Does Delta Have The Rudest Flight Attendants?

Airfarewatchdog polled its readers and found that “by a large margin” Delta has the rudest flight attendants, followed by United. Southwest, on the other hand, was the nicest.

Is this accurate? Does Delta really have a major problem with rudeness?

Interesting results from the first annual Airfarewatchdog consumer survey [airfarewatchdog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. mythago says:

    Where’s the poll choice for “I’ll be goddamned if I’ll fly on Delta to find out”?

  2. digital0verdose says:

    Delta is no worse than the soulless bastards that attend to US Air flights.

    If you hate your job so much, get a new one asshole. You signed up for it.

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      Ah, because it is so easy to get another job these days.

      • digital0verdose says:

        I’m not saying it is, but you have a job to do, do it. Don’t take it out on the people who had no control on your career choice.

        • hotdogsunrise says:

          I totally agree with that. I think we’d be a much happier society if everyone could follow that advice.

          • FishtownYo says:

            If everyone could quit their job because they didn’t like it, most people would be unemployed. Most jobs suck in one form or another, thats why its called a job.

  3. smo0 says:

    I get a typical “I hate this shit” feeling from most flight attendants these days… but the worst was flying back to Las Vegas from Ft. Myers on Southwest….. this one chick made me livid – unbelievable rude to every single person, if anyone asked a question – she’d snap at them.

    • Salty Johnson says:

      That’s definitely not typical Southwest behavior. I fly them frequently (read “a few times a year”) and they seem to have the best flight attendants (and most legroom, and cheapest flights, and most convenient routes) of anybody I’ve flown.

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    Not employed by airlines, but if I had wage cuts and concessions while upper management gives themselves raises and bonuses, I’d be damn cranky.

    Delta FA’s may be rude, but at least Delta doesn’t employ Helen:

    • runswithscissors says:

      Uh, management – particularly upper management – do most of the REAL work in a company. You know, catered meetings… executive retreats at exotic spas… company jets… dinner after dinner after dinner at the finest restaurants in the world…

      Some days they even have to sign their name on something. TWICE.

      Worth every penny of the 900 times average employee salary. Every. Penny.

  5. allinfocus says:

    It’s a balance between rude flight staff or Southwest ones that think they are entertaining. Dear sir: show me how to fasten my seat belt. Show me where the exits are. Take my drink order. Help me if the plane crashes. You are not the second coming of Paul Lynnde. It’s the last flight out of Sacramento into LA, it’s late.

    Dear sassy obese black women in the third row: stop encouraging him. This cannot be real, you are all from Central Casting.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      I’m sorry, but if you really need to be shown how to fasten that seat belt, you have some serious issues.

      • allinfocus says:

        Well, I’m pretty well-versed in the general concept of belt-fastening. I just included the safety demonstration as being part of a flight attendant’s proscribed duties.

        I mean, you just tie them in a pretty tight knot across the waist, right?

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Aw I love the funny Southwest attendants and pilots!

    • TheGhostshark says:

      When I was 5, I liked game shows, especially the old Hollywood Squares. One day I told my parents I wanted to be Paul Lynde when I grew up. They immediately bought me a football.

      True story.

  6. Draygonia says:

    I asked for water after I woke up from a nap and heard we were descending… The lady said “We are descending! Why the heck didn’t you ask for this earlier?!” Then she stormed off to get my water. I was pretty taken back… No more delta… EVER.

  7. colorisnteverything says:

    On Continental, I have had HUGE issues with Flight Attendants. Coming back on a red eye from Newark to Indy, I was treated very badly by a FA. She came by to ask me if I wanted coffee or tea to drink.

    I stated I would very much like a cup of coffee and she said, “Okay, you’ll have tea.”

    Confused, I said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I asked for coffee.”

    “Yes, but you’ll get tea.”

    I don’t drink tea and stated this, but she replied with, “Well, I felt like making tea, not coffee, so that is what you’ll have.”

