It’s Time To Do Something About Bad Flight Attendants


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Historically I’ve not been someone who writes in to airlines complaining about their staff very often. I reported an atrocious British Airways gate agent back in February but, other than that occasion, I can’t remember the last time I wrote an email complaining about a flight attendant or another member of airline staff.

That’s going to change.

We (the traveling public) have allowed the airlines and the authorities to put flight attendants in almost unassailable positions of power and we were dumb to let that happen.

We’ve reached a point where we have travelers looking on as an airline allows a passenger to be dragged bloodied off its aircraft, where a passenger is so scared of questioning a flight attendant’s authority that she’s bullied into putting her pet into an overhead bin (where it died) and where everyone knows that flight attendants are never, ever wrong…..even when they are.

We’re scared to question anything a flight attendant says or does and that’s nothing short of crazy.

It all starts with the ridiculous assertion we’re forced to listen to before our flights where a member of the flight crew reminds us that flight attendants are there “primarily for [our] safety”.

Utter nonsense.

Flight attendants are clearly very well trained in all aircraft safety related measures but their primary duty is to serve the passengers on board.

Whether you like it or not a person’s primary role is defined by what they spend most of their time doing and not what someone with a microphone on an aircraft flight deck says it is.

In what other job is someone’s primary responsibility defined by something they deal with for a tiny percentage of their working day?

If a garbage collector spends most of his day collecting garbage and then has to do some paperwork before he goes home is he there “primarily to do paperwork”?

If a secretary spends a small part of his day making coffee for the boss is he suddenly a barista and “primarily in the office to make coffee”?

If an actor ad-libs a few line changes during a scene is he on set “primarily to rewrite the script”?

If a doctor does some filing at the end of her shift is she at the hospital “primarily to do the filing?”

Of course not.

So why do we put up with this nonsense and why is it rammed down our throats?

The problem we have is that it’s not just us (the passengers) who have been listening to the “primarily for your safety” nonsense all these years….the flight attendants have been listening to this too and, unsurprisingly, a significant number of bad ones now appear to believe they’re not in the service industry.

There are a great number of flight attendants who are a credit to themselves and their profession but they also have colleagues who are the exact opposite.

I’ve had some fantastic flight attendants in the past but I’ve had a worrying number of bad ones too….and it’s often the bad ones that stick in the mind.

I’ve had a flight attendant tell me off (vociferously and aggressively) for not having my seat in the upright position when it was – no apology was forthcoming.

I’ve had a flight attendant accuse me (aggressively) of not having my phone in airplane mode when she had absolutely no proof that it wasn’t and, as it happens, it was – no apology was forthcoming.

I’ve had flight attendants roll their eyes at me when I’ve walked to the galley to ask for a bottle of water.

I’ve had numerous flight attendants make up rules and laws to suit their own agendas – you’d be amazed how many times I’m told that it’s illegal to take pictures of the interior of an aircraft when it really, really isn’t.

I’ve had flight attendants who didn’t make eye contact or smile once during an entire 10+ hour flight, flight attendants who were more interested in chatting in the galley than offering any kind of service and flight attendants who were just outright rude.

For a nation that does service so very well the US seems to have a disproportionate number of flight attendants who have absolutely no idea what the word “service” even means.

Don’t misunderstand me.

I’m very aware that there are a lot of flight attendants who know exactly how to interact with passengers and who conduct themselves fantastically well….but there are also a large number who need to be moved on.

Let’s go back to the example of taking pictures on an aircraft.

I take a lot of pictures for the blog and it tends to attract attention.

I understand that taking as many pictures as I do is going to look odd to some people and I have no problem when flight attendants come up to me and check what I’m doing….but the difference in how flight attendants deal with this situation can be incredible.

The ones who aren’t socially inept approach me with a smile and politely ask why I’m taking pictures.

The ones who shouldn’t be anywhere near a customer-facing position approach with a scowl on their face, do a staggeringly good impression of a Spanish Inquisitor and display absolutely no humanity whatsoever.

The former group understand that I’m not self-loading cargo, I’m a human being and a paying customer of the airline. Being polite to me is part of their job description and, funnily enough, when people are polite to me I go out of my way to be incredibly polite back.

The latter group seem to think their tough act and hostile disposition is something their job requires of them and they have absolutely no understanding of how a customer should be treated.

They’re also remarkably stupid….but that’s a different issue.

I’m still polite to this last group (I’m not about to lower myself to their standards) but they sum up everything that’s rotten in the flight attendant pool.

If you’re reading this and thinking that this just happens to me (and so must be down to something I’m doing) just take a look at Flyertalk to see what other frequent flyers are facing on a daily basis.

On my last long-haul flight I watched a flight attendant spill a tray of food into a passenger’s lap and then attempt to blame the passenger for the accident.

On that same flight Joanna was told (not asked) by a flight attendant to put another passenger’s bag in the overhead compartment because neither the attendant nor the passenger were tall enough to reach.

Let me just emphasize that last point again – an American Airlines flight attendant told a paying passenger (in Business Class) to do her job for her.

The flight attendant wasn’t tall enough (or strong enough) to do her job and, leaving aside the obvious rudeness, this leads to two questions:

  1. Why does this flight attendant have a job she isn’t physically capable of doing?
  2. If flight attendants are on board “primarily for [our] safety” is this the sort of person who should hold a position like that?

Call me old-fashioned but I’d quite like the people in charge of my safety to be physically capable of doing their job and to not be reliant on passengers to help them out.

There isn’t a single overriding reason why the bad flight attendants get away with this kind of behavior but there are three things that play a key role:

  1. There’s no meritocracy on a lot of airlines – if you’ve been there long enough you’ll get the good routes/schedules regardless of how terrible you are at your job.
  2. It can be remarkably hard to fire a flight attendant thanks to employment laws and deals airlines have made with unions.
  3. Passengers don’t want to speak up because they know they risk being kicked off their flight if they’re seen questioning a flight attendant.

There’s not much we can do about points 1 and 2 but there is something that can be done about point 3.

Aircraft are a haven for bad flight attendants because it’s the one place where the customer is very rarely allowed to be right.

On an aircraft you’re guilty if a flight attendant says you’re guilty and you have no right of appeal before you’re kicked off – if a flight attendant wants you off the aircraft you’re going whether you like it or not.

How is that right?

Sacking the incompetent, moody and rude flight attendants is a lot easier said than done….but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything.

Airlines and authorities alike need to take a long hard look at just how much power they place in the hands of the cabin crew and they need to learn that flight attendants are not infallible.

Flight attendants make mistakes and they make mistakes as often as you and I so treating their word like it’s something special needs to stop.

As soon as flight attendants get treated like humans and not infallible deities passengers will find it easier to speak up…and when passengers speak up airlines will have to listen.

For my part I’m going to start speaking up right away (sort of).

I’m not dumb enough to argue with a flight attendant on an aircraft but I will start reporting them.

Every time I come across a rude, hostile, incompetent or lazy flight attendant I’m going to try to get their name (unsurprisingly a lot of bad attendants hide their badges and that’s always a good warning sign) and I’m going to report them to their airline….and I’d encourage you all to do the same.

Don’t let them get away with it.

We may not be able to take them on when we’re onboard but we sure as heck can take them on once we’ve disembarked.

