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Now More Than Ever, We Trolley Dollies Must Stick Together!

It’s a challenging time to be cabin crew. Being verbally abused, shouted and screamed at has always been one of the perils of our career. We literally come in to contact with hundreds of people every single day, so chances are there is bound to be some form of conflict eventually. You simply cannot please everyone.

Recently however, more and more people are attacking us for simply doing our job, making sure they are safe and following the rules and regulations of our industry.

As if our job wasn’t difficult enough, we now live in an age where passengers, armed with their iPhone cameras, are filming every minuscule incident and sharing it across social media. Before long said video has gone viral and EVERYONE has an opinion on a poor quality, few minute long clip.

But there’s always two sides to every story. The problem is that these videos rarely show OUR side.

On April 9, 2017 a “disruptive and belligerent” (as described by United CEO Oscar Munoz), 69-year old Asian man was dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight. Video footage quickly emerged from inside the plane of Mr David Dao being forcibly removed from his seat before being dragged down the aisle, visibly injured and utterly humiliated. It is difficult to watch.

Mr David Dao is forcibly removed from the United Airlines flight.

But what this video didn’t show, was the airlines staff simply doing their jobs. The crew was forced to call security agents to remove a passenger in Chicago, due to a last-minute need to transport some of their crew to operate out of Louisville the next day. The flight attendants were stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either four people already seated, had to leave the plane; or a flight the next day would be grounded due to the lack of crew, affecting even more paying customers.

The video also failed to show Mr Dao, who was originally quietly escorted off the aircraft, running back on minutes later, clinging to his seat and chanting “I need to go home”. Would you want a passenger who had essentially stormed the aircraft to travel on your flight? I don’t think so.

One passenger who posted the video an Audra D. Bridges described how she and her fellow passengers were all “shaky and so disgusted”. So shaky and disgusted that not one of them volunteered to take Mr Dao’s place and offload themselves. So shaky and disgusted that instead of helping Mr Dao, they sat and filmed the incident and posted it all over social media; then sat back, relaxed and enjoyed their flight to Louisville. Hypocrites? I think so.

United Airlines slogan is ‘Fly the Friendly Skies’. Not so friendly that day clearly.

Since then, Airport security officer James Long has given his version of events, claiming that Mr. Dao’s injuries were actually self-inflicted. Long said he boarded the flight after being called in response to a disturbance involving two people regarding a refusal to leave the aircraft. He said he approached Dr. David Dao to ask him to get off the plane.

James Long and his colleague removes Mr Dao.

Long said Dao refused and ‘folded his arms tightly’. Long then reached out to ‘hold’ Dao and was able to pull him away from his window seat on the aircraft and move toward the aisle.

‘But suddenly the subject started flailing and fighting,’ Long wrote. Dao then pushed Long’s hand off his arm, causing the struggle where Dao fell and hit his mouth on an arm rest on the other side of the aisle. He claims that he then dragged Dao off the plane as he refused to stand up.

Long said he was able to remove Dao from the airplane, and that once on the airbridge he got up off the floor and ran back onto the aircraft. Long alleges Dao, while running back to the plane, said that they’d have to kill him to get him off the flight.

Two sides to every story.

Then on April 21, all hell broke loose onboard American Airlines flight AA591 from San Francisco to Dallas Fort Worth; when a crew member (once again simply doing their job), was vilified after a fight almost broke out between said crew member and a passenger over the removal of a pushchair. Once again the whole sorry incident was caught on camera.

What the 2 minute, 44-second video doesn’t show or explain, is the full reason behind why this incident occurred. Hand luggage, as we all know, is an ever-growing issue for airlines. There simply isn’t enough room onboard for what everyone brings with them. According to American Airlines contract of carriage, pushchairs/strollers must be checked in at the gate. So not only was there no room onboard for the stroller, it wasn’t allowed on the aircraft in the first place.

The flight attendant and passenger involved in the incident.

Other witnesses have since said how the mother boarded the flight “Pushing a car seat type stroller with one child in it, carrying a second child on her hip and dragging behind a very large folded stroller that was too big for the overhead bin or to go under a seat”. When the crew member calmly told the lady that there was no where for the pushchair to go, the lady began screaming at him.

“The flight attendant evidently decided she was not fit to be on the flight and started to move her and her children towards the front of the plane. The woman decided she was not going any further and this is when the flight attendant picked up the stroller and lifted it over his head to try to move past the woman. As he was doing this she pushed him and the stroller fell and struck her in the face. She began crying loudly and dramatically. Shortly after this is where the video begins”, a video that shows none of the build up to the subsequent drama.

Surain Adyanthaya, the passenger who uploaded the footage to Facebook said “AA Flight attendant violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby. Then he tried to fight a passenger who stood up for her”.

