Thanksgiving in Mumbai: The Worst First Class Flight I’ve Ever Experienced, Frankfurt-Mumbai in Lufthansa First Class

I was on a bit of a high coming off the First Class Terminal and excited to arrive in India, so when I set foot on board my next Lufthansa 747 and walked upstairs to the upper deck I was ready for a really excellent flight.

Only what was in store wasn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced in international first class, on any airline. Nothing different about the hard product, the seat was still ‘fine’ as is to be expected from Lufthansa First.

The video on demand still came from a tiny screen. It was a daytime flight to a shirt was given, no bottoms. And the amenity kit was identical to the one from the previous flight.

But what was different was the service — the worst first class service I’ve ever experienced.

And it began right away, my wife and I were served a single dish (rather than one each) with half empty nuts. Strange, but we weren’t hungry, and I assumed it was an oversight — perhaps the package ran out and they were just opening another or heating it, and then forgot.

The next oversight came when it was time for the meal to be served. The flight attendants never served an amuse bouche. A signature staple is a small plate, something interesting perhaps tuna or octobus on a clear square dish that they bring out before opening your tray and setting your table. They do this on every flight, even on Ho Chi Minh City – Bangkok which is about 450 miles. But not on this flight.

At this point I’m still making excuses for the flight, just as with the nuts, perhaps no amuse bouche was boarded? Certainly not a big deal.

And I only realized that we hadn’t gotten the starter item when the flight attendant came over to set our table.

This was the first really hostile interaction I had gotten on the flight. She wouldn’t place most items onto our trays, she handed me items that were to be placed at my left and she simply handed each and every plate to my wife in the window seat (including hot plates). I gave her a strange look, I simply didn’t understand what she was doing at first though it was clear she didn’t want to reach to set items and the quickest way to be done was to hand items to us to deal with on our own.

Here’s the menu:

Choice of Hors d’oeuvres

    Caviar with traditional garnishes

    Salad of Bacalao with Oranges, black Olives and Sherry Dressing

    Mixed Vegetable Terrine on Pine Nut Vinaigrette with Artichoke Mousse

    Aloo Shakarandi Chaat, Dal Wada
    Roast Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes marinated with Lemon and Coriander, warm Chickpea Patty

Salad or Soup

    Frisee, Chicory, Romaine Lettuce and Radicchio with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Beetroot presented with your Choice of Tomato and Tarragon or Orange and Mustard Dressing

    Or

    Frothed Soup of Watercress with Croutons

Choice of Main Courses

    Saffron crusted Halibut with Sauce Bouillabaisse, Bell Pepper and black Venus Rice

    Roast Goose with Red Cabbage, Potato Dumplings with Herb Crumb Butter

    Murgh Khadai, Dal Tadka, Bhini do Pyaza, Zeera Pulao
    Fried Leg of Poulard in savory Tomato Sauce with mixed Bell Pepper, Okra with Onions and Chili accompanied by Basmati Rice and yellow Lentil Ragout with Curcuma

    Paneer Achari, Palak Peas, Dal Tadka, Moong Dal Pulao
    Deep-fried Cream Cheese in hot Chili Sauce, creamy Spinach with green Peas accompanied by Basmati Rice flavored with Mint, Potatoes and yellow Lentils served with Lentil Ragout with Tomatoes and Garlic, Tarkewala Raita

Selection of Cheese and Dessert

    Manchego, Queso al Romero, Bleu des Causses, Banon and Coulommiers Cheese presented with Quince Jelly and Grapes

    Truffle Cream of Chocolate and Olive Oil with Flor de Dal, Raspberry and Bell Pepper Jelly

    Rabdi Beery
    Caramelized Milk Soup with fresh Blackberries and Gold Leaf

There aren’t nearly as many items to place on a Lufthansa table setting as with some carriers. One of my pet peeves generally, though it’s done by most European-style carriers, is to bundle utensils inside a napkin and simply set the rolled napkin on the table. A proper first class service should involve individually placing each utensil in its proper place on the table, providing those utensils needed for each course, and replacing utensils as-needed throughout the meal. That’s not the Lufthansa standard, and that’s fine, but placing those items that we are supposed to have should be done by the flight attendant. And not by us.

Once our table setting self-service was complete, she rolled out the appetizer cart. She pointed to the three appetizers and asked which one I would like?

