Monday, April 4, 2011

Worst Flying Experience. Ever.

Dear Virgin America, 

My name is Carlen Jewelle, a 26-year-old singer/makeup artist from the San Francisco Bay Area. I was a passenger on Flight #882 from San Francisco to Los Angeles and had one of the worst experiences, if not the worst experience, of my flying career.

I travel quite frequently for gigs and performances all over the country. I would like to say that I have flown your airline in the past and was more than satisfied. You are the type of airline that takes pride in their company and employees and it definitely shows. I actually went to the airport that day feeling at ease since I knew I was flying Virgin America as a Main Cabin Select passenger.

I had no doubts that I would be as comfortable as possible, since the employee representatives you had in the terminal were pleasant and reassuring.
In addition, the captain aboard my flight greeted each passenger BEFORE boarding time, inside the airport terminal. He even offered to answer any questions we had regarding the flight as he made his way around the terminal. It seemed a little odd to some patrons that my captain was walking around as if he were campaigning for Virgin America, but I found it endearing. It was reminiscent of the aviation experience offered to those from the early days of commercial passenger flights. I felt as if I were sitting right in an old Hollywood movie and even thought, “this is what it must feel like to have flown in the old days.”

Needless to say, I was mildly excited about the flight ahead of me.

However, I boarded the plane and saw my first hint at the experience I was about to have when the flight attendant greeting us seemed flustered. No big deal. It made up for it when the captain, again, decided to do the initial greeting - usually made by the flight attendants - before taking his place in the cockpit.

We begin take off and I proceeded to place my order on the in-flight RED menu. Apparently, I was a little too excited (more like, starved) and according to the screen I had to wait before placing my order. I proceeded to watch “127 Hours” to keep me company since I was hungry and all I had was the bottled water offered on the arm of my seat. I waited then tried once again to place my order and decided on the ‘hearty meal’ and a white peach tea.

Not only do they start serving drinks, but the flight attendant came around and even asked the two gentlemen sitting beside me what they would like for beverages. I assumed that they didn’t bother to ask me since I had placed an order through my checkout menu. I smiled at her and felt even more important since she didn’t even need to ask what I needed.

After awhile I became uneasy since the gentlemen in the middle seat and the aisle seat began finishing their beverages, so I notified the flight attendant as she passed by that I had placed an order on the screen menu and she asked what beverage I was having. I told her I ordered a peach tea and before I could say that I had also ordered a “hearty meal” package, she was out of my sight.

I waited for what seemed like ages - since I was in seat 3A and I could see everything she was doing - for my beverage. I saw her pull out a plastic bag and even announce that she would be coming around to collect any trash! I am all of two seats away, I think my peach tea would have been easier to throw at me at that point!

I hit the flight attendant call button because I was now getting impatient and a little pissed off for being neglected. I went the entire flight without a beverage and even when I had reminded her, my ordered seemed less important. When she had approached my seat to attend to the service call light, she said "Yes, how can I help you?"  Really? Did you already forget?

I had to remind her that I was waiting for my beverage and that I had place an inflight orderl!! I just told her 5 minutes ago! I felt like I was speaking to 2 different flight attendants or something. Maybe they were twins playing a joke on me, I don’t know, but I apparently wasn’t on their radar of importance. Finally, I had received my hearty meal and white peach tea. As the attendants were finishing their trash collection, the captain announced he was beginning his descent into Los Angeles. In flight time, that usually means I have about 15 minutes to make my last bathroom trip. As I stood up from 3A, the same flight attendant warned me that the seatbelt sign was on and that I should take my seat. I let her know I was just going to use the restroom and she not only told me to take my seat, but escorted me 3 rows down to take my seat. What am I a child? Did I really need to be ushered into my chair? Maybe she assumed I was a child flying solo, I am rather petite and I wasn’t wearing any makeup. Who knows, it has happened before where people have asked me if my guardian was around, but that’s beside the point.

I was perplexed. Why couldn’t I take my last bathroom break? Actually, it would have been my first trip to the bathroom, since they were not only dismissing the order I placed on RED, forgetting my order when I reminded them, but also having to give me my order when they were already collecting trash since I was overlooked the entire 57 minute flight!!! Of course my bathroom break would be delayed! I was ignored! 3 times!

Now, I heard the captain saying we were starting the initial descent, and yet I was embarrassed because I assumed that was still ample time for me to take my break.
127 hours is roughly a 2 hour movie I believe, I was near the end when we were still in the air and I could no longer hold my bladder. I looked outside to see if it was safe to walk to the bathroom, and all I saw were clouds, so I assumed that I could still make my trip and the flight attendants would understand.

