Over the last two days, I’ve been reading about the Jet Blue flight attendant who lost his cool, shouted profanities over an intercom and made his grand exit from an emergency chute after he got into an altercation with a fellow passenger. As someone who has traveled a lot these past few years, I have something I want to get off my chest. Flight attendants on certain airlines can be downright rude.
As passengers, we have gone from being able to check our bags on a plane in a civilized fashion to having to pay $25 or more for those same bags to be stowed underneath and then carted off to baggage claim — which incidentally is a hassle and a half. And for those of us who decide to bring a mini suitcase, laptop bag and a purse, we are accosted by what seems like the gestapo because we didn’t shove our six-inch handbag into our computer case.
Recently, I had the misfortune of being stopped at the gate by a flight attendant who requested I check my bag under the plane because they were over booked (I won’t even get into the story about the rude desk clerk who kept shooing away standby passengers who were hoping to land a seat). And so, I obliged even though I noticed a woman in the seat in front of me shoving her oversized duffle into the overhead compartment while she proceeded to move all the other bags around just so that hers would fit. The flight attendants didn’t utter a word as she stood shifting bags and laptop cases in different overhead compartments. When it was time to leave the plane, she was the first person to pop up and yank her bag out of the bin. And the rest of us had to figure out where she had put our bags.
On another occasion, we boarded a Virgin America flight along with a couple who brought their skittish puppy on board and the pup proceeded to poop mid-flight. The flight attendants refused to scoop the poop (I completely sided with them on that one) and aisle 22 stunk to high heaven. Meanwhile, I was sitting next to one of the dog’s owners and I instantly flipped into mom mode and demanded my seatmate hit the bathroom for paper towels, water and soap.
One consistent observation I’ve made in my flights aboard Jet Blue, Air Trans and Virgin America is that newer airlines oftentimes employ flight attendants who are just plain rude. In fact, while American Airlines probably has the oldest planes in the fleet, their flight attendants are among the nicest. Perhaps that’s because they are seasoned veterans who have made it their life’s work to travel across the country every day and treat passengers with respect.
Have you ever been to a restaurant where the service was beyond awful and the waiter was completely rude? Now what about that watering hole or diner you go back to time and time again because you adore the waitress who is friendly and loves her job? (Our favorite waitress is named Tina, incidentally).
Steven Slater, he of the Jet Blue story, obviously hated his job and through his grand departure, he made his mark and will most likely land a reality show gig. However, make no mistake — Steven Slater is no folk hero. Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his plane safely in the Hudson River, is a true hero. And every flight attendant who I’ve met who were friendly, helpful and cheery even when we were experiencing awful turbulence and putrid puppy poop, are heroes in my book too.
So next time you’re contemplating a flight, bear in mind that the staff on American Airlines are top notch and while those newer planes may have tons of technological bells and whistles, the service sometimes falls a bit short.
Being aboard a plane brings out the best and worst in people. We get frustrated by insensitive passengers, screaming babies, kids who kick the seat in front of them and those annoying people who recline their chair into your knees while the person behind you keeps opening and closing their tray table. But there’s also the friendly souls who help you put your bag overhead or retrieve it when you can’t reach it, or engage in conversation that helps take your mind off really bad turbulence.
There are two sides to every flight experience and as someone who has witnessed rude behavior from passengers and flight attendants, all I can say is if you hate your job — then don’t fly. And if you can’t be nice to the people serving you on a plane, then you need a lesson in manners. And if you still can’t find a happy medium, I’ve got the next best solution… take the train. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a conductor I didn’t like.