Still, I’m making excuses for her, I thought perhaps there was a language barrier and her English wasn’t very good. So I tried to clarify, usually they offer me all three appetizers. She repeated that I could pick one. I couldn’t fathom why she would care. More mental excuses: perhaps they also didn’t board enough appetizers for the flight?

My wife asked to try all three appetizers, I insisted, and she did receive all three.

The flight attendant was about to leave our row for the next set of passengers, when it occurred to me that we hadn’t been served any caviar. The caviar was on the cart. I stopped her and said, “Oh, I’d also like some caviar if that’s alright?”

She huffed, “Well I’ll have to turn the cart around and come back.”

Which she did. And provided me a much smaller portion of caviar than I’ve ever been served on Lufthansa (though still a perfectly reasonable portion by any other standard).

It was then that I realized that a drink was never offered post-takeoff. And it was mid-meal before I managed to get a ginger ale. When my glass was empty I was fortunate that she came and brought me something to drink – only she poured water into my ginger ale glass and ran off before I could object.

Here was my wife’s entrée:

And here was mine:

There was nothing wrong with either one.

After our mains, she came through with the dessert cart and parked it just behind my seat. She asked what we wanted for dessert? I really didn’t have a great understanding from the menu of what to expect, and I asked to see the desserts on the cart.

Instead of pulling the dessert cart forward, she was willing to show me one, I had to tell her which one I wanted to see. She showed me the Caramelized Milk Soup, it didn’t look especially appealing so I chose sight unseen ‘what was behind door number two’ which was the Truffle Creame of Chocolate.

Cheese – though on the cart – wasn’t offered.

At this point I simply stopped asking.

When the flight attendant thought she was finally done with service as she cleared our dessert plates, my wife asked for a green tea which was agreed to in a despondent – almost defeated – voice. She still had service she had to do!

Of course, by this time we were both thankful that she was done. The only interaction we’d have for hours was her providing us with blankets. And of course I had to ask for another pillow, a request which though fulfilled was met with scorn. (“Well, I don’t know that we have enough to do that for everyone. But I will do it.”)

I dozed off for a few hours and woke up to my friendly flight companion back at my seat.

Her: Are you having dinner?

Me: Sure, thanks.

Her: Well then your tray must be out!

And with that she walked off. I put out my tray.

She rolled the trolley near our row and asked which items we’d have. I asked her to roll it forward so we could see the back half of the trolley. She ignored the request and just asked what I wanted. I picked something just to end the interaction. I chose only one small plate, and she went off in a huff. She never offered a drink during second meal service. As she was clearing our table setups, though, we asked for espresso. Her reply? “I will see, maybe.”

It got to the point that we dreaded service, that we wanted service over as quickly as possible, that service actually became stressful.

And I’ve dealt with quite a lot in travel, I usually know in advance how to react to most situations. But I genuinely had no idea how to salvage the flight, how to make it better. I tried engaging the flight attendant. I tried being extra thankful. I tried being direct. Nothing worked. And while I suppose I could have sought out the purser I feared that would make things even worse.

By the end of the flight I determined that if I ever saw this flight attendant working upstairs again, I would immediately seek to downgrade to business.

Well, we were on the ground none too soon enough. Walked over to immigration, sailed through, grabbed our bags and then through customs. Skipped the prepaid taxi line and walked outside where masses of people were waiting, many with signs. I first saw a Hyatt Regency sign and asked them, “Grand Hyatt?” and the Grand Hyatt rep appeared… looked up my name and walked me over to my driver. The two of them together escorted us to the hotel car (which was complimentary, but more details on the Grand Hyatt in my next post) and we were finally in India.

Question: I have the name of the flight attendant. Should I write to Lufthansa? I was an award customer, and one booked with US Airways miles to boot, not even through Miles & More. Will they care?

Update: Lufthansa is pretty engaged in social media these days (with their various apps and also presence on boards like Flyertalk), and not surprisingly I’ve already heard from them — first in the comments, the former Flyertalk rep is my friend on Facebook, posted in the comments and forwarded on details to a team in Germany. I didn’t have to write anyone. And already first thing business morning (at least where I am!) I’ve separately heard from their Head of Corporate Communications. I’ll post an update with their response.

