I remember distinctly dreaming about being a flight attendant. It seemed like the ultimate career full of glamour with unlimited exotic destinations. Years later my dream came true and while it was a great career, to say it lacked the glamour I had dreamed of would be an understatement. I flew for a low-fare air carrier that had no first class. My days consisted mostly of people complaining about various things about the carrier itself, the lack of good food, the small seats, the delays, etc. All of that was annoying, to say the least, but it seemed like a piece of cake to what the flight attendants face today.
It seems like every day there are videos and stories of violence on aircrafts and flight attendants are facing a whole new kind of fear while at work. When people find out I used to be a flight attendant most loved to say the same jokes to me, such as acting out how the flight attendants show where the emergency exits are or asking me to demonstrate how I pour a diet coke.
Almost 20 years later people have the same impression of flight attendants, they are just there to push a cart full of drinks down the aisle or help you put your luggage in the overhead bin. People never seem to realize that flight attendants go through rigorous training to save people’s lives in case the plane has an emergency landing. Believe it or not, being a flight attendant is a tough job one that I still take great pride in today. Now to read all the stories of violence in the air and all the attacks on flight attendants I feel incredibly sad and scared for the flight crews. For instance, a flight attendant on a Southwest Airlines plane lost two teeth after allegedly being punched by a passenger who had “repeatedly ignored standard inflight instructions.”
Being part of the flight crew is stressful, every day you take a tin can crammed full of people into the air knowing that any moment you might be called into duty to save everyone’s lives. But now the crew must not only be prepared for a crash landing but inflight violence and other attacks.
The most frustrating part of this whole thing is the lack of gratefulness, or the sense of entitlement people seem to feel when flying these days. My mom was also a flight attendant around the 1950’s. In those days only the wealthiest got to fly, it was considered a privilege, not a right. Now cheap airfares and competition has created air travel that resembles when you traveled by bus in my youth. Even during my time as a flight attendant, I remember having to constantly remind people that they bought a seat to fly, they do not own the plane.
So, this makes me think is this whole thing the airlines’ fault for creating cheap seats or is it just the people of today. Are we becoming more “entitled” thinking that we are owed something for everything we buy? Do we look at flying to get from place to place fast or do we think it is a place to show our political beliefs.
I think the reality is complicated. The world is wound up tighter than a virgin on her wedding night. Everyone has some cause or political agenda they feel a need to share loudly with everyone. People feel entitled because corporations and politicians made them that way. Airlines spend millions of dollars promoting cheap airfares along with images of happy travelers, while YouTube makes millions showing videos of young travelers seemly effortlessly jaunting across countries. At the same time news, politicians, and groups with social agendas are pushing people to speak up and speak loudly such as the anti-maskers, who feel flying in a plane is the perfect time to demonstrate their beliefs often violently.
Although the FAA are imposing fines of up to $1500.00 and the airlines are placing people on do-not-fly lists it just doesn’t seem like it is helping. I don’t think there is any simple solution to what is happening, and I fear things might get worse before they get better, after all, it feels like we are living in a huge cesspool of human emotions. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, from Jan. 1 through May 24, there were roughly 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, including about 1,900 reports of people contradicting the federal mask mandate, which is still in place.
When things do change, I believe it’s going to take some major intervention in how we as the common people are advertised and what we are encouraged to do.