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Flight Attendant Threatens No-Fly List to Passenger Over Catering Mishap

Flight Attendant Threatens No-Fly List to Passenger Over Catering Mishap

BY GABRIEL KRAMP 08/07/2023 AGO 69 COMMENTS

A United Airlines elite frequent flyer was threatened by a flight attendant after an incident relating to an extra serving of Manicotti.

 

On Friday, a United 1K Premier member by the name of Sam was traveling from New Orleans, LA to Seattle, WA, via a stop in Denver, CO. By coincidence, the aircraft and crew were the same for both flights.

 



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Photo: AeroXplorer | Richard Rafalski

 

As a Premier 1K member, Sam gets complimentary upgrades to First Class when available. On the day in question, Sam’s upgrade cleared for the first flight but not the second.

 

On the first flight — the 2.5-hour hop from New Orleans to Denver — Sam was seated in First Class and had pre-ordered his meal to be served during the flight. However, catering problems meant that the meal never made it onto the aircraft and that Sam did not get fed.

 



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Furthermore, since Sam was seated in Economy Plus for his second flight, he would not receive a meal. 

 

As he was deplaning in Denver for the Layover, Sam casually asked whether there would be a way for him to have one of the leftover meals from First on his second flight. The flight attendant told him that she would see what she could do.

 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Sam B



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When Sam boarded again 45 minutes later, he half-heartedly told the same flight attendant, "don't forget me now" on his way to his seat, reminding her of the inquiry he had made not long earlier.

 

Sam shared his recollection from the exchange: "She did not promise or guarantee anything nor did I expect something in return. Again, it was just small talk and the kind of connection and bond that you make when it’s the rare occasion of having the same FA on both legs of your trip."
 

Obviously, this small talk was noticed by the purser (lead flight attendant) who turned to her colleague and asked what was going on and what the interaction was about.

 



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It seems as though the flight attendant had managed to get Sam a meal, as she winked at him. Approximately five minutes later, the purser came to Sam's seat and, in a disrespectful and condescending manner, said to him that it was forbidden to eat a first class meal in the Economy cabin. Sam told her that that was fine and that he was not going to cause any issues.

 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Julian Waller

 

All of this made Sam think nothing up until 90 minutes into the flight when the first class meal service had ended. The same flight attendant who had joked with Sam earlier about a meal now came to his seat and discreetly handed him the Manicotti he asked for a couple of hours prior.

 

He thanked her, but unfortunately the good deed did not go unpunished. The purser saw what had happened and walked over to Sam's seat, telling him that he had some sort of "legal obligation" to decline the meal and that she would be writing him up for accepting it when expressly told not to. She even went as for as to say that the captain was angry at him and that he could be placed on the no-fly list for this.

 



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Photo: AeroXplorer | Colin Daily

 

While it is understandable that mistakes can happen, it could come across as very unreasonable to discipline a loyal customer or a generous kind-hearted flight attendant simply because of an attitude or for the discreet meal service she provided to him.

 

What do you think about the altercation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Gabriel Kramp
Student at the University at Albany, but grew up in rural Massachusetts. Dream job of aircraft dispatcher for Delta (favorite airline).

Comments (69)