It will always be the same group of flight attendants that get reported (the good ones are considered good for a reason) so, if we all keep reporting the bad ones when they deserve it, at least some of our comments will go on their records and, at some point, their files will get full enough that their behaviour is finally considered indefensible.

Seeing the bad flight attendants get rooted out won’t only be a win for passengers but it will be a win for the good flight attendants too.

There are undoubtedly a lot of bad flight attendants preventing the good ones from progressing so getting rid of the detritus should see the competent rise to the top…..as they should.

I have absolutely no idea if this will work but I’m done standing by and accepting my fate once I’ve boarded an aircraft. It’s time to fight back.

55 COMMENTS

  1. I love that you post this call to revolution, but can’t be bothered to step out of your anonymity long enough to make it meaningful. You’re just the typical blogger bully hiding behind your keyboard.

    Now that we’re on the subject, I believe it’s time we fight back against hyper entitled douchebags who think they deserve private jet accomodations and treatment for greyhound fares. Oh and people who think posting their personal triades on the internet make them somehow experts and better than. You’d never think to question a cop when he tells you you’re violating the law, but because we don’t have guns, you think it’s us being nazi’s because we inform you that your behavior/actions are prohibited.

    And WE are the problem? You don’t like rules, I get it, but making the person who’s informing you of them the bad guy is just juvenile. And threatening their livelihood to boot should be criminal.

    Shame on you.

    • Lots of interesting things here….

      Interesting that you choose to take offence at a blog asking for the bad FAs to be rooted out – what’s your issue with bad employees getting the sack?

      Interesting that you seem to believe that “threatening the livelihood” of people who are truly terrible at their job isn’t fair and “should be criminal” ….and then you have the gall to call others “entitled”.

      Interesting that you have such a high opinion of yourself that you compare FAs to law enforcement when there’s absolutely no comparison between the two groups at all – law enforcement officers don’t tend to make up rules and laws to suit themselves, bad flight attendants do it all the time.

      Interesting that you call FA “nazis” when there’s no mention of that word in the blog post – do you have any idea how offensive that word is?

      Interesting that you make no reference whatsoever to the real life examples of bad service I made in the blog – perhaps you’re another who doesn’t believe you’re in the service industry?

      Interesting that you have an issue with my anonymity but you make no comment about FAs who choose to not to use name badges and hide their names so they cannot be easily reported. Also, what does my anonymity have to do with my observations? Does it make them less real in your mind? Does it excuse the bad service?

      Interesting that you seem to think I have an issue with being told that my “behavior/actions are prohibited” when (a) that’s simply not true, (b) there’s isn’t a single mention of me having an issue with anything legitimate I’ve been told or been asked to do by an FA.

      Interesting that you seem to think that I “don’t like rules” when there’s not one mention in the post of a rule I don’t like – did you even read the post before you wrote your comment?

      Intersting that you seem to think that I consider myself an expert when I don’t make any such claim in the post.

      Interesting that you choose not to address any of the issues I raised in the post and instead go off on a tangent discussing flyers who “think they deserve private jet accomodations and treatment for greyhound fares”. That may well be an issue but its separate to the one being discussed here and has no relevance whatsoever….are you trying to change the subject?

      Most of all it’s interesting that, in a comment on a post aimed directly at BAD flight attendants, you choose to use the word “we” – thanks for outing yourself as a bad flight attendant as it makes it a lot easier to take your comment for what it is….nonsense.

      • Your descriptor of BAD flight attendant is what is at issue here. You’ve painted that brush stroke SO wide you’ve literally painted the entire workforce of individuals who actually take their jobs as safety professionals seriously.

        We are NOT there because you deserve a drink and a pillow. We are only there because the government has demanded the aircraft be staffed with people who can perform an evacuation within 90 seconds and provide life saving measures to incapacitated individuals onboard. If that wasn’t the case, there would be a vending machine in the aft galley for your food and beverage requirements.

        There are always BAD employees at any job. Obviously cause we’re here because of your unbelievably biased ranting disguised as a good deed effort. However your criteria doesn’t just stop at unhappy employees, it also digs at the very core of why Flight Attendants exist, decrees that we’re all power hungry and that there’s no validity to the core tentament that FARs are actually there for a reason. As if enforcing a FAR makes a flight attendant bad and power hungry. When in fact not doing so opens us up to fines as well as the passenger, and makes us a bad flight attendant.

        I’d debate more, but it’s obviously pointless. You have zero interest in doing anything other than carrying on your crusade to get passengers thrown off planes for standing up for their right to not have to obey the law. When your focus should be on addressing the individuals who make those laws, the FAA. Get them to change it, so we won’t have to enforce it. But don’t make me the bad guy for doing the job I was hired to do.

        And for the record I have over 270 recognitions for stellar above and beyond service from frequent flyers at my airline. Not a single bad letter, but tell me again how I’m a bad flight attendant for standing up for the integrity of my profession. It amuses me.

        • I clearly separate good and bad FAs in the post and I clearly indicate what it is about bad FAs that make them bad.

          If you choose to take that as a blanket criticism of all FAs that’s completely up to you but that not what it says in the post.

        • I forgot to add that if you think you’re standing up for the integrity of your profession by defending the bad apples in your profession then you’re sadly misguided.

          When you suggest that asking for the bad apples to be sacked should be “criminal” you actually show how little you care about the integrity of the profession and how much you care about protecting the jobs of those who don’t deserve them.

      • For god sake we are in a tube at 40,000ft!! Everyone wants cheap seats and the abuse towards crew mermbers is outrageous!! Why don’t you write about that???

        • Care to write a blog post about it? If you provide specific examples (of which I’m sure you have many) I’d be happy to post it.

          • There are so many of us who are very friendly and this isn’t our natural character in general. I hate to see that our profession’s reputation is soiled like this. It has been a proud industry and profession and I’m sorry you are treated poorly.

          • Thanks for your comment and you’re 100% right, there are a LOT of very friendly FAs who are a credit to their profession (I had a fun crew just this weekend who were great to interact with). Sadly, yes, there are bad apples who do your profession no credit at all and it’s this group that my comments have been aimed at – that’s why I find it somewhat surprising that this is something that a number of commenters seem to be against and I can’t get my head around why rooting out the bad apples is such a controversial topic.

      • Another pissed off blooger who has zero credibility!!!! Even your headline reads like a Fox News ticker tape !!! Boo hoomthe flight attendant rolled her eyes , give me a fricken break! You have stated you repeatedly write them up . How many free perks did you get for your petty gripes. Oh an she said it aggressively….were you scared?? Carry on with your keyboard insults oh and nazi …what grade are you in.
        Really ? , grow the hell up. Good luck with your call to action ! See you onboard can’t wAAit !

        • Not sure If you simply didn’t bother to read the post or if reading isn’t a strong point for you so let me help you out:

          I don’t say I repeatedly write anyone up. In fact, in the very first paragraph, I say the exact opposite. It’s pretty hard to get “free perks” for my “petty gripes” when I haven’t been complaining.

          Secondly, it was another commentor who used the word “nazi” and not me….but why let a little fact like that get in the way of your remarkably ill thought out comment?

          Thirdly, is that a threat in the last paragraph? Doesn’t seem like something someone charged with safety on board should be issuing and doesn’t really do much to counter the belief that bad FAs do love a little power trip.

