This Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Is Really Concerned About Your Sugar Intake

Of all the weird encounters to have on an airplane, we never would have expected to have a flight attendant point out just how bad a full can of soda is for you. That’s what happened to Laura, though.

My experience with Southwest Airlines was a bit shocking. I was traveling from Denver to Baltimore on my first vacation in about a year.

When the flight attendant came around, asking what everyone would like to drink, I told her I would like a can of Coke. Southwest has been gracious in the past about offering a full can of a drink, if a passenger has requested it, and I have taken advantage of that policy from time to time.

When I asked for the can, the flight attendant gave me a weird look, almost as if she couldn’t believe I asked for the full can, but I nodded yes, and she walked away.

A few minutes later, this same flight attendant came over to me, gave me the can and flipped the can over to the nutritional information.

She used her finger to point out that the can had 39 grams of sugar in it, and went on to inform me that each gram is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar, so in essence I’d be ingesting that much sugar if I drank the whole can.

I was incredibly humiliated and offended. Other passengers could hear her, and she did not offer the same sort of nutritional information to them. I believe she may have been singling me out for whatever reason she felt necessary. She made me feel like I wasn’t able to read, or that I was stupid as to what grams of sugar means. I am an intelligent person, but she certainly insulted that part of me.

Laura wrote a complaint to Southwest about the encounter—”If I wanted to talk about nutrition, I’d see a nutritionist,” she told us. Unfortunately—and this is the really annoying part—Southwest’s responses have been vague and generic. We think Laura has a legitimate complaint, which is that she felt she was treated inappropriately by an employee. The least Southwest could do is respond forthrightly to her complaint.

I have received a response from the company, but it was a general apology form letter. I was not happy with the response, and I emailed the company yet again to let them be aware that their reply was inadequate.

What is most frustrating about the email process is that when Southwest replies to complaints, they have a “no-reply” email address, so each time you want to refer to your original email, you have to go back to their main webpage and fill in your name, email, phone, address, flight number, destination city, original city, etc. I have asked to speak with a supervisor directly, but I have yet to hear from one. This whole process has taken almost a month.

A complaint should not take this long to be resolved. I feel like my issue was just swept under the rug. I was informed that my complaint would be given to senior leadership, and they meet once a month. What does this mean? Would I hear from senior leadership? Would I find out if the flight attendant was ever spoken to about her inappropriate behavior?

I am not thrilled with Southwest and how this one flight attendant spoke to me. Next time I will just have to handle it myself, in person, with the flight attendant, and risk being arrested at the gate, I suppose. (sarcasm)

My return flight was pretty relaxed. The flight attendants were giving out full cans of drinks to everyone, regardless of what they asked for. Now, that’s MUCH better service!

(Photo: i eated a cookie)


Edit Your Comment

  1. nybiker says:

    I wonder if our good buddy Chris Elliott can get a straight-forward answer from someone at SWA? Of course, it would be great if SWA would have just answered the OP’s bloody question or even better still not employed the FA in question (too much?)

  2. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    It may not have been her job, but when someone offers free advice you don’t want (even exaggerated and incorrect advice, there are 4.2g of sugar / teaspoon), you are free to simply ignore it. I can’t imagine that she was doing it to hurt you.

    I would imagine other passengers hearing it thought the same thing you did and would have judged the flight attendant.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      @AustinTXProgrammer: I wonder if the OP was treated differently due to appearance (overweight, acne, etc.) and the flight attendant was just trying to be helpful.

      I can see how this might be hurtful but then again, I’d likely chalk it up to the FA being a busybody and let it go.

      • thelushie says:

        @LadySiren: I still am amazed that it is ok to humiliate fat people in our society. It was not the place or job of the FA to talk about the nutritional content of a drink or anything else for that matter. Their job is to get the drinks and the pillows (and collect money for them of course).

        It is astonishing how many people were born in a barn.

        • emis says:


          Are you an overweight person? Could you possibly be diabetic? I know I think that sometimes when I see people chugging down soda.

          Everyone keeps assuming this woman is a fatty… What if she had no teeth? That would also be a pretty good sign that she should start to lay off the sugared sodas.

          • katstermonster says:

            @emis: Fat or not has nothing to do with it. I run several miles a week and am in great shape (BMI well within healthy limits!), but the 3 times a year that I drink a soda, it’s gonna be the real thing. And I’m gonna have the whole can, dammit.

        • supercereal says:


          I still am amazed that it is ok to humiliate fat people in our society.

          Off-topic, but this is pretty much because “getting fat” is something that is (almost exclusively, but there are exceptions) controllable and preventable. The more unhealthy society as a whole gets, the more I have to pay in health insurance premiums to make up for their bad decisions.

          It’s not something I’d blatantly point out to someone in public, but when so many people are so very unhealthy, it starts to affect the rest of us.

          • Kimberly Gist-Collins says:

            @supercereal: I know plenty of fat people who have zero health problems. What about the smokers, drinker, promiscous people with VD, men who want Viagra for no reason etc.. that cost consumers like me more money on health insurance? Why single out overweight people who may or may not have any health issues?

          • Anonymous says:


            Not all type of being overweight are completely controllable or preventable. Weight gain from birthcontrol usually happens regardless of diet and exercise depending on your reaction to it or any other type of medicine. Also “fat” does not affect your health insurence. The companies’ profit line does. All the same since when does any of that give anyone the right to lecture someone about their health choices? I don’t go around scolding people for eating artifical sweetner even though it is bad for you too or for living in a city or just existing since that seems to be unhealthy these days too.

          • Con Sumer Zealot says:

            @supercereal: And I would like to point out in return, for every fault you find in others you think you can be a financial victim about, if they put YOU under a microscope they could find five more things if they wanted to. Do you really want people making fun of, criticizing or financially alienating you for the cancer or the alzheimer’s you’ll have 15 years from now?

            We are human beings, imperfect biologically, and we are not meant to be siloed into health insurance coding pigeon holes.