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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Comments

  1. I work in customer service and ive been chastised for bad service in the past but that just sounds like utter crap!

    id definately complain. You may not get something out of it but at least it will make it feel like you attempted to do something and you never know what will happen on their end.

  2. Just flew FRA-BOM in J on Thurs Dec 9.
    * Attentive and thorough service
    * solid food choices and quality

    I guess I like flying J more than F as its easier to manage my expectations if things don’t go absolutely clockwork.

    Besides the 2-3-2 seating (luckily I had an aisle), I thought LH soft product was pretty darn close to 9W, LX and BA J which I’ve flown same route over last few months.

    Next time, save your miles and fly J!

  3. Wow. Talk about timing. Should you let them know? Well, let’s see. I book travel for the attorneys in my office, and have total freedom to choose the airline. Price isn’t an issue; my jaw no longer hits the ground when I see the final ticket price, I’m used to it. This week I’ll be booking 4 seats FRA-BOM-FRA – for travel in late Dec. It will be a three-day trip and the cost will likely be 25k in total. Always First Class if over 1 hr flight. Will I risk having them come in contact with this gal? Don’t think so. Thanks for the heads up. Note to self: skip Lufthansa.

  4. First Class service is not as widely available as it used to be – today it is a limited offering on select airlines. For those that do offer first class, they need to deliver a service that is far and above anything else.

    Average will not do. There are high expectations with this class of service and if the staff are not up to delivering, the airline should be made aware.

  5. I am sincerely sorry to hear of your experience. I just returned from an Asia trip involving AA, JL, CX in J, and the service on every single flight was better than what you experienced in F. Even Indigo (an LLC) was better. Should you complain? I believe so. (I even think you should have complained to the purser, because not having done so could provide LH with a way out in their own minds, but that is spilled milk now.) A to-the-point complaint that introduces you as an experienced flyer, simply states what happened, and provides a link to this blog for more details, 🙂 could become an important part of the long term solution that may benefit others. I’d name the flight attendant in a matter of fact way without sounding vindictive. If she was good in routine non-service ways, you can even say that and recommend her for a suitable re-assignment where personal F service is not required. Maybe she would be great in Economy cabin. Only LH would know if she is a regular F attendant, or was put there in some last minute crunch and didn’t even know the proper F etiquette.

  6. I would complain. I’m not a fan of complaining about a lot of little things but First Class is in large part about service and if this FA isn’t up to standards of first class then she shouldn’t be working there. If it’s one complaint because she had a bad day then it wont be a big issue for her. But if this is a chronic problem for her then it will help the airline identify that.

  7. Like most others here, I believe that you should write to Lufthansa. Personally, I’d be matter-of-fact about it, non-vindictive, and not demand anything. The fact that you booked using US miles is irrelevant, since LH gets paid either way (in fact, using LH miles would be less beneficial to them). They (should) realize that you can choose to direct your miles elsewhere next time (i.e., your revenue).

    I was in a similar situation some years ago, only flying BA in J using AA miles. Despite being clear in my email to BA that I wasn’t requesting compensation (and perhaps because of that) they upgraded me to F on the return leg.

    I’m sure that somebody at LH cares…maybe not somebody who can do anything about anything, but still…

  8. We had four legs in LH F recently and the worst, by far, was the DEL-FRA leg on a 747. Non-existent service with not a welcoming smile in sight! In contrast, the service on our TATL legs was impeccable! Especially the last segment when we were the only two in F!

  9. Gary, I am so sorry to hear about this. You don’t need to write us, I will bring this to the attention of our VIP team in Customer Relations first thing tomorrow morning. If you haven’t written us before, please drop me a line with your contact info so they know how to reach you.

    Best,
    Michelle (formerly LHrelate)

  10. My limited experience of LH is that they do try to do the right thing. Unless they hear that one of their employees is failing in her duties, they can do nothing about it. So do complain: all well-run businesses want to hear when their service or product is failing in the eyes of their customers.

  11. Did they not hand out the customer experience packet on your flight? On my last two F flights with LH I received a questionnaire about the service. I thought this was normal.

    Either way, I’d write to LH about it.

  12. The only answer here is to complain. This is unacceptable in any business / service industry. These people can’t be allowed to continue abusing customers like that. And that’s what I call that “service” – abuse….