  2. You’re plan is asinine. You seem like a real pleasure to be around. And more importantly, your plan won’t work. But could you please spend this energy on something that actual matters, like feeding the hungry or stopping corruption? The fact that you are so worked up over some bad costumer service experiences truly shows your priviledge. You should focus on making a difference in the world, instead of making yourself more comfortable enjoying the finer things in life, like first class international travel.

    • You’re choosing to judge my personality based on criticisms of those who are bad at their jobs? Fair enough, that’s your prerogative….but good to know we have yet another FA happy to try to deflect criticism rather than address the points made.

      • Said the person who deflects criticism by calling people bad at their jobs for daring to question you. Noted.

        • Please indicate where in the post I say that I don’t like being questioned and please indicate where I attempt to deflect criticism.

          Still interested to note you fail to address a single of my points

          • What points did you make? that you are entitled and expect the flight attendant to lift your bag and kiss your butt the whole flight. Or report them and have them all fired? That they are stupid? That they shouldn’t comply with the FAA rules? Or if someone argues with them let that person do what they want or That they should let people break rules? Who should be in power on the aircraft? Us the passengers? Let’s get rid of all flight attendants bring in vending machines instead of complimentary service and hope for no emergency of any kind. When your sick or feeling ill you are on your own. When highjackers take over the plane better have a plan. When the plane has to do an emergency landing good luck. When passengers have heart attacks go into diabetic state have asthma attacks allergic reaction and any other medical condition good luck No we are not trained like they are. I don’t work a 15 hour day and sometimes sleep less than 8 hours and than work another 15 hours like they do so I understand sometimes if they are tired or done with rude passengers. Maybe go after the airlines for working them to hard and not enough sleep time not paying them for boarding and deplaning and delays (no they don’t get paid unless in the air) They are trained to handle all emergency that arises and more and they’re there to enforce the rules? You say they aren’t there PRIMARLY for your safety? Which they are. When you respect that maybe you can learn to respect their job. Although they serve drinks and meals they are on that plane for our safety. I have seen bad flight attendants but I’ve seen worse passengers. The doctor who had his license revoked for bad practice should of been allowed to run back on the plane and cause a commotion. The police pulled him off not the flight attendant. Tell the facts. The lady who put her dog in overhead didn’t say my dog is in carrier or no I don’t feel right doing that but instead stayed silent so the flight attendant didn’t know the passenger put her dog in a regular duffel bag not a dog carrier. Know the facts. It was heart breaking to hear that and they flight attendant wasn’t right but she wasn’t wrong either if the passenger didn’t say anything. The passenger didn’t have to be rude or question her authority but could have said something like there is a dog in there. When do we take responsiblity for ourselves ? Thousands of planes fly everyday and we only hear a very few stories about bad flight attendant but hundreds of bad passengers including the doctor on United. You should of done more research on the doctor story your only half informed. What do you do for a living? I’m sure they can criticize people in your line of work also. Maybe the public should go after your career. There are bad employees at EVERY job. You are not the solution but are part of the problem. These flight attendants that I see responding are letting you know your wrong and don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Listen to them instead of spewing hate and being defensive. Definition of primarily1 : for the most part So the crews are there primarily for your safety. If emergency happens they stop the second part of the job and do what they are trained for. The safety of the aircraft and passengers. One suggestion. Next time you get on board say hello say please and thank you. Be nice and see where that gets you. It has gotten me on some very pleasant flights.

          • Allow me to dissect this bit by bit.

            “What points did you make? that you are entitled and expect the flight attendant to lift your bag and kiss your butt the whole flight.”

            No. If you’d actually read what I wrote I said that a FA told Joanna to put another passenger’s bag in an overhead bin. There was no request. There was no humanity. There was no politeness. It was an instruction.

            At no point do I indicate that I expect an FA to put my bag anywhere. I was using the point as an example of classic bad FA rudeness….but you carry on thinking that this has something to do with entitlement rather than rudeness amongst some in the FA professiin – I guess that helps you stick to your blinkered beliefs.

            “Or report them and have them all fired?”

            I very clearly say that I’d like to see those FAs who are very bad at their job get fired.

            “That they shouldn’t comply with the FAA rules?”

            Please indicate where I suggest an FA shouldn’t comply with FAA rules?

            “Or if someone argues with them let that person do what they want or That they should let people break rules?”

            Where do I say any of that? I’m sure you’re happy thinking that I wrote something along those lines because it fits with whatever your warped understanding of my post is but, sadly for you, that’s not what I wrote.

            I suggest you re-read the post.

            “Who should be in power on the aircraft? Us the passengers?”

            No….once again that’s not what I suggested. The Captain is clearly always in charge. What I suggested is that we stop taking the word of an FA as gospel and stop assuming that FAs are always right and passengers always wrong.

            Nowhere do I suggest that passengers should be in charge…but I can see how you’d like people to believe that’s what I wrote.

            “Let’s get rid of all flight attendants bring in vending machines instead of complimentary service and hope for no emergency of any kind.”

            Just how many straw-man arguments are you going to go through? At what point is my suggestion that we root out the bad flight attendants the same as removing all flight attendants? Are you suggesting that all flight attendants are bad so my wish would see us without flight attendants?

            “When your sick or feeling ill you are on your own. When highjackers take over the plane better have a plan. When the plane has to do an emergency landing good luck. When passengers have heart attacks go into diabetic state have asthma attacks allergic reaction and any other medical condition good luck”

            What has any of this to do with the idea that we should be trying get rid of bad FAs? Are you suggesting that getting rid of bad flight attendants would somehow increase the chance of passengers dying onboard and of planes getting hijacked?

            “No we are not trained like they are. I don’t work a 15 hour day and sometimes sleep less than 8 hours and than work another 15 hours like they do so I understand sometimes if they are tired or done with rude passengers.”

            Right. So you understand that flight attendants can be “done” with rude passengers but somehow it’s not ok for passengers to be done with rude flight attendants?

            Are you suggesting that because an FA is tired it’s ok for them to be rude? Even to a passenger that has been nothing but polite?

            For the record I have worked hours far worse than those you cite (and occasionally still do) so please don’t try to make flight attendants out to be martyrs – there are plenty of professions where the hours are horrible but where employees are still expected to be able to do their job well….and where they’re fired when they don’t

            “Maybe go after the airlines for working them to hard and not enough sleep time not paying them for boarding and deplaning and delays (no they don’t get paid unless in the air) They are trained to handle all emergency that arises and more and they’re there to enforce the rules? “

            Now you’re excusing the bad flight attendants on the basis that their working conditions make them bad. Sadly (for that argument) the many excellent flight attendants (that I also mention in the post) prove that you can be good at your job despite the conditions (which may or may not be as you describe).

            “You say they aren’t there PRIMARLY for your safety? Which they are. When you respect that maybe you can learn to respect their job. Although they serve drinks and meals they are on that plane for our safety.”

            I have plenty of respect for all people who perform their job well but I see no reason why those who are bad at their job shouldn’t be moved on. Outside of government how many other jobs can you name where there there isn’t a meritocracy and where being bad at your job doesn’t see you get fired?

            “I have seen bad flight attendants but I’ve seen worse passengers.”

            So bad passengers are now an excuse for bad flight attendants?

            “The doctor who had his license revoked for bad practice should of been allowed to run back on the plane and cause a commotion. The police pulled him off not the flight attendant. Tell the facts.”

            Oh dear. There you go again claiming I typed things I didn’t – it really doesn’t do much for your credibility when you keep making things up.

