Airline: Crew Not Here To Serve
You hear a lot of flight attendant’s say it in their announcements: “We’re primarily here for your safety,” and while that may be true, the employing airline usually has “service” requirements of us as well. Whether its just one beverage service, a drink and food service, or maybe “request only” for shorter flights, those are duties that go along with our job all while maintaining a safe and secure atmosphere for everyone on board. We’re multitasking, at all times.
A lot of people get confused with what our purpose is. The media makes it seem that we’re there to bend over backwards for any request anyone has. If they had it their way, we’d have a fully stocked kitchen and be trained culinary professionals ready to whip up whatever you were in the mood for. When in fact we’re not even certified food handlers. Then there’s the overhead bin aspect, which is gaining so much attention since airline started charging for checked bags. Passengers are overstuffing these carry-ons to avoid the $20 fee, bringing them on the plane and then expecting us to put them in the overheads for them because “it’s so heavy.” I’m sorry, but if you can’t lift it, why should I? You don’t want to hurt yourself, but it’s okay for me to? Why, because I’m working? Truth be told, we’re not paid for boarding. And, most airlines don’t require us to lift your luggage, we’re there to “assist.” That means: help you find a spot for it, once you make the initial lift off the ground – then we can help you hoist it in and position it, and of course we’ll lift it for elderly passengers or persons with disabilities.
With that said, an airline in Japan recognizes that and has made it part of their model. Time Magazine is reporting that Skymark Airlines’ guidelines is that first and foremost, the crew’s job is to address safety issues. Tending to the needs of passengers is above and beyond the call of duty. It’s a distraction, especially if one has to do so in a cordial manner. So passengers shouldn’t expect help with bags and if they have complaints or issues on board during the boarding process, the crew doesn’t have to be nice to you and you’ll be asked to leave.
“We will not accept any complaints made on-board. In case a passenger does not understand that, we will ask the person to leave so that we can take off as scheduled. If passengers have complaints, we urge them to contact our customer service centre, the National Consumer Affairs Center or other related agencies.”
Now, this airline might be taking things a little bit too far, allowing their staff to be mean to paying customers is a bit out of the ordinary. But, this raises an interesting scenario: You do know that when you book an airline ticket, your agreeing to a contract, right?
Every airline has a contract of carriage which outlines the rules and regulations (including fees) you agree to pay for your travel. Let’s say, for example, a passenger is boarding and once onboard realizes that they’re in a middle seat. They complain to the flight attendant that it’s not the seat they selected and want to be moved. The flight attendant says that there isn’t any other seats available but this passenger is still unhappy and complaining to the crew. Should this passenger be removed if they are insistent to not sit in their middle seat? Are they being a distraction?
In most airlines’ contract of carriage it’s explicitly noted that selecting a seat does not guarantee that you will be able to sit in that seat, it’s merely your “preference.” So, if the airline needs to move you to accommodate a family needing to sit together, they will. Should the flight crew have to deal with this passenger whose upset because her seat was changed? No, they shouldn’t. This passenger should have known that her seat was a preference, because she agreed to a contract. It’s her fault she didn’t read it.
And there’s the difference between Skymark and United States airlines. Skymark would say “get off the plane and complain” and here, the flight attendants would apologize for the inconvenience, state that they can take any open seat (if there was one) and listen to the customer complain about the airline, how they’d never fly on them again, and how not sitting in a window has ruined their vacation and demand their name, employee number, and a contact number for customer relations all while taking a 10 minute delay because one person was unhappy.
Should passengers be expected to read the contract of carriage and be held to its contents? Would you be upset if flight attendants cited the CoC in answering your complaints onboard?