            I’m so sick of the predilection of people like you to find and create whole new classes of scapegoats to persecute remotely via the law and business policy for your unhappiness.

          • Con Sumer Zealot says:

            @supercereal: I mean really super is THIS the kind of future you want?


          • mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

            Uh, I’m a smoker and I have to pay extra. I pay it willingly (I could very easily lie) because I enjoy it, despite being exposed daily to the results. I’m a medically educated adult and I made my choice.
            How about how much extra my premiums are because people make poor choices like having children. Each child under my plan costs nothing extra to someone already paying for a couple plan. And I get paid less because someone gets a bigger benefit just when they don’t know how to pull out in time. How’s that for promiscuous? I’m sure you have health issues caused by being too lazy to check your hot water heater, take homeopathy, drive a SUV to the gym, stress out over what some other soccer mom or absent dad is wearing, have an extra Cosmo every Friday night, have a Xanax prescription, don’t properly inflate your tires, or just make everyone have higher blood pressure by being a hypocrite?

          • utensil42 says:

            @supercereal: For what it’s worth, a person can be overweight and still be healthy. Not all overweight people are unhealthy slobs.

            • supercereal says:

              @utensil42: Hence the “but there are exceptions” part of the comment. You’re delusional if you think most overweight people aren’t unhealthy or brought it upon themselves. Pointing out the minority cases doesnt’t really disprove anything.

              @Con Sumer Zealot: I don’t choose to get cancer any more than I can choose to get Alzheimer’s. The more you eat, the more weight you put on. There isn’t any clear-cut correlation like that for the conditions you mentioned. I’m perfectly happy “persecuting” the folks who make bad decisions that affect me.

          • Anonymous says:

            @supercereal: It’s a misnomer that the overweight tax the health care system while the thin cost the health care system little. 1. The overweight are less likely to go to the doctor in the first place. 2. The overweight die earlier meaning they have less health care over the course of their life-time, where as the healthier people cost more to insure because they live longer and require more health care as a result.

        • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

          @thelushie: Uh, I don’t think that’s okay by any stretch of the imagination, however, I was trying to see how the FA might’ve been trying to be helpful (if overzealous) rather than insulting.

          I do however, take offense at YOUR comment. Moo.

    • nagumi says:

      @AustinTXProgrammer: next time I see you smoking, eating a burger, not wearing a coat on a cold day, not wearing sunscreen at the beach or letting your children’s hair get too long I’ll be sure to approach you and point it out.

      But seriously, in this context the flight attendant is a waitress. If your waitress told you, after you were served, that your chosen meal was too fatty for you, I bet you’d be pissed.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @AustinTXProgrammer: yeah, i would have corrected her on the sugar intake by taking out my insulin pump, showing her the carb count programming with a list of foods and ingredients and explaining that i needed the full can to make sure i was getting the right amount to match it to my insulin intake. and mentioned that my endocrinolgist and my diabetic nutritionist said it’s ok for me to have soda since i’m a grown up and can make my own choices.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Welcome to (insert fast food chain) May I take your order?

      Hi. I’d like a double cheeseburger, large fries, and a coke.

      You do realize, sir (madam) that this meal has (insert fat/carb/calorie) content? You REALLY sure you want to eat this?

      How bout this- Here’s the money, serve me the fucking food and shut up (insert witty insulting name)

      The end. (Of any restaurant)

      *This performance was paid for by the shut the f*ck up and give me what I wanted without the cocky rhetoric society.*

    • Kimberly Gist-Collins says:

      @AustinTXProgrammer: @emis: Who cares if she was chubby, or anything else. Flight attendants are glorified waitresses who like to pretend they are more. She isn’t hired to humiliate customers. She is hired to serve sodas.

    • anduin says:

      yea right away when she said 1 g = 1 teaspoon I wouldve stopped her and told her to check her facts before she tried to “inform” me on anything

  3. SlappyWhite says:

    Are you an overweight person? Could you possibly be diabetic? I know I think that sometimes when I see people chugging down soda.

    I agree that it was in very bad form, and shouldnt have been done, but maybe thats what she was thinking and was just trying to be helpful.

    Either way, people need to mind their own business.

    • zegota says:

      @SlappyWhite: @categorically: If your advice implies she’s a stupid fuck who can’t read and doesn’t care about her health, yeah, keep that yourself.

    • LadyNo says:

      Being overweight is not an invitation to strangers to comment on one’s sugar intake. No less rude than to tell a skinny person to eat a cheeseburger. To make such an assumption about somebody else’s health is extremely presumptive, and to comment on it is ridiculously rude.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @LadyNo Fondles Sweaters: While I agree wholeheartedly with your overall sentiment, I’d say in general it’s MUCH more likely to be offensive to the person if you tell a heavy person that they should cut back on the sugar than if you tell a thin person they should eat a cheeseburger.

        Granted there ARE exceptions… I have a good friend who’s got a twisted body image… he’s lean and muscular (swimmer-looking) and he thinks he’s unattractive because every guy in his family is beefy, but for the most part a thin person is less likely to have endured as much abuse for being thin, and is less likely to be as sensitive about it. (Yeah, I’m chunky, what’s your point? ;) )

        • jenl1625 says:

          @GearheadGeek: “for the most part a thin person is less likely to have endured as much abuse for being thin”

          Except that you just don’t know when the person you’re commenting to is an exception to that assumption.

          Case in point – a co-worker of mine who was a fairly short, very thin woman who just stressed over *everything*. She’d pack her lunch in the morning, bring it to work, put it in the fridge, go to her desk, and get so involved in what she was trying to do that she’d realize about 3 that she hadn’t taken a break yet, much less lunch. So she’d pull the fruit out of her lunch bag and eat that, and wind up taking the sandwich home and eating it for dinner.

          Bad nutritional habits? Sure. But she wasn’t *trying* to stay rail-thin. And she certainly didn’t deserve to have a group of teenagers bump into her on her way to her car after work one day, look her over, say “f*ng Barbie”, and punch her hard enough to break a front tooth ….

