American Airlines is Reminding Flight Attendants Why Predeparture Beverages Matter

Via JonNYC on Twitter:

Marshall Jackson just wrote about American’s challenges offering predeparture beverages in domestic first class.

It’s always striking to me that legacy American Airlines crews so rarely offer anything to drink prior to takeoff. Naturally the priority is an on-time departure, and it’s difficult to move around the cabin during boarding of a single aisle aircraft. But other airlines – including legacy US Airways crews – get this done far more often than American flight attendants do.

You can call this a ‘first world problem’ and it is. But American is reminding their flight attendants that it’s part of the service, noting that “first impressions are lasting impressions.”

One of MJ’s commenters writes in to offer a flight attendant perspective that they’re going to get written up if they delay a flight for predeparture beverages — they aren’t offered because of the airline’s pressure for on-time departures. “We get written up by agents if we do them or passengers if we don’t. We can’t win”

In fact it’s absolutely possible to do predeparture beverages without delaying departure 90% of the time. The other 10% is when you don’t do predeparture beverages. (Or if the flight’s catering has been delayed.) It’s something Delta reportedly does well.

This morning in fact,

  • American didn’t begin boarding my flight until published scheduled boarding time. That’s amazing.

  • We pushed back six minutes early.

  • And the crew managed to offer predeparture beverages — not just prepoured water or orange juice, but passengers’ choice. They had even brewed coffee for the 7:05 a.m. departure.

I tweeted this borrowing AT&T’s tagline, “#RethinkPossible”.

It’s a small thing, but when you run from one flight to the next you easily go 90+ minutes without access to a glass of water. Predeparture beverages are a nice feature of domestic first class (and there aren’t many of those). They’re appreciated when offered, and make the boarding process feel a little more civilized even.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. and if indeed you are lucky enough to receive a pre-departure beverage please let the flight attendant know how thankful you are because you are aware they are not getting paid during the hectic boarding process. 😉

  2. Dear Horatio,
    You are wrong. Fas ARE indeed there for your safety. First and foremost, service second. Ask the FAA. If the airlines had it there way, there would be a vending machine on board for your “service”.
    So when that ticker of yours needs cpr someday inflight, remember this

  3. EP’S You are the lifeblood of AA.. What you may not know is airlines are notorious for firing.. While you may think complaining might get you 500-1000 miles, your complaint may get a f/a fired. There are 1000’s of applications for f/a’s.. Finding help is not a problem.. Airlines fire at will. Many and a high percentage are single moms trying to survive. Please think before you complain about a pre departure drink.. F/a’s are real people at the bottom of the pay scale. Most of you are in good financial shape.. Don’t ruin people’s lives because of a drink..

  4. Oh for Gods sake! Reading some of these comments make me want to grind my teeth. To those f/a’s who are complaining about pre departure and using excuses that at that time they are not getting paid, can’t do it and board on time bla bla bla. This is what you signed on to do when you got hired! For 27 years I’ve done predarture drinks and the planes got out on time. Quit with the ‘ oh I’m so over worked” DO your job. You may not like it but it IS your job

  5. First I can’t believe that this whole ugly conversation was begun with pre departure beverages and how some people aren’t capable of living another 15 minutes without them. Planes are late, crews coming in form delayed flights, there is weather, mechanicals, miss-connects, crew members get sick, have to eat and pee, Catering is late, the passengers are standing at the boarding before have time to do our FAA required checks and to get the cabin ready. The sequence of events that lead to that pre-departure in your hand you would not believe. Take time and say thank you. But understand though thst by no fault of that crew member from time to time that small thing, a pre departure beverage, is more than can be accomplished.

    My second statement is this…the vast majority of super frequent fliers are doing it for business and they themselves haven’t paid a cent to sit those seats. Imagine if your company sent vouchers to us the airline employees for us to rate your behavior on the aircraft and you could personally suffer the consequences of what was said. I could tell you some real doozies about how Mr. I Didn’t Get My Choice of meal acted. I would be greatly ashamed if my employees acted the way I’ve seem some frequent fliers behave.

    It’s a two way street, we work hard to provide a SAFE flight and you give us the appreciation we deserve. It doesn’t cost a thing.

    Oh and to the comment about we are “servers”. I went to initial training 33 years ago, where they showed my how to get 200 passengers out of a burning aircraft. They taught me how to resuscitate a dying passenger. How to take on a terrorist. How to deliver a baby. How to put out a burning computer at 35,000 feet. How to comfort someone who has suffered a loss. They taught me how to spot human trafficking. I have to go through that training every year. Not one time have they shown me how to pour a drink or hang a jacket. So let’s talk about what my job is about.

  6. To the FAs who can come up with a dozen reasons not to serve PDBs, please fly other airlines sometime like DL. They have the same problems you do but find a way. Where there is a will… And they seem to be pretty happy to do it.

    AA FAs are great once in the air. Some of the best service I’ve had is from AA FAs on international business class flights. Please use your best efforts to offer PDBs on your next domestic flight. It will be sincerely appreciated by the vast majority of your customers. Thank you.

