United Flight Attendant Trashes Travel Blogger, Defends Trump Immigration Policy

Zach Honig is former editor now editor at large for The Points Guy. I’ve had the good fortune to know Zach, he’s a good egg though perhaps a bit of a United partisan.

United introduced the old fashioned as a cocktail on its premium transcon flights this spring. Zach was naturally excited to order one while flying San Francisco – Newark on United’s Saturday 2:50 p.m. departure flight UA2044. He was refused.

Fortunately the flight attendant ‘found’ it. But without the candied orange peel.

It turns out that the flight crew had kept the orange peels for themselves, but a bit of prodding got them to release one to Zach.

The flight attendant getting drinks for Zach was wearing headphones.

Another flight attendant ate a business class salad during boarding.

That’s disappointing of course, but a good reminder for me that as much as I criticize American crews — and as reasonably good experiences as I’ve had with United’s crews over the last 18 months or so – they suffer the same failings.

There’s little to no consequence for poor service, which means United can invest all it wants in their premium seats and amenities but those are ultimately delivered by people who may only care because it’s in their nature — institutionally the airline doesn’t incentivize good service, they don’t provide disincentives for poor service, and indeed they’ve even been looking to cut costs on performance bonuses.


United 757 in San Francisco

All of this might have disappeared into the Twitterverse, but United flight attendant @gianna1809 chimed in. (She denied being a United flight attendant in the twitter thread but Airliners.net has photos of her in uniform.)

First she defended the crew, there really was only one old fashioned to offer. That’s obviously wrong because Zach got seconds.

She rolled her eyes about alcohol and emphasized that United flight attendants aren’t really in the service business.

Our hero even seems to suggest Zach is a drunk (I’ve had more to drink whenever we’ve been at the same event).

She defends crew eating in the galley during boarding suggesting they were doing passengers a favor, they could have chosen not to work and blow off the flight, with passengers either delayed or cancelled. Thanks for the favor!

I sure hope I don’t get @gianna1809 on my next flight, both for her outstanding attitude towards her job — and for her lovely take on current events.

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. There is about a dozen examples on this page of Trumpanzees hurling insults and decrying the Gary’s post in general, yet you claim that the people calling you out are “void of any ideas, nothing but…juvenile insults and name calling.”

    Projection much?

    Also, why is disagreeing with Trump’s immigration policy mean this blog is becoming “another extreme left blah blah blah”. So now disagreeing with the president means you’re extreme leftist? Did disagreeing with Obama mean you were an extreme right-winger? These caricatures are truly ridiculous.

  2. @ JJ this blog is supposed to be about travel – not politics. Try looking at why these issues with illegals weren’t address in the 8 years of the previous administration. And yes – I have often been accused of being an “extreme right winger.”

    MAGA

  3. Actually Jim, Gary has stated many times that this is his site is about more than just travel. Perhaps you’d know that if you’d been here long enough? If you have a problem with that then maybe you should find a safe space, snowflake.

  4. JJ – still name calling? Stick to the issue. Still waiting to hear why the past administration didn’t fix something in eight years that the current administration is being blamed for.

    MAGA

  5. @JJ

    Ha, talk about projecting…Liberals own the snowflake label, the rest of us don’t need safe spaces.

    This is a travel blog, it’s in boardingarea, which is a travel blog network. To assert that it is not is just willful ignorance. As a liberal, I’m sure you are on board with the whole “CO2 is evil and will cause the earth to die” stupidity, so why are you even interested in travel anyway? How about be a good little SJW, get off the grid, and live a subsistence lifestyle.

    On the topic at hand: There is only one reason to explain poor service on US airlines: Unions. The only fully legal extortion racket left. And guess who loves unions? Liberals.

  6. How shitty do our airlines have to get before we start to address the real problem and highlight issues like this wide enough so they have to get better?

  7. “…bit of a United partisan”? The only entity Honig is a bigger shill for is Chase, along with TPG himself.

  8. Because the right led by the Orange Baboon and talk radio for 25 years are such a good example!

    The RIGHT is the most hated worldwide. You are the ones who cause suffering, poverty, war, everything the world hates about YOU. The left fights the right to establish and protect HUMAN values against the greatest inhumanity the world has seen in decades. This is on YOU, and we are not playing nice and tolerant liberals any longer to be your chumps. You’re already exposed worldwide as fat bullies, and we know how hard and fast bullies fall.

    My God, torturing little children in camps. What else? Have you people no shame at all? You’re exposed for all the world to see and the world unites in calling and putting you OUT!

  9. There is a real middle management problem at United – far worse than many people realize. Flew UA 1073 DTW-DEN on 11 June in F (paid – not an upgrade) with my wife. After we’re airborne, the FA comes to each F PAX and tells them that an equipment change (news to me) resulted in the aircraft not being catered, and there was no meal in F. The FA was truly professional about a bad situation — offered each PAX an ETC based on Mileage Plus status ($100 for my wife, who had no status, and $150 for me as a Silver Premier) or bonus miles (5K for her, 7500 for me). Also, offered what they had in the way of snack boxes (very few – this apparently was miscatered, too). And many apologies – I felt that the FA was truly embarrassed.

    The reason I believe this is a management fail is that it should have been the responsibility of the chief of station or his/her delegate in Detroit to get the catering truck to the new equipment immediately after the decision on equipment change was implemented. Instead, it dropped on the floor. This isn’t news — equipment changes are routine.

    So, gianna1809’s attitude reflects her management above her. It appears to me that management lack of concern for the PAX is endemic at UA. And it also appears that no one’s executive bonus is tied to customer satisfaction scores (as my wife’s and my bonuses were). So things will continue to flounder at UA. What gets measured gets done – and conversely.