          The last thing she needed in the weeks/months after that assault (for the “sin” of being thin and blond) was for someone to suggest that she just needed to eat more.

        • korybing says:

          @GearheadGeek: but for the most part a thin person is less likely to have endured as much abuse for being thin, and is less likely to be as sensitive about it.

          “Less likely” being the key word here, hah. I have always been underweight my entire life, as I have a high metabolism and a small appetite. I’m just now getting over being super sensitive about it, and I’m in my mid-20s. My whole life has been full of people accusing me of having an eating disorder, not believing me when I say I’m full, being unsympathetic to any health problems I have, or saying things like “You wouldn’t understand, you’re skinny.”

          Everybody is so focused on LOSING weight that they ignore the fact that being underweight is also a health hazard, and there isn’t a whole lot of help out there for people trying to gain weight in a healthy way. Saying anything to anybody usually results in a “You want to GAIN weight? But you’re so skinny! I would kill for your figure!”

          Just thought I’d throw that out there. : )

    • thelushie says:

      @SlappyWhite: I agree, mind your own business. It is not another person’s place to make judgement calls on someone eating or drinking anything.

      There is a huge difference between thinking and saying. I mean, if I am in a resturant and watch a woman on a date at a steakhouse with either a husband or boyfriend, and she orders the salad with dressing on the side and a water, I tend to think she is a manpleaser who probably doesn’t have a brain in her head so she must “marry well” or work at McDonalds.

      • Juliet Bernstein says:

        @thelushie: What? Some restaurants overdo the dressing, so I always ask for it on the side. Also, drinks overpriced at restaurants, so I usually order water. How does either of these things have anything to do with being a “manpleaser”, “marrying well”, not having a brain, or working at McDonalds?

        • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

          @Juliet Bernstein: Thats the point from Thelushie. People can think what they want when they see a situation– verbally conveying only causes confusion and adds insult to injury for no reason. People are too quick to judge, such as yourself.

        • trujunglist says:

          @Juliet Bernstein:

          I didn’t quite understand the connection there either. Some people just don’t want the salad all drenched up in dressing. Some people like water. Some people, like me, actually LIKE eating salads. It certainly wouldn’t please me if my gf was eating a salad any more than it would please me if she was eating a steak because quite frankly I don’t care what she eats as long as she likes eating it.

        • jenl1625 says:

          @Juliet Bernstein: I didn’t take it as just the dressing on the side and water – it was the “go to a steakhouse and order nothing but a salad” bit. And I’m assuming we’re not talking about the big, meal-sized salads….

        • thelushie says:

          @Juliet Bernstein: My point was about thinking vs. saying. I apologize for not finishing my thoughts and saying that it would not be my place to take her aside in a resturant and talk to her about women’s rights or how she is more than a future wife and baby machine. The region I am in is extremely conservative in the manner of gender roles. I eat when I am hungry (and order dressing on the side, too) and have had remarks made to me that I will never find a husband if I get fat (and somehow that is associated with eating an extra piece of cake).

          But the point was that we can think what we want, but, in all but a few cases, it is not our place to say anything.

      • H3ion says:

        @thelushie: Hey, my wife orders her dressing on the side and usually drinks water…together with her steak and fries. What’s the problem with that?

    • Etoiles says:

      @SlappyWhite: I’m an overweight person, but I’m 60 pounds less overweight than I used to be (and only about 15-20 pounds overweight now from where I’d like to be). I have a soda maybe every 3-6 weeks and I plan and budget for them (calorically). If I was finally getting my treat that I’d been planning on since last Tuesday, and you came up in my face and saw fit to lecture me about my nutritional choices, I might see fit to punch you in the face.

      At least, I’d certainly wish to.

    • kittenfoo says:

      @SlappyWhite: you can’t always tell if a person has diabetes by their size. there are plenty of average or even small sized people who have it. and i’m sure there are plenty of large people who don’t. just throwin’ it out there. i think the flight attendant was rude, too.

  4. audiochick says:

    I would have told her, “in that case, I’ll take two cans!”

  5. Ilovegnomes says:

    This is a timely story. I watched the movie Supersize Me last night on Netflix. Maybe that flight attendant did too and was trying to be helpful. Man, that movie will make you never want to drink soda ever again!

    • tbax929 says:


      It’s not the FA’s job to tell passengers how much sugar is in their soda. If she wanted to be a nutritionist, she should have studied that in college and become one.

      I’d have put the FA in her place, but I know why the OP didn’t. Heaven forbid we cause a scene – might get arrested at the gate.

      • Landru says:

        @tbax929: I was thinking the same thing. I could have come up with all sorts of remarks, the most simple being, “Thank you, but it’s not any of your business”, but I would have been afraid of being “disappeared”.

        I think that all the time when ever I fly and I fly less and less as time goes on. The real heaven forbid is when one of the FA’s really goes over the deep end, and starts making people do funny dances or let her sit on their lap.

      • jkinatl2 says:

        @tbax929: That’s sort of what I was thinking.

        it’s not “free advice” on par with the errant nutjob stranger accosting you in a McD’s or as you sip your Caramel Turtle Mocchiato Grand Venti at a Starbucks.

        This is a person in a position of temporary extreme power. You are absolutely NOT free to respond. You are NOT free to speak back. You are risking your freedom, your future ability to fly, and most of your money, if you respond.

        That’s spooky to me, regardless of the accuracy of the statement made.

        What if the flight attendant had overheard a parent discussing vaccinating a child passenger, and had chosen to go all Jenny McCarthy on her?

        Free advice, IMHO, is only as free as both parties are to give it, ignore it, walk away from it, or respond to it.

        • Con Sumer Zealot says:

          @jkinatl2: And that brings us to an important skill, which is striking back later. In this particular example, I would have waited in the terminal after deplaning, watched until she was away from the gate and given her some verbal feedback in the concourse as she is walking. Nothing threatening, but then she doesn’t have the power over you either, and you can be sure to get her name and let her know she’ll be hearing a lot about it from corporate, and also ask the pilot while he is walking with her if that is how his staff should act on a plane.