    For F, the airline must expect to provide a decent, consistent level of service. I’m sure the staff knew that you were on a miles booking, but that’s irrelevant – the service isn’t defined by what you paid. Is it?

    So please be sure to highlight this to Lufthansa and let us know how you get on…

  13. @S I had gotten the survey on the previous segment, IAD-FRA, but not on FRA-BOM. Perhaps they chose other customers they weren’t abusing who were sitting behind us for the survey? 🙂

  14. Wow, this is really stunning to read about this. I’ve only heard good things about LH F. Really hope it was a one-off but certainly makes me rethink any future bookings.

  15. Gary, I would definitely chirp up. Nothing is lost by filing a complaint especially if it’s valid. Plus it will make a good follow up post if anything did arise from the complaint.

  16. Well, couple points.

    A:) I think we’re getting just a LITTLE ahead of ourselves with expectations of what constitutes great First Class service. Expectations from a frequent F traveler can be VERY high indeed and the airlines are certainly in competition for this customer. ALL customers in F should be treated the same, regardless of fare basis, upgrade, award ticket, nationality, etc. This MAY or MAY NOT have been the case here. Not sure.

    So, when the niceties of the expected F service are sub-par based on the FA, I would let it slide.

    But, I WOULD WRITE A LETTER, and direct it both to the FRA service center and the US one in LAX. I would comment on what your expectations should reasonably have been and that the FA was clearly sub par in their execution of the required Lufthansa F practice.

    BUT, I WOULD NOT CALL THEM OUT by name. It is not necessary to single out the ONE individual, Lufthansa will take up the effort across the crew or across their F FA staff in a memo or training regardless. There is rarely just one bad egg (at least not for long) and they will proceed to elevate the overall F FA’s delivery of their product.

  17. That was simply appalling service and I very much sympathize. I know that sinking feeling where you try and salvage as much as you can of something. I don’t think it’s a language barrier issue as they probably speak English half of the time with customers. I’m certain she was having a very bad hair day and you were caught in the crossfire.

    You wonder if you should have spoken to the purser. I think I would have, in your situation. I would have asked to speak to the purser and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I’d prefer to be served by someone else. You were a first class passenger and should expect nothing less than royal treatment.

    And the fact that you were an award customer shouldn’t be an issue at all.

    Will LH care? Oh yes, they certainly will.

  18. I respectfully disagree with tivoboy – you need to let them know the name of the FA. The most important thing for LH is to know which member of staff may be in need of retraining or reassignment. It’s not so much Gary’s business that they need to salvage as prevent future complaints from other customers.

  19. Absolutely you must write a polite letter to Lufthansa with names and specifics. Any good operation in the service business (and Lufthansa tries to have an excellent first class product) dreads having dissatisfied cutomers who don’t report problems.

  20. As someone who has considered swapping my flying from CO to LH for the WiFi on my trips to Delhi, I hope that you do report her.

  21. From your post Gary, it sounds like she was condescending and rude. If the service was poor, yet polite, I would perhaps let it go. But in this case, absolutely provide her name in your complaint to Lufthansa. I am flying LH first class LAX-FRA next summer with my niece and hope I don’t get her.

  22. Wow. I am flying LH F to Asia next week, and this report is disappointing. Did the FA treat other passengers the same? Or was it because she thought you’re on award with no LH status?

    I too would complain. You didn’t just have BAD service. You had NO service. I’d never heard of missing pre-flight drinks in the front cabin. Not even on domestic J.

  23. This post tells fellow travelers everything that they need to know about selecting Lufthansa. Thank you for the public service.

  24. Enough constructive advice has already been given.

    I read somewhere that many call center jobs have been shifted to Philippines; did not know that the laid off workers in Mumbai were being picked up for Luft F flight attendant assignments. 🙂

  25. Hi Gary,

    I can’t believe you didn’t say anything on the flight. Didn’t the purser introduce themselves to you at the beginning of the flight? That wasn’t the purser, was it?

    -David

  26. Wow…can’t say that I’d ever experienced something like that on Lufthansa, either in F or J. Generally, I think they are above average in their service and typically professional, although sometimes they can be lacking a little warmth. I would definitely write them a letter, sticking to the facts to let them know where they failed. Maybe even give them a link to this blog entry. In my experience, when they mess up your trip in some fashion, they don’t really go out of their way to make it right, but you might get a nicely written letter of apology from some big shot. Maybe that is all the satisfaction that you’re seeking.

