Wednesday, July 10, 2013

American Airlines apologises about cabin crew photo shoot... but did they really need to?

Imagine being stuck in a plane for four hours due to a flight delay. Not a great feeling, right?

How would you react if cabin crew from the delayed flight were outside the aircraft, posing next to the engine while having their photo taken by the captain?

This exact scenario played out at San Jose International Airport in Costa Rica recently, where maintenance issues resulted in a delayed American Airlines flight to Dallas. The flight attendant having her photo taken was apparently close to retirement and wanted a keepsake.

However one of the passengers, Brian Kelly, was so furious that airline staff were taking photos while passengers were stuck in the aircraft that he snapped them in the act.

“They’re having fun to me,” Brian Kelly told the media afterwards. “That seemed like an enjoyable time, and I’m stuck in a plane and can’t go anywhere. It just didn’t seem right.”

The flight was eventually cancelled and American Airlines provided overnight hotel accommodation to passengers as a result. Before everyone left the aircraft, a pilot walked through the cabin and personally apologised for the inconvenience.

PHOTO: Southwest Airlines unhappy with ‘leaked’ photo of airport worker

Since the photo has been published in the media, American Airlines has issued a public apology for the incident. “Our people did their best to accommodate passengers during difficult circumstances, but showed poor timing when they chose to take a commemorative photo,” commented a spokesperson. “We’re reaching out to every passenger on board that flight to make amends.”

How exactly is the airline making amends? Well, Brian Kelly received 25,000 AAdvantage bonus miles from the customer relations department.

Aside from public apologies and gestures of good will, the flight crew were apparently contacted by supervisors and were all “sincerely apologetic for not only the inconvenience of the delay, but also the timing of the photo” according to media reports.

The question is… was all of this really needed? Not according to online commentators on the website of news channel NBC 5 DFW, who have blasted Bryan Kelly for basically being a kill joy.

“Honestly Mr. Kelly, are you for real??? Nothing was being harmed except your over sensitive feelings. You don't deserve an apology, just to grow up,” wrote Donny Hilgeman from Texas.

“I guess Mr Kelly would have preferred a grumpy unhappy crew that didn't enjoy their jobs,” added Kari Dawn Wynn Moore. “Or he wanted something for free, which he probably would've received anyways with the lengthy delay... but let’s throw the poor flight crew (who didn't want to be delayed any more than you did) under the plane so to speak.”

“Quick, send a whambulance!” commented Maria Flengas, receiving 25 likes from other readers for her humorous input.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. I couldn’t find anyone that supported him from the 125 comments on the article! What are your thoughts? Did American Airlines need to apologise, compensate and discuss the matter further with flight crew?

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47 comments :

  1. I believe this was an overreaction by an oversensitive passenger that believes that flight attendants and pilots alike are there to serve his every wish, and the latest example of people that blur the line between service and servitude.

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  2. Terrence KlaverweideJuly 10, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    That Bryan Kelly who reported them needs to lighten up a bit. I don't like the 'I can't have any fun, so nor can anyone else' kinda people...

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  3. It's a shame how some grumpy pax react, the crew had time to spare so why not take a photo especially as the crew member was retiring. Air freight much easier - no grumpy pax except the odd grumpy livestock sometimes?

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  4. Well I don't see no harm posing sitting inside the beast engines but question arises why do it in an aircraft in which passengers are sitting down and getting all conscious about when the damn thing is going to take off!

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  5. The airlines were gracious to offer an apology - we ( meaning I ) need to be quick to apologize also. I certainly hope there is no negative impact on the employees careers. Perhaps Mr. Kelly didn't realize that they were not the cause for the delay, and they were making the best of things as they could. "We apologize for smiling" :-)

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  6. Sidney Baker-GreenJuly 10, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Being around planes is fun in itself and until the passenger has Jet A1 running through their veins like we do they just need to shut up. Period.

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  7. Markéta SzilvásiJuly 10, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    This passenger is such an idiot..

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    1. I agree, the crew is totally free to take photos of themselves, it is not a crime!

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  8. I agree, this is ridiculous! I can see myself doing exactly this with my crew, to make the best of a tough situation! Some people are total idiots....

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  9. Pfft...I would have asked if I could have my photo taken in the engine as well.

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  10. This idiot was picked on as a kid. Get a life. I would have given a trip to the toilet. He is full of it.

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  11. dude....your plane was UNDERGOING MAINTENANCE.....let them take a photo shoot!!! If you're so fed up why don't you get in that cockpit and just take off? Oh that's right...YOU CAN'T...

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  12. I hope this passenger has a miserable retirement when it comes! I'm sure anyone who is into air travel would at some point want to sit in a massive turbofan engine and get their photo taken; it wasn't as if THEY were delaying the aircraft.

    Some people are just over-sensitive muppets!