  6. stanner says:

    Correct response: “Only 39 grams per can? Then if it’s not too much trouble, may I have two?”

    • ludwigk says:

      @stanner: A coke sure as hell doesn’t have 39 teaspoons of sugar, as a gram is nowhere near a teaspoon.

      A coke has about 14 teaspoons of sugar.

  7. Michael Ortega says:

    I’m sorry but what is the big deal? They gave her a free full soda and a bit of misinformation, nothing that hurt Laura. Then she writes a complaint and then another complaint about the first sorry response? What did she want? A apology with coupon for another free soda? Sometimes you have to let the little stuff go.

    • nagumi says:

      @Michael Ortega: Maybe she wants to make sure this flight attendant won’t do it again. When you get bad service on a plane it’s kinda awkward to ask for her supervisor – there may only be a couple attendants there and they’re very possibly of the same ‘rank’. I’d say this is a legitimate way to complain to the manager, same as you might to at a restaurant or Quik-E-Mart.

    • Wombatish says:

      @Michael Ortega: I don’t think it was unreasonable to write a complaint letter pointing out that that flight attendant might want to be pulled aside for some “beeswax” training.

      I also think that the complaint about form apology letters is a separate issue.

      So yes, she could have let it slide… but does it really hurt you, or anyone, that she didn’t?

    • jkinatl2 says:

      @Michael Ortega: I agree about letting the little stuff go. I honestly don’t think that was so little, though.

    • HiPwr says:

      @Michael Ortega: She paid for the Coke. SWA isn’t giving away “free” cokes.

    • Guvmint_Cheese says:

      @Michael Ortega: Agree. I would have just told that flight attendant that she must have mistaken me for someone who gives a shit. In those words. That would have been the end of it.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @Michael Ortega:

      Because it was RUDE.

      Customer service is not supposed to be rude.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @Michael Ortega: Michael, it’s up to each consumer to decide what THEIR battles are, and it’s NOT up to you to decide whether she should fight it.

      Consumers should support each other, particularly on a CONSUMER website, if she wants to make a federal case out of it and sharpen her skills, more power to her.

      I often find comments like yours come from jealous unsuccessful consumers trying to bring others down to feel better…

    • shepd says:

      @Michael Ortega:

      I had a similar experience at a dollarama yesterday. I bought some items that (weirdly enough) included a mail-in-rebate, but needed separate receipts for it. When I asked for that at the counter (and, of course, offered to pay cash because I understand it’s ridiculous to ring in the debit 8 times) I got a lecture about the environment.

      I proceeded to tell her that if she isn’t interested in doing her job, she’s welcome to not sell me the items (Implying that I’ll be letting her boss know she isn’t interested in doing her job). Overall a poor encounter that resulted in my writing a letter to corporate.

      Here’s the deal:

      When you work somewhere, one of your top priorities, as long as you continue to work there, is to make that place look good. This is implied even if your boss hasn’t told you it. It’s kind of like wearing swim clothes to work if you’re a lifeguard. Nobody should need to remind you or even explain why.

      Does it look good when you bash the products the company sells? Of course not. The only time this is even mildly acceptable is when you’re trying to upsell the customer, and in that case only when the boss has made it clear that’s how they do things (eg: Used car dealership style).

      What do *I* want from my encounter? I want that bad customer service rep to undergo sensitivity training, because clearly she needs it. And I know this flight attendant needs it, too.

      The first rule of customer service: Stick to the work. Second? Leave the agenda at home.

  8. categorically says:

    Remind me never to give Laura advice.

    • floraposte says:

      @categorically: You mean without this post, you really would have happily have told total strangers why what they were consuming was bad for them? Can I be added to the list with Laura, then, please?

    • jenl1625 says:

      @categorically: Unless I’ve *asked* for your advice, I’d like to be on your “don’t advise” list as well.

      I certainly would appreciate you not giving me unsolicited advice when I’m stuck in a place where you’re in control, surrounded by people who are close enough that *of course* they hear every word you say.

    • jeffbone says:

      @categorically: I agree. Anyone who would fly *to* Baltimore for a vacation probably won’t listen anyway…

      (for the humor-impaired: there is a small touch of sarcasm in this comment)

  9. tom2133 says:

    Does a nutritionist tell you how to exit the plane in case of an emergency? Serve you coffee, tell you to sit up right and help you with your bags on your plane?

  10. quirkyrachel says:

    How odd. I mean, what? It’s not like the nutritional info is hidden on the can or something.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @quirkyrachel: hrm, maybe the flight attendant should restrict her nutritional information providing to people who DON’T ask for the can [because those are the folks who don’t then have the little chart right in their hand]

  11. omgyouresexy says:

    I often find that there are certain people who feel as if they have exceptionally good advice to give when it comes to food and nutrition. The kind of people who will push their opinions about organic, chemical-free, or “healthy” food on you. I can’t stand it. They act as if because they’ve read some misguided information on someones blog, they are qualified to inform you of the dangers of saturated fats or (god-forbid) artificial sweeteners.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @omgyouresexy: i’m not fond of those people, either. and unfortunately, as was pointed out above, the correct carb count for sugar [sucrose, table sugar] is 4.2 grams of carbs per teaspoon. so she’s not even a correct well meaning nutritional busy-body

    • Lisa Cebrian says:

      @omgyouresexy: i agree…especially bc my mom is a registered dietitian in NY state, and i can talk circles around the “omg organic!” mentality. and as many people pointed out, 1 gram of sugar != a teaspoon (does not equal).

      and i really doubt the OP is overweight. working at a chain restaurant for a long time, about 95% of people who ordered regular coke was not overweight. it was the people who ordered diet, then would get a double cheeseburger with french fries…hold the lettuce and tomato. i mean, there is nothing wrong with that, but i wouldn’t assume that the OP is overweight…i feel so bad for laura though…southwest should apologize properly.

