Hypoglycemic United FA Picks and Eats Warm Nuts as She Serves Them

Have you ever had a FA sample your food--in front of you? From Flyertalk:

I was on a [United Airlines'] mid-con 757 on row 3 in F. As the FA was bringing out the warm nuts, She was picking them from the little cups and eating them! 

First I thought I was wrong but she kept doing it. She would pick one as she left the galley (facing us), put it in her hand and then put it in her mouth on her way back. By the time she got to me (and she picked from mine also), I refused it and challenged her. She said there are untouched ones and she could get those for me.

I, being a little clean freak, was so grossed out by this. I was not happy because this lacked both professionalism and hygiene.

Later, I calmed down a little and thought about why she was doing this. I offered her a cereal bar. She said she had been working since 5 AM (she was on the inbound aircraft from ORD and we started about noon time in the Pacific time zone - the flight was delayed for about 25 minutes out of the gate as the inbound was late).

At the end of the flight, she came and “formally apologize” that "you did not get your nuts” (I think she really meant her behavior). She said she was hypoglycemic, she was on a 3 day trip (ate all her food) and the only thing onboard she could eat was the nuts.

Obviously, I have mixed feelings. I know how much the employees of the airline industry suffer – the low pay, the long hours, etc. On the other hand, it is still grossly unprofessional to be eating the passenger’s warm nuts while delivering them – and not even hiding it...

I've seen FA's greedily chowing down on nuts in the galley before, but never eating in front of passengers! First, I think we can all agree that her behavior was inappropriate. Why not take a few nuts out of each ramekin in the galley before serving them? (although I realize for germ freaks, this isn't a more comforting option) Why not grab a snack box or salad or sandwich from the back? If she was the purser working first class, she could have easily comped herself one. My concern is not so much that she ate the nuts, but the way that she did. How unprofessional is it to be picking nuts out while you are walking down the aisle then popping one in your mouth on the way back? Very unprofessional.

At the same time, I feel sorry for the FA. I don't know what it is like to be hypoglycemic (assuming the FA wasn't fibbing) but I do know how hard it is to go for hours without food. Apparently she was doing a quick turn in Los Angeles and did not have time to get food between flights due to a flight delay. While her behavior can not be justified and is extermely unprofessional, after reading the account above I've got to say that I have more pity than anger for the FA.

Let's hope she has learned her lesson. Next time, she better bring more food for herself if she's on a 3-day trip...


Michael D October 27, 2010 at 07:12 pm

A few years ago a baby died in Seattle from e coli. Not because the baby ate food which came into the restaurant contaminated with the germ. But because someone touched contaminated food (which was cooked and rendered harmless) who in turn touched a handle on a refrigerator which was in turn touched by someone who was handling uncooked food without washing there hands which the baby ate.

When someone eats food from your ramekin, they are spreading the germs in their mouth and on their hands onto the nuts in your ramekin. On Sunday morning in SYD I saw a pilot from the same airline bypass the hand sink in the restroom. So sometimes you get germs from other places when people eat food from your plate with their hands.

If I were to come to a party at your house I would not hesitate to eat from a bowel of cashews everyone at the party was eating from. However it is very unprofessional and extremely unsanitary to graze from passengers plates. The important difference in the two groups is that we know who is in the first and but we don't in the second. If I get a food borne illness after being on a flight their is little chance I can query the other passengers as to their health; at a personal party I could. But aren't you studying law or are a lawyer? That could make things problematic in both cases. ;)

In any case the flight attendant should be reported. If she is or isn't hypoglycemic she doesn't need to be grazing off people's plates.

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