Don't Mess With American Airlines [Workplace Conflict]

by

Hello from American Airlines Admiral Club @ O’Hare Airport where I have a 2.5 hour layover — and I’m not happy about it.

Thankfully, I was upgraded to first class on my flight from Raleigh. I sat next to a tweedy professor with a ponytail and wire-rimmed glasses who wore Birkenstocks and quietly did his NY Times crossword puzzles for the entire flight. (I wish this was a joke but it’s not. Way to make the stereotype true, buddy.)

The flight was fairly empty; however, there was an older couple (late 50s, maybe) in the row in front of me who were having a great time in first class — they seemed to be enjoying the chewy bagels and I heard them ask for extra juice. The woman wore goofy reading glasses and the man had a preppy sweater wrapped around his shoulders.

About midway through the flight, the flight attendant said to the man, “You’re not supposed to be here.”

My ears perked up. [Huh? What? Did I just hear something juicy?]

The man responded, “The plane is half-empty. I want to sit with my wife.”

The flight attendant asked, “Why didn’t you upgrade like your wife?”

The man said, “Why should I? The plane is empty.”

Whoa dudes, this is an encounter that’s tailor-made for a Human Resources geek like me. We have some workplace conflict combined with seriously poor communication. The flight attendant, cool as a cucumber, handled the situation masterfully.

  • Instead of telling this guy to stop being a chump, she walked to the front of the plane and picked up the phone.
  • The pilot emerged from the flight deck, used the restroom, and went back into the cockpit.
  • A moment later, the flight attendant returned to seat 5E and said, “This note is from the pilot.”

The offending dude read the note, got up, and went back to his seat in coach. Just like that.

*

Now I hate the class-system on airplanes and I wonder why we everyone can’t get crappy bagels and juice with our cramped seats; however, if you’re too cheap to use your airline miles to sit with your wife and you want to scam the system, prepare yo’self to be embarrassed.

The flight attendant later said to the wife, “If you want to sit with your husband, you can go to coach, too.”

Oh snap!

*

We landed at O’Hare — and that’s another story because we circled for awhile and almost ran out of fuel and had to go to Indianapolis — and there was a woman from American Airlines standing on the jet bridge. She had a walky-talky, a clipboard, and her hands were on her hips.

If you know anything about body language, that’s the official I’M PISSED AND YOU’RE IN TROUBLE posture for an American Airlines passenger representative.

“Mr. B?” she asked this goofball.

“Yes,” he answered.

“I need to talk to you about your adventure in first class.”

*

I would imagine this kind of stuff happens quite often — someone has a sense of entitlement and feels that the rules don’t apply to them when they’re on an airplane — and I’m sure there’s an SOP that outlines how airline employees should handle this problem. Anyone have any insight on what might happen to this guy?

Holy smokes, I hope they charge him for his first class seat, the organge juice, and the stale bagel. Chump.

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