    • William McCall says:

      @AustinTXProgrammer: “I can’t imagine that she was doing it to hurt you.”

      C’mon. It embarrassed you? I’m a smoker and I regularly get lectured on the dangers of smoking. I don’t cry about it though.

      Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know how much cancer-causing crap is in cigarettes. I don’t really care. That’s why I don’t quit.

      Similarly, if some flight attendant gave me a lecture on my liter-and-a-half a day habit of soda, I’d just lol. True, she has a point, but why get offended when people just give you silly (even if misguided) facts? You know the facts. I’m not really sure what you want the airline to do.

      As a general rule, remember this: most people don’t really care about you. Even in the service industry, their job is to bs you up. I’m sure whoever it was meant no harm. If it hurt your feelings, its because you took something personally that wasn’t meant to be personally anyway.

      I’d reserve my complaint power for an incident that actually merited it (you know… a dirty can of soda that I had to drink out of, being refused ice with my soda, etc) but hurt feelings don’t really qualify.

      @SlappyWhite: “Either way, people need to mind their own business.”

      Yes they should, but they never do. Its life and people need to learn how to get over it.

      @audiochick: “I would have told her, “in that case, I’ll take two cans!” “

      This is the appropriate response. Next time someone tells me that cigarettes are unhealthy, I’ll smoke two at one time. If they go on about soda too, hell, I’ll have to pound 2 sodas and 2 cigarettes.

  12. Laura Northrup says:

    I didn’t know MeMe Roth got a job as a flight attendant.

  13. ClayS says:

    One gram of sugar per teaspoon? Tell her to keep her day job.

    • Canino says:

      @ClayS: Sounds like something she would have seen in some forwarded email from her middle-aged mom. Or on Oprah.

    • nato0519 says:

      @ClayS: Just an FYI to that employee a teaspoon of sugar is almost 4 grams. If you want to be a health nut at least get your facts straight.

  14. calquist says:

    I feel bad for Laura. I would have been embarrassed as well and then spent the entire flight trying to think if maybe I look fat. There is no law against giving out advice, but it is poor customer service. I think Laura definitely deserves an honest apology and I hope she isn’t just digging for free stuff.

    • zephyr_words says:

      @calquist: “then spent the entire flight trying to think if maybe I look fat.”

      I understand being embarrassed but is your self esteem really that low to dwell for hours on if you look fat or not? Figure that out and be comfortable with yourself as you are or change.

  15. AngelaChanning says:

    Just don’t get too sassy with the stewardess, she will have your ass thrown in the pokey!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have a similar experience whenever I go to Five Guys, which is about twice a year, because have you seen how many fries you get? However, when I go, I go starving, my fat pants are on and I’m ready to eat.

    For whatever reason, though, whenever I order the double burger and the large fries, the person taking my order feels compelled to tell me that this is a ton of food, and am I going to eat it all? Am I suuuuure? Really? I wind up arguing each time and finally wind up saying I plan to share it.

    What’s it to them? No one likes unsolicited advice. Hey, I think our disgusting habits as a fast-food loving nation need some serious fixing, but I’m not going to go around showing people nutrition labels. To me, it’s no better than someone shoving a religious pamphlet in my face.

    • Anonymous says:

      @SunandaBabby: Ahhyou’re thinking too much out of this.

      I worked in a similar restaurant with huge portions. It’s absolutely nothing to do with how you look etc, we used to tell EVERYONE how big the portions are because so many people would eat half then ask for a refund because they didn’t want that much food.


      So it was easier to always say ‘Just to let you know, our portions are really big, do you definitely want the blah blah and blah?’

      Most people would change their order and actually thank me after when they were totally full!

      It would have been easier if the portion size was changed but meh

      I do think the FA was a sancitmonious bitch however

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I wind up arguing each time and finally wind up saying I plan to share it.

      @SunandaBabby: That’s freaking ridiculous! If they don’t want to serve people that many french fries they need to work someplace else.

      You should stand at the counter and eat the fries so they can see you doing it.

  17. DovS says:

    This flight attendant was not just rude, she was also ignorant.

    One gram of granulated sugar is about 0.24 teaspoons. So 39 grams of sugar is only 9.29 teaspoons.

    Of course, we’re comparing weight and volume here but I can’t imagine a form of sugar used in soda which would have a low enough density to be 1 teaspoon per gram. Perhaps she was under the impression that soda is sweetened with cotton candy?

  18. HiPwr says:

    My experience with SWA is that Laura could have asked the flight attendant if she was aware of the harmful affects to her face from caking on make-up.

  19. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Grr. I wouldn’t have said anything either, but any response I would have otherwise given would have been the along the lines of “Bless you! Actually, 4.2 grams makes up a teaspoon. Would you like to sit here next to me and we can do the math together?”

    Er…but I’m not actually a nice person.

    • floraposte says:

      @SpiderJerusalem: I like this very much.

    • lim says:

      @SpiderJerusalem: A random lady tried to put her cart between myself and the frozen lunches. I finally grabbed what I wanted and she proceeded to tell me how bad it was for me. I told her I was capable of reading and if it was so bad perhaps she should go to a different aisle.

      You could try to excuse my behavior by saying I was running late for work and had forgotten my lunch on the kitchen counter…But I’m not actually a nice person.

  20. Skater009 says:

    Take a picture of the person and include it .

  21. BeerManMike says:


  22. sinfuly Delicious says:

    Just be lucky they didnt charge you for the advice.

  23. Outrun1986 says:

    This is pretty bad customer service, I have never had anyone try to point something like this out to me. The nutritional information is on the can in plain sight, so its not like it is hidden.

    This would be equivalent to the waitress in a restaurant telling someone how many calories and fat are in their meal and that they should make a different choice because of that. Unfortunately while you can ream the waitress who did this to you or her manager in a restaurant you can’t ream a flight attendant because if you do you are probably going to jail. I would hope a manager would fire any waitress that did this since their job is essentially to sell food, they shouldn’t be trying to discourage customers from eating it!

