Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 1:53 p.m.
Update, 3/20: Comment from American Airlines to ABC News has been added.
Original post, 3/15:
Gailen David, a snarky, Miami-based American Airlines flight attendant behind several videos making fun of the company, has been fired, according to a post on his Facebook.
David's website, DearSkySteward.com, is a mix of travel "jetiquette" (airplane elbow etiquette
, anyone?) and American Airlines company gossip
, but his main claim to fame is the collection of YouTube videos he's produced that playfully -- but quite obviously -- attack the company.
He spoke to the Pulp last month, before a meeting in which he said he'd been told he would be fired. The meeting was postponed, but now, it appears, the second shoe has dropped.
Although it doesn't sound like David has been the best-behaved employee in the history of air travel, this particular bout of trouble started, he said, when the American Airlines vice president for onboard services sent a "patronizing" letter to flight attendants.
"I decided to make a video, so what I did was I dressed up," he said. "All I did was read the letter, and I added a couple of y'alls and honeys."
The letter explained to workers the "joint" sacrifices that needed to be made at the company. David said it struck a chord with employees.
"I posted it to YouTube," he said. "And it went haywire."
was posted early last month; it now has more than 56,000 views. He said the popularity of the video inspired him to make more ("You know how it is"), and he made a fake movie trailer. "Instead of Iron Lady
, I decided to call it Aluminum Lady
," he said.
That one, in which he says the ostensibly fictional vice president looks like "a women's basketball coach," got upward of 52,000 views. He also got bolder in his description of the video on the site:
The Aluminum Lady [is] the most dangerous woman in aviation. She's skillfully taken American Airlines, one of the most admired airlines, to its lowest point and the morale of its flight attendants and their fellow employees right along with it. From their Dallas/Ft. Worth Headquarters to the lavish American Airlines London Townhouse, this historical drama will keep you on the edge of your seat and bring tears to your eyes.
"American is furious," he said before the postponed meeting last month. "They told me to take it down, and I said there's no way I'm going to take it down. And they said, 'What do you want from us?'"
He said the union told him they were planning on firing him, but he said, "It's worth it for me, because you would not believe how it's brought the workers together."
After becoming a flight attendant 24 years ago (and taking a leave of absence in 2010), he's no longer an employee of American Airlines.
"I have wanted to lose that job for so long," he said, comparing it to "a bad marriage, and you're afraid of what's on the other side, and it's almost better if the person divorces you."
According to a company letter
posted on David's Facebook page
, an American Airlines investigation found that Google had placed ads for competing airlines on David's website and that he was "making public the travel itineraries of passengers, including current and former members of the American Airlines management team. On the site, you stated that the travel information was being provided to you by 'moles' at American Airlines."
It does note that David wouldn't give up his sources:
You were specifically asked who at American Airlines provided you with the travel itineraries of passengers, including current and former members of the American Airlines management team. You claimed that all of the 'moles' were anonymous, and the information was received from anonymous sources. You claimed you did not collect the information from SABRE yourself and you believe publicly posting a passenger's private itinerary for future travel as not being a problem. Your explanations were not plausible...
Furthermore, your actions as described above not only constitute conduct far below that which is expected of an American Airlines employee, but are also in violation of American Airlines Rules of Conduct 24 which states:
Consider the welfare of the company and your fellow employees. Perform no act that is detrimental to either.
Bruce Hicks, spokesman for American Airlines, told ABCNews.com he wanted to make it clear that David was not fired for the videos. He was fired, Hicks said, because of repeated violations of passenger privacy and conflicts of interest in the form of ads for other airlines on David's web site.
He added David had also posted photos of passengers in the Admirals Club Lounge, the airline's frequent fliers club lounge, and passenger flight schedules on his web site. "We can't condone it in any way," he said.