Flight attendants at United Airlines have been warned that they face disciplinary action, which could even include being terminated if they are caught using their personal mobile phones onboard flights, a company memo obtained by Live and Let’s Fly has revealed.
Keen to improve onboard service and stamp out antisocial behaviors, United sent out a hard-hitting memo explaining exactly why it is going to start taking such a tough stance on flight attendants caught texting, playing games or even watching videos on their mobile phones or other devices like iPads and tablets.
The memo politely reminds crew members that they are required to provide “visible and attentive service to customers” before dropping the obvious point that “Neither is possible if a flight attendant is using a personal electronic device onboard.”
“Customers look to flight attendants for great service. How comfortable would you be asking someone for help if they were engrossed in their cell phone? What impression would that give you?… Even in public, you should always remain approachable in uniform and display courtesy to customers and other employees,” the lengthy and pretty hard-hitting memo continued.
It’s not just about service, however. United has also warned flight attendants that using a personal device onboard could have an impact on safety. After all, the FAA require flight attendants onboard for safety purposes so any breach of these guidelines could be used by United to pursue disciplinary action.
For example, the memo warns that flight attendants could miss an onboard security or safety issue if they are too engrossed in whatever is on their mobile phones.
The memo also suggests that United isn’t suddenly taking this matter so seriously just because flight attendants are using their mobile phones between onboard services and instead because of two very specific and very serious safety lapses.
United warned crewmembers that using a mobile phone while sitting in the jumpseat during takeoff and landing could result in injury, while there was also a warning that flight attendants could trigger an inadvertent emergency slide deployment if they were holding their mobile phone during the disarming of the door… oddly specific.
United’s flight attendants are currently in contract negotiations with the carrier, but on this point, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) has reminded its members to follow company guidelines to avoid unnecessary discipline.
Flight attendants have been put on notice to keep their personal mobile devices out of sight except for when they are enjoying an inflight break, although use of company-approved devices is still being encouraged.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.