  27. Wow tivoboy! Were you working the flight? The FA was totally lame and needs to be called out. It wasn’t a crew problem.

    Gary, when you needed the cart moved up, and after the service was already suffering, I would have gone with,”You can either move the cart up so I can see the selections or get me the purser.”

    Sorry to hear about your experience. I think your expectations were realistic and would have been very frustrated.

  28. I’d definitely complain as the service on LH is usually great from what I’ve found. In fact my seat was having issues once before in first on an award and they immediately gave me some vouchers for 4,000 bonus miles and moved me to a new seat.

  29. Hi Gary,

    I am a flight attendant with a US based Star Alliance airline. I’ve experience in a similar product as LH First.

    When a crew member degrades the expected level of service, it can reflect poorly on the entire brand, as it did in your case. The performance of the incorrigible FA on your flight needs to be corrected. LH will certainly be interested in your comments.

    The majority of FAs working up front know how to deliver the product, and we take pride in our service. A job well done is personally fulfilling, and happy customers equate to job security. A sour, unrepentant FA is bad for business and a pain to work with.

    I hope your experience on that flight fades to a distant memory. Give LH and their competent FAs another shot.

    If your relationship with LH cannot be reconciled, come see us over at the new United.

    Sincerely,

    CO FA

  30. @CAL gal I had perfectly lovely service on my final United segment home as part of this very same trip. But as you’ll see when I get around to writing it up… those old 777s are an embarassment even in first class. Still, while the food could use an upgrade for sure. And a proper international first class includes branded amenities and pajamas at least on overnight flights. But United does a decent job while refusing to invest in the product, I actually LIKED getting Purell in my amenity kit, Scope, and Colgate toothpaste. Pair the amneity kit with the new seat… and the service that SOME crews offer (it IS too variable at United) and you ALMOST have a good first class product. Ground service doesn’t match of course, the lounges aren’t much. And the food just isn’t world standard for international first. But it can work. I was certainly happier with my broken down seat in United first than on this flight! 🙂

  31. I am amazed at this discussion. Based on the service provided I’d boycott all F products and fly solely economy back by the rear lavatories. That’ll show them.

  32. oh dear, sounds like you had a terrible FA on that flight.
    After the first couple of cock ups, I’d have called the purser to sort things out – and perhaps even remove this FA from the F cabin? On a recent flight the FA kept addressing me with the wrong name 3x in a row, even though I pointed out to her 3x that I was not the gentleman she thought I was.
    I subsequently told the purser my frustration and she was replaced by another FA who was just great!
    8I didn’t really care at that point that I’d be the jerk in F).

    From what i read in your post, this is certainly not normal for LH F – and I have been on 75 LH F flights so far! 😉
    Sorry to hear about the bad experience.

  33. My mom (she is Indian) had a similar experience on her BOM-FRA and FRA-BOM flights. She said that the F service was the worst she has ever experienced.

    Perhaps LH doesn’t particularly care about their Indian flights.

  34. Gary, just an FYI on Lufthansa.
    Continental has just added online award availability for LH flights and seem to have a great selection of business class redemptions to Europe!!!

  35. Double D may have a point about LH service on flights to and from India, although I don’t think it means that Lufthansa as a company “doesn’t particularly care”.

    Part of the problem is that many LH cabin crew members just don’t see India as a particularly attractive destination. Most white Germans probably feel the same — India doesn’t get a great press and much of what is reported is poverty, homelessness, disease and terrorism. So a typical German flight attendant would prefer a night or two in California, South America or SE Asia. This means that your chances of finding Lufthansa’s finest are lower on a BOM flight. You’ll also find, unfortunately, that *some* LH staff are plain prejudiced against India and Indians.

    Generally, if a country has safe, good quality carriers (and India does), then one of them would be my first choice when flying to that country. A good second choice is an airline from a country with some cultural/linguistic/historical connections to the country you’re visiting. We took British Airways to/from BOM last winter and were well looked after by happy crews. (The flight back was delayed because of snow at LHR and our cabin crew had spent an extra night away from home. Their reaction: “No problem, we enjoy coming here and the hotel was amazing.”)

