Archive for passenger

I’m Not Your Biggest Fan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 16 February, 2010 by Thomas

I suppose I’m entirely too young to remember, but from everything I hear and read people once wore their Sunday best when flying.  Now it’s so cheap that everyone is doing it, and so as a flight attendant and the person who must interact with the flying public more than any other work group I’ve got to be able to handle several different personalities.  There are so many that I can’t even begin to name and describe them; it would simply take too much time, and I’m definitely entirely too lazy to even entertain that idea.

I can’t say that I have a favorite type of passenger.  I like the ones who talk to me and ask questions about my job, but also find myself irritated by the ones who talk to me and ask questions that I can’t or even should know the answer to.  I also like the passengers who sit down and keep a low profile.  I definitely love the ones who kindly make requests and say “please” and “thank you” rather than bark orders at me like I’m the hired help (I perform a service, but I am no servant).  I’m sad to say that this last group is a refreshing change and a departure from what is normal.

I can, however, say that I have a least favorite type of passenger.  I hate the ones who are rude and inconsiderate, the ones who won’t even  acknowledge my existence for the two hours I have with them, and the ones who won’t do what I tell them to do, but the one type of passenger I dislike more than any other is the student-athlete.  This is not to say I don’t like college students because I do.  I would love to still be a college student, and college ladies sure are fun to look at.  But when you put 20 punk kids on an airplane in their little uniforms with their coaches it seems all hell breaks loose.

I recently had the displeasure of taking the Marshall Thundering Herd Men’s Basketball team from Birmingham to Charlotte.  I initially felt sorry for these guys – they were all 20 feet tall stuck on a little regional jet with no headroom when standing and no leg room when sitting – but that sentiment quickly passed as they settled into their seats.  Before we even closed the aircraft door there were legs and knees in the aisles, tray tables down, seatbacks reclined, and head phones on.  So now with 20 kids who think their crap don’t stink on board my flying partner and I go about securing the cabin and doing our compliance checks.  In hindsight I realize it was all a bit Sisyphean trying to restore order to the plane as these players would never fully comply with what we asked of them.  As we walked through the cabin telling them to turn their phones off and bring their seatbacks up they just claimed the phone was already off or would recline the seatback as soon as we walked past.  I remember telling one in particular to turn his phone off and remarking that Airplane Mode is not off and one of his teams piped up with, “It should have been off a long time ago.”  On the surface it would appear he was giving his buddy a hard time, but what he was really doing was making fun of the job I had to do.  Not that I mind his making fun of me, I just mind when people act like idiots.

Take a small group of young people and they’re not so bad.  It’s when you get a large group of them together that they start to joke around and feed off each other.  The immaturity just grows and grows like a weed making my job much much harder than it ever should be.  But what really gets me is the attitude of the coaches.  You’d think they’d be all over their players like stains on a mattress making sure they represent themselves, their team, and their school in the best light possible, but some of them are just as bad as their players.  If they’re not just sitting in the seat trying to ignore the brats they’ve been charged with then they take their seatbelts off or won’t turn their phones off and then lie to my face about whatever it is I “chastise” them about.  I want to point out to them that they expect their athletes to do what they say the first time on the court or on the field and that I expect the same on my airplane; perhaps next time I will do just that.  And if you think that my ire shouldn’t be directed to all student-athletes I will just say that I’ve also had the UT Volunteers Girl’s Volleyball team, USC Gamecocks Track & Field team, some small college basketball team, and probably a few others on my plane.  They’re all pretty much the same . . . aggravating.  I wish the school would just charter a plane so I wouldn’t have to put up with their stupidity.

A Quick Break

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 26 January, 2010 by Thomas

It’s 7:30 in the morning on day four of a four-day trip. I’ve finished my beverage service, and 29 people are staring at the headrest in front of them, the back of their eyelids, or out the window at the quickly rising sun as we zoom east towards Charlotte. Row 13 was open a few minutes ago, but now I’m sitting here staring out the window, joining my passengers who have nothing else to do either. The sun is on the other side of the plane, and although I don’t have the good fortune of watching it paint the sky I’m easily mesmerized by these clouds; I never tire of looking at them. I take this brief moment to relax because I know the next five legs and 12 hours are going to leave me spent with little opportunity to sit and hide from the ever-watchful eye of the traveling public.

As I stare out the window into the nothingness that is 34,000 feet I see some clouds on the horizon. To me they look remarkably like snow-capped mountains. Though they are obviously clouds and nothing else, they still have the ragged edges, peaks, and valleys that mountains would have. It is at this point that I start to envy my two other crew members; they get to sit up front and chase sunrises and sunsets and see things that I can only see in my mind’s eye most of the time. What a job they have!

I’m quickly brought back to reality and out of my daydream by the ding-dong that is the In-Range Call from the captain. He wants to know what I need when we arrive in Charlotte. Having lost myself in wonder it takes me a second to remember the passenger who boarded with a wheelchair; I guess we’ll need one of those when we land. I go back to work collecting from traytables the trash left there by my slumbering passengers; I find myself envious of their freedom to sleep, too. Because I was lazy and didn’t get my uniform ready the night before I had to wake up at 4:30. Running on little sleep I think about the long day I have ahead of me and am grateful for the break I just had, even if it was for just a few minutes.

Peddling Our Wares

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 10 December, 2009 by Thomas

Times are tough in the airline industry, and every CEO is doing whatever he can to make more money, from charging to check a bag to charging for a Coke.  Some plans work well (bags), some do not (Cokes).  This à-la-carte pricing structure, I believe, is here to stay.  I also believe it’s the right way to do business.  Any Google search will return countless articles about how ticket prices have continued to drop since deregulation, but the operating costs have only gone up.  People want first class service, but they don’t want to pay for it.  They’ll be damned before they fork over money for something they want, but it’s getting to the point where they have to.

