Sticker Says: Skies Unfriendly
…or so the article says. You know I love to go through Google News with a fine tooth “flight attendant” comb looking for stories which call out flight attendants or offer insight into our jobs that are conveying incorrect information. The job has a negative stigma attached to it and folks spewing information which hasn’t been properly fact checked kind of annoys me.
With that said, here’s a photo I’d like you to look at. This photo sparked a news story in Houston, TX:
According to an article in CultureMap Houston, you’re looking at a flight attendant’s bag on an United Airlines flight from Phoenix to Houston. The sticker on the bottom of the bag is supposed to be a sign that today’s skies are unfriendly.
Personally, I’m not convinced this is a flight attendants bag. A few of the comments on the original article’s website states that United has standard issue bags for both pilots and flight attendants, this is true for many airlines. At my current airline, we all have the same one – and at my previous airlines we had different bags than our Pilot colleagues, but they all had to be purchased through the company. What you’re looking at is a Pilot’s bag. Believe it or not we all DO work together. Many times I’ve briefed my pilots on a situation that myself or my cabin crew have handled and they repeated say “I don’t know how you do this job, I could never do it. I couldn’t handle these people.” Pilots do respect the job that flight attendants do, and this sticker is showing support of that.
Now, yes, we are on board to provide a service. However, whether you want to believe it or not, our primary purpose is your safety. That’s why we are there. The FAA doesn’t mandate that we’re on board to serve a coke, they mandate that theres 1 flight attendant for every 50 passengers so that theres someone to open the doors and get everyone off of the aircraft as quickly and safely as possible. As the airline industry progresses through time the “service” aspect started strong started to fade away and is slowly making a come back. After 9/11 what’s the first thing airlines cut to save money? Service. Why? It’s not a requirement that it’s offered. Post 9/11 saw the birth of buy on board and a-la-carte pricing for extras such as checked bags, drinks, snacks and movies. If all of that were free, everyone would be happier. Passengers would be because they wouldn’t feel nickel and dimed and flight attendants wouldn’t have to deny someone food because they only have cash and no credit. However, airline service will never be what the “baby boomers” remember it to be when they were younger. It won’t ever be that way again.
With the recent spike in ticket prices thanks to the once again rising cost of gas, more airline passengers are expecting more for their money. They think if the flight is delayed, they deserve something free and that’s not how it works. Some passengers also think that complaining to the flight attendants might fix a problem. And, unless it’s a seating issue, there isn’t anything we can do.
As a seven year flight attendant who loves my job, I truly do, loves the company I fly for, and really tries to make my passengers as comfortable as I can, I still can relate to that sticker. There are those few passengers that push all of the wrong buttons and demand answers and a fix on the spot. Unless the airline has given the flight attendant power to offer a refund, credits, or whatever else — nothing will make that person happy on board and that sentiment ”we’re here to save your ass, not kiss it” is called into play.
Now, a true test of a flight attendant’s customer service skills, is how they tell you that they’re not on board to kiss your ass, without actually saying it. There are always multiple ways of saying something that still conveys the same message but may lessen the force in which the message was delivered.
“I’m so sorry that we were delayed 3 hours for a mechanical issue. I know that you’re seeking a credit toward a future flight but unfortunately I’m not empowered to issue those. Once we land feel free to contact customer service or speak to an agent who may be able to help.” That’s customer service.