  36. As an Indian who has been flying to/from India for 30+ years, I have some understanding of the spectrum of prejudice. Many Indian travelers sometimes engage in boorish behavior and reinforce these prejudices. HOWEVER, as someone who seldom gets to travel 1st class, my own prejudice / wishful thinking is that all of that does or should stop at economy class. 🙂

    I can certainly second IMH’s advice to use Indian carriers to India but with a little twist: It may or may not work well for Indians, but should work for Caucasians. Indian staff will treat you very well. Coach might be a little noisy, but that should not be a problem in 1st Class. My wife is White American and I can certainly feel the difference when we travel together from when I do alone. Is there a country whose FA’s go crazy over Indian pax, or was I just born in the wrong century? 🙂

  37. I am glad you got such fast reply from corporate office. I don’t have any status with LH, and my issue was brushed off. It was my first flight on Lufthansa-LAX_FRA, when flight attendant knocked off the entire stack of plastic orange cups on me. It was very painful when the stack hit my arm. I commented that it’s painful, but she gave me a dirty look and didn’t even apologize. I was holding my arm during the rest of the flight for several hours, took out ice from my cup – fa saw that I was in pain but acted as if nothing has happened. My trip to Europe was ruined, as I had pain moving my arm and the bruise stayed for several weeks.
    I didn’t know what to do during the flight. I did speak to personnel at FRA airport, trying to make a formal complain, but they could care less.
    That is my experience with Lufthansa (((.

    PS I just discovered Michelle in this blog, got excited that there is someone at LH who cares, only to find out that she left ((. From flyertalk comments I see that her shoes are not filled in and probably won’t be.

  38. @Rita,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. While it’s true that I’m not working FT in an official capacity anymore, I do still work with Customer Relations and I know everyone in the US office. Are you US-based? Did you already file a complaint with the NYC office? If not I can help you out with that.

    You can reach me at firstname.lastname at gmail if needed.

    Best,
    Michelle

  39. I would always mention a name when speaking to a corporate representative when providing feedback on good or not so good customer service.
    This way you are providing detailed feedback and feedback is how we learn.
    I would have found this service unacceptable. I travel J on Garuda frequently – and their service is better than what you experienced in F on LH.
    Regardless of how you obtained your ticket, cash or award or even a company FOC – you are a First Class Guest and need to be treated like you are the most important person in your world. (which you are)
    I am glad that LH corporate is being proactive, but one bad apple like this would make me seek out another airline for this sector.
    Whats the old customer service story – upset a customer and they tell 10 people – please a customer and they mention it to 3 people.

    No company can afford the first situation.

  40. I recently watched a stand up comedian, forget his name, and part of his routine lambasted those little Englanders who constantly bemoaned, every time something occurred that slightly inconvenienced them, that the UK was becoming like a third world country.

    He them imagined a reporter in a camp in Somalia coming across someone weeping and beating the ground. Why are you in despair, the reporter asks. Is it because you have been driven from your home. Is it because your children are seriously sick and you cannot afford medicine. Is it because you are all hungary and there is no food.

    No, replies the refugee, it is because I have just learned that some people in Essex only have their wheelie bins collected fortnightly.

    This was brought to mind when I read John P describing being deprived of your amuse bouche as a form of abuse. It may not be the service you feel you paid for but its not abuse.

  41. I am a flight attendant and I take pride in my duties and providing excellent service. First I would like to say, I often hand service items to the person seated at the window because it is impossible not to straddle the person on the aisle (depending on the configuration). If you are so needy that you can’t take a piece of linen or a plate without complaining then it sounds like you may have a bit of a problem. With every single airline that I know of, flight attendants are not paid until the brakes are released. Boarding time is the most difficult as trying to get 400 people seated in 55 minutes and they bring everything but the kitchen sink and expect a spot for it is also difficult. So, if a beverage was not offerred prior to takeoff that it could be that there was chaos…the aircraft is often catered while we are boarding and we don’t have anything to offer a passenger. Finally, I am often embarrassed that I am not provided with the proper tools to serve passengers in the way that would classify a First Class service. Understand, that when you write a letter you are jeopardizing some person’s livelyhood.

    No one thinks about how our hotel in Bombay was attacked and how we had to get out of there by climbing over dead bodies and hide in the streets of India for 15 hours without a word from our company. Or how we were stuck in the middle of riots in Los Angeles or how we have to put out fires that people start by trying to blow up there underwear.

