Friday, May 13, 2005

Things not to do to your poor, underpaid, tired, perhaps sick Flight Attendant

In a world post September 11th, where Flight Attendants are losing retirements, taking pay cuts, being fired for calling in sick. They are asked more of than ever before. Not only are the responsible for making passengers happy and comfortable they enforce FAA safety standards, reinforce security, help in medical emergencies, and prepare for such medical/security emergencies. I, only being in the industry 2 years, have had 8 medical emergencies, and 2 in-flight mechanical emergencies. I have encountered drunken passengers that had to get arrested. Yelling passengers and addressed security concerns.

Your F/A is probably being paid less than you did at your first job. I know I am. Looking at my paycheck I realize that I haven’t gotten paid this little consistently since the first job I ever got out of high school and that was 10 years ago! And yet we are asked to put up with all of the above during 12 hour sometimes up to 16-hour days. Not only that but we are not subject to normal labor laws (thanks FAA) so if you work for a commuter airline and have such short flights that you don’t have time for a break on board. You can have none at all, and it’s ok. No ½ hr lunch, no 2 10 minute breaks. This is common. So I listed just a couple things, that if you abstain from doing them to us, you will make us a little happier.

So in light of the above statements I made a list of five things NOT to do, and why:

1. I do not respond to Physical VIOLENCE!

a. I understand I just passed you with my garbage bag, but rest assured I’ll be back thru. I empathize with the fact that you cannot possible hold onto that napkin anymore and even though I passed you 5 times without you handing it over, you just realized the severity and emergency status of having that napkin on your tray table and need it off now! That being said, I will not respond:
i. If you pull my elbow,
ii. Tap me incessantly on the shoulder while yelling, ”EXCUSE me!” in my ear,
iii. Punch me in the shoulder
iv. Tug on my jacket/apron/shirt/skirt
v. Pinch my ass
vi. Pull my fingers
vii. Slap my butt
viii. Pull my ponytail (I know you think it’s uber funny, I’m not laughing)
ix. Yank my arm out of its socket.

b. September 11th? Hello? Don’t touch me. I’ve been taught several self -defense tactics with plane equipment, and I am always looking to practice when I feel attacked and security is breached.

2. We can’t close the door, and leave till you finish your conversation on your blackberry/PDA/super cell phone

a. I can sympathize with the fact that you are a really important businessman/ woman. I know that your call is so essential that you must make the whole flight wait to leave till you finish your call. It makes sense, it really does. I’m sure that if you could’ve made the call earlier, before you got on the plane you would’ve. And I know it’s necessary to talk REALLY LOAD so that everyone knows just how important you are. However we do have to wait, unless we want to get fined by the FAA. And perhaps it doesn’t really interfere with communication and navigation capabilities like the FAA says. Who knows? It does however interfere with my sanity. Thereby interfering with you staying on the flight at all. Stop rolling your eyes at me!

3. I know you want your coffee, and even though I have a passenger on the ground on oxygen, which’s had a seizure and is not regaining consciousness. You feel you need to ring your call button to complain that you haven’t received it yet. Or perhaps you want to ask about a close connection and are annoyed you have to wait. I can relate, how dare this person decide to start dying when you’re thirsty! And why can’t I help you instead. It’s unbelievable that everyone else is either helping me or be nice and quiet when this travesty is happening. Doesn’t anyone else want the service they PAID for? That lady is old anyway.

a. In training we spend 1 hour on in-flight beverage service and 4 weeks on medical and safety training. That’s because what’s really important is to keep people from dying, even if in inconviences you. I’m sorry.

This is getting to be a long post so you can look forward to the rest of the 5 things at a later date.


jaimerachele said... a sad commentary on your job. It made me laugh though. I like to believe that I'm always nice to flight attendants... but I'll try even harder now.

Take care, girly! I hope to see you soon.

BonikaStJames said...

See the thing is most of us poor folks only receive service by people in uniform when we are on planes and have only that very small window of time to pretend that we are gizzilionares and that you are our maids/cooks/butlers etc. This is why we treat you this way... its part of our fantasy... so if you could just play along that would be great. ; )

Flyingwaitress said...

From now on, for sure!

Kimster said...

See, your just adding to my insecurity. When I'm on a plane, I seriously contemplate each and every push of the call button. To be honest, I've always felt from the "staff" that I was bugging them with my unimportant request of more ice, or maybe a pillow. I'm suprised airlines don't come out with "self service" flights. Just have vending machines on either end of the plane, and a few FAA employee's with guns to tell you when your out of line.

Flyingwaitress said...

I understand your insecurity and I don't want to add to it. I, myself, don't mind if some one pushes the call button, or needs something. The reason I continue to work as a F/A is because I like people and want to help make people feel comfortable and cared for.

That said, the above comments are meant for those that push it to another level. We are people and don't want to be treated like crap-aka the physical violence;-). The other two are in light of how it affects the rest of the other passangers (dying and otherwise).

I would rather someone hit a call button if they need a pillow, not my ass.

May you have sweet flights in the future!

Mala said...

I fly a lot and am often appalled by the behavior of my fellow passangers. Especially the ones on phones. Hell, oftentimes I feel like jumping out of my aisle seat, marching over to the offending passenger, and swiping the phone away from the idiot.

Just remember - for every jerk there are five or six of us on your flights who really appreciate the service you provide. :)

Flyingwaitress said...

I think it's actually more than five or six...thanks for your comments!!

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