An airline apologized over the weekend after a flight attendant’s reported refusal to hang up a decorated noncommissioned officer’s dress uniform jacket because the NCO wasn’t flying first class.
Passengers on the US Airways flight from Portland, Oregon, to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday relayed details of the situation to Charlotte’s WSOC-TV and other media outlets. According to reports, 1st Sgt. Albert Marle accepted the flight attendant’s rejection quietly, but other passengers didn’t, including some in first class who offered their seats to the NCO.
Marle, 33, a member of the Virginia Army National Guard, is a Ranger- and Special Forces-tabbed soldier who entered service in 1998, according to Army personnel records. He refused the offered upgrades, WSOC-TV reported, and stayed out of the harsh words reportedly traded between the flight attendant and the passengers, some of which included claims by the attendant that the closet was full.
A second flight attendant later hung up the jacket, a passenger told WSOC-TV.
After a few days’ worth of build on social media – WSOC-TV said more than 1 million people saw its initial report online – the airline tweeted a short apology on Friday and a link to a longer one on Saturday, penned by Jim Palmersheim, a former active-duty and Reserve soldier who serves as senior manager of the Veterans and Military Initiatives Programs of American Airlines, US Airways’ parent company.
The incident “is not indicative of the core values of our airline,” Palmersheim wrote, outlining multiple projects undertaken by the airline to support active-duty service members and veterans.
“To be sure, we simply did not get this one right,” he continued. “We will always try to do better and work hard to align our core values … with the experience our customers have on our planes every day.”