  7. Wow! Just wow! I am a originally AWA, now LUS flight attendant. I would like to apologize on behalf of all of us who genuinely enjoy our passengers for the most part. Yes, I am saddened by a lot that’s going on in the airline industry these days, I originally started flying in ’85. But I’m a flight attendant because despite that, I still want to be. I will not take it out on any passenger the last passenger that was rude to me or the lack of caring I feel from management. If I have the catering and time, you will get your Pre departure drink and it won’t be just water or juice. I want your experience to be what I would like if I was you. Just as I always treat crews on flights I fly the way I like to be treated when I am working. Yes, I am there primarily for your safety. I am trained to be ready for an emergency whether it happens or not. It’s called self respect and pride in what I do and respect for others. If I was in it for the money, I’d be doing another job. I knew when I applied that our hourly is from block out to block in. I can’t and won’t speak for any other flight attendant. This is how I feel. I could complain about the lazy or complaining flight attendant or the one too busy texting to answer your call light or the one who finds one of the perks of flying and getting a hot meal too much of a bother but I’m just going to take pride in the fact that that is not me.

  8. So to the lazy LAA FA’s who make every excuse up in the book that say that can’t do the PDB… Then LOOK busy in the FC Galley! You all stand up there like Chatty Cathy doing NADA (counting meals, blah blah blah). Two FC FA’s in Fist on LAA? No wonder you went bankrupt!

    Plain and simple you have two FA’s that can handle this… one can take the drink order and one can make them (I have seen this twice on LAA in the last two weeks and it works flawlessly). Holding up the PAX at the door will not matter as the line always gets held up in FC since the coach folk are inexperienced (who maybe fly once every 10 years). Use this to your advantage! Let the old folk clear and you will have time… take the PDB order, serve, and let the next wave flow through. YES, it works!

    Last – Thanks to all the LUS FA’s I have flown with for the last 10 years! You were all amazing and always gave me a PDB… IMO, It will be always easy to identify the LAA and LUS going forward even with the new uniforms… It will still always be US to me!

  9. Airline IS & Sec need to investigate this thread and fire a whole bunch of arrogant, entitled, stewardesses. Last word used deliberately, because your incompetent, lazy, ignorant asses aren’t meeting the role definition of a flight attendant.

  10. I wonder if working in 1st class should be opened up to all FA’s so those that do not seem to be morally conflicted with providing the best service to the best customers have an opportunity to shine.

  11. Actually first class IS open to all flight attendants. We bid our schedules and what position we fly every month. But, interestingly, the position normally goes junior. As the senior flight attendants try to avoid it unless they don’t like working with others/coach….. Working first class is not seen by most to be a “privilege” … primarily because of the comments of many of you on this thread. And for the record- I do work first. I do like my job and I do it well. I always give people their choice of pre departure beverage when feasible. I’m always up at 10,000 feet. I always keep the glasses filled and I rarely sit down during the flight. And rarely does anyone even acknowledge me when they leave. That’s fine. It’s my job. But please don’t assume that it is considered a privilege to work first class. It is a tiring and thankless job almost 100% of the time and most flight attendants avoid it.

  12. This is appalling. The entitlement here for once are the FA’s, not PAX’s. It is a SERVICE job, interacting with and serving passengers while representing the company that PAYS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TO LIVE. You knew this when you applied for this position. There are friendlier, younger, higher qualified people all around the world willing to do your job better, and for less pay. Take some pride in what you do! Who do you think you are?

    -JRL

  13. It doesn’t matter who paid for the seat in First, whether it was a free upgrade or the seat cost $1200. Preboarding service is part of the first class experience. If AA won’t do it, perhaps fliers will change loyalty to another carrier who will. If you hate your job, get a different one, its not anyone’s fault how little money you make except you and your union, so take it up with them. Don’t take it out on passengers who suffer connections, delays, crap conditions on the airlines. FAs are the front line to the public, and if you’re miserable SO ARE YOUR PAX!!!

  14. Regarding @Ryans comment about the tiring and thankless job, thank you for your perspective and your service attitude. I’d just like to add that I would bet that the majority of Americans would probably feeling that that we are all doing tiring and thankless jobs, What other industry can an employee just go out to their job every day and be downright rude and not follow procedures simply because they don’t want to be there ? It is a choice, it seems to me that a lot of these FA ‘s need to make a different choice or else they believe in the entitlement system of acting however they feel like because their bosses will never find out .

  15. Oh man…Seriously???

    “Monique says:
    December 15, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Yea first world problem…it’s really not that important. I can tell you as a US Airway FA based in Philly, we hate doing these PDB, most of you be so ungrateful. The AA FAS do it far more than we do, and this merger is a nightmare…they even want me be cooking meals in first class now, you should all bring your own food and drink if it’s such a big deal and stop whining like babies. If you think it’s easy to be an FA, come walk in my heels for a week, you’ll quit in a day.”

    I guess I didn’t know US airways trolled JayZ’s entourage for FAs (but then again, it makes sense now). So, while “Monique” is busy picking the chicken-wing bones out of her teeth with her day-glo press-on fingernails, it gives us passengers time to wonder exactly at which point we as a society completely failed in the global service industry.

  16. We, as flight attendants, are under a lot of pressure during boarding. Being the on time departure #1. Then if we have issues like problems with catering, a hectic boarding process, etc the PDB service doesn’t become a priority. Having said that it is absolutely inexcusable not to do a PDB for 16 people sitting in FC when things run smoothly. Usually, the FAs who complain, bitch and moan about everything in this company are the laziest ones who sit on their jumpseats the entire flight, are rude to pax and other crew members and are miserable. I have been flying for 21 years and I love the job. My customers have nothing to do with the way AA runs things. Not getting paid for boarding? Oh please!!! We get very well paid for the job we do. When was the last time I evacuated a plane? NEVER!! It’s a shame how some FAs behave.

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