When Adrienne Chance got a surprise upgrade gifted to her by her CEO, she was excited to experience American Airlines’ first class. However, the flight attendant had other ideas, claiming her seat switch was a security issue, and that Mrs Chance needed to move back to the main cabin. In an age where airlines regularly celebrate random acts of kindness, this seems like an odd response from the FA. Let’s take a look at the whole story.
Mrs Chance was traveling on American Airlines with a group of work colleagues. Her boss, being an Executive Platinum member, was traveling in first class, while the rest of the group were seated back in coach. However, feeling rather generous, Mrs. Chance’s boss insisted she take his seat in first class for the duration of the flight.
Having got comfortably seated, Mrs Chance was about an hour into the flight when the first class flight attendant called her by her CEO’s name. Mrs. Chance corrected her, letting her know that, “Actually, I’m Adrienne.” And that is where the problem started.
According to Mrs Chance’s account, the flight attendant advised her that switching seats was a security issue and that she had to move back into the main cabin. And she didn’t ask her discreetly or politely either; Mrs Chance describes the FA as “Brash, non-discreet and insinuating that I was somehow trying to take advantage of the situation.”
— Adrienne Chance (@msgatoradr) February 12, 2020
Not wanting to cause any more trouble (or endure any more humiliation) Mrs Chance moved into the main cabin as instructed. Her CEO attempted to change the FA’s mind, but to no avail. Chalking it down to experience, Mrs Chance attempted to move on and enjoy the rest of the flight.
However, the FA wasn’t done yet. According to Mrs Chance’s account, the member of crew approached her towards the end of the flight, requesting her full name and seat number, before telling her menacingly that she was “going to file a report” on Mrs Chance.
Mrs Chance, a former Southwest Airlines employee, was stunned by the whole experience. Even her boss took to Twitter to back her up.
As the perpetrator of this crime in the air (I swapped seats w Adrienne) I can assure all that she is, if anything, downplaying this horrific experience.
#Horrendous #EvenBy @AmericanAir #Standards #LUV @SouthwestAir
— Tony Sarsam (@TonySarsam) February 12, 2020
What did the airline say?
The actions of the American Airlines flight attendant really beggars belief. The passenger had been given the opportunity to enjoy first class out of the kindness of her boss’ heart. You may recall a kind-hearted Virgin Atlantic passenger gave up his seat to an older lady on the same flight last year. Instead of berating his kind gesture, Virgin celebrated it, even running its own upgrade campaign to get more people flying in premium cabins.
American Airlines did respond to Mrs Chance in regard to the situation and the way she was treated. Essentially, the airline said that this was not its policy to treat passengers like this. Mrs Chance shared the email she had received.
Finally got another call from someone else in the Customer Relations executive office who confirmed this is NOT a policy & gave me a real, human apology. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Thank you, @AmericanAir. pic.twitter.com/9O0yM68l23
— Adrienne Chance (@msgatoradr) February 18, 2020
In the email, American Airlines apologizes for her experience and says that it will use her report to improve the coaching and training of staff. It has given both Mrs Chance and her boss 10,000 miles by way of compensation.
Travel blogger View From The Wing further confirmed that this is not the policy at American Airlines, saying that AA only restricts changes of seat during the meal service, and not at any other time.
However, it appears that while changing seats within the same cabin is allowed, there could be more of an issue when the switch involves changing cabins. Following 9/11, airlines have been much stricter on enforcing this, and do request that any seat swaps such as this are cleared on the ground before the passengers enter the plane.
Although there’s no room in aviation for compromise on security, this clearly could have been handled a little differently. What do you think? Should first class passengers be allowed to give up their seat to whomever they wish? Let us know in the comments.