Update: See statement from American Airlines at the bottom of this post. I have also updated the title of the post.
At the beginning of last week I wrote about American’s service training for new flight attendants. Basically they don’t get any although the airline says they’ll start offering a (very) modest amount next year.
American’s Vice President – Inflight explained to employees at an internal question and answer session,
We’ve heard that feedback for several years that new hire training we’re not providing as much service training as we should. That’s very fair feedback.
We’re in the process right now of taking the curriculum — we’re not expanding the number of days… but we’re taking two days and we’re going to be adding more food service training… more service and more training and bidding experience in the program that starts in 2019.
Several flight attendants have weighed in on this discussion. Here’s what they had to say:
Current management eliminated service training
No, there is no additional training for the premium cabin service beyond the one day basic training. None whatsoever, which is a big problem. And during that training, I don’t think that the instructors are emphasizing how demanding certain positions on the aircraft are, such as working the galley positions in first or business.
…We never had junior flight attendants blocked from working in the premium cabins before at legacy AA, but we had extensive training and had a clue before getting on the aircraft. …It’s only in the past 2 or 3 years that proper food service training was eliminated. The legacy AA flight attendants hired 4 or 5 years ago still had a lot of training.
Most flight attendants watch a food service in training, they don’t even get to practice it.
I think what the flight attendant in question has said is that she feels our standards are set very low for her new co-workers, who receive one day of food service training, and it’s not enough. From what I hear, only the “stars” in each class participate in a mock meal service, while the others sit in passenger seats and “observe.”
So the new hires come onto the line without ever having seen a true international meal service. Imagine working a full 777-300 to LHR with half of the crew being brand new, and they don’t even know what the service is in coach, let alone First or Business.
…I flew with a new flight attendant and she was working in coach to LHR. The crew told me that she served the passengers their meals, but neglected to give them the tray with them. The flight attendant following her on the beverage cart noticed that all the passengers had a meal in the little plastic dish, but no tray or cutlery. He had to chase her down the aisle and tell her that the passengers need a TRAY besides just the hot meal. Now multiply this by 6 or 7 flight attendants in a crew, and you can imagine the chaos, not just the cabin but the galley.
American used to provide a week of training for international (because most of a flight attendant’s job isn’t safety..)
International Flagship Service training used to be a week of training, and you had to have the seniority to be able to fly international because it was a separate division from domestic. And during that week of training, EVERYONE had hands on experience. It’s fine to teach the new hires how to be nice, but 80% of our job on a routine international flight is food service.
Flight attendants start not even knowing how the ovens work.
At AA it’s just the one day of food service during the six or seven weeks the new hires go through now. Some don’t know how to use the ovens or know how to properly heat up the meals, and the more experienced F/As have to give them “on the job” training
Ultimately when American is going to reprimand flight attendants for waiting on catering to deliver plates for international first class service prior to departing or when a double-catered international flight has no first class catering at all and manager stand on the jetway deriding the flight attendant who insisted on getting some all the training in the world isn’t going to help.
American has to get its gate staffing, its techops, and its catering all functioning properly before it can ever achieve D0. Telling employees to sacrifice service for on-time departures they can’t meet anyway isn’t enough.
Update: American Airlines provides a statement,
Your headline, “American Airlines Doesn’t Even Teach New Flight Attendants How the Ovens Work,” is inaccurate and misrepresents the training our new flight attendants receive.
We train our flight attendants on both domestic and international food service—and for all cabins of service. Before they ever step foot on a plane, our new hire flight attendants spend more than 36 hours learning galley prep, food service (including oven operation) and service standards. New flight attendants also learn via live, hands-on training during two domestic roundtrip flights before they graduate.
We are incredibly proud of our 27,000 flight attendants and actively encourage feedback from all team members. We use their input to evaluate and improve existing training and will continue to do so.
I have updated the title of this post to “American’s Flight Attendants React to Their Lack of Service Training”