Monday, May 25, 2009

Flight Attendent Nazi

I arrived home safely last Saturday afternoon. Thank you all very much for your well wishes.

I was amazed on my flight out of here May 14. On the leg from Cancun to Memphis there were 17, count 'em, 17 passengers on the plane. It was weird and depressing and really drove home to me what a drastic effect the H1N1 scare had had on tourism here.

The flight back from Memphis to Cancun was an entirely different matter. The plane was packed. Not an empty seat to be found! I was so happy to see that. Most of them, from pieces of overheard conversations I picked up, were headed for the Mayan Riveria.

But the leg from Grand Rapids, Mi, to Memphis was like no other that I ever had. Thanks to the solitary female flight attendant we had. It was a small plane, two seats on each side of the row, maybe 25 rows. The fun started even before we took off.

Ms. FA got on the loudspeaker at the front of the plane and started her message to the passengers. We've all heard it a hundred times before, put up your tray, how to fasten your seat belt speech. I was jolted out of my thoughts when I heard this:

PEOPLE! You need to stop what you are doing and direct your attention to ME! This information could save your lives and I am not going to stand up here and waste my breath on you if you don't care! Once again, direct you attention to ME!

Let me tell you, heads popped up and focused on her right smart quick! She finished the standard safety instructions and then started in on stowing overhead and under your seat storage. She even told us that anything under the seats HAD to be under our seats, even if the one next to us what empty. She added that we chose to bring that onto the plane and it should be under our care and control. She did not want to see any backpacks or anything else on the floor unless it was directly in front of us. I saw a lot of people bending over to retrieve their stuff at that point! Her final point, and she was quite serious about it, was that nothing was to be stored in the back pocket in front of you during take off or landing. Nothing!

As she was making her final check before take off, waling down the aisle and checking everybody, it was her lucky day! She found two offenders to berate!

"SIR," she wailed at one poor guy, "I distinctly told you to shut off all electronic devices at this time. Were you not listening while I was speaking? Were you just not paying attention? Now I have to repeat it all over again just for you? No Sir, I am not going to do that. By not listening to me you have now put your life, my life and all of these passengers lives in potential danger. Now shut that off and put it away before it becomes the property of this airline." He shut it off.

The second person was in violation of the seat pocket rule. Again with the

"SIR!, you have an unauthorized item in your seat pocket. Please remove it at once and stow it in your luggage during take off." He removed his offending paperback book from the seat pocket and she moved on. I'm sure she was quite disappointed that the rest of us had quickly removed our books from that pocket!

Her final piece of efficiency came during the flight. She was doing her drinks and peanut run and had reached some point around row 20. Some poor woman in row 17 decided to get up, since the seat belt light was off, and move to the front of the plane. Ms. FA, with eagle eyes in the back of her head, spotted her. She whipped around from her cart and we heard

"Miss!, where do you think you are going?"

Our offending passenger turned and looked like a deer caught in headlights. She meekly, barely audibly responded in a harsh whisper


"If you had also been paying attention as I asked to my on board instructions, you would know that there is no bathroom for passengers in the front of the plane. The only bathroom on this aircraft is located in the rear."

"Now please take your seat and wait until I have finished my service run and you will be able to get past me to use the bathroom. You're an adult. You can do that."

Where upon the highly embarrassed passenger returned to her seat.

I think Ms. FA overstepped her authority and certainly did not exhibit very good people skills. What do you think?


Calypso said...

Conduct un-befitting I would say. There are some jobs that come off better than others when you are having a bad day ;-)

Sue said...

Good grief! Hard to tell, without being there, if she was trying to be amusing, but it doesn't sound like it, it sounds like a power-trip and her thinking that all people are fools. I can relate to passengers not paying attention to the safety announcement, and I have had attendants ask us specifically to just give them a few minutes of our time. But this attendant went beyond that with the rest of the things she did. I wish they would be consistent, people do not know what to expect any more. This goes for security too - do we remove our shoes or not? All depends. Anyway, it made a good story, I was chuckling as well as wincing.

Glad you're back home and again, so sorry you were not able to see your mom one last time.

Christine said...

Not a great experience--but what a great story!

threecollie said...

She should be fired.
Plain and simple.

Kathy said...

YEah, she sounds Nazi-ish. Especially belittling the bathroom passenger.

((((hugs)))) many hugs, Wayne. It has been a wrenching trip for you, I imagine and I hope you have landed very softly.

