First, the good news. I’ve earned over 965,000 lifetime flight miles on United Airlines and what happened on my redeye flight last night has never happened before. For that, I consider myself fortunate. Now onto the story.
Last night I stepped aboard my 737-800 aircraft that would take me to Philadelphia and my eyes immediately brightened. The aircraft was new and had Boeing’s Sky Interior, DirecTV installed (many new aircraft have no IFE yet), and featured first class seats similar to legacy United. The aircraft was originally slated to have the Koito seats we find on many ex-Continental aircraft, but after it was found that Koito falsified seat test records for certification United/Continental had to find a replacement and went with BE Aerospace.
image courtesy Boeing
Anyway, I like these seats and I appreciated that IFE is now appearing on these new aircraft. It was only my third flight on United with a Sky Interior and the mood lighting and enormous overhead bins were great (no gate checked bags on a full flight).
The crew was surprisingly young. In recent years Continental hired new crew members while United did not, so ex-Continental crews tend to be younger. On this particular flight, there was one that looked very young–early 20s I suspect–and her behavior reflected an even younger level of maturity.
Redeyes are for sleeping–especially for first class passengers. A transcon flight is only 4.5 hours and after takeoff I like to immediately recline my seat and go to sleep. Last night, though, sleep became elusive.
Two crewmembers loudly gabbed during takeoff, drowning out the background noise of engines with laughter and clapping. I am glad they were friends, glad they were having a good time, and figured it would stop as soon as the seat belt light went off.
With the noise from the front galley, I was still awake and accepted the meal service by the purser, a very friendly guy who delievered polished service. I quickly downed the deli plate and fruit cup and reclined my seat to go to bed.
The cabin was quiet for a few minutes, then things just got loud…
The FAs in the back must have completed the beverage service and everyone decided to come up to the front of the aircraft for a conversation. For the next two hours, the crew hung out in the front galley loudly chatting and laughing.
The young FA I mentioned was the leading culprit, loudly cackling and talking. I was exasperated. Other passengers were exasperated. Yet I said nothing. And for that I have only myself to blame.
But after writing earlier in the day about a family thrown off a United flight for complaining about the movie, can you blame me for keeping silent? “Self-entitled” kid walks into galley and tells FAs (and even the captain joined in at one point) to be quiet? That would go over well…
So I bit my tongue and did not sleep last night until the last hour of the flight.
I awoke just in time to hear the same young FA loudly ask the purser if she could take some water home with her, then open the closet and stuff a 2L bottle of water into her purse.
You notice I keep going back to this young FA. I was just flabbergasted that the new hire was so poorly trained. Becoming a FA is not easy. Open positions are few and far between and demand is high. Delta recently hired FAs, selecting only 1 out of every 110 applicants. Do you mean to tell me that Continental could find no one better than this FA?
And do these FAs not learn at “basic training” such simple courtesies as keeping their voices down particularly during redeye flights? Or not to steal bottles of water?
I was just incredibly disappointed that not one member of the crew had the tact to realize how loud the conversation had become and that few in the front cabin slept because of it.
Again, I emphasize this has never happened to me before so I believe it is more an aberration than anything else, but it really ruined what could have been a great flight.