The passenger who ‘stood up for her’ had been sat at the front of the aircraft. Another witness said “The first class passenger inserted himself into the drama with his faux chivalry, but clearly had no idea what had transpired in the back of the plane, since he was in a window seat in the first class section and could not have viewed the incident from his seat”. Clearly this man had no idea what had been going on and there really was no need for him to get involved.

The male passenger then went on to threaten the crew member saying “Hey bud – you do that to me and i’ll knock you flat”. Yet passenger Adyanthaya claims the flight attendant had ‘tried to fight’ this man. Seems to me he was simply trying to protect himself from a disruptive passenger. Personally, I would have offloaded them for such threatening behaviour.

The witness went on to say “The flight attendant was put in a horrible situation by a passenger that most people in my immediate area thought seemed unstable. She escalated the situation, not him. In my opinion, the first class passenger should have been removed. Had the flight been in progress he might very well have been arrested upon landing for threatening a crew member. I agree the flight attendant may have reacted too harshly in responding to the threatening customer in first class, but his actions with the woman in question were professional throughout the ordeal. I am disappointed American has chosen to punish him”.

Two sides to every story.

What people NEED to remember is that in both of these incidents the crew caught on camera were just doing their jobs; jobs that as airlines staff their aircraft with the minimum number of required flight attendants, are getting increasingly difficult to do.

Not that flying is a pleasant experience for passengers either, 9/11 changed all that. To get back to profitability, airlines added seats, shrinking leg room and cutting amenities. The rise of the low-cost carriers, who stripped away any remaining ‘glamour’, was further validated by passengers who used price-comparison sites to find the cheapest flight. More recently, mergers which have led to consolidation in the industry, means consumers have far less choice on who they can fly with. This all leads to irate passengers, with us caught in the middle.

It’s so easy for passengers to blame cabin crew or gate staff when something goes wrong. We are after all the ‘face of our airline’. And now, what passengers perceive as poor customer service, is punishable by this public shaming across social media.

Derek Thompson of theatlantic.com made a valid point about the relationship between cabin crew, passengers and the airlines, “Customers and crew could be united against the airlines’ profit obsession. But in reality, nobody else is fighting for more or better-paid crew members—not passengers, who’d prefer cheap flights, nor airlines, who’d like to maximize the profitability of each seat. The last two weeks show that crew members are still set up for public shaming. They are stuck between corporations that have no scruples about turning flying into a Dickensian experience and passengers who are willing to become ad-hoc documentarian of the petty abuses of the industry”.

Cabin crew have the best interests of our passengers at the centre of our minds at all times. You are the reason we do this job. Sadly, many seem to see us as the ‘enemy’, intent on making their experience onboard a hellish one.

Believe it or not we are you friends, not your enemies. We understand how frustrating the whole flying experience can be, we are passengers ourselves sometimes you know.

We too would love to live in a world where everything works like clockwork, where nothing goes wrong, where there are no delays, loads of space onboard for your hand luggage, no queues in security etc. Sadly life, as we all know, is not like that.

This rise in animosity towards cabin crew, passengers playing the victim and the endless sense of entitlement HAS TO STOP.

Please remember ladies and gentlemen…..

‘Your cabin crew are onboard to save your arse, not kiss it’

And dollies please be careful in these types of situation. I would hate for some one-sided, poorly filmed videos from some self-righteous self-loading freight, to cost anyone their job. A job we all work so hard to get.

Never has the saying ‘Same shit different uniform’ been so true.  Now more than ever, we trolley dollies need to stick together.

Stay safe up there x

© confessionsofatrolleydolly.com by Dan Air.

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About Confessions of a Trolley Dolly (69 Articles)
confessionsofatrolleydolly.com brought to you by International Gay Trolley Dolly, Dan Air ! Come & join us onboard as we take a peek behind the galley curtain with all your cabin crew & aviation news, galley gossip, glamour & humerous tales of life at 39,000 feet!

22 Comments on Now More Than Ever, We Trolley Dollies Must Stick Together!

  1. Steve Morris // 27/04/2017 at 4:22 PM // Reply

    “self-loading freight”

    Nice to see what you think of your passengers. Go fuck yourself.

    • It is a term cabin crew have used for years to describe our passengers and no offence is meant. But your use of offensive language simply validates a number of my points.

      • Kim Helminiak // 27/04/2017 at 6:50 PM //

        The fact that cabin crew refers to customers as “self-loading freight” only serves to highlight your disdain for passengers. The majority of my flights are fine, but attitudes like yours create the animosity. I have experienced the attitude on several occasions & I am a professional who treats the crew with appreciation & respect. Like other service industries, without customers, you do not have jobs. You may want to defend the actions on United, but removing paying customers just because federal regulations allow does not make it right. A simple solution would have been to find another mode of transport for the employees instead of removing customers involuntarily. And the American Airlines incident would not have happened without the attitude. He struck a passenger with a metal object, accident or not. He clearly did not handle the situation properly. I was on a flight out of Dallas with that flight attendant last year. The above picture summarizes his attitude on my flight as well. He does not have the temperament to work in the service industry.

