I am a flight attendant based out of the US, and let me just start by mentioning I love my job as a flight attendant. Also, I am not condoing rude behavior however in reality it exists it can happen in any industry.
Your question doesn’t provide details with why American flight attendants are rude, other than the fact that they are abiding by the laws in which the country they are flying out of has placed upon them.
Of course, everyone should be treated with respect. However, sometimes I can only tell a person nicely to “Please stay seated” so many times before it becomes “sit down now”. On a recent flight, we had horrible turbulence. The kind where the captain made repeated announcements about remaining seated, and told the cabin crew to discontinue service and return to our jumpseats. I was strapped into my jumpseat and I saw at least 5 people stand up, go to the bathroom, open overhead bins, ask for water, or just stretch. We all have seen on the news what turbulence can do if someone doesn’t have their seat belt on. I admit, I had a coworker yell “sit down, now!” Honestly it’s for the passengers safety and those around them because the person standing or not buckled in could easily have fallen onto someone. Also, it’s not safe to expect flight attendants to run over to tell a passenger to “please sit down” only to be ignored again and have the flight attendant risk their own safety by being out of their seat. Think about every time a flight attendant has to tell someone to do something. They didn’t make up the law, these are FAA regulations they must abide by, this is their job, and usually multiple announcements are made about it.
Millions of passengers fly, and most without incident. If you take a look at complaints it’s actually a very small percentage. Also, people are more likely to post a complaint than a compliment.
Respect is a two way street. Of course, I will always remain professional, however if a passenger is rude to me I don’t see why I have to be their emotional punching bag. I don’t expect a lot, just a nod when I say “hello”, or something simple as taking off your headphones when I ask you “would you like something to drink?”. However, some of the most basic respect for another human is forgotten. Most of us have jobs, and one day I could easily be a customer at your business, I think you would hope I give you the same basic respect. For people who argue “I paid for this seat! You must serve me!” No one is anyone’s servant and all I ask is just be polite. I will never understand why there are people who defend this type of entitlement/behavior. These are the same type of people that are quick to call everyone else out for their “rudeness” but never assess the energy they put forth towards others. Also remember, there’s two sides to every story and as you can see in the media, flight attendants don’t really get to defend their side of the story as to why things happened the way it did. All I’ve seen is the passengers side and airlines trying to avoid bad publicity.
Sometimes “telling someone no” or “telling them they need to follow the rules” is considered rude by some people because they see flight attendants as only there to serve them. My job isn’t “the customer is always right” because if that was the case, flight attendants would not be needed because passengers can handle their own in air emergencies, evacuations and safety precautions.
Aviation has different safety procedures as well as rules compared to other modes of transportation. Delays, cancellations etc will always happen. Just because it’s sunny where you are doesn’t mean there isn’t a snow storm across the country delaying a plane that is supposed to be coming in for your flight or displacing a crew. Security is also a huge thing for us. We need everyone to be compliant on the ground or they have to be removed because once we are in the air we cannot remove you and it can become a serious threat. We don’t know if you’re someone who just wants to argue or someone with a mental issue that wants to hurt a passenger, crew, or the aircraft but we can’t take the chance. Many things may seem harmless, and most likely it is, but with the wrong person it could be catastrophic for a flight. For example, using the bathroom during taxi for take off. It could just be someone who needs to go or it could be someone using it as an excuse to get up and open an emergency exit as we are getting ready for takeoff. The slide can be sucked into the engine and could cause serious damage to the aircraft or cause an aircraft to have to be evacuated. This can cause injury to the passengers and major delay at that airport and disruption in air traffic control. I will tell you to sit down not because I’m trying to make your life hard, but because I’m supposed to do that and I follow these procedures because I do not know who you are.
Also perhaps it’s culture. I speak multiple languages and sometimes I can see why Americans might come off as rude to others however same can be said about other cultures but neither are actually trying to offend. Generally speaking, cost of labor is also more expensive in the US as compared to other countries who also fly internationally therefore staffing is different so if the service isn’t as personalized that’s really not the flight attendants fault, I’m trying to do my job quickly and efficiently and it’s not up to me to decide how many flight attendants are onboard, that’s between the government and the airline. We don’t make boatloads of cash, we are merely paid a fair wage of what is necessary to survive where we live. As for outsourcing, that could create a problem for the country’s economy because everyone wants cheaper service until it means their own job being replaced.
Like I said earlier, I’m not saying rude flight attendants do not exist. However, sometimes what’s perceived as rude is merely just us doing a job that we are supposed to do. I’ve read a lot of the complaints about flight attendants and most of it is not our fault or something beyond our control (weather, amenities, laws, aircrafts, delays, etc). Unless other airlines do not have safety regulations, flight attendants are always put into a position of being the person that has to tell a passenger “no, that’s not okay”.