            From the post:

            “We’ve reached a point where we have travelers looking on as an airline allows a passenger to be dragged bloodied off its aircraft”

            Where does that say that say or suggest that FAs removed the passenger?

            “The lady who put her dog in overhead didn’t say my dog is in carrier or no I don’t feel right doing that but instead stayed silent so the flight attendant didn’t know the passenger put her dog in a regular duffel bag not a dog carrier. Know the facts.”

            Sadly it would appear that you’re the one who doesn’t know the facts. A number eye-witnesses to the incident have come forward to say that the lady was not silent at all….but then that’s not a fact that helps your argument so I can see why you’d ignore it

            “Thousands of planes fly everyday and we only hear a very few stories about bad flight attendant but hundreds of bad passengers including the doctor on United”

            You appear to keep making the point that because there are bad passengers it’s ok for there to be bad flight attendants – I’m more than happy for the drunk, disorderly and downright rude passengers to get their comeuppance just as I want the bad flight attendants to get theirs. You seem happy to punish one group and no the other.

            Only one of us is defending people who are bad here and its not me.

            “What do you do for a living? I’m sure they can criticize people in your line of work also. Maybe the public should go after your career. There are bad employees at EVERY job.”

            Of course there are bad employees in every profession…what’s your point? I’m more than happy to see bad employees get fired in every walk of life – you’re the one arguing against getting bad employees fired.

            “You are not the solution but are part of the problem”

            Silly me for wanting the best flight attendants to get ahead and to see the bad ones removed. Clearly the solution (according to you) is to let the bad FAs continue in their jobs because heaven forbid there should be some sort of meritocracy and requirement to be decent at your job.

            “These flight attendants that I see responding are letting you know your wrong and don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Listen to them instead of spewing hate and being defensive.”

            Of the people challenging the contents of my post most have chosen to believe that I’m having a go at all flight attendants (because that’s an easy thing to attack despite it not being what I typed) and many have avoided dealing with most (if not all) of the points I make against the bad flight attendants – hard to for me to take any of that particularly seriously.

            “Definition of primarily1 : for the most part So the crews are there primarily for your safety. If emergency happens they stop the second part of the job and do what they are trained for. The safety of the aircraft and passengers”.

            How can the definition of “second part of the job” be something that is done significantly more often than, presumably, what you would call the first part of the job?

            “One suggestion. Next time you get on board say hello say please and thank you. Be nice and see where that gets you. It has gotten me on some very pleasant flights.”

            I really don’t need a lesson in etiquette and manners from you. I am incredibly polite to all aircrew irrespective of how I’m treated (if you’d read the post properly you would already know this) and I too have had some very pleasant flights.

            It’s those pleasant flights that highlight what is possible when an aircraft is crewed by FAs who are good at their job and who don’t view customers as an inconvenience.

  3. Sounds like you have issues with women telling you what to do. Better make an appointment with a therapist.

    • Ah yes, why not resort to an accusation of sexism I’d you have nothing better to say?

      Last time I checked FAs were both male and female and I’m pretty sure I don’t distinguish beyeeen the two in the post….but you carry on believing what it suits you to believe.

  4. I agree with you that there are bad apples in every proffesion . I also agree with the above mentioned that flight attendants are a lot like cops. Cops mainly are there for law enforcement, even though most of their day is public relation. There are cops who never fire their gun or tackle someone to the ground. Their job entails ticket writing and minor enfractions. However you wouldn’t deny that they are safety proffesionals. Flight attendants are much like that. They are given the job of enforcing many FAA rules, and to be available to evacuate that aircraft should the necessity arise.
    You also never touch on the fact that due to 911, the flight attendant proffesion has changed greatly. Flight attendants are now tasked with scanning every boarding passenger and looking at them as possible threats. They are now locked in a tube with everyone as a possible threat. That’s stressful. I’m not excusing rudeness.
    There has also been a shift in the traveling public. Ticket prices were higher. The traveling public was more informed and more polite as well. The please and thank yous are a thing of the past and very rare. Every day there are more and more first time fliers. They do not know the flight etiquette norms. This causes stress as well. This still doesn’t excuse rudeness.
    Not every passenger is aware of all the rules and regulations of flying, and many entitlements they think might exist, do not exist on the aircraft. Read the regulations of carriage. And flight attendants are faced with these types of passengers everyday. The passengers who will demand that they are correct and this starts to create a hostile environment and many passengers would agree with the flight attendant to remove them rather than have them locked on the plane with them.
    Still doesn’t not excuse rudeness.
    Ultimately I agree with you that there are bad flight attendants, and being rude is not acceptable. However the job is about safety. The job does require constant vigilance, and there is evidently much you do not know about the proffesion. There are bad passengers and there are rude passengers. You should write an article now on that. How the rude nasty demanding passenger should not be allowed to make every one else’s flight miserable. How the passengers who cannot lift their own bags should check them. How passengers when asked if they would like a drink, should say more than just “coke”.
    Rudeness can sit on both sides of the aisle. Not excusing it.
    I think it may be a bit misguided to envite people to confront flight attendants. We all should be striving to make the flight more enjoyable. This requires that both flight attendants and passengers work together.

    • To be clear, I don’t want people to do anything on board and I even say that I’m not dumb enough to do that but what I do want is for people to not sit back and accept bad/rude service.

      I want to see the airlines given enough ammunition so that those who are truly bad at their jobs can be removed.

      It’s amusing to me to see so many comments on here (not including yours) that appear to think that this is somehow a bad idea. It just goes to prove how a section of the FA pool clearly feels that they should be untouchable.

    • I am shocked that you can complain about a profession you know nothing about. My daughter has a broken back because of this profession. Turbulence beat her up bad. Although you don’t care about that or the job. You need to be informed. Flight attendants for one do not lift passengers bags ever. Airlines don’t allow it. The insurance will not cover a flight attendants injury if hurt for lifting a bag. I have seen flight attendant ask a passenger to help someone lift a bag and than thank them and offer a free drink for helping. I have sat next to many passengers who don’t know why a flight attendant is standing there with a napkin because they have there headset on and instead of taking it off and acknowledging the flight attendant they say what over and over again and than say give me a coke and never thank or actually give one second to be polite to them. I have sat next to may passengers that when the announcements are made to but seat up tray table and seat belt. They ignore all of it and just sit there till a flt att has to tell them and then passenger rolls their eyes or ignores them even complies bit after flt att walks away they but seat back or tray table down. I have heard flight att get cussed at because someone is mad they missed a flt and take distraction out on flt att. I have seen first class passenger cry because they didn’t their choice of food and expect flt att to get a meal they want when they are given extra. The passenger could of preordered meal but easier to blame a flt att. I have seen rude flt attendants but I’ve also seen rude hotel clerks rude secretaries rude customer service in all jobs. I have read uniformed bloggers that done know the job of a flt att like expecting them to lift passenger bags. Saying their primary job is not the safety of flight. That is so wrong. The minute they get on that plane their primary job is safety. Pre checking emergency equipment. Making sure passengers are safe and complying with gas rules and knowing in an emergency they can deplane in 3 minutes. They make sure a passenger who is fighting with another passenger about the armrests and stabs the guy with a pen is taken off flight and the injured received medical attention. I have seen that. They help with passengers who are ill. My daughter has had many passengers pass out, she is there helping. Her friends have had passengers with heart attacks and given cpr to save their lives. One saved a baby. I seen flt attendants help a mother with crying baby and older people having trouble getting to their seats assist them. I am always polite and receive the same respect from customer service people including flt att. I believe how you treat them is how Your treated. If Your told to put your seat up why don’t you comply instead of waiting for a flt attendant to have to tell you. I don’t understand your mentality of wanting to “take a flight attendant on”. Why so hostile? She is doing her job and like any job you have some great ones good ones and not so good. Jut like writers. Please be more informed before writing a blanket blog a pint flight attendants. know their jobs before you write something that is half right. My daughter broke her neck during turbulence because a mother let her 9 year old kid go to the bathroom and she went to grab the child from hitting the ceiling and instead of the child with the injury it was my daughter. You should be ashamed of the fake information you have written

      • Firstly, I’m genuinely sorry to hear about your daughter’s back and hope she’s doing ok.