BW The Purser went over board in reprimanding the passenger and making threats. He states he told her it was fine if she wanted to remove it from him and he didn't want to make trouble. It's not like he went into the galley to demand a meal. I realize that there may have been miscommunication with how all this went down but, I bet she had other job priorities than to weld her power over a passenger who was willing to be cooperative.
204d ago • Reply
Ralph He should write to the company and ask for clarification especially for a meal that was an extra.
204d ago • Reply
Ralph He should write to the company and ask for clarification especially for a meal that was an extra.
204d ago • Reply
LGJ Totally agree with Doug. If Gordon Bethune had been given the helm of United following the merger with Continental, United would a much better airline...
204d ago • Reply
Craig The purser certainly should not have removed the meal or 'disciplined' the passenger, regardless of his customer status with UAL. I find it hard to believe that the Captain even knew about the situation let alone was upset by it. And threatening with being placed on the no-fly list is ridiculous.
204d ago • Reply
G VanPatten This kind of treatment by United in the past is why I have years ago issued myself a double lifetime ban on ever flying UA ever again. As a 30 year AA flyer with EP status I can honestly say I have never experienced anything close to this type of disrespect on AA.
204d ago • Reply
Harry The purse ought to be put on the no-fly list.
204d ago • Reply
Shawn Exactly my thoughts.
SC Bingo
Mark Donaldson Bottom line, the purser is an asshole !
204d ago • Reply
Franz Flor While living in Houston based for work (more than 10 years ago) I became a UA member and used their services for my frequent flights within the U.S. and abroad. UNTIL I took a flight to Lima, PERU and while seated on Business Class 4B or 5B the main course wasn’t served to us by mistake…. EVERYONE was served except the passenger on the window and me…. Thought (probably) they have problems with the ovens but the rest of the passengers were having their pre ordered meals except us. When the crew in charge of our row passed by to pick up the plates he just realized we hadn’t been served and apologized. He immediately get back to the galley area but didn’t reappear for several minutes. All of a sudden this female flight attendant (originally from Peru but American citizen already) told us in a very aggressive tone and FOOD BREATH that there had been an issue with our food and that she could bring some choices form economy class….. We thank her and told her it was not necessary because it was obvious that she and the crew in charge of business class ate our food ….. since that very moment we were absolutely ignored by the crew and for the rest of the flight. She got angry when I reach the galley to ask for an extra glass of water… United Airlines NEVER RESPONDED to my complaint regarding their service onboard incident and I suppose this poor inferior woman (probably the purser) gave her own version of the whole mishap. I’m still waiting for an answer but nobody cares in that airline. Sure thing is since then I NEVER USED United Airlines again and voided my UA card. No answer, no apology of any kind. I hope COVID-19 took charge of this hungry gang dressed as flight attendants of a Business Class airline or at least the company realized who they trust for their services on board. Good luck United Airlines !
204d ago • Reply
Mark Ruccius The purser was way out of line and needs customer service training. If it was a problem to serve the customer in economy they should have upgraded the customer and served him the meal.
204d ago • Reply
Jon You guys are making this up, right?
204d ago • Reply
Admin Just one more adventure in the Friendly Skies of United - HA
203d ago • Reply
Admin Just one more adventure in the Friendly Skies of United - HA
203d ago • Reply
Rissam First, is this story true? I find it rather difficult to believe that the purser would go out of his/her way to reprimand this passenger. If the story is true, and I remember that United forcefully ejected a passenger a few years ago, then the purser was following United's rules. It is very easy to fault the individual. The problem is not the purser per se, it is the system, ie United Airlines. This employee interpreted the rules literally and was likely afraid of any consequences if he/she did not do so. It is an unyielding system that cares little for customers and is being enforced by a person who believes that he/she must do so. On the other hand, the FA cared about the person and not about the rules. United must give its pursers leeway and understand that it is dealing with people. True, some people are wrong and the number of unruly passengers is increasing. Yet, these unruly idiots are a minority. Most people just want to get to their place safely, on time, and preferably with their luggage
203d ago • Reply
Addison it’s not acceptable. As a society we have paid more for flights and received less service. I’ve been on AA flights and treated with hostility by god complexed crew for no reason. It’s become acceptable to be treated this bad and that’s wrong
Cateris Paribus The purser should be on the no-fly list. Negative and bossy attitudes like that should not be in the air.
203d ago • Reply
Linda United should give Sam first-class meals on every flight from now on, regardless of where he sits. And apologize. They failed to provide a meal he was entitled to in the first leg and should have made good on that without an unnecessary humiliation. Whatever happened to kindness?
203d ago • Reply
