something that seems to be “business as usual” in the airline industry.
Now, I think it’s worth clarifying that American’s photography policy is that recording personnel is strictly prohibited:
Use of still and video cameras, film or digital, is permitted only for recording personal events. Photography or video recording of airline personnel, equipment, or procedures is strictly prohibited.
However, there’s a difference between a private company’s policies, and something that is illegal and could get you sent to jail. For example, you’re absolutely otherwise allowed to film at airports, and can even photograph and videotape TSA checkpoints.
If the American representative was concerned about being videotaped, he should have said that — “Please don’t videotape me, it’s a violation of American’s policies.” However, he doesn’t have the right to claim that something is illegal and can get a customer sent to jail.
Not surprisingly, when the guy talks to Charlotte Airport police, they confirm he wasn’t doing anything illegal, and certainly wasn’t going to jail:
Seriously American, you need to train your employees on the difference between a policy and a law. While you’re at it, perhaps retrain this guy about how to treat the customers who pay his salary.