On our flight from San Jose, CA to Houston, TX (#1502) yesterday, my husband and I had a terrible experience with one of your flight attendants (Wanda). I have flown extensively throughout my entire life and I have never been treated like this before.
Here is what happened:
We were in the last boarding group and there were less than 20 people behind us as we boarded. When we entered the plane and were waiting in the aisle, I scanned the open overhead compartments to assess availability for our bags. As I looked, most of the bins were closed, indicating that they were full. There were a few with the doors still open, but most were at least mostly full from what I could see.
Given this situation, I did what I have always been instructed by flight attendants to do: I found the first available bin and placed my bag inside to prevent needing to go backwards in the cabin (thus delaying boarding of other passengers) to find space later. This happened to be in row 8 – the first row after the First Class Cabin. My husband and I proceeded to walk down the aisle toward our seats in row 22.
At this point, our first interaction with Wanda began. She asked us where we were sitting; when we responded, she said that we MUST put our bags above our seats and that we were not allowed to put them in row 8′s compartment. I calmly asked her why and explained to her why I had placed my bag there. She told me that it was a “rule” that bags have to be above your own seats. I told her that I have never heard that rule (and the woman behind me agreed) and that on EVERY OTHER FLIGHT I have ever had, the instructions were that if you were among the last on the plane, you should put your bags wherever there was room.
She immediately became belligerent (she raised her voice, was frowning, and was speaking in an angry tone) and said that “this is what the rule has always been” and informed me that she has been doing this for over twenty years, while placing her hand on her hip. My husband and I were bewildered by her reaction, but we took the bag down and walked down to our seats as she had instructed.
If that were the end of the incident, we wouldn’t be writing this complaint. Everyone has bad days.
About five minutes later, she approached us in our seats and began to address the issue again. We had complied with her instructions, we moved our bag, and were sitting quietly. Yet, she felt it necessary to bring the subject up again in an angry tone of voice. I asked her why she was bringing it up and gently asked if we could be done talking about it. She then threatened to throw me off the plane by saying: “If you don’t stop talking about it, you won’t be going to Houston on this plane.” She was the instigator, not me or my husband.
Again, we were bewildered and very uncomfortable.
About five minutes after that incident, she then came back again with a man (I think he worked at the airport, as he was in a polo shirt and not the typical flight attendant attire). I was admittedly annoyed at this point and asked why this was still an issue. She proceeded to tell him the following: we had tried to put our bags in first class (untrue) because someone had told us to do so (also untrue).
He asked who told us to do this, and I once again told him what I know from every other flight I have ever taken. I told him that since we were among the last people on the plane (which she “corrected” and said that there were 20 people behind us, which still puts us among the last on the plane!). I reinforced that no one told me to do this, and that we had immediately complied with her instruction. He didn’t seem to think this was an issue and he walked away.
The remainder of the flight was extremely uncomfortable whenever she was around because we had no idea what she was going to do or say to us.
I am an extremely experienced traveler. I know the rules, and I know what appropriate behavior from the flight staff is expected to be. This was incredibly unprofessional, irrational, and unnecessary.
It should also be noted that on our last flight of the day, Houston to Philadelphia, the flight attendant made an announcement as the last group was boarding that they should put their bags in the first available bins, thereby proving my point.
We write this to make you aware of the inconsistency among your flight attendants in regards to the “rules” of bag placement and efficiency. We also write because Wanda’s treatment of us was unacceptable and may indeed keep us from flying United in the future.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Brennan and Lesa Brackbill