        Secondly, as with a lot of other commenters, you appear to want to interpret this post as a blanket criticism of all flight attendants when the title and various paragraphs in the post refer specifically to BAD flight attendants whose traits I clearly drscribe.

        If you wish to believe that those traits fit your daughter that’s all on you because that’s not what I wrote.

        Based on your last sentence you also appear to think that I should be ashamed of wanting to weed out the bad FAs from your daughters profession. Why? Would you defend the bad employees in any other profession?

        • Yes, your title makes mention of BAD flight attendants. Absolutely, let’s not debate it – bad service is bad service. When you see it, address it.

          But certainly, you are not in a position to rewrite our duty as you see fit. We put our lives on the line as your last defence. We’re the last to leave the aircraft. We’re the first to respond to any situation. Credit where credit is due. Safety is the primary concern. Good service, well that’s a given.

  5. a) “Why does this flight attendant have a job she isn’t physically capable of doing?” Just FYI, sir, our job is NOT to put anybody’s bags in the overhead compartment except our own. I’ve had 2 rotator cuff surgeries as a result of having done that for years. It is NOT OUR JOB., If you pack it, you pick it up. If you can’t, I will be happy to check it for you, but no, I’m already injured for the rest of my life because of passenger bags, and it’s not going to happen again. We go through very rigorous physical testing annually to make sure we can handle the emergency doors and equipment. If we can’t, we cannot work. Being able to lift that window exit out is a requirement for our job. Not lifting your bag, or anyone else’s. You really expect me to lift the bags of all or any of 187 passengers? Think about how ridiculous and self-centered that makes you sound. b) whether you like it or not, yes, our primary job is for your safety. We are not required, legally, to do any service (I repeat – ANY service) unless we are delayed on the airplane on ground for more than 2 hours. Our responsibility is your safety, mostly before and during taxi, take-off and landing. It’s also to handle medical emergencies, fight fires, and any other problems that might arise on board the aircraft. We also are the first and last line of defense against 9/11 ever happening again and YES, I WILL PUT MY LIFE ON THE LINE FOR YOU, TO PREVENT ANYONE GETTING INTO THE FLIGHT DECK, OR TO SAVE YOUR LIFE IN ANY KIND OF EMERGENCY. Bring your own water. Bring your own snacks. We don’t HAVE to serve anything to you, except in the aformentioned situation. I am not a waitress, I am not your servant, I am a safety professional and a first responder. Yes. If it is not what I do every day on every flight does not mean I am not prepared and trained and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure your safety and the safety of the other 186 passengers in my care for 2/6/12 hours. I am also one of those who believes in respect, manners, politeness and giving great service. But no, that is not my primary reason for being on the airplane. The day you are involved in an emergency (god forbid), you will find out exactly what I am capable of and why I am there. There are always people (not just Flight Attendants) who have their own little power trip, and who seem incapable of even the barest politeness, but we deal with them in every type of business, and unfortunately we sometimes have to deal with them in our industry. c) we do not make those announcements to hear the sound of our own voices. We get frustrated because so many passengers have their headsets on & can’t hear us, or don’t bother listening, and have for some reason, decided that they know better than us what is ok and what’s not. You wonder why we get impatient when we constantly have to tell you to put your seat up, to get off yoru phone, to ffasten your seal belt, to sit down when the seat belt sign is on? Let me ask YOU a question – in your job or business, if I came in there and wanted to employ you, use your service etc, and you said “Fine, we can do business, but these are the things that we require in order to do business with you. Some are law, some are company policy, but these are the rules.” And I responded to you “Oh no, I don’t want to be bothered with that stuff, I know better than you, I make my own rules and do what I want to do, but I still want to buy your services”, what would you say? Chances are, you’d say “Well, if you’re not willing to go by our rules, then I’m sorry, but we can’t do business with you.” Well, that’s exactly what you’re saying to us, every time you stand up while the seat belt sign is on because we’re only at 10,000 feet on our way up to 37,000. Or you can’t be bothered to listen so you don’t realize what we’ve said, or we have to ask you 3 times what you’d like to drink because you’ve got your headset blasting. Or you treat me like I’m an idiot/bimbo because of what I choose to do for a living (not what I HAVE to do, but what I choose to do) and you think that I must therefore be lacking in education, upbringing, ambtion, whatever. Now I’m going to generalize, just like you did. Many passengers are wonderful, polite and happy to get where they’re going. Then there are the entitled ones, the rude and disrespectful ones, the drunk ones. And there are plenty of them, and they are on every single flight. They live in Me-Ville, they think that the rules don’t apply to them, that they are soooo speshul, that the other 186 passengers don’t matter, and neither does anything I have to say. There was a time when passengers were polite, dressed up, checked their bags and only carried on a handbag or briefcase. Now they wear their pj’s on, carry 3 bags and the kitchen sink on with them, and are rude. That is no excuse for rudeness on our part, but it’s understandable on the 3rd flight of the day when we’ve seen 500+ of you and we’re frustrated and irritated because we need to constantly be on your backs about things that should be second nature to a seasoned traveler like yourself. I do not believe I’ve ever been rude to you, and I apologize for the F/A’s who have been. But for you to tell me that I’m a waitress and not a Safety Professional is disrespectful to say the least, untrue, and you need to realize that we are more than that. If you want an obsequious, fawning servant on yoru flight, then perhaps you should stick to certain other companies that are known for exactly that. I/we deserve an apology from YOU! Saw this and had to post. Although your type won’t apologize because you are the entitled and in my opinion your the stupid one not the flight attendants. I respect their job and bring candy when I fly because of people like you they have to deal with. From your blog you sound like you look for problems and are part of the rudeness they have to deal with. If so unhappy you should charter a private plane or drive. You should also look in the mirror and see your own faults and why you are so quick to judge others. You don’t even sign your name because you know your wrong and being a jerk. I hate sitting next to passengers like you. Your the embarrassment to the public like me who knows how to fly and respect others. I am an executive flyer and travel on planes 4 to 5 days a week. I have had great experiences. What I hope for is people like you aren’t on the plane. The rude stupid inconsiderate people who think everyone is there to kiss your butt. In your eyes flight attendant should be lifting hundreds of bags everyday getting injured and not complying with the FAA rules and just let passengers do what they want. That’s the problem with flying these days, the entitlement.