      • Maybe you should have a read of the statement from another passenger who was on the flight who witnessed the whole situation and not just the 2 minute 44 second video. Their statement backs up the flight attendant. His words can be found in the article.

    • Flight Crew Mayhem In The Sky // 28/04/2017 at 1:31 AM // Reply

      Thanks

    • Unfortunately fence is taken. Just stop being a dolly grow some balls and get fit to the job that apparently doe st fit to your “glamorous” expectations and just leave it.

  2. Air Passenger // 27/04/2017 at 5:46 PM // Reply

    You sound like you are whining. It’s your job to be the face of the airlines. Period. You don’t like it? Get another job. You don’t seem to understand that yelling at you is our only recourse. We are powerless. You also forget those of you that abuse your authority, and think that since you are “protecting us” as glorified waitstaff, you can act like a dictator on flights, just “doing your job.” Bullocks. You should turn and blame your employer.

    • Air Passenger. Thanks for the comment. You clearly haven’t read my article properly. In it you will see that I do indeed blame the our employers – the airlines, airlines that are trying to squeeze every last penny out of both its employees and customers. If you read the article you will also see that I’m not just ‘whining’ about my job, I am also defending passengers actions. Flying isn’t pleasurable for either of us. Believe me you are not ‘powerless’ as you say. You have far more ‘power’ than the ‘glorified waitstaff’ onboard your flights, just ask the suspended American Airlines flight attendant. But thanks for your comment, a comment which once again proves a number of my points.

      • I don’t think that your claim that the cabin crew is more powerless than the passenger stands up, regardless of the fate of the short-tempered AA employee. In almost any case where a passenger and a cabin crew member disagree over the proper course of action, the passenger has a choice between buttoning his lip and beng thrown off the plane. The passenger must obey your instructions or risk significant disruption to his journey regardless of whether he thinks your instructions are sensible. In what way does that give him more power than you?

      • I agree with your statement Sam. However the comment was regarding who has more power with our companies (the airlines) and believe me that certainly isn’t the crew members. The airline will always take passengers side before us. But you’re right, onboard we are in charge, it’s just a shame passengers seem to forget this sometimes.

  3. Re the United / Dr. Dao incident, I don’t find many people blaming the cabin staff. I find absolutely everyone blaming United for: 1. Not planning their employee movements properly, meaning that four employees showed up at the gate needing transport after the plane was fully boarded. 2. Not increasing the financial offer to leave the plane until they got volunteers, rather than forcing four people off the plane. 3. Not putting their employees in a car to Louisviille and avoiding the problem.

    And there are some people blaming the security officers as well.

    But the cabin crew themselves were firmly dropped in it by their employers, and had to make the best of it – I’m not sure there’s anything the cabin crew could have done to make the situation better.

  4. So let’s see if we have this right. DOING YOUR JOB is your bullshit excuse. Maybe Mr Dao wouldn’t of had such a hard time if the FLIGHT ATTENDANTS didn’t demand seats on a PLANE THEY WERE NEVER BOOKED FOR AND DID THERE JOBS..Maybe the FLIGHT ATTENDANT wouldn’t have to defend himeself if he DID HIS JOB and not hit the lady with the stroller.

    • If you read the article you will see that I mention on numerous occasions that there are two sides to every story. This is the flight attendants side. It isn’t a bullshit excuse. The crew were indeed doing their job. Please have a proper read of the article and I hope it may explain things a little further.

      • Marcon // 29/04/2017 at 7:26 AM //

        Yes, we read the story couple time and even “properly”. I don’t see what I missed. I think you missing the point of your job. We, terrified passengers will appreciate if you familiarize yourself with your employers new policies.

  5. Roberta J. Andersen // 27/04/2017 at 10:59 PM // Reply

    “Self-loading freight”? There is no excuse whatsoever for beating a passenger, dragging a said passenger down an aisle or accidentally clocking a passenger with a stroller. It’s awful press and it does you no good to defend United’s action. United removed a passenger for employees without reservations. In other words, for THEIR convenience. Since when is the paying passenger responsible for an airline’s lack of planning?

    You can make all the excuses in the world but the proof is in both the settlement to Dr. Dao announced this morning AND the change in the “passenger-ejection system” previously employed by United. I fly all the time and had no idea that I could be manhandled out of my seat and thrown out of the airplane. Into the tarmac, I assume? I have given up my seat many times for families, the elderly and the 6′ 9″ guy who really needed my extra legroom seat. I was happy to do it. I have been moved from a aisle to a middle seat. Ok! I get it! But, I would NOT be happy to be informed of the “get thee off my plane before I break your jaw and remove your front teeth” rule. I thought I’d seen it all: drunks being served more and more liquor until they become a nuisance, the onboard medical emergency, the idiot who wouldn’t get out of the aisle because it’s “all about ME”, the poor infant in agony with his ears. I’ve even had soda spilled on me. No worries. But, if an airline is going to enforce a rule that only THEY know about? That’s on you guys.