    Isn’t the airlines job to sell food anyways, I would think telling someone what is in their food would discourage the practice of buying food, which means less money for the airlines. The flight attendants are supposed to sell food, not discourage passengers to eat it. They shouldn’t be questioning your food choices period.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @Outrun1986: Oddly, I don’t recall anyone here asking you, either.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Outrun1986: Remember, this is Southwest…no charge. Every Coke you drink does actually mean less money for the airline, which is why all of the other airlines are starting to charge for everything. Wacky way to balance the budget, mind you…I think it’s pretty clear that this was one individual’s soapbox, not airline policy.

  24. katewrath says:

    This “maybe she was just trying to be helpful” rationale is a cart of horseshit.

    Being helpful means that you see someone with a problem that they would CLEARLY like to address — a spilled drink, a badly paper-cut finger, an empty stapler — and you say, “I’ll go get some napkins/bandaids/staples.” And then you do that.

    Any behavior beyond that is a sign of personality disorder. No, really. If you are unable to stop yourself from offering unsolicited advice to people who are clearly fine with the status quo, you should see a mental health professional and learn the meaning of the term “good boundaries.”

    It means you’re walking through life, continuously finding problems with the people around you and telling them how to change so they match your expectations. Aside from being super annoying, it’s also a crystal clear sign that, unbeknowst to you, you are ripping yourself apart inside your own head, and these “helpful suggestions” are the overflow from that non-stop internal rant.

    And just so we’re clear, the above is all objectively true, and in no way influenced or shaped by the snarky Disneyland employee who told me that the between-the-legs restraint on Soaring Over California is “only for children, ma’am.” Listen, you fucking bint, if I want the reassurance that I will not plummet to my death that this so-called children’s restraint provides, then that’s my call and none of your business.

  25. jameleon says:

    Rather than be embarrassed, the OP should have just given the flight attendant an over-the-top sarcastic response. Not that she shouldn’t have followed that up with complaints to Southwest as well, but there was no reason to feel humiliated.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Southwest doesn’t always play by the books, and that goes for what I suspect are “FAA regulations”. I like when they sing the important instructions about seatbacks and whatnot, but I’m pretty sure struggling — almost having to crawl — in order to get from the back of the plane to the front during take-off is not permitted… I’ve seen a crew member do this. As a general rule, I like to hear both sides of all stories, but being a customer service oriented person, I’d have to say that the discussion regarding good ole Coke was unnecessary. I still like SW in general, but don’t fly them for various reasons (e.g. no seating assignment not great option for family).

  27. zacwax says:

    as far as a resolution for her complaint, what is she exactly asking for?

    In the legal world, you don’t have a claim if you don’t have any damages.

    She got an general apology and unfortunately that’s all she’s going to get.

  28. scootinger says:

    Seriously? The flight attendant was telling her not to drink *one* 12oz can of Coke based on the sugar content? She would probably have a heart attack if she saw the 32oz+ cups of soda served at convenience stores and fast food restaurants everywhere.

    Plus, does SWA actually have Coke made with sugar? Last time I checked, pretty much all Coke was made with high fructose corn syrup (unless it’s foreign or “Kosher for Passover” Coke.)

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hey Chris – sorry to hear about Laura’s unpleasant experience. Given that we serve free sodas on our flights and frequently supply the entire can, it seems like a really *bizarre* comment for one of our Flight Attendant’s to make.

    With out being there or speaking with the Flight Attendant directly to get her take, I really can’t offer any explanation for the comment myself, but on behalf of Southwest Airlines, I do offer my sincere apologies to Laura.

    If she has written back to our Customer Relations Department, she should be receiving a response soon.

    Glad to hear that her return flight was better…I hope this one unusual situation won’t tarnish her view of our Employees. Most of us are pretty decent folks.

    Paula Berg
    Southwest Airlines

  30. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Unsolicited nutrition advice is just plain obnoxious. It’s soda, it’s bad for me…just give me the damn can and keep your “helpful” thoughts to yourself.

    I don’t want unsolicited love-life advice from my mechanic, stock tips from my plumber or computer advice from my doctor either.

    As for getting an actual apology from a live person…good luck. I doubt this is high up in the SWA apology queue.

    A quick consensus of the Internets indicates that there are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, so a can of soda would have about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it. Yeah, that’s definitely a lot of suger, but again, it’s not the flight attendant’s job to give nutritional advice to passengers.

  31. 2 replies says:

    FTA: “each time you want to refer to your original email, you have to go back to their main webpage and fill in your name, email, phone, address, flight number, destination city, original city, etc.”

    Firefox + iMacros = A good thing. ^_^

  32. dianabanana says:

    Why didn’t you just tell the stewardess to shut up? Or a “thanks for the information, but I don’t appreciate being spoken to like I need a lesson in nutrition.”

  33. Sockatume says:

    The hell kind of teaspoons is she using if they only hold a gram?

  34. savdavid says:

    Look, just remember this “flight attendant” can diet all she wants, eat the best food she wants, exercise till she passes out….she is STILL going to die. Guaranteed. So, she made be an old hag a few more years than you, big deal. However, she could just as well die on her next flight or walk in front of baggage taxi. Who knows? She has some nerve lecturing to you. Just lean back with the knowledge that she is going to croak, too, and smile.

  35. reynwrap582 says:

    Forget coke, best beverage on a plane is Ginger Ale.

  36. Skin Art Squared says:

    You realize that writing complaint letters and having this posted on Consumerist could possibly raise your stress levels unnecessarily, thereby raising your blood pressure leading to further health complications by dwelling on the issue. Are you sure you want to continue on this path?


  37. bkdlays says:

    Of course it is not the flight attendants position to give you advice about anything unless asked.

    I also agree with the flight attendant that Coke especially, and all soda is terrible for you in many ways.