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  13. Igor SilivanenkoJuly 10, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    I think Mr. Kelly was just jealous, but still... I don't go to your workplace and tell you that you are not allowed to have fun.

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  14. I disagree with people criticizing the passenger, but I also don't put a tremendous amount of blame on the flight crew.

    As a PR person, one of the hardest things to communicate to employees and get them to understand is timing. If they had done this before a flight boards or after it lands and everyone is off the aircraft it would have been no big deal at all. But because it happened during a time when passengers were being inconvenienced the likelihood of them being frustrated by something increased significantly. When they are experiencing something as miserable as a flight delay can be, seeing airline employees using it to have fun is bound to bother someone. I don't know what kind of plane it was, but with there likely being more than 100 people on the plane, there are just too many individual situations to be reasonably confident that one of them won't be frustrated enough to see this and become upset. That's how I look at it from my mindset as a PR person because I'm always on the lookout for sensitivity. But I also know that it's very difficult to get all of an organization's to carry that mindset into their daily work, so I don't blame the crew at all.

    Some ways I think this could have been a beneficial situation for the airline (with the obvious benefit of hindsight)? Offer the same chance for passengers. There are fliers who would enjoy the novelty of getting their picture taken sitting in a jet engine. Assuming there was an easy way to get them onto the tarmac and up into the engine, which must have been present for the crew member to pull it off, there's no legitimate reason this couldn't have been possible. Insurance is an excuse, not a reason. There's no security breach and as long as someone makes sure nothing is done to the engine or visually inspects it before takeoff. Turn a frustration situation into the opportunity to do something fun and not only will you get passengers' minds off the situation, you'll give them something fun to talk about afterwards and have them saying positive things about the airline. Judging by their popularity, airlines should be bending over backwards to achieve such things.

    They could have also humanized the situation by telling the passengers about it. "We're honored today to be flying with one of our best flight attendants, 'Mary' who has been flying with American for 25 years. Mary is retiring in September and to recognize her, if you look out the left side of the cabin, Mary is going to be sitting in the engine for a photograph. Now, we assure you this will not create any safety issue with the plane in any way. But we are incredibly proud of the work Mary and so many others throughout American do on our flights every single day to make your flight as comfortable and enjoyable as possible and we're giving her the chance to do something neat in recognition of her outstanding career." That's a win in every way for the airline. It shows 100+ people that it takes pride in its work and its people. The other crew members get to see that their employer shows some humanity and cares about them. And it gives the passengers a little boost to know that despite the frustrating delay their flight will include someone like Mary. As she walks up and down the aisle during the flight, she'll gets smiles and congratulations from many passengers, a nice little bonus for her. Creating a human connection between passengers and employees is another thing airlines should be acting to encourage.

    American would do well to educate and train its employees to recognize these types of situations and how they can be used to improve the airline's image and create a connection to passengers. Doing so would turn fliers like Brian Kelly into brand ambassadors instead of frustrated customers.

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    1. so true, well articulated Sir!!!

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  15. AA did what was needed and their act shows high brand awareness from their side. They acknowledged passenger's dissatisfaction immediately showing that they care and this is a great way to retain and get more passengers.

    Do I feel they were obliged and had reason based on passenger's extremely sensitive feelings, not at all - I really do not appreciate attitude 'I don't have fun so you can't have fun too' and this was just making a lot of song and dance over nothing.

    But did they do what was needed to be done to smooth something which could result in bad marketing, yes they did! This was usual - 'Customer is always right' no matter how annoying his attitude is.

    Good way to go AA!

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  16. I can't understand crews doing this. That's also a reason for many damages at the nose cowl. We mechanics use a mat when going inside the nose cowl. But those stewardesses stand there inside with their stilettos -.- fire them!

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    1. Wow, Martin, I never realized that...and I'm an A320 Cap'n! Thanks for pointing that out...!

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    2. Well A320 engines aren't that big like B777 or A346 ;) so there you only can sit or lay. BTW, can you imagine how many floor panels we have to change due to delamination caused by stilettos? Especially those with the heated elements next to the galley are very affected.

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    3. Haha, well at least the FA's hate wearing theirs in the cabin and switch to flats! ;)

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    4. I can't tell you how many flight attendants (U.S. flight attendants, not foreign ones) I have seen walk through the terminal in shoes that were closer to Crocs or sneakers rather than heels. I can't even recall the last time I saw an American Airlines flight attendant wear stilettos and I worked for the company. True, I wouldn't want to "walk" coast to coast in a pair of high heels but it certainly is nice to see flight attendants in the terminal look professional. And yes, pilots need to look even MORE professional and that we don't always do that.

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  17. It depends on the culture...maybe being Asian it's unlikely the crew would act like this in front of their passengers.. From my personal point of view ,why not...