    I asked if I could have a bottled water or pop instead. She said that “pop” (in annoying voice making fun of my Chicago accent) was not available and I would have to pay. Hmm… it was free on the way over.

    I said, fine, I’ll pay. The flight was delayed on take off and I was thirsty and desperate at this point. She tells me, “No, sorry, we don’t have any.”

    She then just leaves. I am so flabbergasted by her rudeness, that I don’t say anything and just let it go. It’s only an hour flight and I didn’t care. No sooner do I forget then she comes back to me, SLAMS down my pop on top of the journal article I am editing, and walks off.

    It was a very odd experience. This is exactly why I hate flying domestically. I would much rather get on Virgin Atlantic and fly to London. The food is great and the drinks are free – with booze!

    • apd09 says:

      I’m a little confused, a red eye from Newark to Indy? A red eye is usually an overnight flight going from points west to the east because of the time zone difference. I think you have your terminology a little mixed up on that one.
      I have never had a problem with Continental, years ago I flew them so much I attained Elite Status and even on all my flights to get to that point I never had a problem. Maybe you just caught someone on a bad day, because I have found they were always very polite and courteous.

      • colorisnteverything says:

        It is operated by Express Jet, so maybe Express Jet just has grumpy FA’s, but I have had previous issues with Continental. Unfortunately, Indy is a Continental hub (and a sad excuse for an international airport) and if I needed to fly to an academic conference, I had to do it out of Indy.

        To be fair, I don’t think it is just Continental or Delta or ANYONE for that matter. I think there are bad apples everywhere – especially on regional flights because those people just don’t get paid enough to fly around in a cramped puddle jumper IMO.

  8. dreamfish says:

    Maybe Delta has the rudest customers who deserve being cursed out.

  9. SugarMag says:

    No, American Airlines has the rudest. They also will deliberately pour coffee on you and your deceased relatives cremains if you piss them off. And how do you piss them off? By existing.

    • trujunglist says:

      Please tell me more

    • MsAnthropy says:

      Agree totally. Delta flight attendants are merely surly and couldn’t give a shit. Every time I’ve flown American the last few years, I get the feeling that each and every flight attendant has a real and deep-seated personal hatred of each and every passenger on the plane, for no good reason at all! Delta’s run-of-the mill rudeness just can’t even begin to compete…

      • SugarMag says:

        “I get the feeling that each and every flight attendant has a real and deep-seated personal hatred of each and every passenger on the plane, for no good reason at all”

        That is completely it. Well said. It was my first experience of this magnitude too – so it was even more unsettling. It was like she had to “punish” me for asking for coffee – that was her duty that day. Ive never seen someone so berserk before over “nothing”. And the nothing was asking for coffee. First she went apeshit verbally. I was having an upsetting week flying my sister’s cremains in my carry-on cross country for burial and couldnt handle much of anything so I dug the box out, explained what it was, and said her abusive behavior was uncalled for and upsetting esp. with the week I was having. Her response was to punish me some more by pouring the coffee on me and the box and saying “So how do you like THAT?!?” and stormed off.

        No sleep for a week and a stressful one at that left me without any good comebacks. I just wanted the 6.5 hr flight to be over asap.

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    We started calling “stewardesses” flight attendents because it showed respect and was in the attempt to remove the stereotype and treat a service worker nicely. But, I’m beginning to wonder if stewardesses no longer deserve that level of respect.

  11. SugarMag says:

    No, American Airlines has the rudest. They also will deliberately pour coffee on you and your deceased relative’s cremains if you piss them off. And how do you piss them off? By existing.

  12. louiedog says:

    The rudest flight attendant I’ve met was on a Delta flight. She was talking to a passenger just outside of the rear bathrooms when I went back there to relieve myself. I stepped in, closed the door, and found it wouldn’t latch. I’d seen other people using it, so I assumed it wasn’t completely broken. I stepped out so I could get a look at the latch from the side to see why it wasn’t sliding shut.