    Note: if you want to remove someone? Give them money. Tons of money. You offer 10k to leave? like Delta? You will have a race to the door. Capitalism doesn’t just apply to greedy airlines. Your passengers are also capitalists.

    By the way. Seats are too small. Legroom is inadequate. I’m waiting for the lawsuit from the families of the people who get embolisms on an oversea flight and die. That is foreseeable and will be expensive.

    • Stewardess // 04/05/2017 at 7:47 AM // Reply

      That’s aweful that somebody doing costumer services still stubbornly believes that there was any problem with his cosumers. It’s unbelievable to call it ‘glamourous’! This ignorance is just shocking. As a KLM flight attended I’m appalled by this article. Nowadays people do not fly for gay glam experience or holidays. They fly for funerals, legal battles, treat their cancer or eventually to see their loved ones for the last time. How can you call them to keep up with your unrealistic expectations? That site is just a disgrace for our job. Get real!

      • Thanks for the reply ‘Stewardess’ I’m sorry you feel this way. Especially being a fellow crew member and especially when the article is about is sticking together. Can I just say though, I think you’re the one that is being ignorant. Maybe it’s different on KLM but the airline I work for people do fly for holidays, for leisure, for fun. Not everyone flies for the reasons you state. Also I don’t understand what you’re talking about flying for ‘Gay glam’ please show me where in the article this is mentioned or indeed where I say our job is glamorous?? I think you’ll find that I am always saying the complete opposite. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course and I’m sorry that you feel that my site is “just a disgrace for our job” if you don’t like it then you know where the door is. Happy flying.

  6. Re: The Dr. Dao incident. United Airlines admitted in their own report, released today, that the 4 United (republic) employees had been booked on a flight which was scheduled to depart at 2:55 pm CST, but due to a mechanical failure was unable to fly. Dr. Dao’s flight was booked and ready to depart at 5:40. Therefore United knew of the need to rebook the employees 2 hours 45 minutes before takeoff. The Republic employees (an airline that is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy) did not on their own contact the gate agent of United 3411 until several minutes before takeoff. The failure of both United and the employees to address the need timely is what caused the catastrophe that occurred later that evening.

    • JERRY Nelson // 15/05/2017 at 6:59 PM // Reply

      A friend of mine just told me that her boyfriend works for Southwest Airlines and that they deadhead workers in a separate plane reserved specifically for that purpose

      • Doubtful // 14/06/2017 at 1:33 PM //

        They deadhead on a deadhead only aircraft? You must have misunderstood. They may deadhead on another airline but on a dedicated aircraft?? I doubt it. 20 deadheads a day could all be going to and from 20 different locations.

  7. Now that United has settled its disputes with Dr. Dao, and given the statements of the New York Port Authority, and the Chicago City Council which is leaning toward not helping the airlines enforce overbooking, this is what should happen. No airport in the future should enforce an airlines overbooks. They should all refuse to to respond unless the passenger is disruptive or a security risk. If the airlines want to continue overbooking, fine, but it is a civil matter. Let the airlines hire their own security force, which is capable of escorting, physically if necessary, overbooks from the plane and give them a trespass warning. You airlines started the overbooking, finish it yourself.

  8. Re: The Dr. Dao incident., I just finished reading documents pursuant to an FOIA request. Dr Dao was interviewed by a paramedic after he was dragged out of the plane, Dr. said that he first heard over the airplane loudspeaker that they wanted “4 volunteers to leave the plane for $800.00 each” No explanation of why the request was made. Next a flight attendant told Dr. Dao that “the computer has selected you as a candidate to leave the plane.” I mean, who talks like that? When Dr. Dao tries to explain that he has to stay on that plane to see his patients the next day; the fa’s response is security will remove him if he does not leave voluntarily. Forget communication, just throw your weight around. Do you think that if someone had explained from the beginning why United needed those seats, maybe they would have gotten more cooperation? BTW, security guard Long is a liar. He called for a paramedic, just because he says Dr Dao said he was a diabetic, not because of the manhandling and dragging he gave Dr. Dao. Also both the so called guard and flight attendants allowed Dr. Dao to get back on to the plane after he was ejected. Finally I watched the entire hearings before the House Transportation subcommittee. Everyone who testified was conciliatory and pledged to improve, except the flight attendants. Through their union boss, they testified that it wasn’t their fault, and woe is us. If that is your position, I don’t understand your point of view, and I can’t empathize with you

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