    The sugar is particularly bad, but the caffeine, acid, and colorings arent so great.

    I was once addicted and once I stopped, I lost some weight and my teeth stopped rotting away. I also don’t have such a raging caffeine problem.

    This of course is just my opinion though and I don’t share it with my customers.

  38. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    Well there are several things that apply to the flight attendant here.

    My personal thought is I see people in the wrong all day, tragic hair-do’s and fashion don’ts, saying and doing stupid things, the inner critic is in high gear, and he is RIGHT of course, however, there is a little saying I like to say to people like her:

    Um you were only supposed to THINK that dear, not let it come out of your MOUTH, but thanks for sharing!

    Seriously, some people let their inner dialogue run outward through their mouth with no filter, known as tact and common courtesy.

    Another cute way to respond might have been “WELL, aren’t YOU just full of USEFUL information? Tell me, do you know about tact and manners in customer service too?”

    The game is to put her down in a really polite way in front of several others sympathizing with you to get laughs without turning it into a demolition derby.

    Finally, I really must quote a flight attendant friend of mine who also has a nursing practice, because what he said about this is JUST priceless!
    This is coming strictly from my nursing background.
    Find out who the FA was, and where she lives.
    Find out if that state has a licensing requirement for Nutritionists, allied health care providers, or teachers.
    In most cases, practicing without a license is a felony and taken seriously. File charges with the appropriate board. That’ll get her to shut up and serve Coke.

  39. Skin Art Squared says:

    I’ve had 6 Red Bulls and 4 Cokes just today. I should probably head directly to the mortuary.

  40. Japheaux says:

    Speaking of sugary beverages, I was flying a Southwest flight from Dallas to Amarillo on April 9th when a guy with a portable urinal starts filling it up. He sat in the front row next to the aisle. He asked the flight attendant guy to empty it for him…and the guy did! Never saw any hand-washing and quit enteratining the thought of a mid-flight drink. Funny. SW folks will take pis, but they won’t take any shit from you.

  41. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    Another pithy comeback for fa-bitch could have been, “Well if it’s so fattening and dangerous then, why are YOU serving it to me? Why is it in your cart? Oh that’s right, because I paid for this flight and it’s really about what I want and the 6 figure consultants 7 steps above you know better than you do about what people want. Thanks for the Coke!”

  42. baristabrawl says:

    Does anyone ever have bad Frontier service? I love them!

    I’m starting to not like Southwest as much as I once did. Buttholes.

  43. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    wld’v tld th F t shv th cn p hr cnt.

  44. Righteous says:

    I think it was just friendly advice, nothing more. Laura sounds like the sensitive type. That, or she is just one cranky sugar junkie that was looking to get her fix. Obviously Laura’s judgment is skewed because all of that sugar not only rots your teeth, but has adverse effects on other parts of your body.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @Righteous: It was a passive aggressive insult.

      When a complete stranger feels the need to comment on your eating habits it is never friendly.

  45. anduin says:

    soda sucks anyways, shouldve ordered a juice

  46. MeanTeacher says:

    I spent 7 years as a flight attendant after finding that I hated practicing law. What a great job. Thoroughly exhausting, but the passengers were generally nice and pleasant, and I always said that I was well paid to be nice to others.

    The only time I ever offered my advice to anyone regarding their beverage (well, I would put the smack-down on the drunks) was on a flight from PHL to Munich and the passenger requested his fifth or sixth can of tomato juice. I dropped two bottles of water in front of him, told him that I was concerned that he would be ill with dehydration if he yet, but I’d be happy to do a 1 bottle of water for 1 can of tomato exchange throughout the flight. Put my mind at ease, and he was totally in agreement.

    Other than that, I always made sure that I enjoyed the flight and the customers. And just for background, if any member of the crew received a letter of complaint, in to the office of the base manager we would all go to give our recollection of the flight. Pilots quite often, too.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @MeanTeacher: I think pointing out an immediate health concern is OK. That Southwest FA wasn’t going to have to deal with whatever consequences the OP might have from drinking the soda but if the guy became dehydrated it would have been an issue on the plane.

      I doubt tomato juice cans warn about dehydration so it’s not like you were telling him something he already knew either.

  47. James Alton says:

    I have to disagree with the original post. I think it would be awesome if McDonalds/etc were to point out exactly how nasty the food you were buying is. “Do you really want to eat that? This double double double burger has 132 grams of fat! That’s equivalent to eating half a cow, sir!” I love it!

    • Zeniq says:

      @James Alton: Maybe you’re right. But how would you like it if they individually singled you out, spoke to you as though you couldn’t handle your own nutrition, in a tone that indicated they were better than you?

      I don’t love that.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @James Alton: All the customer has to say is, “Then why are you selling it?”

  48. Joyce Godsey says:

    that’s crazy..southwest doesn’t give whole cans. they pour out half a can into a crappy plastic cup with no ice and give the rest of your can to someone else. cheapass cattle car bastards.

  49. Rachacha says:

    My Response “It is very unlikely that you will live forever, and almost everything we eat shaves a few minutes off of my life because of preservatives and chemicals that are inserted into the food. This can of Coke represents about 1 minute of my life. Thank you for your concern, but I realluy don’t care about that last minute”

  50. nato0519 says:

    Hey look on the bright side though at least the information she gave you was free and the airline didn’t charge you a fee for it.

  51. Drew Boone says:

    39 gram of sugar in a can of Coke
    1 gram = 1 teaspoon
    A can of coke is 12 oz.
    If this is true…
    39 teaspoons is approximately 3/4 of a cup.
    12 oz is 1 1/2 cups.
    A can of coke is half sugar.
    Does this sound unlikely to you as well? I call BS on the part of the flight attendant.

  52. Andrew Blanchette says:

    If you think this is bad, try Northwest. If you pay for coach, they treat you like dirt. I would have just told her that nobody asked her, making sure the rest of the passengers hear. Tough justice!

