How would you handle this? Loud flight attendants on a redeye

I got this email from a reader last week, and it’s been bugging me ever since.

I took my first American Airlines flight in a decade two weeks ago because they had a nonstop to the conference I was attending. On my return flight, a red eye, two flight attendants were talking to each other so loudly that I was woken up and could hear them through my earplugs. I tried to catch their attention, but they were too busy talking to pay attention to passengers, and I didn’t want to use my call button on the off chance someone could actually sleep through their chatter. American has yet to respond to my complaint.

Question: how would you have handled this during the flight? And am I wrong for wanting more than a lame “we’re sorry” from the airline, considering I was completely useless without having been able to sleep?

I’ll be honest—this is a hard situation. People expect to be able to sleep on a redeye—that’s why the lights are turned off and announcements are kept to a minimum. It’s totally understandable that flight attendants would get bored on such a flight. It’s also likely IMO that they just didn’t realize how loud they were being, not that they were being purposefully loud. That being said, when a business traveler is on a redeye, they need to sleep so that they can function upon landing, and it’s bad customer service to ignore that.

How do you politely let the flight attendants know that they are being too loud without being obnoxious? I would probably get up and go talk to them, apologizing for intruding but letting them know you can hear them through your earplugs. A less direct approach would be to ask for some water—hopefully this would gently remind them about the passengers and they would stop talking and go about their job duties.

Typically, when I am on redeyes or long haul flights I listen to my white noise app with earbuds or noise cancelling headphones. That way I don’t hear people talking, announcements, or dishes clattering.

As far as getting some sort of acknowledgement from American, unfortunately I wouldn’t expect too much. Sending a detailed email, including your Aadvantage number, is always a good idea. There probably won’t be much in the way of compensation.

Readers, how would you have handled this situation?

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  1. I recently had a very similar experience with American. I was rebooked on a redeye a day later due to weather on the east coast. My party was broke up and I was sitting in the last row. The flight attendants had the row behind me reserved for their use (737). The entire flight they had the lights on above their seats, chatted very loudly (I was using Bose noise cancelling headphones), rummaged through their bags on the seat, used my seat to propel themselves up/down (waking me up when I could sleep), and the list goes on. I was thinking.. What could these Fas possibly be doing to make so much noise!

    I didn’t say anything or complain. Honestly, I know United isn’t the best and this experience isn’t limited to American, but at the end of the day I would have rather paid $1,000 for a last minute ticket on United (I’m a 1K vs no status on American) then to take the American red eye again. Maybe United spoils me, but I wouldn’t have been rebooked later, I wouldn’t be in the worst seat on the plane, and I wouldn’t have rude and careless flight attendants (though they may be disgruntled). I was outraged, they had no regard for anyone beside themselves, and there was nothing anyone on that plane could have done or said to correct their behavior.

  2. This happens on my LAX-MIA AA redeye often and I have asked them to please quiet down and they just ignore me.

  3. I would just tweet their Social Media team since they’ve always been responsive to me.

    I’d rather not ask the FAs to quiet down because I hear about all these power-tripping FAs lately. The last thing I want is to get kicked off the plane.

  4. Just press the attendant button and tell them to be quiet – no need to be so polite, you are the customer here!!

  5. it happens when you’re in confined space. You have the right to sleep. They have the right to talk.

    Earplug is your best friend, really.

  6. I recently flew the 13 hour flight from ORD to ICN on Korean Air, in Business. Once dinner service was complete and the lights dimmed, not a peep. I thought maybe they had all gone to the back – to my surprise they were in the galley working and talking Quietly.
    It’s training, being respectful of the customer and a conscious choice to work and speak quietly.
    There is no way, a flight attendant doesn’t know how sound travels throughout the cabin.
    The outright disregard for customer comfort (in the name of safety and security) is the sad state of domestic airline reality.

  7. @BOShappyflyer – The original poster was wearing earplugs, and the flight attendants were so loud that the OP could hear them through the earplugs. Also, no, they don’t have the right to talk when it interferes with the comfort of the passengers. At least, not that loudly.

  8. I had that experience recently.

    I paid extra,just prior to the flight, to obtain a ‘Plus’ seat.
    This ‘Plus’ seat was situated right at the front of the aircraft.

    For the entire flight, the cabin crew working the front of the plane were talking very loudly to each other, while sitting on their little bench seats.
    I couldn’t believe they’d be so rude, but there you have it.
    It’s very unfortunate that I didn’t record them on video.

    I strongly feel both employees should be fired.

    This is not a joke. I pay good money to fly and I expect some peace and quiet in the wee hours of the morning.
    Completely arrogant twits that need to be punished.

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