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  18. Oh give me a break. Enjoy your points Brian Kelly....waaaaahh waaaaaaahhhh

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  19. Well if the plane was at the hate the flight attendant wasn't getting paid and neither was any of the crew isay good for her and Mr.kelly shut up

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  20. This specific incidence doesn't seem to have big gravity unless there were business class travellers who had urgent & important meetings.Similar incidences,happened earlier if any, could also be compared with.Unhappy customer's intent of making big issue is not clear.If he was the only passenger who got angry,it could have been dealt differently.

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  21. James Ashley WilsonJuly 11, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Ridiculous!

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  22. I think they should of passed out baby bottles instead of peanuts.

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  23. So stupid, nothing wrong with this!

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  24. I don't like the "If I can't have fun, nor can you" kind of thinking...

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  25. Kelly, you sure had a thugh childhood. Maybe abused?
    Common, stop blaming flight crews of all your frustrations.
    When we sre delayed, we too have family, kids, anything waiting for us home

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  26. Friðberg Leifs JenssonJuly 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    If you got time in work use it to do some fun stuff. Everybody is allowed to have fun in their job, except people that don't like fun.

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  27. Another self important twit. Sadly, the world seems to be encumbered with a great deal of them.

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  28. Bad timing, yes, but more importantly than that is the disease in our society of being overly sensitive and thus feeling entitled to being compensated for perceived injustices.

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  29. I am a flight attendant and I doubt captain would allow the pax to take pics inside the engine.... But even if that was the case the pax would have been annoyed as well. Under my point of view that was an unprofessional behavior , we r all taking pics with the engines but we know when we can do it and when we shouldn't .

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  30. I work in PR and while I understand that there may have been a better time to take those pictures, I don't see why Mr. Kelly would need to be so upset with the crew. Obviously they did not cause the mechanical fault, and apart from that, it's not as though all of the flight attendants were off partying and just left the passengers. It was one pilot, and one FA, so really no need for it to be overblown. I just hope, as others have said, that the employees were not penalized for this.

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  31. Juditha-Jade ParkinsonJuly 11, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    I understand Brian Kelly's reaction. I don't think he wanted something "free" just like what other comments tend to make it appear. It's difficult to be stuck in a plane and during 4 hours at that. I remember being stuck in a plane for less than 4 hours and it was hot.

    At the same time, I admire also that pilot who walked through the cabin and personally apologised for the inconvenience before everyone left the aircraft. In fact, I appreciate the reaction of American Airlines.

    The comments just made a drama of this. I want to know how they would react if they were the ones stuck in a plane for 4 hours and see the cabin crew outside "having fun" and breathing the fresh air".

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  32. Whinin Bri'an. It's probably not the first time he's done something like this. Well, he just marked himself for ALL flight attendants within the commercial aviation industry. I feel sorry for all the Brian Kelly's who want to come on board and have a pleasant flight. I can see the sr.flight attendant in charge going to down the passenger list, or the man/woman who handles the check-in's. It really is just plain silly....we all have seen worse, and have been treated worse in some sort of serviced industry, but to be rewarded points....come on, really?

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  33. It's interesting isn't it! Mr Kelly wasn't concerned that the 'stunt' might damage an enging or breach FAA or Safety regulations - which it didn't and no-one seemed bothered about. Not to mention - how many photos like that have been taken over the years?

    No, Mr Kelly was grumpy about sitting in the seat he'd paid for on the plane, and kicked up so much fuss that no-one got to take their flight, costing all involved mega-bucks and lost time.

    Mr Kelly, there is a time and a place to show justifiable indignation and be thoroughly grumpy, and this certainly wasn't one of them! I can think of some who would pay good money to see such a 'stunt'!

    To put it into perspective... I got Salmonella in Africa and LA from the same Hotel chain 6 months apart some years back and only got upgraded for 20 nights and 3000 points not $25K worth assuming a dollar a point!

    Outrageous!

    I'll get down off my high-horse now!

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  34. Passengers like Mr. Kelly are one of the down falls that go along with our profession....I hope he is not a parent....

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  35. killjoy. May be he would have being happy if the crew also joined him in his misery. Grow up man. if the airplane went technical. its the job of the engineers to try and rectify it, not the stewards or pilot.

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  36. Ahmed Al ZahraniJuly 15, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    No fun allowed here... hehe!

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  37. Ha! As he should. The term killjoy seems appropriate.

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  38. I agree with you. Someone just thinks everything is about him. No apology necessary.

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  39. I love dealing with the public but there is always one person that feels the need to complain either to get something for free or to vent a frustration unrelated to whatever is happening at that moment! Nobody likes to be on a delayed flight but if I was, watching a happy crew have fun whilst the problem is sorted out is a nicer way to pass the time than reading the safety card 30 times or plotting how to get free air miles for the inconvenience being delayed for your safety.

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  40. LACK OF FRUSTRATION ON THEIR PASSENGER, AFTER ALL ITS THEIR BREAD AND BUTTER

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