    I adore India and I love Germany but I am an American and it is not prejudice that determines how we act. We try to be culturally polite and depending on where we go is how we have to treat the people in general..We are trained to do that. In Japan, I always serve the eldest male first and the woman second…That is polite. In India, I do my best not to do to much with my right hand in service situations.

    I worked through chemotherapy and radiation because I was unable to take time off for my illness without the risk of being fired. After 9-11 and after 26-11, air travel changed drastically. Flight Attendants are generally not as glamouros as in previous decades but neither are the passengers. We are the police first during these worldwide volitle times.

    I’m sure after my father passed away and I was only allowed 3 days to attend his funeral in Hawaii (a 10 hour flight from New York) I was not in the most cheerful mood. But, again…bereavement comes out of our sick bank and after battling cancer for 6 years I didn’t have any sick time.

    I assume when a passenger is mean or harsh with me that they may possibly be going to a funeral or anything that may have lead them to their nasty behavior. I promise you, more passengers are very nasty and demeaning to flight crews than not.

    I will close with this. After 20 years of flying, I have seen the worst and the best of human beings. I have spent the night in the hospital with passengers who became gravely ill and unable to complete their journey…I have performed CPR 3 times and saved all three lives. I have fought fires, had a emergency landing and the list goes on so far you could not imagine. In 20 years I have had one bad letter and if I get one more I could be fired. ONE LETTER! I forgot to give a woman her pre-departure bottle of water. I am HUMAN! I FORGOT!

    I have taken a 40% paycut and watched my CEO fly away in his golden parachute. The industry has changed so you may want to learn to adapt to that change.

    I am not trying to berate you (I know it sounds that way) but, you NEVER know and the fact that you documented with pictures shows you were probably looking for every mess up after the nut incident. You paid for a ticket to get you from point A to point B. Tickets in 1976 were the same price as they are today…We are also making a lot less money. In addition, the fork and knives being placed accordingly. They have a service standard and it is to have it in the linen wrapped up. It is not a 5 star restaurant…It is an airline and we do the best we can with what we have to work with. Cheers! I hope I get to serve you in the future and that while doing so you will not be taking pictures. If you are unhappy with something….please feel free to politely tell me and I will do my best to make your flight safe and enjoyable. P.S. I agree, those tiny movie screens are almost impossible to see…LOL…However, you are not at the movies either and video systems do malfunction from time to time.

  42. Julie, thankyou for your service to this industry. I ve had some really bad experiences too. Once I was flying Air India and there was no space in the luggage cabinet so I asked the air hostess where to keep a bag, and she replied sarcastically to keep it on her head. And later I asked her when she was serving drinks if I could get absolut vodka instead of smirnoff, she replied, these are recession times, be happy you getting this also…I smiled it off but have never travelled the airline since…Also, on the same flight my seat was all messed up and refused to recline…My heart goes out to you, and I understand your position…Thankyou for your service…And may god bless you… I did nt complain about the incident but I can imagine 26/11 as it took place in my backyard living 2 blocks away from the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai. Thankyou
    Love Suraj

  43. Read the responses with interest. While Julie has articulated the other side of the coin very well, I just want to emphasise that a First Class passenger comes with loads of expectations. Some of them are based on previous experiences and some from his visualising the desired EXPERIENCE. In this case it appears that even the basics have not been met .The best possible remedy for the passenger is to send a message to the Airline .The passenger needs to communicate , as to how the service belied expectations. It helps all in the long run .

  44. Pretty obvious that this was a bad case of cranky service that turned into let’s document everything which probably didn’t help.

    Julie’s response is pretty lame……….Julie you are in the customer service industry…….if you don’t like to serve others or your employer…….then quit………..but to carry around all the negativity you have for your airline is going to come out on your customers and then when they have a choice THEY WILL DRIVE…….as a result of the way the industry has gone down, I fly 75% less today and do drive to most of my vacations………..So in a sense Julie you are creating a downward spiral with your self defeating attitude……..

    This article and attendant response also gives due notice to flyers to stay away from ANY airline going through labor strife as they will TAKE IT OUT ON THEIR CUSTOMERS by unbolting the seats or crabby service…………

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