Jürgen Michaelis Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, es ist viele Jahre her, da hieß diese Firma noch "Continental" und wir nutzten sie um von Berlin nach Florida über New York zu fliegen. Wir hatten einen Flug gebucht (Hin- und Zurück) als nach einiger Zeit eine Flugänderung von Continental an uns gesendet wurde. Sehr früher Abflug aus Orlando, dafür aber langer Aufenthalt in New York. Das hätte für uns bedeutet, einen Tag von unserem Urlaub, nur für die Anreise und den Flug zu vergeuden. Ich habe dieser Änderung wiedersprochen und wollte nach langem hin und her mein Geld zurück und den Flug bei einer anderen Gesellschaft buchen. Das passte aber nicht in das Geschäftsmodell von Continental. Schlußendlich habe ich über meine Bank das Geld von Mastercard zurückerhalten. Werwundert durfte ich einige Zeit später feststellen, wir hatten etwas in St. Pete eingekauft, das meine Mastercard gesperrt war. Eine Nachfrage bei meiner Bank ergab, das Continental diese sperren ließ. Seien Sie versichert, das mein Bedarf an dem Globus Symbol, nicht zuletzt durch die Aktionen dieser neuen Gesellschaft, absolut bei NULL liegt. jm
203d ago • Reply
TrustedTraveler Absolutely! I flew Continental exclusively and have continued flying United through the merger. The contrast is stark (understatement). I am really forced to fly United because of their compatible routes conducive to my destinations. I only wished their people and policies were as compatible with their passengers as the routes are.
202d ago • Reply
David K It's unfortunate that United forgets on a daily basis, the passengers are their CUSTOMERS.
201d ago • Reply
Hop I’m sure the captain had no idea what was going on with the. meals. A lot of these UA pursers think it’s their job to pass off the passengers, judging from the way they treat or ignore them.
200d ago • Reply
Kevin Let’’s keep perspective here. First, United Airlines service is on balance, lousy, from reservations to airport personnel to flight attendants. Now that’s not to paint everyone with the same brush, but the lousy certainly outweigh those that are conscientious, like the one that offered him a meal. Second, and most importantly, WE are their customers, unfortunately the way the industry works, WE don;t have similar choices as when buying a car, especially if you live in a HUB like Denver, so we are stuck and they treat us as such. I too am a 1K, and although it meant something at one time, all it means now is that I fly a mediocre airline more often than most, and get a meaningless badge of honor for doing so. Sadly there isn’t much we can do, other than get used to it, as they have zero incentive to do better. Alas though, there is a beacon of hope. We have JSX here in Denver and they provide wonderful customer service and a completely different experience. Unfortunately they only fly to a few cities, but I support them whenever possible in hopes of their continued success and growth. One only hopes that this model is one that can provide those of us who travel often, and pay more or are willing to pay more, a better option than the mega - lousy carriers we are all stuck with.
198d ago • Reply
Tom The purser was way out of bounds. That should have been an internal discussion with the flight attendant and not the innocent passenger.
204d ago • Reply
Jerry Ehlers I think it was a wonderful gesture that the flight attendant offered the meal to the passenger who had to move to economy. Nothing should’ve been said by the Purser. My own experience is that I used to fly first class from O’Hare to Mexico City frequently. It was a midsize plane, and I got to know the Purser, Miguel very well on one of my flights, then as I was taking my wife and child with me to Mexico City for a personal visit, we were traveling economy. Miguel of course recognize me as soon as I boarded with a warm greeting. In true form, Miguel serves my entire family the first class meal, even though we’re in coach, such great service. My wife was elated.
204d ago • Reply
Roger Murphy The Purser needs to go to Customer Services classes - the interaction was totally unnecessary and frankly demeaning to the passenger.
204d ago • Reply
Jerry Ehlers I think it was a wonderful gesture that the flight attendant offered the meal to the passenger who had to move to economy. Nothing should’ve been said by the Purser. My own experience is that I used to fly first class from O’Hare to Mexico City frequently. It was a midsize plane, and I got to know the Purser, Miguel very well on one of my flights, then as I was taking my wife and child with me to Mexico City for a personal visit, we were traveling economy. Miguel of course recognize me as soon as I boarded with a warm greeting. In true form, Miguel serves my entire family the first class meal, even though we’re in coach, such great service. My wife was elated.
204d ago • Reply
Doug United sucks - always has and always will. Bethune turned Continental around and made it a great service minded airline. Then United came along and pulled it into the mud where United wallows. So sad!!
204d ago • Reply
Jeff As the airline is United airlines, it's not surprising. Remember, they're famous for once dragging a renowned doctor off of an airplane.
204d ago • Reply
Rob Palmer In any business, the customer is always right. When did FAs join the nobility?
204d ago • Reply
kg I hate to think the United attitude has gotten this bad again.
204d ago • Reply