    The flight attendant proceeded to explain to me how the door worked in a manner that she might speak to a baby while rolling her eyes. Ignoring her, I kept fiddling with the latch and noticed why it wasn’t working, realizing I had to push down as it slid. I closed the door, got it latched, and proceeded with my business. From inside I could hear her telling the passenger she was conversing with that there were a lot of stupid people on that flight who couldn’t even use a bathroom door. The passenger told her the latch wasn’t working properly and that was why multiple people were having issues, but the flight attendant asserted that it was fine and the people were stupid. Despite sitting near the rear of the plane, I didn’t see her touch that door once.

    • scgirl_212 says:

      As a FA, you would be suprised at how many people cannot open or close the lav doors. At least 5 a flight. I’ve been flying for 33 years now, it’s actually pretty hilarious.

  13. xspook says:

    Once on a verrrry long flight from Guam to San Francisco, my wife was trying to get the FA’s attention; they kept ignoring her. Finally, when one came walking by, she said, “what does it take to get a waitress around here?” Holy jeebus from heaven, did the shiat hit the fan then!

    • Dutchess says:

      Sounds like your wife got what she diserved….and for the record, they like to be called “Flying Air Hostesses”.

      • apd09 says:

        I prefer cupcakes to twinkies.

      • _UsUrPeR_ says:

        I get the funny feeling that airline employees take advantage of their “Jesus of the skies” status. Specifically, their ability to self-determine if someone is being disruptive enough to land the aircraft and call the FBI. The fact that these people can be judge and jury has given them a lot of leeway pertaining to how they can treat their paying customers.

        The only group of people I can compare their behavior to is third parties at basic training. The man serving you your food, the woman doing your laundry, the custodian cleaning the floor, they were all jerks. They realize that the trainees are a captive crowd that cannot speak up when somebody is being rude.

  14. giax says:

    The biggest drama I’ve ever seen between a flight attendant and a passenger was on a Ryanair flight.
    And it’s not just one Ryanair flight either.

  15. Etoiles says:

    Last time I flew Delta was 2005, and their staff were so rude and the experience so horrible that I made a personal vow not to fly Delta again.

  16. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    Can we just give up the pretense that “flight attendants” are in the customer-service business? The deregulation of the 1970s fatally wounded that concept, and the post-9/11 “enforcement” mentality was the last nail in the coffin.

    Fire the current FAs, and just hire some burly minimum-wage dudes to sit in the jump-seats by the exits, assist in any needed emergency evacuations, and subdue any unruly passengers.

    Once we acknowledge that the FA jobs is now just a glorified lifeguard/bouncer job, and not at all the glorified glamorous waitress job it once was, everybody will be happier, and air travel will be safer.

    Want food/water? Bring your own. And welcome to the brave new world of commodified bargain-basement, security-theater-infested air travel.

    • jamar0303 says:

      And yet somehow countries like Japan manage to not fall into this pit. Go try a Japan Airlines flight. The concept is alive and well with them and I love ’em for it.
      (It was also “alive and mostly well” with Northwest pre-merger, but now it’s all Delta-y)

      • god_forbids says:

        I think you’ve got JAL confused with ANA (hint, one of these is bankrupt). JAL has hired nothing but Chinese and SE Asian FAs for the last decade and the service has gone down accordingly. All Nippon Airways has maintained a semblance of the greatness that was once the Japanese airline industry but they nickel-and-dime like nobody’s business and aren’t that hot anymore either.

        • jamar0303 says:

          Being bankrupt didn’t stop the American airline industry, did it? And it won’t do a thing to JAL either. The Japanese domestic market will essentially be handed to ANA on a silver platter if JAL actually goes into the Japanese equivalent of Ch7 (LCCs there only cover the most heavily-flown routes; in quite a few airports JAL/ANA are the only domestic options while Asiana and Korean try to take the international market from every city that’s not Tokyo/Nagoya/Osaka) so the government won’t stand for it (especially the international market going toDelta/Asiana/Korean).

