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Delta flight attendant fired after 57 years over a ‘missing carton of milk’

A 79-year-old air hostess employed by Delta since 1962 is suing the airline after she was fired over a missing carton of milk.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV, Ida Gomez Llanos claims she was the victim of a smear campaign by colleagues envious of her salary and perks, encouraged by managers who wanted to replace her with cheaper, younger staff.

After receiving annual pay rises over her 57-year career, Llanos was earning around $250,000 when she was fired – more than four times the average flight attendant salary of $56,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Huntington Beach-based flight attendant filed her lawsuit against Delta Airlines this month in a Los Angeles court, claiming she was ‘harassed’, ‘bullied’ by colleagues – and that instead of protecting her, bosses wrote her up and eventually fired her.

The 79-year-old told DailyMailTV that after 57 years working for the company, which saw her rise to become the number one flight attendant in LA and rank fifth in the country, her bosses dismissed her for taking a carton of milk off a plane after her line manager gave her permission.

‘I couldn’t believe it,’ Llanos said. ‘I’ve been accused of so many things and none were true.

‘I try not to take it personally, but when you get mean about me and start lying, that is a problem.’

Ida Gomez Llanos tells DailyMail.com she was ‘harassed’ and ‘bullied’ by Delta colleagues. encouraged by managers who wanted to replace her with cheaper, younger staff

Ida was feted with flowers and balloons for her 50th work anniversary. She rose i n the ranks ar Delta  to become the Number One flight attendant in LA and rank fifth in the country

Ida was feted with flowers and balloons for her 50th work anniversary. She rose i n the ranks ar Delta  to become the Number One flight attendant in LA and rank fifth in the country

As the most senior flight attendant in LA, Llanos got perks including priority on overtime shifts. She believes her colleagues grew envious, launching a smear campaign to get her fired

As the most senior flight attendant in LA, Llanos got perks including priority on overtime shifts. She believes her colleagues grew envious, launching a smear campaign to get her fired

‘I haven’t called in sick for thirty or forty years,’ Ida told DailyMailTV. ‘Every year they had a banquet for the top 1% who had the most letters from the customers. I went to that three times'

‘I haven’t called in sick for thirty or forty years,’ Ida told DailyMailTV. ‘Every year they had a banquet for the top 1% who had the most letters from the customers. I went to that three times’

As the most senior flight attendant in LA, Llanos got perks including priority on overtime shifts. She believes her colleagues grew envious, launching a smear campaign to get her fired.

‘They accused me of sleeping, of taking chocolates, not doing a good job – but my letters from passengers proved that wrong,’ Llanos said. ‘They accused me of not being able to arm or disarm the doors. But we all go through training every year, and we have to pass that training or we do not fly.’

According to her lawsuit, the 79-year-old was an exemplary employee until she was fired in April this year, receiving company awards and positive reviews from customers.

‘I haven’t called in sick for thirty or forty years,’ she told DailyMailTV. ‘Every year they had a banquet for the top 1% who had the most letters from the customers. I went to that three times. I was nominated by the chairman’s club. I’ve had Flight Attendant of the Quarter; you get a little statue.

‘I was number five in the whole system and number one in LA at the time I was terminated.’

But despite a previously spotless record, Llanos claims her bosses gladly wrote up fabricated accusations from jealous colleagues because firing her would save money.

‘They want to get rid of the older flight attendants,’ she said. ‘I think they put us on a higher surveillance. It’s because they have to pay us so much because we’ve been there forever and your pay scale goes up each year. I think they can hire four newer flight attendants for what they pay me.’

Llanos said one flight attendant claimed she put Bailey’s Irish Cream in her coffee at work and stole a chocolate bar, despite the Arkansas-born 79-year-old protesting that she doesn’t drink and avoids sugar due to diabetes in her family.

And in another alleged smear attempt, one colleague took a photo of cereal packets next to a flight attendant’s purse, claiming Llanos was trying to steal food meant for passengers.

Llanos in 1962, in her new role as a flight attendant for Bonanza airlines, which was later merged into other airlines that became Delta. Despite the bitter end to her almost sixty years as a flight attendant, Llanos still looks back fondly on her early years as an air hostess for Bonanza

Llanos in 1962, in her new role as a flight attendant for Bonanza airlines, which was later merged into other airlines that became Delta. Despite the bitter end to her almost sixty years as a flight attendant, Llanos still looks back fondly on her early years as an air hostess for Bonanza

‘I used to fly LA to Las Vegas. We had a lot of celebrities. Sammy Davis Jr was wonderful. He would get on and talk to us,' said Ida (left), posing here with a captain and another flight attendant

‘I used to fly LA to Las Vegas. We had a lot of celebrities. Sammy Davis Jr was wonderful. He would get on and talk to us,’ said Ida (left), posing here with a captain and another flight attendant

‘They accused me of taking nine cereals. I’m 85 lbs, I don’t eat a lot. What would I do with nine cereals? And I would never do it in the first place.