David Carr I went down the rabbit hole and read the entire conversation. As a born US citizen who has chosen to move to another country I feel vindicated, but also terribly sad that there even needs to be a discussion based on anti-social behavior issues among fellow travelers. As nearly-universally noted, the Purser is the most offensive character, but the passenger, despite his loyalty, and because of his travel experience level, should realize the upgrade was a bonus that should not be abused. Service providers can remove these benefits just as they can bestow them. (On all, not just on Sam!) And how often does the FA say "Will you have the pasta or the chicken?" and then it turns out all the chicken is depleted by your row? Loading meals is just like seat booking. Plane holds 100 people, they sell 110 tickets because self-absorbed folks don't show up or cancel an hour before flight time. 20 seats in Business? They don't load 40 meals; but maybe 12 chicken and 12 pasta - or whatever ratio history suggests. If one is using an "all-airline-food" guide for diet and nutrition they need to look around and check the options in life today.
204d ago • Reply
Jed Dunkin David Carr I am more interested in what country you moved to. I am retired military and served Vietnam and so through my travels to foreign countries there were quite a few that were pretty nice and economical. The US is on a downward trajectory as they always said nothing good ever lasts forever. I have been thinking of selling my farm and moving out of the US but haven’t chosen a destination yet. Curious to to here your thoughts.
In the Air right now This story reads to me like click bate or fake news to get us to read it. In my opinion its not even told well…
204d ago • Reply
Debrah The purser was in the wrong. Totally and she should be reprimanded by United!!!!
204d ago • Reply
Thomas Harlan I fully concur. The purser was way out of bounds!
Mary Ann Yavelow The Purser has issues. Give the passenger some food already! The Purser is not paying for it. It’s just common decency and courtesy.
204d ago • Reply
Brian What would the other passengers in Econ say if they see this guy getting a meal?
204d ago • Reply
Michael Mason What is wrong with United's customer service these days? It seems that once a month there is a story about something attrocious like this. I rarely see stries like this about other airlines.
204d ago • Reply
Gary M Elrod We called the FA an ExCon. She came over with Continental merger.
204d ago • Reply
Max Gary your don’t know a Damn think about the former FA being a so called EXCon . Yup United hated Çontinental. United always treated Çontinental crew like RED Headed step children .( if your a Red Head my apologies ). It’s been known OLD United FA still have issues , with this so called merger of sort . Just remember United went bankrupt 2 times so they needed Çontinental name just encase that happens again because 3 strikes your out.
Max Its a total shame that happened ,guess the Purser has been a OLD United employee and was never trained about TRUE Customer service as in the rudeness . It could have been handled with more diplomacy than with a hammer in hand .
Jim Sounds like the Captain and purser lost their perspective. To be written up and/or be placed on the No Fly list is ridiculous.
204d ago • Reply
John Rus IMO, the passenger and the FA handled an unfortunate situation with grace and dignity. The purser's words and actions reflect then lack of civil behavior that creates so many problems in North american society these days. Passenger and FA, hold you heads high!
204d ago • Reply
CD It is the lack of consideration from cases like this that makes passengers choose a different airline from then ahead. I hope the airline rewards the excellent behavior of the flight attendant and has a serious talk with the purser.
204d ago • Reply
Marc She needs a litte mile-high club action in the arse.
204d ago • Reply
Mark Fire that purser. Totally unacceptable behavior.
204d ago • Reply
Michael Power really goes to some people's heads unfortunately. You have registered loyalty customer and he was being taken care of. What's the big deal. Someone at United should inform this Purser of customer service!
209d ago • Reply
Steve Whisenhunt Sam was mistreated by the FA who threatened him. What ever happened to customer satisfaction?
208d ago • Reply
Sreekumar Kumaran It is the intolerent nature of people today and in particular the Purser in this case, i hope United will send the Purser for some kind of orientation as how to be more tolerant and NICE.As for the frequent flier he should give his money to other airlins who we all hope will treat him better.
208d ago • Reply
Ed It sounds like the passenger was being nice. The flight attendant was out of line and needs to be reprimanded. United Airlines doesn’t have a sterling reputation anyway, and maybe a little kindness would help reverse their situation. And it’s going to start with the employees.
208d ago • Reply
Lewis Tripp Purser was way out of line and should be disciplined for the threat.
208d ago • Reply
Mama Ji Fire the Purser. ASAP. Make sure he/she does not get employed by another airline
208d ago • Reply
Israel Another reason why the sky’s are not so friendly anymore. The passenger didn’t get his meal when he should have. Is that his fault? No it isn’t. So why can’t he get his meal even after f he was in eco+? That purser need their wings clipped. I wonder if they retaliated against the nice FA ?
207d ago • Reply
Chris Outrageous - clearly a Purser drunk on either power or lack of oxygen. Such "Hitlers" should be weeded-out & grounded.
205d ago • Reply
J. S. Lasher So typical of UA these days. No leadership, no pride and no service. You couldn’t pay me to fly on them. Eddie Carlson would be turning over in his grave.
205d ago • Reply
