Service of Dream Jobs that Become Nightmares

February 17th, 2022

Categories: Air Travel, Airlines, Bully, Courtesy, Frustrations, Jobs, Pandemic, Passengers, Quit


Image by Orna Wachman from Pixabay

I once had a dream job that went south so I empathize with flight attendants these days. For me the issue was with management. It’s passengers/customers who are causing trouble in the sky and spoiling a good job with great travel benefits.

Maggie Jones underscores why many flight attendants are quitting in her New York Times article “See (the Worst People in) the World! How defiant Covid-era customers turned a dream job — flight attendant — into a total nightmare.”

She wrote about one attendant who was attacked by a German shepherd service dog whose owner didn’t control him; one threatened to be punched in the face for asking a passenger to put on a mask; and another was mimicked, defied–even threatened–by a team of female athletes who kept removing their masks.

She reported that alcohol accounts for some of the behavior and that it also “reflects a time of receding civility.” Angry passengers refusing to wear masks have tossed used ones at flight attendants; pulled down their pants and threatened a pilot with “don’t touch me;” and one chipped an attendant’s teeth. In addition, the employees don’t feel backed up by their employers: when they report incidents nothing happens. However, yesterday on NBC Nightly News,Tom Costello reported that Delta is trying to establish a no fly list that would bar out-of-control passengers from boarding any flights.

Jones wrote that the F.A.A. didn’t count passenger incidents as there were so few until recently. In 2021 and early 2022 it “reported a stunning 6,300 unruly-passenger incidents — more than 4,500 of them mask-related. And 85 percent of flight attendants said they had dealt with such passengers last year, according to a July 2021 survey by the Association of Flight Attendants-C.W.A., which represents attendants at 17 airlines.”

She observed that frustrated and angry passengers don’t feel that a person they consider to be little more than a cocktail waitress has the authority to force them to wear a mask even though the attendants are following a federal mask mandate.

There’s plenty to love about the job, wrote Jones: “joking with passengers, having conversations with them about the honeymoon they are headed to or the funeral they returned from. Sometimes they pray with passengers or in other ways comfort them when they are in distress. They hold and rock babies to give parents a break. They also build lifelong friendships with other crew members and have jump-seat therapy, as they call it, with flight attendants they’ve just met. And they are proud of their lifesaving skills: They are trained to give CPR, fight fires onboard, help with emergency landings and evacuate planes.”

There’s more: Traveling for free—or almost—in addition to hotel and car rental discounts and on layover, added Jones, they have chums with whom to visit Disney World, Capitol Hill or share a picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries.

But that was then.

Whether due to exhaustion, fears of Covid or rules in destinations such as Tokyo or Seoul, when they land instead of exploring the destination with fellow crew members, many remain locked in their hotel rooms.

Have you observed unruly behavior in planes, or anywhere else, over the mask issue? Has what you thought would be a dream job morphed into a nightmare?

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5 Responses to “Service of Dream Jobs that Become Nightmares”

  1. TC Said:

    DREAM JOBS INDEED. HAS UNRULINESS BECOME A TREND. OR HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF SOME OF US. WONDERING HOW CERTAIN FOLKS JUST NEVER LEARN HOW TO CONTROL THEIR UNRULY EMOTIONS. DOUBTLESS A PERSONALITY DEFECT COMBINED WITH POOR INSIGHT WHICH MEANS LITTLE/NO EFFECT FROM PENALTY/PUNISHMENT. AND SO WE HAVE EXTREMES OF RANDOM SHOOTINGS AND LOOTINGS.

  2. lucrezia Said:

    Dream job? No such thing in my book, some good one w/a nightmare or two along the way.

    A “no tolerance” policy, along with criminal charges, should apply to fractious members of the public, and especially to travelers, whose behavior endangers the safety of others. Attention getting tactics, such as stupid/bawdy looking masks are best ignored since any action could produce an undesirable incident. Tastelessness is unpleasant but not illegal.

    It’s not enough to cite personality defects as the cause for mayhem. They’re built-in traits. It’s just that most of us aren’t programmed to go out and shoot people!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    I can’t answer why the Golden Rule has disappeared down a rabbit hole and people’s tempers flare.

    I haven’t taken a flight in a long time and in addition to Covid, one of the things that makes me hesitate now is how awful the experience is–not just created by hysterical fellow passengers. It’s delays and cancellations that cause anxiety and stress. Yet all the others in the plane have suffered the same so there’s no excusing the ones who fly off the handle [if you’ll excuse the expression!].

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I agree and good for Delta Airlines for launching a campaign to create a no fly list for the severely obstreperous. Imagine how fellow passengers feel watching a nut ranting at a flight attendant, pilot or anyone else in that confined space with nowhere to escape.

  5. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    I suppose those benefits are interesting to anyone who doesnt travel much but I seriously wonder whether someone who travels all day every day would want to spend their down-time traveling? However inexpensive it may be to them. To travel, essentially, alone.

    I do agree that any (even quasi-)professional who is proud of their work and becomes expert at it deserves respect. Even the jaded ones! And from what I remember when I used to travel a lot, aircrew in their down-time were amongst the most jaded, least interesting, least interested travelers to encounter anywhere in the world.

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