Did a United Flight Attendant Attack a Travel Writer On Twitter? – Editorial

by John Harper

If reporting by longtime travel guru Gary Leff is accurate (I have a sneaking suspicion it is), a United Airlines flight attendant was caught Sunday leveling a personally charged Twitter rant against a travel writer who reviewed the airline’s service in his course of work.

Leff’s accounting of the exchange is light, enjoyable and humorous. The broader diagnostic implications of such an interaction shouldn’t be taken so lightly. This exchange may appear to be a thoughtless rant, but it portends a careless attitude that airlines should be mindful of.

While median airline customer satisfaction figures have improved in recent years, the airline industry continues to engage in sometimes confusing marketing practices that leave consumers in unsatisfactory situations.

United has, in several specific cases, distributed marketing imagery of services and onboard products that are either not widely in service or aren’t made available to customers once boarding doors close. Independent writers who honestly and impartially review these advertised products remain a visible and accessible bulwark against rose-colored advertising.

The critique that sparked this particular flight attendant’s retribution was indeed within that vein of coverage. United had advertised upgraded beverage offerings to passengers traveling in domestic first class. Zach Honig, who covers United as a beat for The Points Guy, called out what appears to be a deliberate attempt by flight crew members to not only withhold these advertised catering items, but to shamefully consume the ingredients (along with other premium service items) on their own.

Update: FA found it, then I ordered a second for after takeoff. “Oh they only gave us one.” (Of course he found more after my “ohhh really?” follow-up.)

Honig was fair and beneficent in his Twitter coverage of the snafu, backing up statements with clear observations while withholding presumptions and extraneous judgement.

Honig even expressed enthusiasm once the product was delivered as advertised.

The response leveled by a Twitter user who has since deleted their account. According to Leff, the flight attendant appears in photographs as a Untied flight crew member were not so light hearted. Honig was called a drunk. Donald Trump’s immigration policies were invoked. The entire retribution was an ad homonym attack against a man who has treated the airline very fairly over a long period of time.

Leff recanted the deleted Tweets on View From The Wing:

United Airlines only boards 1 in each liquor cart. It’s a new item so any complaints should be directed to the company. Crews don’t get to decide what is catered aboard..

— Gianna (@gianna1809) June 17, 2018

Let’s see…customer upset because of alcohol?? Yeah… let’s get right on that. 🤣🤣🤣NOT.

— Gianna (@gianna1809) June 17, 2018

Food service is just a perk…they are trained safety professionals to evacuate customers in a burning crash…even the drunks!🤣🤣🤣

— Gianna (@gianna1809) June 18, 2018

Always the drunks causing the issues. Free alcoholic…they drink like camels.

— Gianna (@gianna1809) June 17, 2018

If Leff’s reporting is accurate, and this twitter user is a United employee, the airline should take swift and public corrective action. The underlying pathology reflected in both the behavior of the onboard flight crew and the tweeting individual is toxic. The notion that mindful frequent fliers, like Honig, are a problem that must be dealt with and endured undermines good-faith efforts to raise morale among airline customers and employees alike.

United’s culinary team invested airline revenue and shareholder dollars into a service improvement that, while small, is an earnest attempt to lessen the stressors that naturally accompany air travel. The airline’s employees kicked dirt on what should have been a positive development.

United has celebrated a period of recovery following a painfully long stretch of employee dissatisfaction and customer disdain. Honig has been a fair observer, both critiquing the airline’s shortcomings and celebrating its successes to that end.

The behavior that Honig observed and was then subject to are an affront not only to the airline’s patrons, but to those at United who genuinely care.

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Jimmy June 19, 2018 - 2:10 pm

Zach comes off as a snarky putz and the FA appears to be the usual lazy turd who resents the boozers. The perfect recipe for fireworks!

Blair June 19, 2018 - 2:19 pm

This is a lot of crying over a Twitter troll’s freedom of speech. That person is just an entitled to troll you guys as you are you complain about it. Grow up a little bit, ignore the trolls and move on. If you got poor service get compensation, that’s pretty standard. This type of crying is just sad.

steve June 19, 2018 - 6:05 pm

travel ‘bloggers’ think they are so special.

PM1 June 20, 2018 - 9:53 am

You are spot on John. This is management 101. United will probably say nothing sending the signal to FA’s that there is no point in providing excellent customer service. Beyond exasperated as a United Platinum!


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