Ray Robinson As a former airline Purser, the Purser was way out of line with her threats, but having travelled on United it is the standard I would expect. However, the Frequent Flyer was also out of line by asking the Flight Attendant to bring him food from First Class when there is no food being served in economy class. Was he just trying to do what a lot of Frequent Flyers do "Frequently" by belittling the people travelling in economy? (And at the same showing his entitled and superior traits.) If the rule is "No Food being served in economy", then "No food in economy" it is! This sense of entitlement in the US populace is out of control and being perpetuated by Citizen Trump in his disregard for the laws of the U.S.
205d ago • Reply
You’re an idiot Adding 45 to your comment is pointless and has zero to do with the discussion. Get some meds for your TDS and stay on point, dummy.
Ronnie Oh this is absolutely sometimes unluckily the type of purser or FA you get on United and this is not an age, sex, race or size thing I've had them all. When you try and interact further with the crew like Sam did, it goes only one of two ways - really really nicely or very very bad. That's United and that's why they're my last choice. If I do end up on their planes I have zero expectation of a good experience. I've learned to never initiate, always be extremely polite, no jokes, no kidding and see what happens. I think some of the crew are sometimes displaying a complete disdain for their job and it shows in their attitude. Probably true for their second and third flights of the day. Probably management have little regard for their customer facing roles and by the way, people keep flying United so nothing's wrong right? United seems to be like a bus service with attendants and maybe that has rubbed off on customer attitudes to them as well - you reap what you sow.
205d ago • Reply
Pete Stream I totally agree with you. Sadly, I must note...
Neenee Thet should make the purse eat the manicotti as punishment.
205d ago • Reply
Neenee Thet should make the purse eat the manicotti as punishment.
205d ago • Reply
Pete Stream As a StarAlliance Gold membros with over 2 million flown miles, I experience a mixed feeling. 1. UNITED Airlines is, perhaps, the StarAlliance's worst company to fly. The service is terrible, it seems the company has the culture of being rude to the passenger. 2. Thankfully I'm european and don't live in US, I wonder what kind of people that magnificence nation is raising. The pursuer is a typical example of arrogance of small power. Kindly note, in Europe the airlines are way more comfortable and more friendly to the customers. 3. It socks to be a Pursuer, I have witnessed countless situations were customers are inconvenient. However, anyone would agree that to threaten someone is injustifiable and unacceptable. This particular officer should be attending good manners school. Had she something to say she would talk with her subordinate in first and only place. 4. This episode reminds me that my principle to not fly with UA still updated!
205d ago • Reply
TP This is the sort of thing that caused my to long ago refuse to fly united under any circumstances!
205d ago • Reply
PV As very longtime world-wide Star Alliance Lifetime Gold frequent flyer I have seen almost uncountable ups and downs in the financial fortunes of the airline industry. When times are good the airlines always slack off service, cop an attitude, and forget about their best frequent flyers. Then comes the inevitable recession (and it's coming...) and management all of a sudden wakes up, and requires their staffs to treat their customers, well, like customers again. For the most part flight attendants are great. They have a very tough job to do and have to deal with some very impolite and disrespectful passengers. That said, the above should never have happened. The FA should be spoken to by management.
204d ago • Reply
GAdH I have worked in the airline business for over 40 years & have travelled more than 3 million miles. Unfortunately there is a very huge difference in service to the passenger between American, Argentinian, Canadian, French, German, etc… legacy carriers and Asian & Middle Eastern airlines. However I wanted to share with Ray Robinson & all the others that think like him, that by including Ex-Président Trump, (citizen Trump for him) in almost every discussion, Ray is actually helping him stay in the limelight & even possibly assisting Tump to be re-elected. Of course this will depend on the majority obtained in your electoral colleges next year, ( very peculiar democratic voting system), but I must let you all know that many of us “Aliens” are greatly amused by the huge differences, ( like the onboard services) between the same news being broadcasted by CNN & Fox News. In closing, to live really well with no stress, please choose both your airlines & Presidents well!
204d ago • Reply
Kelly The Purser should be more concerned with taking care of the crew, catering and other passengers. The Purser should also have been aware of Sam's loyalty status. God Bless the FA for trying to take care of the Premier member. Shame on the Purser for making something horrible out of an act of kindness.
204d ago • Reply
Bruce Anthony The Purser is wrong to treat a good customer in this manner. It was a right decision by the FA to adjust this persons meal service to show United "does care!" It really was not that big of a deal, for starters and the Purser went way over board (in my opinion) trying to be a more important person and showed her lack of management skills in doing what she was trying to do, then threaten him with putting him on "the NF List?" Come on, already! How ridiculous is that and then (supposedly), the Captain was informed of this? The Captain should have commended the FA for her thinking of how to advance "a positive" for a change...
204d ago • Reply

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