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What is it with Americans?

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What is it with Americans?

Old 8th Jan 2005, 08:51
  #1 (permalink)  
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Location: UK
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What is it with Americans?

Now this might be a slightly controversial post and for that I apologise, however its something I have been wondering and noticing for a long time.

I have only flown on American carriers twice (Northwest & American). Both times however, the crews were almost exclusively grumpy old women. Seemed to have forgotten how to smile and say hello, virtually threw meals and drinks at you etc etc. The only time my dad (who flew regularly before he retired) has ever written to an airline to complain about a service was when he flew from Atlanta to Manchester on Delta. Speaking to colleagues at work they seem to have had similar experiences.

One reason we were thinking is maybe to get long haul with the American carriers, it works on a seniority system? Ergo the oldest, longest serving staff (who are most likely the most bored of the job, pissed off with conditions etc etc) are the one's thrown on the long haul fleets. Again I apologise if this particular thread offends. I realise it's a sweeping generalisation and there will be plenty of cheery, happy, friendly American long haulers out there. However they seem to be in the minority. Thanks in advance
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 09:07
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Dont the "seniors" have first option to bid for any long haul where they can pick up maximum allowances. It makes you wonder who would be helping who in an emergency, some of the Grey old girls look very frail.
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 09:11
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My understanding is that seniority rules cabin crew rosters in the US carriers. The senior (=oldest) people are usually on longhaul and cherry pick what are considered the best trips (ATL to MAN in your case).

It is therefore common to see a group of 'like-minded' attendants on the same route together. Furthermore, as I understand it, age cannot be used as a factor to retire someone, so long as they can still pass the mandatory check item(s) of opening the doors. For this reason, the attendants are often quite advanced in years, and if the rumours are true, occasionally into their 70's.

Under the new European legislation due in 2006, it will also be illegal to discrimate on age in the EU, which could see a similar situation develop this side of the pond!

In BA, the crew are rostered rather than seniority bid, so on longhaul you may in the future still see some crew under 50
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 09:12
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Vampy, I don't think you'll get many dissenters to what is effectively a true picture that you portray.
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 09:25
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but MAN is a 'best trip'?

cargosales is offline  
Old 8th Jan 2005, 09:30
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I was in Sydney once on holidays and saw some United Airlines crew, they were soooooooo old i couldn't believe it!!! If i was a passenger i'd be thinking what's going to happen in an emergency with this lot of old grannies? even if they have passed all of the checks every 6 months or so! but as said, you can't discriminate about age.
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 09:34
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Well this is a good point you've raised and one which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later... time (and age) is not on our side.

Recently some ex-Ansett boilers challenged the decision of VB not to hire them and said it was due to their (advanced) age.

They don't understand that people, as you've just shown, do not really want their grandmother's bingo team in charge of the slides, rafts, sashaying, looking good, etc.

And the businessmen think about getting an occasional VPL sighting, maybe evidence of a micro-scopic "G". They definitely DO NOT want evidence of a macroscopic set of bloomers and a girdle... not to mention the falsies falling out and chattering on the floor.

A woman where I fly sits at the front out of harms way and does the crossword the entire sector. She's the purser and looks about 75 or so but is senile so the captains just have her placed out of the way in the galley. Is this good??? Well I admit it IS kinda funny but not giving the businessmen or death-phobic ice-cream lickers what they want.
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 10:22
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Unfair and ageist is what I would say

-I agree many USof A carriers FA s are shall we say very experienced but I have had some good trips and ,I admit ,some bad trips across the pond with them. One AA daytime from Kennedy to LHR was expecially good because of the two silver haired 'girls' who looked after J class with style and a smile.

I spent two years in SAS land and any woman under 30 and in uniform on an the assorted length MD80s/DC9s was most likely the FO. However I think they were consistently the best cabin crew I have come across being professional yet polite and friendly and often genuinely welcoming-. Very nice to get an understanding smile and a kind word when collapsing into your seat at the end of a day that started at 0615 and involved racing around some European capital to meetings then ended with a flight back to ARN arriving at 2300 or something.

BA are a mix of age and attitude with some great people in both categories and a good few just a bit too impressed with themselves. Sometimes you get both in one package-going to Singapore once the CSD walked like a catwalk model and spoke like the Queens voice coach. However she did have a friendly chat with many of the J class pax who are BAs bread and butter and was just as happy later on playing with some overly high spirited kids down the back

Qantas -which appears to have virtually all male crews on LH (and very competent they often are) seems to have the opposite proportion on domestic flights many of whom are 40+, friendly and funny as well as professional;-

en route Syd-Cairns

FA would you like a cup of tea
Me having just declined coffee-I am not that fond of tea for a brit.
FA G..arn have cup-its Ozzie Tea it'll be beaut

So please done write off/slag off the older lady FAs as a generality, lots of them are lovelym. They know how to make a decent Bloody Mary and inspire a lot more confidence about the serious side of Cabin Crew duties than some of their younger nominally prettier colleagues

pax britanica is offline  
Old 8th Jan 2005, 11:46
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Well, I must say I am well into the darker side of 40 ( a lady never tells !!)

But I can tell you this much, I have taken over from several 20-somethings who have ran away in tears after interactions from some vile, drunken creep pax .... give me five mins no matter how angry, how drunk any passenger is ... guarentee I will have them eating out of my hands.

