As we know, recently a major storm- Winter Storm Kenan- hit the northeast big time. He didn’t just drop off some flurries, he dropped a whole boatload of snowfall, so much so that it looked like The Big Friendly Giant took his tube of white-out and painted over the east coast. Kenan brought heavy snow (more than 24 inches to some cities), strong winds, and even some flooding causing roads and railways to be closed and, oh yeah, majorly affected Air Travel!
Most airlines have curtains separating the galley from the rest of the cabin. Usually you can’t see the crew behind the curtains. At the airline my sister and I currently work for, we don’t have curtains, but the galleys are still our little space of security on the aircraft, our office. With a huge winter storm causing disruptions, cancellations, angry passengers, and utter chaos at the airports, the galley becomes our much-needed “sanctuary”.
I thought this then would be a good time to write a post from the perspective on the other side of the “curtain”- your flight attendants, the crews working the flights. Too often the news only shows passengers stranded at an airport or stuck on the tarmac for hours, failing to report on flight attendants and gate agents taking the brunt of their negative attitudes, being unable to provide any answers beyond what the company provides.
The media doesn’t think to ask US what we deal with. So, let’s talk about the crews working over 16 hour duty days – sometimes being up for more than 24 hours, packing for one planned destination but being sent to another. Flight cancellations can leave us stranded at airports or on planes, unable to get a hold of our scheduling teams, leaving us much like you for hours with no answers. Disruptions in our schedule can send us to hotels that don’t have a confirmed reservation for us, or worse yet, have no hotel set up leaving us to spend the night on the plane while scheduling just says, “I’m working on it.”
Sometimes no transportation to the hotel has been set up or we arrive too late and have to find our own with already minimum rest. Note: our rest doesn’t start at the hotel; it starts the minute those plane doors open at the gate. We get thrown on one flight to the next with little rest in-between to get you and your loved ones where you need to go… and much of it without pay. We don’t get paid for time spent boarding or deplaning. So when delays and cancellations leave passengers sitting and complaining about wasted time in the airport, we’re unhappy too, because for us it is wasted time AND no pay.
Like our passengers, we have lives outside of work. We get up. We go to the gym. We do yoga. We go for a walk. We watch shows. We have hobbies. We spend time with our friends, significant others, our pets, and our families. We have plans, things we were expecting to get to, family and friends to see, appointments made, sometimes months in advance that we end up having to cancel. We have to bail on the birthday parties, miss the funerals, the weddings, the births of our nieces and nephews, but people forget when their travel plans are disrupted, so are ours.
To many, we are just your flight attendant, the person who SHOULD know all the answers when a volcano of a winter storm erupts, and if we don’t, then all humanity can go out the window. Cue the lava of rude, nasty comments, the anger directed towards you, the threats, the yelling in your face, cursing at you, as if you’re the one who phoned Mother Nature and during your girl talk both decided it would be such a fun prank to call your boy Kenan and cancel thousands of flights this weekend.
Me: “Wouldn’t it be a blast?!”
Mother Nature: “You mean a blast of winter air?” (squealing with laughter) “Let me call up Kenan.”
Kenan: “Sounds like a party. I’m in. Let’s do this sh*t!”
NO! We’d rather have Kenan hold his sh*t together. We also have places we’d rather be than stuck on a plane with you and 50-199 others (love ya’ll, well, most of you). But we aren’t your punching bags. We aren’t your scapegoats. We are just another human being who happens to be wearing our uniform the moment your flight plans go haywire.
So, next time you step onto the plane, I encourage you to really look up at the person, not just at the hand closed around your diet coke or giving you a pack of pretzels, and see there’s a real person there, just like you. We’re all human, just like you. We all have feelings, just like you. We all go through the same delays, same cancellations, same weather of storms (both literally and figuratively), just like you. As this recent storm passes and the snow starts to melt, if you’re one of those disgruntled people who blames the crews, I hope the ice melts in your heart and you see a little more clearly what we deal with before you go bashing our crews and our airline. We may be behind the curtains sometimes, but we see it all. Now, do you see us?
Thank you to the passengers who are always so kind and appreciative of us. It truly never goes unnoticed. You are also a reason why we do what we do!
February 1, 2022