          And yes, I know about the Chinese and other Asian hires. I live in Shanghai and occasionally go to the JAL ticket office to check out the specials on flights to Japan or Hawaii. I’ve seen the local trainees that apparently get sent out to Japan and at any rate they do a better job than Delta (bar set too low? Maybe). Though that seems a tad odd; I thought that they were only allowed to run foreign FAs on those attendants’ home country flights as well as JALways. I specifically didn’t say a word about ANA because they seem to be picking up the American-style nickle-and-diming habits.

          On that tangent, though, I personally don’t slag on the Chinese attendants. Maybe because I’ve found even them to be miles above United (the American airline I use as comparison).

  17. UltimateOutsider says:

    Obviously no one here has flown EL AL.

  18. Alex says:

    I agree with the post noting that American flight attendants are not interested in being attendants. They are security, or perhaps cargo handlers.

    I will point out that airlines based in other countries still adhere to the concept of service. Its a heck of a jarring experience, to go from an Asian airline to United, for instance.

    As for de-regulation being the cause, I disagree. The cause is that we de-regulated, then we subsidized. We have been keeping these useless zombies alive for years now, and we have the worst of both worlds. Corporate zombies, with service staff that act like government workers. Lovely.

  19. Bob says:

    Believe it or not it used to be worse on Business Women travelers in the 80’s and early 90’s. Several of the older stewardesses (as they called themselves, they never called themselves flight attendants) told my mother and my aunt, in no uncertain terms, that they were “not as important” as the men business travelers. I didn”t believe it until I saw it for myself over 15 years ago.

    I think the same “behind the times by a decade or two” adverse attitudes are still embodied in the Delta culture. I found that flying in jeans and t-shirt can attract a little more trouble at Delta than wearing business causal, even today.

    Of course AirTran in its early days was a total mixed bag. I had the best and worse service from them in the early days. I think they learned quickly and adapted.

  20. tungstencoil says:

    Yes. Always. ‘Nuff said.

  21. gigwave says:

    So Air Canada wasn’t an option?

    • Jay911 says:

      I sincerely believe that old Nicorette commercial (well, old by a year or two) was a thinly veiled depiction of an Air Canada FA.

  22. ninabi says:

    Did the infamous flight attendant Helen switch to a new employer?

  23. calico says:

    The last time I flew Delta I had a great flight attendant. I was on a red-eye from Seattle to Orlando with my two cats under the seats. Despite sedation, the brats were meowing the whole way. The flight attendant stopped by and we talked about our cats and then somehow the conversation turned to the fact that someone near me was excessively farting (it was not my cats, I checked.) He ended the conversation with “you should experience the buffet of odors on a flight from Alaska.” I lol’d.

    Worst flight attendants: Northwest. I flew as an unaccompanied minor from Seattle to Minnesota after a surgery that required me to walk with a cane for a period of time. I needed some help getting in and out of my seat if I needed to use the restroom, which I had told the flight attendant who initially helped me into my seat… no matter how many times I pushed the flight attendant button, I couldn’t get one to come help me once we were in the air and I was too young and scared to actually say anything to anyone about it. Thankfully the other passengers were helpful when I needed it.

  24. SynMonger says:

    I just got back from a trip to Taiwan. On the Continental flight from Houston to Tokyo, the attendants were professional, but not very cheerful. The flight from Tokyo to Taipei on China Airlines was a whole different ballgame. There were twice as many attendants and even if it was a fake one, they’d still smile at you while getting you a drink. Almost made up for the tiny, tiny seats.

  25. MaxPower says:

    I had an international Delta flight in December and had a great experience. On the international flights, they usually give you a complimentary alcoholic beverage. My mom and I finished our glasses of wine and kind of wanted another so we kindly talked to the flight attendant. We ended up having a great conversation with us and brought us back a couple of very full glasses of wine.