‘Somebody staged this… But it wasn’t my purse, because my purse was in a closet across the way. They were trying to sabotage me’

According to her lawsuit, the accusations led to her first write-up in 55 years in February 2018. After more warnings, she was placed on probation in January this year then fired in April.

‘It was just demoralizing,’ she told DailyMailTV. ‘I was very depressed, because my life as I knew it had been taken away, and I didn’t understand why. I thought it was wrong.’

Despite the bitter end to her almost sixty years as a flight attendant, Llanos still looks back fondly on her early years as an air hostess for Bonanza, a small, Vegas-based airline in the 1960s that later merged into companies that would eventually become Delta.

‘It’s the best job in the world, because we go so many places. I used to love to go to Hawaii. I could run around the park and I could see the ocean as I was running. It was just beautiful.

‘I used to fly LA to Las Vegas. We had a lot of celebrities. Sammy Davis Jr was wonderful. He would get on and talk to us.

‘I had Jimmy Stewart and his wife, Lauren Green, Ursula Andress. Many, many celebrities out of southern California to Las Vegas,’ she said. ‘We had so much fun.’

The veteran flight attendant enjoyed her job so much that later in her career she even helped her son find a role as cabin crew for Delta, and would often work shifts with him as a mother-son team.

The veteran flight attendant enjoyed her job so much that later in her career she even helped her son. Chris Douglas, 49, find a role as cabin crew for Delta, and would often work shifts with him as a mother-son team. He still works for Delta, based at LAX

The veteran flight attendant enjoyed her job so much that later in her career she even helped her son. Chris Douglas, 49, find a role as cabin crew for Delta, and would often work shifts with him as a mother-son team. He still works for Delta, based at LAX

But her mile-high lifestyle as a young and glamorous stewardess was a far cry from Llanos’ humble upbringing in the south.

‘We were sharecroppers in Arkansas, I grew up that way until I left home when I was 16,’ she recalled.

‘A guy came to recruit the high school seniors for business school in Memphis and my mother gave him a turkey as a downpayment because we were very, very poor.’

Llanos said that she has carried on working long after the usual retirement age as she is still struggling to finally pay off her mortgage and complete repairs to her house.

The 79-year-old said that during her interview in 1962 with the Vegas airline her prospective bosses asked a question that would shock a modern interviewee.

‘I was from the south and so [Bonanza] were concerned about how I felt racially,’ she said. ‘They asked me what I would do if I had a black person on my flight.

‘But I grew up in the fields working with African Americans, and I was more comfortable with them than the white people. We had more in common.

‘I just told the people that were hiring me “you don’t have to worry with me about discrimination, there’s no discrimination in my body.”’

With smoking allowed on planes and a stricter dress code for flying, Llanos said the atmosphere was very different working as cabin crew 60 years ago.

‘In the 60s all you did was serve beverages, and there were smokers. You could ask somebody “would you like something to drink?” and here would come this big puff of smoke right in your face,’ she chuckled.

‘When we started serving meals it was a big production. The salad was served out of a huge crystal bowl… Men had suits on, and it was really an occasion when you went on an airplane.’

The 79-year-old said that during her interview in 1962 with the Vegas airline her prospective bosses asked a question that would shock a modern interviewee. ‘I was from the south and so [Bonanza] were concerned about how I felt racially,’ she said. ‘They asked me what I would do if I had a black person on my flight. ‘But I grew up in the fields working with African Americans, and I was more comfortable with them than the white people'

The 79-year-old said that during her interview in 1962 with the Vegas airline her prospective bosses asked a question that would shock a modern interviewee. ‘I was from the south and so [Bonanza] were concerned about how I felt racially,’ she said. ‘They asked me what I would do if I had a black person on my flight. ‘But I grew up in the fields working with African Americans, and I was more comfortable with them than the white people’

But Llanos added that security scares were even more frequent back then.

‘In the late 60s we had a lot of hijackings and bomb threats,’ she said. ‘One day we had a bomb threat called in after we took off out of Las Vegas.

‘We made an immediate turnaround and parked way out in the field, they wouldn’t let us near the terminal.

‘This passenger who looked like a businessman, a strong, tough guy, he said “you can tell me what’s wrong? I won’t say anything.” I said “we have a bomb threat”. When they opened that door he almost knocked me over running out of there and last time I saw him he was running across the field.

‘When he came back he said “I am so sorry, I just panicked.” It scared him, and it scared a lot of people in those days, because bomb threats were called in all the time.’

The veteran flight attendant said her most terrifying moment was when her plane took off into a storm out of Ontario, Canada.

‘Our radar on the nose of the aircraft was struck by lightning. This ball of fire came into the airplane and rolled down the aisle and out the back. I was looking at it thinking “What in the heck?” We turned around and went back to Ontario and got off. That was scary,’ she said.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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