Courtesy A. Currell (flickr)

We now sell snacks at my airline.  We used to offer free pretzels but got rid of them before I started.  Instead of bringing them back we now offer a whole slew of products that a passenger may purchase (again, that alliteration) if he’s hungry or thirsty or even sleepy.  We’ve always charged for alcohol and have been charging for blankets and pillows for a while, but the snacks and specialty drinks are new.  In my experience these new revenue streams have been well-received.  A few people have declined to pay for a snack when I told them the price, but those who have bought something have not uttered one word of complaint – at least not to where I could hear it.

Trying to organize multiple deposit sheets.

I don’t mind selling these products at all; if it’s helping my airline, then it’s helping me.  I love my job and want to keep it; however we can make money I say let’s do it.  What I don’t like is trying to change a 20-dollar bill for a three-dollar item and keeping up with the money for days at a time.  We can get into a bit of trouble (only a slight bit) for not depositing the money in a timely manner, but when it’s

Depositing two days' worth of sales.

midnight and you just finished a four day trip and all you want to do is go home and sleep, depositing money in a broken ATM is the last thing on my mind.  Nevertheless, these things must be done.  Once it’s done, it’s nice to be rid of that money.  Individually, we don’t really deposit a whole lot of cash, but with tens of thousands of flight attendants making deposits it adds up to quite a hefty sum.  And while some of our items may be a bit over-priced (one expects a mark-up on an airplane), a lot them are actually cheaper than the airport prices.

So while we all may have our varying opinions on what airlines are doing and whether they should go a different route (no pun intended), the fact of the matter is that airlines need to make money because passengers aren’t willing to pay the proper price for the services rendered.  They can’t continue to bleed billions of dollars a year while you pay $259 round-trip to go from New York to LA (and yes, that’s an actual price from Orbitz.com).

Working with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 14 November, 2009 by Thomas

One of my greatest passenger pet peeves is not following simple rules.  After reading a post on Heather’s blog I decided to go ahead and write my own piece instead of waiting until a more opportune moment.

Honestly, folks.  It’s like working with schoolchildren these days.  And not advanced reading class schoolchildren, either, but the short bus, head start, helmet-wearing, I-pull-my-pants-all-the-way-down-to-go-to-the-bathroom schoolchildren.

As a flight attendant there are certain things I’m required to do and say over the course of a flight, from boarding to deplaning.  Some of these things – like saying “hello” and standing at the main cabin door during boarding – are directions from the company.  Some of these things – like ensuring seat belts are fastened and tray tables are stowed – come from a higher authority (FAA).  I’m not telling you to do all the things I tell you to be a jerk or to hear my own voice, because frankly, I can think of much more satisfying ways to be a jerk, and I hate the sound of my voice.  The only things flight attendants want to say to you are, “Hello,” “Anything to drink,” and “Bye, now.”  You want to be left the hell alone, and we will leave you the hell alone if you do what the hell we tell you to.

Most of you do what we ask the first time, however, there is always at least one guy that wants to be stubborn.  Even if there are only 11 people on the flight he’s going to keep playing on his phone or iPod, regardless of how many times he’s asked to turn it off.  Don’t be that guy.  We hate that guy.  We will say bad things about that guy.  We will not be nice to that guy.  We, when presented with the opportunity, will make life just a bit more difficult for that guy.  We give to you what we imagine to be simple instructions, but apparently a Mensa membership should be required to fly commercially with all the people having trouble following them.

If you decide that you’d like to be that guy, don’t be so obvious about it.  When flying at night when the lights are off, don’t think I can’t see the light from your cell phone or iPod.  Remember, I’m on a little RJ, and I can see most everything.  I will get out of my seat, walk all the way to the back of the plane, and tell you to turn it off in front of everyone.  Here’s a tip: Try turning on your reading light so I can’t that you have it on.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  And just because you’re an off duty or deadheading crew member that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from following the rules.

To reiterate: Don’t be that guy…or this guy.

My first…tee hee

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 8 November, 2009 by Thomas

I’ve been lurking on the web for a while, reading other peoples’ blogs, and realizing I have no creative outlet for myself I decided to have a go at this.  I won’t say why I call myself a rarity; I’d imagine anyone reading this is smart enough to figure it out given enough time.  If you’re not smart enough to figure it out, then I’d imagine you’re not even the one reading.  I suspect that here you’ll find quite a bit of bitching, a fair amount of wishing, and even a decent share of good ol’ being.  I won’t tell you to “hang on” or “buckle up” because this isn’t a ride, but I will say that I hope you enjoy what I write.  If I bore you, let me know so I can quit wasting everyone’s time.

I fly for a regional airline.  Though I work on the baby birds, I can travel wherever momma bird goes.  I won’t say who the company is, but you’ll find that out eventually through context clues (surely you were taught how to use context clues in elementary school).  Perhaps when the industry pulls itself out of the crapper I’ll be able to make it to the big leagues, but for now I’m loving my job and doing the best I can to not open the doors and start tossing people out.

I’ve got a goodly amount of ideas for posts, but I don’t want to peak too soon and write them all in one weekend.  That said, all my ideas will probably make their way on to the Internets (yes, plural) within a few days.  What you can expect:

  • Catering woes wrought upon me by lazy FAs and incompetent caterers
  • Possible Probable Definite international flying for our airline
  • New snacks that we sell (read: peddle)
  • Passenger behavior
  • Attitudes of crew members from other bases
  • Virtues? of slam-clicking v. not slam-clicking
  • Not holding weekends
  • Miscellany

Oh, and if you figure out who I work for (birds, both baby and momma), I should probably say that the views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of the airline, management, or fellow employees.