  26. Green Mountain Boy says:

    In my experience most flight attendants have an enormous chip on their shoulders since the Fed has given them so much power…..”IF YOU DON”T OBEY A FLIGHT ATTENDANT, YOU COULD BE CHARGED”….

    They could be 100% in the wrong but they’ll turn it around and you’re butt will be in the sling.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      Yes, this; I just commented on a personal story that was along these lines. The flight attendant was so freaking weird and crazy, that I thought if I didn’t co-operate with her insanity that I’d get kicked off my flight. What a terrible way to feel

  27. Blious says:

    It is funny to see this written as me and my g/f recently rode Deltra where we had without doubt the most rude attendant in our lives….she actually yelled at multiple people before takeoff b/c they were going to the bathroom and she had to count…yes, ACTUALLY yelled which caught everyone by surprise

    Then, while landing she had the trashbag and I tried putting 2 bottles in it when she said under her breath…”Not sure why you are giving me that…I will be back 3-4 more times with this bag”….huh?

  28. AngryK9 says:

    I worked for Delta (contractors) for a long time and flew once or twice and never met a single flight crew member that I didn’t like.

    You have to take into account the fact that most people on a flight who do not get their way right away every single time will blame the flight crew, using any number of less than stellar terms to describe the person who is simply doing their job.

    Believe me, working in the industry you get a much different perspective on a lot of things. You realize that about 98% of the complaints that people throw at and blame on the airlines are the result of things that were caused by the complainer, and not the airline, or it’s employees.

    Beyond that, sorry, but life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows like mommy and daddy led you to believe.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Life should be sunshine and rainbows to a paying customer. The airlines aren’t doing people some huge favore by “allowing” them to fly. They are giving a service to people who pay a great deal money for said service and should treat them accordingly.

      • scgirl_212 says:

        Here’s the thing, you don’t pay a lot of money anymore for a ticket (not including the extras) and even that isn’t nearly as much as it used to be.

        Americans want a lot for very little

        • Humward says:

          No, they want courtesy and polite service. These things are VERY inexpensive to provide — they don’t cost the company anything other than training — and are definitely included in the cost of a ticket. Hell, courtesy and polite service is supposed to come with a Big Mac. (It doesn’t always, certainly — but, surprisingly for people making minimum wage, I’ve met a lot of courteous fast food employees.) It certainly comes with a $500 plane ticket.

          If a company wants to survive in a competitive market, it had better provide them. In the short term, a bad experience turns off one customer — but after enough of those, you reach a tipping point where the company becomes known for bad service. And when you hit that point…it’s a hell of a time to shake the reputation.

  29. trujunglist says:

    I dunno, as much as I dislike Delta for a variety of things, the last experience I had with them was pretty good. I think a lot of the attitude comes from the old-skool style, as others have suggested. Even the video they play at the beginning seems kinda smug and douchey. But, you know, people are people. That being said, the time I flew Delta before this last time was not pretty, not pretty at all.

  30. jenn7110 says:

    I flew on Delta about a month ago. I had the worst flight attendants I’ve ever experienced. On the outbound flight, my entire row was forgotten when they were serving beverages to go with the meal. At the next beverage service, the attendant spilled Coke all over me (no turbulence), and then failed to even offer me napkins to try and clean myself up. Coming back, it was even worse. After the movie was over, a lot of people got up to use the restroom, so there were several people standing in the aisle. One of the flight attendants got on the intercom and rudely demanded that everyone sit back down, saying there were way too many people up and we had no business being out of our seats.

  31. ShreeThunderbird says:

    The worst attendant I ever encountered was on a British Air flight to London. The nicest was on a TWA flight from Frankfurt to New York. To bad TWA is gone – those were the days.

  32. UnbelieverDjak says:

    A Delta flight attendant once woke and then yelled at my then 5 year-old son for letting his foot slip out into the aisle while he was sleeping. Granted, we were next to the engine, so she pretty much had to yell, but combined with her tone… By the time I overcame my own sleep deprivation and disbelief at the situation, she was gone.