    We compare and contrast our experience with our return flight on Delta today – DL 1511 DEN-DTW. Everything on that flight ran like clockwork, except for the failure of the FA to offer pre-departure beverage in F. (Not a management issue.)

    In short, from my wife’s and my perspective, with a combined 59 years in corporate management up to and including senior management, the transition from the top of the house to the customer-facing personnel lies in the hands of the middle managers. They can do their jobs well or poorly, and the effect on the organization will show every time.

    This was a trial run for my wife and me on UA. She wasn’t impressed. Guess which airline we will not fly across the pond to Scandinavia next month in J/C.

  10. @ Greg LOL!!! Seriously – I Laughed Out Loud!!! Thank you for admitting the left is the party of hate; something we have known all along. I loved your comment “tolerant liberals” BWAHAHAHAHA!!!! Hilarious!!! Yes; these poor little illegal darling were “tortured” for the entire eight years of the last administration and it is up to Trump to once again fix the mess that was left behind. But you failed my dear friend, and I’m very disappointed in you. For you have failed to play that tired old worn out race card by neglecting to call me a racist!!!

  11. I am finished with this blog. If I want partisan politics there are plenty of sites offering same. I initially subscribed for travel information but it has become less so, adios.

  12. You are spot on Gary. This is management 101. United will probably say nothing sending the signal to FA’s that there is no point in providing excellent customer service. Beyond exasperated as a United Platinum!

  13. @Retired Lawyer,

    As always, insightful comments so well said!

    I’ll just add that these are just the commonly seen outcomes in industries that lack competition that fall into the categories cartels and oligopolies – be they the behaviors and attitudes of BOTH management and unionized labor.

    I’m so sick of hearing the anti-labor crowd whine about unions because they’re just frustrated that they can’t screw their employees as easily as they routinely do with non-union labor.

    Please…cry me a river for these greedy jerks.

    Case in point: Southwest is, and has long been, among the most highly unionized airline in our country. Yet, it also has been the most consistently profitable (including paying quarterly dividends for decades and maintaining credit worthiness from both of the leading companies that Wall Street and other financial entities rely upon to make important investment decisions); has never filed for bankruptcy; and has never walked away from its pension obligations as most of our other airlines, including the largely union-free, Delta, have.

    Oh, and Southwest is also the least bs fee addled – not to mention is consistently ranked much higher than other airlines, including the largely union free Delta (btw…Delta’s flight attendants are NOT unionized; only its pilots and a much smaller group of dispatchers are…but other than that…and despite several efforts to unionize other labor groups at Delta, that airline is union free).

    So, please, become better informed about the decades long profitability and success at unionized up the wazoo Southwest before your knee jerk anti-union alternative facting @WR.

    Or better yet, stop guzzling that toxic, brain cell killing, MAGA “Kool Aid”…seems like it’s frying your brain since you clearly know next to nothing about the many successes achieved by one of the most highly unionized airlines in our country, Southwest.

    Get your facts straight before launching into your anti-union rant.

  14. Addendum:

    Southwest is consistently ranked much higher than other airlines by a wide range of the leading customer service surveys/ratings entities that routinely issue ratings/rankings reports.

    So, whether its Southwest’s unmatched success in rewarding its shareholders for decades through share price increases, stock splits and even those obscenely large, cash/blood sucking stock buybacks that does nothing more than take money out of the company…

    …it’s success over decades of deregulation that saw many of our country’s best known names in the industry succumb to mismanagement, recessions, oil shocks, terror attacks, not to mention outlasting many, many others that tried, and failed to succeed as new entrant deregulation “babies”…

    …it’s phenomenal achievment of never filing for bankruptcy and fobbing off its pension obligations to its highly unionized employees…

    …and for the rest of us, the ones who seek to have some semblance of dignity when we fly, consistently high ratings for customer service…

    …it’s an airline that is among the MOST unionized in our country that has outdone, outlasted and outshone virtually every other in the 40 years since deregulation of our airlines began in 1978, including those that Frank Lorenzo destroyed even after he broke the unions (Continental and Eastern), or Delta, which apart from its pilots and a small group of Dispatchers, is also a non-union shop…

    Facts talk…bs walks!

    Just sayin’… 😉

  15. @Howard Miller: I am confused. I said nothing about unions, either pro or con.

    I related a recent incident that I experienced at UA, and compared it to a similar flight at DL. And, I commented from long experience — much of it cleaning up messes made by middle and senior management — that the translation of policy from the C-suite to the customer-facing employee is in the hands of middle-management layers between the two ends, and the commitment of those middle-managers to the corporate vision (or lack thereof) makes or breaks the corporation. It is the function of upper management to insure that commitment as well as to provide the clear vision.

    United senior management simply has not done either. My scant experience with American indicates it, like United, has neither clear vision nor motivation to the middle-management necessary to implement it. My experience with Southwest and Delta is that those companies do have clear vision, and sufficient motivation to the middle of the house. Say what you will about Ed Bastian — he is an effective and competent CEO, and his organization reflects this.

    Whether a company is highly unionized or not unionized is not a factor here.

  16. @ Howard Miller Are you OK bro? Do you need to see a doctor or anything? Maybe get your meds refilled? You kinda went off on a couple of long winded wild rants there… Anyway, I hope everything works out for you…

    MAGA

  17. And execute them, like in North Korea, they dear to disagree with you. They didn’t provide VIP service to The Blogger, never mind other passengers and other duties.

  18. @ Jim – you may or may not be a racist. But what you ARE is an idiot. Time to crawl out of your mama’s bed, put down the opioids, and learn how the real world works. And no, the worst President in history is not going to “MAGA.” He is blowing it up. (Don’t know how to translate this into Russian to make it easier for you to read).

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