You know how flying with a commercial airline is terrible? The seats are cramped, the fees are outrageous, and the other passengers are always brawling or screaming about how their seatmate isn’t real or showing off their bare feet or belting out their new gospel single.
One of the few things that can make the whole stress- and thrombosis-inducing ordeal slightly less torturous is the rare moment of grace when a flight attendant chooses to look past your lowly station as basic economy rabble and sees your inherent worth as a flawed but precious child of God deserving an extra cookie.
Well, American Airlines would like to remind its crew members to please refrain from showing mercy to the riffraff in the cheap seats.
At least, that’s according to a social media post from a transportation watchdog who has shared what is allegedly an internal communication from American to the carrier’s flight attendants.
— ???????? JonNYC ???????? (@xJonNYC) November 7, 2023
“As part of our commitment to ensuring a consistent customer experience,” the purported memo states, “please refrain from offering Premium Cabin amenities/service items (i.e. pillows, blankets, amenity kits, and certain food items) to customers who are not seated in a Premium Cabin.”
Frommer’s has reached out to American for comment, but we have not heard back from the company as of this writing.
Assuming the (alleged) memo is genuine (allegedly), it’s hard to disagree with the interpretation of the subtext made explicit by online commenters and travel bloggers such as View from the Wing’s Gary Leff, who described the corporate note as a reminder to flight crews “not to go above and beyond for passengers in economy.” American frames the policy, writes Leff, as “consistency, which is to say making sure that there are no occasional surprise and delight moments in the coach cabin.”
Of course, American isn’t the only carrier clamping down on surprising and delighting economy passengers.
Earlier this year, for example, United Airlines decided there would be no more free cabin upgrades on many of the company’s aircraft, saving any spare centimeters of legroom for those willing to pay a premium.
For passengers flying coach, the heavily consolidated giants of the U.S. commercial airline industry apparently no longer see an incentive in making their services more competitive by doling out delights. And surprises are now limited to the unpleasant kind.
According to Best Life, American Airlines previously asked flight attendants to do a better job of keeping economy passengers on non-full flights from moving to seats with more space—and we’re not talking about the unwashed masses invading business class. We’re talking about a passenger in a Main Cabin seat migrating to a Main Cabin Extra seat that no one is sitting in anyway.
Not on American’s watch. You’re gonna sit wedged in that middle seat and stare longingly at those empty aisle seats a couple rows away until you land in Charlotte.
Bring your own pillows and blankets, economy passengers. The freeloading is over. And don’t think making sad puppy dog eyes at the flight attendants will get you anything, either. Consider yourself lucky they’re letting you use the lavatory.