    In fact, the only pleasant person I ever dealt with at Delta was when my call about my lost luggage (by then, at least two weeks after my return flight) was miraculously taken by someone in Augusta, GA. That was probably the 20th CSR I had spoken to by that time, and my claim was settled soon after.

  33. Mr. Ree says:

    On my last flight, the chicks waiting on flyers were total bitches to me. I was very polite and complimentary when I asked on them, “Hey Honey, how’s about you get that tight little butt of yours down the isle and fetch me a soda?”
    You’d have thought I had just killed her kitten. She went off on my about being disrespectful and all kinds of other crap but I didn’t pay attention to her since women seldom say anything worth listening to.
    It was a long flight and I jokingly asked one of the chicks for a blanket and a handjob. Another outburst from them. I got the blanket thrown at me and that was it.
    They really need to work on their customer service skills…

  34. xcharliemx says:

    How not to sound like a d-bag:

    * ” on top of the journal article I am editing”

    turns into

    *”on top of something I was working on”

    *”and if I needed to fly to an academic conference”

    turns into

    *”and if I needed to fly somewhere”

    Hope this helps in your future interactions with humans. Best of luck.

  35. PeanutButter says:

    i absolutely agree. and especially at atlanta. i asked a gate agent a question, and she responded as if i had some sort of mental disability. then she threw my ticket at me. another was a flight attendant. she ripped my purse from me and jammed it into the overhead compartment instead of allowing me to give it to my father in first class. i miss northwest flight attendants.

  36. geoffc says:

    Sadly… as former NWA customer, ‘real’ Delta FA are upgrade from old NWA FAs. Now that Delta has taken over, and NWA union FA have lost their seniority, former NWA FA flying under Delta logo are even worse. If they are over 50+ and cranky, all likely former NWA FA.

  37. yankinwaoz says:

    Try working a job where they keep cutting your pay, benefits, and dump more and more expenses on you. and generally treat you like crap. I know some Delta FA’s. Great people. but they are not treated well by their employer.

    In other words, s**t rolls downhill.

  38. gman863 says:

    The last time I flew Delta was a few years ago. I think the flight attendants got their customer service skills training from watching old Saturday Night Live reruns.


  39. Angry JD says:

    It’s not the flight attendants, it’s the terrible product. Outdated planes. Dirty interiors.

    Do you want to fly on a DC-9? I’ll take a 737 anyday.

  40. Clyde Barrow says:

    I have never had a problem with Delta and they’ve always been cool with me. Maybe I’m lucky but I think these bad circumstances are rare.

  41. PupJet says:

    I never liked Delta. The attendants always seemed either stuck up or PMSing or some odd thing.

  42. Chip Skylark of Space says:

    Delta is the worse because they bought Northwest Airlines (aka Northworst), and they had already cornered the market on them, along with the important drunk pilot demographic.

  43. Big Mama Pain says:

    I had a flight attendant with Delta that was so rude and crazy toward me, that I felt like I couldn’t even pursue the issue I had for fear of her ejecting me from the flight. She wouldn’t allow me to keep the small purse I had with me hooked over my shoulder for take off (I was in the front seat, so there was no seat in front of me to store it), and insisted I put it in an overhead bin. But she handled it in a way like she was gunning for a fight, pointing out that the woman across the aisle had to stow her diaper bag for her child that was sitting on her lap. It was really weird; then, to top it off, her seat was broken, so she had to sit next to me the whole flight-during which she proceeded to passive aggressively bash me to the woman across the aisle with the child (“I’m sorry that we have these rules, thank you for being so understanding….SOME people just don’t understand that I’m just doing my job”, etc.).

    Anyway, my vote goes for Jetblue-best flight attendants ever!

  44. DorianDanger says:

    I flew on SW last week, and I swear to you, I had the bitchiest attendant. I had my headphones in when she came to give out peanuts and my husband tapped me, I took out my headphones, and she all but threw my peanuts at me. Calm it down lady.