Gailen David

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Gailen David
Gailen David, Travel Correspondent.jpg
Born Gailen David
(1967-04-29) April 29, 1967 (age 47)
Washington, DC
Nationality American
Occupation Television Producer, Correspondent, Host, Labor Activist, Former Flight Attendant
Television Bi-weekly on 'The Daily Buzz', monthly on 'Daytime'

Gailen David is a television producer, travel correspondent, TV Host, media consultant and former flight attendant known for his discussion of travel manners and etiquette. He is editor of the online travel magazine and co-founder of the Savvy Stews Network. David became well known in 2012 for his labor activism when his "Aluminum Lady" videos went viral. He is currently working on a project with Palm Air airlines to offer seaplane service from Coconut Grove to Key West, Florida.

Career & Biography[edit]

David was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in suburban Atlanta. At age 10, he started a travel agency in his bedroom and began planning trips for neighbors and business associates of his parents. Eastern Airlines became aware of his travel enterprise and took him under their wing; supporting his travel business, including him in Eastern events such as press conferences, receptions and even aircraft retirement ceremonies such as the farewell to the Lockheed Electra.

Early life[edit]

Travel Agent[edit]

The travel business called to David from an early age. By the age of nine, with a copy of the Official Airline Guide and the family telephone in hand, he began arranging flights for friends and family. A year later, Eastern Air Lines invited him for a tour of an airport, and in 1977, David got his first taste of media exposure with a feature in Travel Weekly. [1]

1977 article about David's travel agency hobby.

By the age of 18, David was routinely booking flights for himself while working summers in his father's business and travelling across the USA. After joining a conversation between a travel agent and a client at Atlanta's The Travel Company, David's knowledge of air travel routes and ticket deals persuaded the agent to employ him on the spot.[2] As much as he enjoyed working at the agency, working on board on aircraft was David's calling and he couldn't get the idea out of his mind.

American Airlines[edit]

David began applying for jobs as a flight attendant at the age of 19 and two years later was accepted for training by American Airlines, qualifying as cabin crew in 1988 and remained with American until 2012 as a flight attendant, purser and staff trainer. As a trainer, he was responsible for developing the curriculum used in the airline's in-house training programs and produced several training videos.[3]

Customer Service Training[edit]

By late 1998, David was becoming increasingly stressed by issues with passengers.[4] After one such issue, where he used the aircraft PA system to explain that a delay in meal service was being caused by a family in business class, he decided to take a leave of absence to recharge and focus. Upon his return in 1999, seeing him armed with fresh, new approach to dealing with customers, American Airlines asked him to give presentations at staff training workshops. To assist with his presentations, David made the humorous 2005 video, "Why I fly - Gailen's story," in which he describes how the frustrations of dealing with passengers dampened his initial enthusiasm about the airline industry. The video (which featured a raving David being carried away in a straitjacket) proved popular with American's employees, and was eventually incorporated into company training sessions. [2]

Video Controversy[edit]

David's Aluminum Lady character.

On November 29, 2011, American Airlines controversially[5] declared bankruptcy, in what Time magazine interpreted as a negotiating ploy to reduce expenses, and announced plans to drastically reduce employee benefits and outsource many positions. David felt that this was part of a trend for airline management to put profits and personal perks ahead of the interests of passengers and staff. [6]

Beginning in February 2012, David highlighted his concerns by posting a series of online videos[7] centered on a fictional character, "The Aluminum Lady." These were intended as a parody of the management culture that he felt existed at American Airlines, where hundreds of millions of dollars were paid out as executive bonuses while employees were laid off or forced to take pay cuts.[8]

The Aluminum Lady videos went viral on YouTube.[9] Shortly afterwards, on March 14, 2012, American Airlines terminated David's employment. [10]

Despite a widespread public perception that the videos were the reason for his termination, [11] an American Airlines spokesperson denied this, claiming that David was fired as a result of “...repeated violations of passenger privacy...", [12] [13] after David made public situations in which full-fare American Airlines passengers were denied boarding and downgraded in order to accommodate first class travel for current, former and retired American Airlines executives and their families using their lifetime American Airlines passes. On April 10, 2012, the airline filed a suit against David in a North Texas District Court, claiming that he had illegally published company information detailing the travel plans of several senior executives and board members. The suit also claimed that David had made improper use of the company's AA trademarks on his website, citing as examples video titles such as "la vida locAA and Downright AAsinine".[14][15]

On September 5, 2012, American Airlines dropped their lawsuit, after the court approved a settlement with David. American agreed to the dismissal with prejudice of all the claims they had filed against David. The settlement prevents Gailen David from posting confidential American Airlines information, but does not prevent him from posting his opinions about American Airlines or from producing additional "Aluminum Lady" videos. [16][17]

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants filed a termination grievance on David's behalf calling the basis of his dismissal groundless and sought his reinstatement. [18]American has since reached a settlement with David and his employment is permanently severed.

Despite this history with the airline, David still routinely flies with American.[6]

Savvy Omnimedia[edit]

In September 2007,[19] David co-founded Savvy Omnimedia with his business partner, travel correspondent and fellow flight attendant Bobby Laurie. This company produces a variety of travel-related content including The Savvy Stews Network.[20]

The Savvy Stews Network and Television Appearances[edit]

David with Bobby Laurie in an episode of Savvy Stews.

