Continuing the saga of things flight attendants can do to get fired, meet Kersaundra Smith, who earlier this month lost her law suit against AirTran Airways.
Smith was a flight attendant for AirTran and on 28 May 2008 booked a staff travel ticket for herself and accompanying infant Sophie Smith, according to court documents. Infant travel for staff was free, but in February AirTran ended free travel for staff pets; Smith would have had to pay $414 to travel with a pet.
As Smith neared the gate, she was pushing a covered stroller. AirTran employee Geoffrey Wilson approached her intending to tag her stroller for storage in the belly of the plane. As he drew closer, he saw that the “infant” in the stroller was a fluffy dog.
That’s how Florida District Judge Tomothy J. Corrigan in his ruling described the event, which does not end here. Wilson told Smith she would have to pay to travel with aforementioned “fluffy dog”, but Smith rebutted the fee was rescinded.
Smith boarded her flight while Wilson investigated and found there was no rescission of the policy. After a supervisor told Smith this, Smith said the infant-cum-dog was her “Emotional Support Animal”, which are allowed to travel for free.
Yet in all of her flying Smith never flew with an ESA and did not have any documentation she required an ESA. Smith did, however, identify a purpose for her infant-cum-dog-cum-emotional-support-animal. Judge Corrigan writes:
Smith admitted during deposition that the decision to buy the dog was a self-diagnosis and self-prescription after reading on the internet and that the dog’s chief function was to wake her up after she mixed wine with Xanax and Ambien.
The supervisor gave Smith the ultimatum to board or deplane, and Smith deplaned. In a meeting with AirTran, Smith claimed she received a company memo instructing staff not to call the reservation centre to list the pet. AirTran fired her but deserves commendation for not sacking her earlier. The list of grievances against Smith includes her telling boarding passengers to sit in vomit-covered seats or get off, not showing up for work due to not receiving enough sleep in an ostensibly noisy hotel room, and threatening fellow employees.
Smith sued AirTran for a “racially motivated or retaliatory” dismissal and because she was “subjected to a hostile work environment”. Judge Corrigan dismissed her case on 12 October this year.
There are many tips to give to Smith that come to mind, the first of which is this: Next time, put the pooch on Pet Airways.
Hat tip to Martha Stewardess.