As I reached the far end of the plane, the same obnoxious flight attendant yelled at me!
Yelled! “You need to take your seat right now it is very dangerous for you to be out of your seat!”

Can I just point out that no where in this phrase did she say “Miss” or “Ma’am.” I let it go because she was an older lady and assumed she was just surprised that I was out of my seat.

I told her and the other flight attendant, a nice young gentleman sitting off to the side, that I could no longer hold my bathroom break and I needed to use the restroom whether it was safe or not.

The gentleman kindly told me to be careful as I used their lavatory and hold on while I was inside, just in case. The older woman shook her head and allowed me to go in. Why was this such a crime for her? I could have gone to the bathroom 20 minutes ago when she was still collecting trash. Or I could have gone at a decent time if she had not forgotten my order 3 times!!!

As I exited the lavatory, the gentleman advised me to hold the seats as I made my way back up to my seat. I was halfway to my seat when the older woman decided to yell at me again.

“You need to take this seat, it is too dangerous to be walking down to your seat. Please take this one.” And pointed one out close to her. So, I’m halfway to my seat, but you want me to walk back the half I’ve already traveled to sit next to you, as opposed to make the last half of the 5 foot trip to take my own seat? Tell me how that makes any sense?
Please. Tell me.

I didn’t argue. In fact, I was embarrassed. I was being treated like a child. There were no hints of respectful direction in any of the sentences she had ordered me. I felt like a delinquent in boot camp. And if it were that dangerous, why would the gentleman advise me to hold the seats as I walked back up to my seat? Was she just having fun exercising her jurisdiction?

I sat there and as we landed, the flight attendant said not to get up from our seats until we approached the gate.

As soon as we approach the gate, I know that all these passengers are going to fly up from their seats and fill the aisle, making it extremely difficult for me to pass through them all the way up to 3A.
This was unsettling to me since my seat was at the very front of the plane, with my purse, my wallet, my phone and all my belongings. What if someone were to make off with all my valuables? I decided to strategically plan my walk up to my seat as we approached the gate. The obnoxious and RUDE flight attendant who now not only has forgotten about me, embarrassed me, and yelled at me, was already on her feet attending to something else. We were at the gate. I got up and AGAIN I was halfway to my seat and she yells at the top of her lungs:

“It is very dangerous to be up while we are taxing. TAKE YOUR SEAT UNTIL WE REACH THE GATE!!!”

I stopped to turn around, looked at her in shock, looked outside, and said “Are we not at the gate?” and even looked around to my fellow passengers who made me feel like I was committing some sort of crime, even though we were at the gate.

She looked outside to find that we were, in fact, at the damn gate. And guess what, everybody rose from their seats right at that moment, as I predicted and blocked my path. I could have been at my seat already if she didn’t want to play RoboCop and divert my plan to avoid the traffic.

Not only was I only 6 rows away from seat, but another obnoxious man made me feel even more embarrassed by adding his two cents. I was huffing and puffing as I waited for the traffic to flow out of the plane and he said, “You shouldn’t have been out of your seat, young lady.”

Yes, it was dangerous of me to use the restroom. But I don’t think it was necessary to treat me that way. In addition, can you please tell me how in a 57 minute flight, I was able to finish a major motion picture in my seat? I don’t think we were able to land because they were holding us in the air due to weather in Los Angeles.

So, I could have in fact, used the restroom during the trash collection and avoided this entire fiasco. Or I could have avoided this fiasco if I received my beverage and food on time so that nature would have called at the right time, and not during our “initial descent.”

I do not appreciate the way I was mistreated, forgotten and spoken to by this flight attendant.

I do not appreciate being yelled at by a complete stranger and not being formally addressed as a “Miss” or even “Ms.” This disrespect, to me, implies she assumed she was speaking to a child. Who can blame her, I do in fact look very young, but I will not tolerate being yelled at by a complete stranger, even if I were a child.

I’ve had the best experiences on Virgin America. I’ve even commended your flight attendants for being able to handle difficult situations and extremely disgruntled passengers with finesse and patience on a flight I once had to New York. The flight attendants on that flight smiled and said everything almost like a lullaby.

What did I do to this flight attendant that prompted her to be so hostile? 
I was not at all demanding, nor was I rude in my requests. I felt I even pacified the situation by taking her remarks so calmly at the time. Now I feel I may have been too meek and your flight attendant felt she could just push me around. Calling her "rude" is candy coating her description. I think I could find a better word, but I won't. 

1 comment:

  1. you totally deserved her harsh tones - rules are there for reason when flying! Im sorry she made you feel bad but come on, you have travelled enough to know the rules. So abide by them. You are not special and deserve no special treatment.