  53. dkeen says:

    Though the action of the flight attendant is pretty reprehensible if this story is anywhere close to accurate, I’m curious why none of the actual letters are posted. How are we supposed to know if this is a legitimate complaint or if Laura just wrote a crazy, ranting letter that’s impossible to professionally respond to? How do we know the response was vague and generic? Are we supposed to assume that Laura is being completely objective in her judgment about SWA’s response?

    C’mon Consumerist… if you have the letters and aren’t posting them (or at least excerpts of them), then you’re not really giving the full story. If you don’t have the letters, then you’re blindly taking the word of someone who sends you an email. I expect more from Consumerist, and I hope you’re not posting this stuff just for the shock value.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I am a flight attendant and sometimes cringe at morbidly obese people asking for multiple cans of soda and peanuts….then hang their fat out in the aisle because the seat they’re sitting in cannot accommodate their gluttony. Disgusting.
    Perhaps this flight attendant simply had enough for one day and decided to make a positive difference in somebody’s life. Ever thought about that?

  55. Gizmosmonster says:

    You have to ASK for the whole can of pop? Seriously?

  56. Mike Kosten says:

    My question is… who the heck cares? Wow, ONE employee made a comment. The company can’t control everything that their employees say. They can’t even verify that what the customer says is true.

    Trust me, for every 1 bad employee, there are 10 crazy customers trying to get stuff for free.

  57. FF_Mac says:

    Umm…so what?

    What do you want them to do? Fire the attendant? Give you a free ticket? Give you a diet coke?

    They’re not going to tell you if action was taken against one of their employees. Personnel issues are usually kept private.

    Get over yourself. If this makes you “incredibly humiliated and offended,” time to toughen up for life…it’s gonna be a rough ride.

  58. PsiCop says:

    I have no idea what it is about food that makes everyone think they’re entitled to tell you want to eat or drink … but it seems to be a problem.

    I’m on Weight Watchers (for 7 weeks, lost 22# so far). If I mention to anyone that I’m on a diet, the floodgates open to all sorts of eating advice that apparently people think I need, even when I tell them I’m on W.W. and I’m following that plan.

    Why would I take someone’s unsolicited and non-professional diet advice, when I’m paying W.W. for theirs, which is (I assume) more reliable?

    I suppose the advice would be welcome if W.W. wasn’t working for me and I had to do something else. But I don’t, because it is! Nevertheless, people seem to think they can do better.

    It was only about 3 weeks into the diet that I learned to keep my trap shut. If I have to make a calorie-reducing request in a restaurant, for instance, I cannot qualify it with “I’m on a diet” because the unsolicited advice will ensue.

  59. joe_no_say says:

    Giving a stranger unsolicited advice for anything is always a tough call. I never do it anymore. The last time I did, the guy wanted to kill me (this guy with a lifted up F-150 had this nasty gash (several inches and deep) in his tire and didn’t want to hear about the safety factor, like that he could kill someone).

    Anyway, a couple of thoughts:
    (1) There’s only about 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon of sugar.
    (2) There’s a false implication that a sugary drink is less healthy than a sugarless one. I would agree that water is healthier than a Coke. But I would disagree that a Monsanto Diet Coke would be healthier than a regular Coke.

  60. Jackie Yoshi says:

    I would’ve ignored them, or maybe given them a look depending on my mood. You really have to feel sorry for these people though. They honestly think they’re making a difference, like a 2 year old playing pretend-super hero and saving the world.

    The best thing you can do is regard them as you would a 2 year old, ignore them or else they’ll throw a tantrum. If they throw a tantrum indulge them in pretending you care about what they’re saying until they leave. Just be glad it’s not your job to have to babysit them.

  61. Captaffy says:

    Ask the stewardess if she’s aware of the negative health effects (increased radiation exposure for one) of flying in an airplane for a living.

    I’ll take the Coke over that.

  62. Morticia says:

    Chances are if she has done this to Laura then this is not the first nor the last time she will do this.

    No it was not acceptable at all for the air hostess to do this.

  63. RStui says:

    I have to admit, I would have asked her point-blank if she was insinuating I was fat. Why bother going to the company over this matter, when it could have easily been handled directly between you and the stewardess?

    It’s not really Southwest’s problem that the stewardess offended you by pointing out the sugar content of a can of soda. That’s not illegal, immoral, or necessarily poor service. Companies can’t regulate EVERYTHING their employees do, and if one went too far in her zealous service and offended you, it’s not like they can fire her or even reprimand her.

  64. vladthepaler says:

    I’m curious as to whether the OP is obese. Certainly, unhealthy foods (like pop) contribute to all sorts of adverse medical conditions, and a lot of people don’t think about what they eat and drink from a health point of view. I think what the stewardess did was exactly right: if I order something unhealthy, she should warn me that it’s unhealthy, and then give it to me anyway if I still want it.

  65. stezton says:

    It would have been funny to tell her, “Oh! Is that all [the sugar] it has?! Well I’m going to need a second can!” I bet that would confound her.

  66. PAConsumerist says:

    If not for the confounded Partiot Act, I’d have asked Ms. Flying Waitress if she’d like 39 grams of my foot dead in her ass.

  67. Tankueray says:

    Well, one’s a unit of weight, and one’s a unit of volume. Using my kitchen scale, it looks like a teaspoon is 4 grams. So really, that can of Coke was about 10 teaspoons.

    Anyway, she may have had some strange, but altruistic reason for her comment. My family has a history of diabetes, my grandmother would have my blood sugar checked EVERY time I saw a doctor. If I scraped my knee, she’d say diabetes. To this day if I sneeze, she wants to pull out the glucose meter. (We have no need for one, when they went on the public market she insisted we get one.) My 78 year old grandfather was diagnosed with type II last week. Now she’s constantly got that “I told you so” attitude.

    I never faked being sick when I was little for fear of the lancet at the doctor’s office. Back then they needed more blood, so the lancet was HUGE!

    I probably would’ve asked the attendant if they had any sugar packets to mix in with it… :-)