You have to have a very thick skin to be a flight attendant. Being verbally abused, shouted and screamed at has always been one of the perils of our career, even during the glory days of the glamorous jet-set. Sometimes however, even the most hardened of crew members crack.
After a particularly testing few flights, one of my over worked and underpaid Dollies sent me this letter. I was touched by his words and knew that so many of my fellow Trolley Dollies would to relate to his plight.
So here it is, an open letter from a flight attendant……
“When people ask what I do for a living I am proud to tell them I’m Cabin Crew. Most people instantly react with statements such as, “WOW, how glamorous” or “You must get to see the world?”.
True the role has its perks, many of them, but let’s be honest, for thousands of cabin crew around the world our job basically entails flying point to point, barely seeing anything of our destinations apart from a jet-bridge or tarmac. As for the perceived ‘glamour’ of the 1960’s well, all I can say is what glamour? The reality of being crew today involves long hours, operating several sectors per day, limited time off and a very fine line between our work/life balance.
Yet for the majority of us, it’s still an enjoyable job. I’m not writing this to complain or whine, I simply wish to enlighten the masses, who often fail to realise just how hard we do work.
Many of you will have heard your pilots say that we are onboard primarily for your safety. This is true. As the old saying goes ‘we are there to save your arse, not kiss it’. Still, part of being a flight attendant is to provide a service and this is just another part of our job description that many of us also enjoy.
Every member of cabin crew onboard your flight will have completed an intensive initial training course, carried out to the highest standards. Before each flight we are once again tested on our first aid and safety knowledge, ensuring we are up to the job. If not, then that crew member will be offloaded and sent for further training.
Each and every one of us hope and pray that we will never have to use the medical, safety and security training we are so frequently tested on. We much prefer carrying out our secondary duties, providing comfort to you our dear passengers, ensuring you have the best flight possible and therefore wish to fly with our airlines again.
Don’t get me wrong this open letter is not an attack towards the vast majority of our passengers. You are the reason we do this job. We are people who like people and enjoy being there for you. I am simply writing this to clear up a few things the great travelling public seem to forget occasionally.
In recent years I have noticed a huge increase in animosity towards cabin crew. Abusive language, violence, sexual and physical assaults and homophobic abuse towards male crew is rapidly becoming the norm, especially on certain ‘party’ routes. This is unacceptable and it needs to stop.
Alcohol is one of the main issues here. Airports ply passengers with drink and then send them on their merry way. It is illegal to be drunk onboard an aircraft, so why do airports do it? Sadly, it all boils down to money. If passengers are buying drinks in their bars or litres of spirits (which they smuggle in their hand luggage to drink onboard, we’re not stupid) in their duty-free shops, then they are making money. What is worrying, is the state in which some passengers get in to.
My fear is that one day this is going to have an impact on safety. Flying is still the safest form of transport. This is because the aviation world has adapted and learnt from previous accidents and incidents. I pray that it doesn’t take an alcohol fuelled event to alter this area of our beloved industry. We want you to enjoy yourselves, don’t get me wrong. All we ask is that you respect us and more importantly, have some respect for yourselves.
Please also understand that when we’re asking you to fasten your seatbelt or turn off your laptop, it’s not because we are on some sort of power trip. It’s because we’re following rules and guidelines set out by our respective aviation authorities and airlines. “But when I flew with (insert other airlines name here), they let me do it!”. “Yes but you’re not flying with them now, are you sir?” and every airline has different procedures so please respect that.
Then of course there are the dreaded delays, delays which of course are all our fault. Believe it or not your pilots and cabin crew have actually flown as passengers and we too will have experienced the same delays as you. There may even be an off duty crew member or pilot on your delayed flight today, who is just as frustrated as you are that they are missing some of their holiday. The difference is, they won’t be screaming in some unsuspecting crew members face, blaming them for the fog that is blanketing the airport. We understand your frustration. The thought of delaying your well-earned break, postponing you important business meeting or family reunion is distressing. But screaming at your crew is not the way to go, especially if you wish to continue your journey with us because believe me, there are many crew out there who will offload you without a second thought.
We understand you perceive us as the face of our airline, but please believe me when I say that we are doing everything we can to get you where you need to be. We have lives too and would much rather get you to your destination than be stuck on a metal tube with you for hours on end. Please also be aware that many of us aren’t even getting paid during these delays, so I hope you understand that we hate delays just as much as you do.
Believe it or not we are your friends, not your enemies and we completely understand your frustration and inconvenience. We would love to live in a world where everything works like clockwork and nothing goes wrong. Sadly, life is not like that, but we try to do everything we can to minimise the stress.
I personally have worked for many years, in both the aviation and customer service industry and though a vast majority of the public think that we don’t care, we really do. There is nothing more pleasurable for a crew member than to have a passenger praising them when they disembark. Comments such as “Thank you, that was a lovely flight”, “You were fantastic thank you” or “I can’t wait to fly with you again” go a very long way with us. Sadly, these comments are becoming rarer and rarer, as people only seem to want to complain instead of praising a job well done.
Let me end this by saying that I love my passengers. You are the reason I do this job, being a part of your travelling experience, whether it be a simple journey to a business meeting or a holiday of a life time, you are all my passengers and receive my undivided attention.
All I ask is that the next time you fly, please remember how you would feel if someone screamed at you for something you had no control over, insulted you in your place of work or simply ignored you whilst you were doing your up most to help.
Your Crew Member”
© Anonymous FA for confessionsofatrolleydolly.com by Dan Air.