The Savvy Stews Network is an independent online travel network produced by David and co-founder, Bobby Laurie's Savvy Omnimedia. The network's site features travel tips written from an insider perspective, destination guides and product reviews. David is the executive producer and on-air travel host of the "Savvy Stews" segments shown on Daytime, the syndicated U.S morning show,[21] in 110 markets and The Daily Buzz, which screens in 175 markets,[19] as well as other local and regional morning shows.

Savvy Stews Network also produces a bi-weekly web-reality show, Savvy Stews, following David and Laurie as they visit US and international destinations.[22]

Palm Air[edit]

In 2013, David began working with Palm Air airlines to bring seaplane service from Coconut Grove to Key West in Florida. Palm Air's inaugural 1-hour Key West-Coconut Grove flight took place in October 2013. The intimate Palm Air seaplane service aspires to bring the nostalgia and style of seaplanes back to Coconut Grove, the former base of iconic Pan Am Airlines. [23]


Jetiquette… The Customer Experience And You (2008)[24] In this book, David shares his experience as a flight attendant and uncovers the path to personal and professional success and satisfaction through a positive mindset.

Awards & Nominations[edit]

  • In 2014, David was nominated and won a Telly Award in the TV Program/Segment - Travel Tourism category for a Daily Buzz segment he hosted and executive produced in Mazatlan, Mexico
  • In 2008, David and his customer service training guide, Jetiquette, won a Travel Weekly Magellan Award



In 2007, David coined and trademarked the term "Jetiquette" to promote civility in the air travel industry, with the aim of improving the travel experience for both passengers and airline personnel.[25][26] He regularly discusses proper travel manners, etiquette and faux pas on his blog at David now promotes Jetiquette through his website, offering presentations and workshops, and has also written a book on the subject, published in 2008. He was awarded the Travel Weekly silver 2008 Magellan Award for the program.[27]

Protocol School of Washington[edit]

David has been a faculty member at the Protocol School of Washington since 2008.[28] This is the only accredited protocol school in the United States.[29]


In November 2009, David launched a consultancy site, SkySteward, which aims to provide accurate information on the airline industry to media outlets. The site also promotes the Jetiquette program and answers travellers' questions on how to behave while flying in a way that makes the experience as pleasant as possible for everyone involved. As The Sky Steward, David gives presentations to corporate clients on air travel; clients so far have included the Southern California Safety Institute, Transport Canada and Sabre.[30] Media clients include USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, NBC, NPR and Fox News.[19]

Coco G Collective[edit]

Co-founded by David in 2011, the Coco G Collective is a buying agency which specializes in fashion apparel and accessories. It is the official Southeastern USA and Caribbean representative of Pan Am Brands, which produces the well known Pan Am Bag.

Other Media Activity[edit]

On April 1, 2013, Savvy Stews ran an April Fool article claiming that David, Laurie and "Sassy Stew" Shawn Kathleen had been selected as flight attendants on Lindsay Lohan's private jet.[31]


Dress for Success Worldwide is an international charitable organisation which assists underprivileged women in gaining access to professional jobs, by providing them with suitable clothing for interviews as well as a range of career guidance services. In January 2009 David joined the board of his local affiliate, Dress For Success Miami, which assists approximately 1,500 women every year. In 2010 he became President of the affiliate's Board of Directors.[19]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Travel Weekly, November 14, 1977, pp10
  2. ^ a b Travel Weekly, October 24, 2006
  3. ^ LinkedIn entry for Gailen David
  4. ^ Miami Herald, March 12, 2006, pp4A
  5. ^ Time Magazine, American Airlines - Bankrupt companies are healthier than they used to be, retrieved 5 May 2013.
  6. ^ a b Matthew Flacks, Aluminum Lady Takes Grievance with AMR to YouTube, Charlatan Magazine, retrieved May 5, 2013.
  7. ^ The Aluminum Lady video homepage
  8. ^ "ABC News:American Airlines Flight Attendant Jabs CEO"
  9. ^ YouTube SkySteward YouTube channel
  10. ^ "Time magazine: Flight Attendant Behind Parody Videos Fired"
  11. ^ NBC DFW
  12. ^ "Huffingtonpost: Gailen David, American Airlines Flight Attendant, Mocks Airline, Faces Possible Firing"
  13. ^ Time magazine: Flight attendant behind parody videos fired
  14. ^ American Airlines sues flight attendant it previously fired
  15. ^ Aviation Blog, ", retrieved 5 May 2013.
  16. ^ David Lee. "Airline Holsters Case on Whistle-Blowing Blog". Court News Service. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  17. ^ Jess Davis. "American Airlines, Ex-Employee Settle Suit Over Info Leaks". Law 360. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  18. ^ " American Airlines fires flight attendant who posted satirical videos:
  19. ^ a b c d LinkedIn profile, Gailen David, retrieved 5 May 2013
  20. ^ "PR Log: Largest Independent Travel Network Welcomes A Wino"
  21. ^ "Savvy Stews: Travel tips"
  22. ^, Home page, retrieved 5 May 2013.
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ "Jetiquette… The Customer Experience And You page on"
  25. ^ The Miami Herald, April 2, 2008, pp8A
  26. ^ "Business Traveler Interview: Gailen David"
  27. ^ "2008 Magellan Awards Silver Winners"
  28. ^ "Gailen David: Bio"
  29. ^ Protocol School of Washington homepage
  30. ^ Travel Weekly, May 12, 2008, pp31
  31. ^, Apr 1, 2013, "Sassy Stew," Gailen David and Bobby Laurie to crew flights for Lindsay Lohan, retrieved May 5, 2013.