Youth and good looks might be great (had them once ) but I can also tell you that the experience of 20+ years in the skies makes me confident in any situation ...form placating obnoxious old p*ss-heads to more serious emergencies (have had my share of both!!).

and can honestly say after all these years, still love the job, and the pax still love me (even if they cant see my g-string )

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Old 8th Jan 2005, 12:18
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The Lady who shall be obieyed......and myself have flown on numerous occassions across the pond, we have been constantly staggered by the apparent age, lack of customer service, and general lethargy a large proportion of these crews provide. Just to qualify those comments..wifey works as cabin crew..and she has voiced to me on more than one occasion her concerns.
Take nothing away from these very experienced people..except perhaps...the mean spiritness (and I live in the UK so I know what it looks like when I see it!) the sour "you get what you're dam well given" looks...oh and my personal favourite (cos granny used do it all the time)...the selective hearing!
A mixture of youth/enthusiasm and age/experience is what is required...but dont hold your breath...the US trade unions learnt a lot off the mafia....so its not gonna change anytime soon.

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Old 8th Jan 2005, 12:36
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On the other hand...

One of the best flights I ever took was with TWA from LGW to STL. Myself and a colleague were in their first/business class cabin. The aircraft, a 767, somehow managed to look older than its actual age.

The cabin crew in the front cabin were all old enough to be my granny. I could not help overhearing one (by no means the oldest) discussing with her colleague an operation she was about to undergo for some sort of 'women's problem'. Not an inspiring start.

However, one particular lady, who I'd guess was well into her sixties, seemed to have the attitude "your on my flight and I'm going to do my damndest to ensure you enjoy it!" She really looked after us and was great fun.

Speaking to her, she was indeed a Granny and with the level of seniority she had, could choose to fly a couple of times a month on flights of her choosing.

I've always had a soft spot for the people of TWA - this wasn't the only example I had of sustained great customer service from their staff. The aircraft may have been old and shabby but the people were a bright light.
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 14:19
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Just met some CC in BOM.
All of dem looked like mommies to d pilots n watch dis - like grannies to my crew...
Poor pax flyin US carriers...
For once Union protection is doin bad to everybody...
On d other hand, except for d increased poss of a stroke in an emergency, I suppose dey r betta dan d youngsters at d job

As long as its not a blow-j.
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 15:54
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you'll be surprised to know yours truly requests a MAN layover at least once a month...
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 16:14
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well said q-tee
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 17:30
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Yeah, q--tee! ...my kinda gal, but I have a falcon's eye for spotting "g-strings" (now called "thongs").
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 17:47
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I flew LHR-EWR on a UA 777 and back in mid-'99. Aircraft was great, the cabin crew bordered on the insolent. Then had to contend with the most sullen immigration staff this side of Jeddah. Not a great introduction to the Land Of The Free!
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Old 8th Jan 2005, 22:25
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most sullen immigration staff this side of Jeddah
You ever flown into CDG? The immigration "staff" there make you want to immediately turn around and get on the nearest outbound flight to anywhere other than Paris! CDG customs makes ANY place inviting - any place other than CDG!
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Old 9th Jan 2005, 00:10
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As an "older" crew member myself, I'm not sure that there's too much wrong with crew being so: A crew made up of youngsters can be a good thing sometimes, but in my experience, rarely. A mix of age, subjective beauty, experience and culture is usually preferable.

While there's good reasons for maintaining older crew, there's no good reason for maintaining crew who lack elementary customer service skills and empathy: The day we stop enjoying the job and start disliking customers is the day we should start looking elsewhere for employment IMHO. I'm often unsure with the more experienced american crews, as to whether they still enjoy the work.

It has often fascinated me that, in a country where (by and large) superior customer service is taken for granted, airlines are apparently exempt. This comment is made with the dubious benefit of experience. Clearly, there are many american crew who are outstanding in many ways, especially on domestic sectors: On longhaul/international, sadly this is less often true.

oncemorealoft agreed - I always had a soft spot for TWA crews too - better than average.

swish266 whatever it is you take on your planet, you need to be careful: It will probably show up in a routine blood test down here on earth! Suggest you check in with the mother ship - you've obviously been too long away!

Last edited by Dogs_ears_up; 9th Jan 2005 at 00:27.
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Old 9th Jan 2005, 01:46
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I concurr with you the fairly atrocious - and that is being kind - you see on many US airlines both in the air and on the ground. It baffles me why a country that provides such excellant customer in almost every area seemed to have missed the airlines - and its been l,ike that for at least the last twenty or so years. i have seen some appalling service - indeed, defies belief - on US airlines. In any other indusrty they would have been fired. I am sorry but the Sep 11 and the downturn in the industry does not cut the mustard with me...sorry.

Mind you, on the other hand, Americans as a rule are exceptionally demanding customers. The sort of behaviour i have witnessed on my numerous trips to the US and the way americans interact with customer service staff is very rarely seen here in Australia.
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Old 9th Jan 2005, 04:55
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american pax

Sirrrrrr, ex-cuse-me sirrrrr......i need water-rrrrr.....waterrrr for my medication......i have can-cerrrrr......i neeed wat-errrrrr. How long is this delay going to be ? What type of compensation is there for american tourists in your airline ? this is ridiculous.

This seat is hurting my back, do you have any other seats with more room ? Geeeeesh, how long is this flight going to take ?

Q-tee - God love you, you are the type I love to fly with. I recently had a female f/a 55+ years old on a QF flight I took. She is one of the most senior crew in QF. She was loud, funny, efficient and classy ( french roll and everything .) I'd have her serving me anyday. I watched her the whole flight and now copy some of her tricks. If it wasn't for some of the older crew I fly with teaching me how to do the job...I wouldn't be half the fantastic flight attendant I am today.

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