  6. I am a retired Flight Attendant. There are a couple of things in your post I would like to address. First, it is not the FA job to lift your luggage ever! Look at the baggage guys/ladies, they have on back supports and sensible shoes. I was required to work in heels and a suit. If you bring it on you put it up. Granted there are many FA’s looking for a fight or who appear combative. I think it is from fear, remember 9/11? or the fact they are forced to work ungodly hours to make a livable wage. Gone are the days from the 1970’s when you went to Paris and had 5 days off. Before I retired I worked 2 round trips to Europe a week, had 24 hours off and came back to the US. Life is awful for the FA’s who have to work domestic, lucky you if you get 6 hours to sleep between flights. Yes, there are rules about minimum overnights but once in your room it usually nets out five to six hours. Finally, lets talk about the elephant in the room. I have been all over the world, also I live in South Florida, without exception, Americans are the rudest people on earth. Where did this sense of entitlement come from? I blame Starbucks. Have you ever been behind the guy who wants a half caf cappucino-no foam-one splenda-one sugar-one vanilla shot-one caramel shot-a misting of hot water and 2 mint choc to go? I have. Not counting third world countries, where people have to fight to live, I have never met any culture ruder than Americans. I am serious, if you have let me know and I will check it out. In the meantime, board the plane-put your bag up-sit down shut up and read your book!

    • You talk about other people’s rudeness and then suggest I “board the plane-put [my] bag up-sit down shut up and read [my] book”

      Amazing. Do you know the meaning of irony?

    • “Americans are the rudest people on earth”

      I forgot too point out a couple of issue with that statement of yours:

      1) For someone who has a problem with me separating FA’s into good and bad that’s quite a blanket statement to make – nothing quite like accusing an entire country of something to really ruin any credibility you may have had.

      2) If “Americans are the rudest people on earth” as you appear to believe (those are your words and not mine), that would mean that some American FA’s are amongst the rudest people on earth….and yet you still appear to have a problem with these people being removed from their customer facing jobs – there’s no logic to your arguments or statements at all.

    • I love comments like this. Apparently passengers who don’t like rude flight attendants should fly private or just accept their fate onboard commercial aircraft. What a truly ridiculous suggestion – you should probably reconsider which of us is the idiot.

  7. I am amazed at how these FA’s are so defensive after the author described such rudeness on her flights. I am a former FA and can tell you I have worked with the bad apples, I;m in charge here, eye rolling, walk up and down the aisle with your eyes straight forward so none of the passengers can ask for something flight attendant….. the word “ATTENDANT” means that you will attend to your passengers. The airlines today do not teach service to these young people they are hiring and it shows…..along with the general moral decline of society I don’t see it getting any better. A smile goes a long way. A kind word goes a long way. What is there not to understand about the service industry?? I wonder how old some of these defensive flight attendants are that are commenting. The glory days are long gone…..

  8. If a bag is too heavy for you to lift we’ll assume it’s too heavy. And when I offer to check it for free 9 times out of 10 passengers decline. So the next option is you need to stow it yourself. The job is more physical than most people realized. We no longer lift your overstuffed bags. We can all thank baggage fees for that. And basic economy fares (where you can only carry on one bag).
    I love my job and I’ve done it very well for over 30 years.
    The traveling public has changed dramatically. Feet on tray tables, clipping toenails, changing dirty diapers, bare feet in pajamas walking into the lav…..And those ear buds permanently attached to ears.
    Would you like a drink, would you like a drink, would you like a drink?
    Even during boarding when we greet you. Phone & ear buds. I smile & say hello and get zero response.
    Air travel is no longer a luxury. It’s a bus at 40 thousand feet. No please, no thanks you, but lots of Get Me.
    It’s rare to meet a friendly passenger who actually makes conversation.
    Don’t get me wrong. I still love my job. It’s like no other. And it’s not just passengers who’ve lost track of manners and every day civility.
    As I walk thru the cabin stepping over feet, legs, around arms, elbows, heads, I try to make eye contact. But just like the real world people are staring at phones, tablets & computers. It’s a customer service job the requires safety training. And hopefully we never have to use it. But things do happen. Injuries, illness, medical emergencies, the occasional “incident.” I have a memory from many years ago when the oxygen mask deployed and everyone just stared at them. Hundreds of people just staring.
    Its our job to get you from point A to point B safely and try to make you comfortable on the trip. Your job is to be polite, respectful of others and follow the rules. I don’t write them but I’m required to enforce them. If you have questions I can show you the FAR in my manual. It doesn’t matter if you think they’re silly. The government says we have to follow them.
    Our company policy (not the law) is that you not take pictures of us without our permission. I think that’s fare. I don’t want to be on your Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Tweet, Chirp or any other social media.
    As the comedian Jim Jeffries would say, “I think we can all do better “

    • I have never taken a picture of an airline employee without their permission and I generally have little interest in photographing anything other than the aircraft cabin and the views outside.

      From the measured tone of your comment I suspect you wold fall into the category of a FA who knows how to deal with passenger’s (in all circumstances) and who probably doesn’t treat customers with disdain. Sadly that’s certainly not true of others in your profession and those are the ones I’m targeting with this post.

      You say that a passenger’s job is to “be polite, respectful of others and follow the rules” and that’s fair enough…but you can say exacted the same of a flight attendant. Being rude, showing absolutely no respect to anyone and making up rules are consistent traits of the bad FAs so can we agree that they’re not doing their jobs properly?

  9. Wow! You Flight attendants are just a bunch of nasty stormtroopers. After reading the comments, it just proves the authors point. Some of you are literally shooting yourself in the foot and not engaging in an interesting intelligent debate.

  10. ‘a member of the flight crew reminds us that flight attendants are there “primarily for [our] safety”.’

    Actually, I would say the primary reason there are flight attendants is for passenger safety. I agree that safety is not their primary role, but if airlines were able to fly without any FAs at all, I am sure some airlines would.

  11. Comments more revealing than the article.

    Assertion that many flight attendants of today disavow their service role and insist are merely there for safety appeared to be a view tinted by poor individual experience but plethora of responses from irate FAs insisting just that… Breathtaking.

    In my experience, the ratio of bad apples depends on the culture allowed by various airlines. QR almost always excellent, BA can be occasionally superlative but not infrequently cold and aloof, SA usually warm without being over familiar (albeit (very rarely) somewhat imperious older FAs), EK good in the past but in decline, VS strangely variable but worth trying… The above example in J in the main but, as the reputation of Southwest in the US demonstrates, it can be done anywhere and in any cabin. Courtesy, integrity and competence all that required.

    Call to report poor form should be welcomed by all who value exemplary service in the air. Those who seek a role exclusively as first responders might consider retraining and applying for such.. Indeed, in paramedics, firemen and even police courtesy oft found.

  12. As a flight attendant, I emphasise with your gripe when bad service is received. Unfortunately however you are very mistaken in many of your wild assumptions about our job and what it entails.

    We’re the last line of defence when things go pear shaped. Our primary role is service? Wrong. A good flight attendant is able to provide amazing service, whilst doing their actual duty, which is to constantly be aware of any issue.

    We’re the first to notice an unwell passenger requiring immediate assistance. We’re the first to notice non normals with the aircraft. We’re the last to defend you when someone sets out to send your aircraft into the ground.

    We are there for your safety first and foremost. That is it. Nada. If a flight attendant cannot also execute a high level of service, perhaps they are not fit for the role. That’s the direction and message you should perhaps be sending.