Jackie said...

I think an email to the airlines customer service department needs to be written buy several of the berrated passengers. I know I would send one off to them.

Life's a Beach! said...

Wayne, I think I'd be writing a letter to the airline about her. She doesn't want to inform -- she wants to berate! Great customer service! Was it Northwest Airlines? There's no need to demean people. Flight attendants are supposed to be polite.

Glad you're back home!

Steve Cotton said...

I always try to put myself in the other person's shoes when events like this arise. Being a flight attendant has to be one of the world's most thankless jobs. And it is becoming one of the most insecure jobs as airlines cut back on services. In this instance, the flight attendant had the choice of dealing with her frustrations as a professional or an authoritarian. She chose badly. We, on the other hand, can choose to react with either grace or anger. I suggest grace. Our souls are in enough turmoil without increasing the tension level to code red.

It is good to have you back south, my friend. Thanks for the post. We will need to arrange getting together in the near future.

Nancy said...

You also don't know what her boss might have laid on could be that they were given strict instructions about the seat pocket, etc.

I have read that if a person isn't seated during takeoff or landing or if someone not capable is in the exit row that the FA is held responsible.

I always assume I'll have an awful flight, so if it happens, ni modo. If I have a good one, that is a treat.

Glad you're home.

Paul said...

What a tale, Wayne. Susan and I are thinking of you in the loss of your mother. Welcome home.

Robert said...

you have to watch out for those flight attendant gang members


Anonymous said...

had i been the bathroom passenger, i would not have taken my seat nor waited till the end of her rounds. adult or not, when you have to go, you have to go.

so sorry to hear about your mom wayne. i've lost both my parents so i know what it's like. but having it happen so suddenly must have been quite a shock. you are in my thoughts and prayers.


Brenda said...

Glad you are home safe and sound. Now you can relax.
That attendant, whew what can you say. For this treatment you pay good $$, crazy what the airlines get away with these days.

Anonymous said...

I think YIKES!!! She should definitely be reported for her attitude and actions...

However, I DID like the part about her jumping all over the guy with the electronics. I have seen MANY (guys, ALWAYS!) on their phone as we are taxiing for take-off and other times when electronic devices are supposed to be off. That CAN put everyone in danger! I bet HE won't do that again! ;-)


American Mommy in Mexico said...

It is very good to see your sense of humor again. Welcome back.

I tend to agree with Steve's approach.

You can only really control your actions and reactions.

Mary said...

All I have to say is "wow"! Nothing liked being treated as a child. I hope there is some rational explanation and that is not how she lives her life. Either way you should count yourself lucky she didn't hand out detentions.

Anonymous said...

She did the RIGHT and Correct thing. Passengers are on an airplane, not in their car. Too many people put themselves and others at risk. We do not and connot know how many people have died because of other peoples reckless behavior in an airplane event. I say good for her, this behavior needs to be expanded.

KfromMichigan said...

Wow .. I'd write a letter to the airline. She can give instructions in a kind voice! Probably had a fight with her husband or boyfriend before the flight.

Anonymous said...

She might need work on her "seat side manner" but she had every right to speak out. You didn't say how full the plane was, Wayne. How would you feel knowing you were responsible for 50 lives of people who can't even give you 6 minutes of undivided attention? You think the woman who didn't know where the bathroom was, knew where the exits were?
Maybe KfromMichigan is right, maybe she had a fight with her SO before the flight ..... Or maybe she had friends that died in the recent commuter jet crash, and one more flight of 50 plus people who can't step out of themselves for 6 minutes put her over the edge. Yes, I'm the frequent flyer ( ok not so much any more) who pulls the plastic card from my seat pocket and follows along every time! I also, like the flight attendants, pay attention to who isn't paying attention in my immediate area. I quickly can asses who will be helpful or need help should an emergency arise, and I'm not the one trained to do so.

I'm glad your home safe Wayne, your in my thoughts as you ride your waves off loss. Mimi

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think it is about time that the flight attendants really get the passengers' attention....your story cracked me up.

Linda Dorton said...

I think she is suffering from serious flight attendant burnout and it is time for a different line of work. I can understand her trying to do her job, but it was a passenger plane, not a military mission. No one deserves to be spoken down to like a child. (Were the passengers a bunch of rowdy manic idiots? Your description didn't hit me that way.)

Anyhow, I tink this is a great Saturday Night Live script!