    Not to niggle, but side note: we push 200kg trolleys at elevated angles, work in confined spaces lifting heavy trays. Bend over hundreds of time in a single duty. It’s taxing on ones back and general health. So your bag, you pack it – you stack it. Obviously we’ll assist but it should not be expected.

    • “We are there for your safety first and foremost. That is it. Nada. If a flight attendant cannot also execute a high level of service, perhaps they are not fit for the role.”

      Thank you for being the first one to say this here.

      I have absolutely no doubt that you do a sterling job and that’s why you probably fit into the group of consistently good flight attendants I mention.

      For the record I never expect any help with my bags neither does anyone who travels with me – if you can’t lift it yo shouldn’t have packed it.

  13. You realize the ever-changing attitudes of flight attendants come back to two things:
    (1) Airline business decisions (seat pitch/width, microscopic 737max lavs, bag fees, separating families in seating, basic economy fares, elimination of IFE, mass overbooking, boarding priority, D-0 gate policies and every possible opportunity to nickel and dime the customer).
    (2) The availability of alcoholic beverages both on board flights and especially at the airports.

    What the airlines fail to realize is that they have created this “bad passenger” culture with all of the policy changes they have done in order to cut corners. While some policies help on-time performance, most are unfocused and focus solely on the airline’s bottom line.

    I do feel that the bag fee is one of the worst things the airlines has done, not because of the fee, but because of the fact that now the bins are becoming more coveted to the point of where pax merely fight to the death to defend their space. On a recent transpacific AA flight which involved 3-segments each way, I saw the difference. The regional aircraft, where they take your bag at the valet and return it at the gate was very orderly. So was the transpacific flight (which does not have bag fees). The mainline domestic leg though, was a complete and udder zoo.

    The other big thing that can be done to reduce the chances of passengers going postal is to eliminate all airport bars. Airlines emphasize that passengers come very early for their flights and that is understandable. But on those flights where people arrive early and TSA is having a good day, there’s not much to do in the sterile area than sit at the bar. Those drinks add up, especially add more drinking and more stress due to a delay (weather or otherwise). Then once they get on the plane, they demand more booze. Unlike being on the ground, if a FA wants to cut off an intoxicated pax, there’s no airport police to back them up.

    The right thing to do is once a passenger is inside a sterile area, no alcohol consumption, period.

    • I don’t disagree with most of what you’ve written but while dealing with bad passengers is definitely something that needs to be taken care of why are we back on that topic? Why are so many people attempting to excuse poor FA behaviour to perfectly polite passengers by bringing up how bad other passengers are?

  14. Wow! What a yawnfest of utter shite.

    PS: Learn how to format your sentences correctly so they don’t all form paragraphs. It’s hard enough to read the dirge you’ve scripted.

    • So saying that people who are bad at their job is “utter shite” is it? Any chance you’re writing in self-defence?

  15. Cogratulations on writing a blog entry that isn’t political but may go viral.

    I see your point…but I see a bigger point.
    Let’s not mince words…the entire air transportation system is unpleasant and dysfunctional. Yet this is a system that business and leisure travelers DEMAND.

    Median airfares are below 30 year trends when adjusted for inflation. Frequent flyers (FF)demand frequency between A & B: some of those off-peak flights are operated by smaller planes operated by regional partners. The plane may be painted in XYZ colors but are flown by completely separate entities. This is a recipe for gross product inconsistency.
    The FF, understandably, wants a place to use the myriad of loyalty miles. Airlines have responded by expanding ‘business class’ cabins to accommodate. Airlines are publicly traded companies and are accountable to shareholders and creditors. The financial trade-off for more mileage upgrades is a less exclusive product. Even with a high status the chances of ‘snagging an upgrade’ on a 7am weekday flight from LGA to ORD is limited to uber-high Plutonium Super Elites.
    Finally there is the security component that just plain sucks. No way around it and it adds a stress component that tops off the pyramid of misery.

    From the flight attendant point of view I can assure you the job isn’t what it was 16 years ago…or even 6 years ago. Those publicly traded entities have learned how to monetize everything from aisle seats to bottled water. The addition of those uncomfortable F & Y seats come at the cost of crew workspace. Imagine taking care of 160 people with 2 feet of counter space. Oh….and let’s put a lavatory in the middle of it.

    So here we have: an inconsistent product, customers who have been nicked and dimed after spending 50 minutes in a hot & stuffy TSA queue to sit down on seats that are as comfortable as a public transit bus to be served by a crew in the 10th hour of their duty day who can’t begin their service duties until the line for the bathroom clears.

    My point is that inappropriate behavior is inappropriate behavior, it happens, and there is no glossing over that. But please consider that the crew is a symptom and not the problem.

    • I genuinely hope that it doesn’t go viral. Most written pieces that go viral are controversial and if the idea of sacking people who are bad at their job is somehow controversial then we’re all in a lot of trouble.

      I’m happy to consider that the crew is a symptom and there will always be times where an individual is just having a bad day (it happens to us all) but some individuals have bad day after bad day after bad day and they’re the ones who shouldn’t be tolerated – they’re not cut out to be flight attendants because they can’t handle what the job throws up at them.

      Even the very bed flight attendants will snap (it’s natural) but they’re not the ones at risk under what I suggested and they’re certainly not the target of this post. There’s a section of the flight attendant pool who don’t have the personality to offer the service required but, for some reason, suggesting they’re moved on is viewed by some as totally unacceptable. Why?

      The term “entitled” is often bandied about to describe passengers and, no doubt, there are a lot of passengers for whom that term is apt….but there really isn’t a better example of “entitlement” than a profession where meritocracy has no role and where people don’t think that these who are bad at their job should be sacked.

  16. So, I thought long and hard if I wanted to reply because….well, frankly I’m not sure it will make any difference in altering your opinion. Finally I decided to do so, but in a bit of a different manner than some of the others who have:

    I’ll start by being 100% honest. I am a flight attendant. I have been for 2 years. Prior to this I worked as a gate agent for a different airline and also worked in the FIS area of the airport (federal inspection station) assisting TSA and Customs Agents with International travelers. I spent much of my life *not* being a FA and not understanding all of the ins & outs of the job. In an effort to offer you a different perspective on each of the things you detailed I offer you this:

    Let’s say there is an police officer that works in the modern day equivalent of Mayberry and (s)he spends their days patrolling the town and occasionally breaking up a scuffle or two here or there amongst residents. That doesn’t change the essence of his job to that of “patroller”. He’s an officer – he protects and serves. This is what a flight attendant does. With respect – you’ve minimized our protective duties. The entire time we are boarding we watch each and every passenger for potential problems (and, to be honest, potential assistants should disaster befall us). There are a multitude of things we are being alert for, part of which is the protection of the flight deck which is open and exposed throughout this time. We ensure that medical & safety equipment is available and in working order on every single leg of every single flight; we arm the doors to ensure the aircraft is ready for flight. We demonstrate the use of safety equipment to those passenger who are interested in listening. Do we spend some of our time in the air serving drinks & collecting trash…..absolutely (this is somewhat like the ‘serve’ in “serve & protect”) but that time is also used to assess the cabin (again for numerous things that I won’t get into here because they truly ARE in fact safety related things and detailing some would be unconscionable) At any moment if any kind of medical emergency were to happen, from air sickness right thru myocardial infarction, we are trained and ready to respond. Also during this time we are trained and ready to respond to dangerous or erratic behavior that passengers might exhibit toward one another, after all people do tend to sometimes have issues with aggression when in large contained groups due to our natural inherent differences.
    Honestly, almost everything we do has some type of safety related reasoning — a personal example: ever since I was little I never understood why FA were so insistent that I “push my bag forward under the seat in front”, it seemed silly and senseless to me (but I always did it because what’s the use in arguing). Now I know why – it’s to keep that floor space clear in case the aircraft does only have 90 seconds to evacuate – the bags etc. would be tripping hazards. And I can tell you this – literally 50 – 60% of the time I ask passengers to do so I am met with either stink eye, arguments or exasperation. I usually try to explain why, but honestly I normally just get an eye-roll.
    There are literally myriad other examples I could give but theres no point belaboring it.
    Think of it like this, it’s the same as when a parent drops their child off at daycare – yes they want someone to play with them and have fun with them throughout the day but most importantly they want that person to know what to do to protect their little one against any eventuality. I would think the most successful daycare provider would hope to spend their entire career caring for their charges and never ever needing to use their skills and knowledge to save someone from anything disastrous ….. such as it is for FAs.
    I say all this to you respectfully and without trying to be derogatory or casting aspersions – I think that one struggles to understand any career or position until one is actually trained in it. There is really no way that you would know that helping passengers with their bags is no where in our job description and is actually frowned upon by our employers. If we injure ourselves helping a passenger in this manner it is not considered an OJI and we are *not* eligible for benefits, we are simply out of a job. I can’t imagine you would willing do something on a daily basis that would potentially render you unable to do your job at all. That point is an issue with the airlines themselves – whose take on the subject is that every individual should have personal responsibility to only travel with whatever amount of items they can safely and personally handle (or to bring someone to assist them if the amount of items they wish to carry exceeds such).

    Everything else you mentioned is just poor customer service and yes, it’s everywhere. Ask anyone ‘of a certain age’ if there has been a decline in ALL service industries/area from decades past and 99.9% will reply affirmatively. This blog could literally be written about bartenders, hairdressers, police, postal workers, customer service reps, cashiers, the list is infinite. Instead of focusing on one small sub-section of one industry maybe we should all make an effort to be kinder to one another in every aspect of life……

    • Thank you for such a well considered comment – very well put and definitely food for thought.

      My primary gripe has always been that bad flight attendants use the cover of the “primarily for your safely” line to exude poor passenger service, poor passenger experiences, rudeness and occasionally power-trips.

      I fully agree that poor customer service is found everywhere and while this blog could have been directed at any number of professions there aren’t many of those professions who wield as much power over the public as flight attendants. I’m also struggling to think of too many other examples of professions where the bad apples are protected quite so much.

      Just take a look at some of the responses to this post. Almost none of them address any of the issues with bad flight attendants, most attempt to suggest that I’m saying I’d like all flight attendants sacked, a worrying number display an inability to read (or choose not to read what has been written), quite a few commenters simply make things up to suit their agenda and not one has suggested that maybe, just maybe, there are bad apples in the FA pool that have been getting away with far too much for far too long and who deserve to be moved on.

      I happily acknowledge in the post that there are a lot of excellent flight attendants out there so why is it so hard for the flight attendants who are commenting to admit that there are some truly bad ones who do the profession no service at all and who need weeding out?

  17. Well you are certainly special aren’t you. you blog , oh my It’s an important thing to do , putting your one sided self obsessed opinion out to the public so some people might admire you… I would be interested to hear the other side of the story, how you treat the staff and other passengers. Of Course you SAID you are such a wonderful person, but who here can actually attest to that? You certainly don’t know the job, or what the staff has to put up with on a daily basis, or what they might be going through personally.. but all you want is one thing, your ass kissed from take off to landing. You say they have developed an attitude of they are never wrong.. I guess the customer is always right then? because it’s YOU, huh? Oh yes a dozen or so people bitch about bad service , out of the 2.5 million served EVERY DAY. Sorry but I see you as nothing more than a self entitled whiner. blog on , you aren’t that interesting.

    • Hard to take you seriously when you choose to speculate on my personality rather than engaging in a debate on the points raised. The fact that you feel the need to put up straw-man arguments to cover up for the the fact that you don’t appear to know how to make a real argument in the first place does you no favours either….but thanks for commenting nonetheless.

      P.s It’s amusing that you think only “a dozen or so people bitch about bad service, out of the 2.5 million served EVERY DAY” – I do enjoy comments from the blinkered and delusional, they’re always guaranteed to make me laugh.

  18. Ziggy, as you know there is a time and place for everything, and I think your blog is not the right place for comments such as these. All airlines have available a customer relations department who deal with complaints and problems of various kinds. Each FA has a supervisor who deals with complaints and compliments of each individual under their supervision. That’s where you should direct your comments.
    Personally I worked as an FA for over thirty years and encountered many incidents, too many to mention here, which included full evacuations on two occasions and rude passengers on many more. Thankfully the majority of my passengers were polite, thankful and grateful.
    There are two incidents I feel you might be interested in.
    1, Levaing JFK on Concorde, my stewardess standing next to me POLITELY said to the boarding passenger, ” I’m sorry sir, that oversize bag will have to be put in the hold” to which he replied, “Do what you like with it, honey, stick it up your anus for all I care”, Even more POLITELY she replied, “I would love to oblige, sir but I have four other passengers bags up there already”.
    2, In similar circumstances, it was necessary for me to request a passenger to refrain from smoking on board. His reaction was to say,” You can kiss my ass”. Fortunately the passenger seated behind him spoke up and said, “In that case Mac the guy is gonna have to kiss you all over, because your’e all ass”.
    Happy flying Ziggy , hope you encounter the type of FA you deserve.

    • Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time to comment (and in such reasonable manner).

      I have absolutely no doubt that there are incredibly rude, obnoxious and all-around abhorrent passengers that flight attendants have to deal with – no one should have to put up with what you’re describing and I’m not for one moment suggesting it should be tolerated (it definitely shouldn’t) but that’s not the point here.

      What you’re describing is terrible behaviour by passengers which is something that’s completely separate from what I’m discussing (and which I’ve already indicated I’m happy to post if given the information I would need or if an FA wants to write a post for TFM).

      You say that airlines have customer relations departments who deal with complaints and problems and those are the exact departments I’m encouraging people to report bad flight attendants to.

      If someone reports a perfectly good flight attendant because that someone is an entitled and obnoxious passenger the FA isn’t going to get in any trouble whatsoever – it will be clear from the FA’s record that this is an isolated report and one which carries no merit whatsoever.

      If, on the other hand, it turns out that it’s the FA that’s the obnoxious one then this needs to be recorded so that if it’s a repeating pattern that FA can be dealt with (removed) – the only way this will happen is if passengers report instances of bad behaviour each and every time they see it and not sit back and accept rudeness and terrible service as a fact of life.

      The fact is that I have nothing but admiration for the good/great FAs out there as it’s a job I probably couldn’t do as well as they do….but a prepubescent child could do a better job that some of the truly terrible FAs out there and they’re the one’s I’m taking aim at here.

      As I said to an earlier commenter, if you want to write a piece about your experiences with bad passengers I’ll more than happily post it on the blog but it won’t change the fact that, as much as we should be doing to stop bad passenger behaviour, we should be doing just as much to stop terrible FA behaviour and service too.

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