Pushing the Button

You like to push our button. I know you do. You do it all the time. You push it for a drink, something to eat, to ask a question, to hand us your trash, and when somethings wrong. You push it when you want us to tell the parent sitting in front of you to ask their child to calm down and when you want us to wake up your neighbor so you can use the restroom.

Lately, I’m noticing the strangest requests coming from people via the button, and some requests that make me want to scream. First off, realize that when you ring the call button, nose goes. No one really wants to go get it. We’re all sitting in the back or the front, we hear the ding.. someone leans over to check the ACP (area call panel) which shows us who hit the button. We then all look at each, figure our if we’ve already had an interaction with you – then, based on whether or not it was a good or bad interaction we try to decide who goes. As the most junior person walks down the aisle (just kidding!) we’re all peeking out to see whats going to happen.

The request that makes me the most upset is when I’m asked a question that I just gave the answer to over the P.A. It becomes obvious to us, even though we already know, that you’re not listening to us. So we answer your question and go on our way. In about 2 minutes, someone else will ring the button, and ask the same question. We become a never-ending broken record of information, which could be avoided if everyone just paid attention the first time.

Then there are those requests that we just can’t do. We can’t ask the person behind you to put their shoes on, or the person in front of you to bring their seat upright because you feel cramped and we especially can’t stop the baby from crying. Nothing is worse than having to talk to the parent of a child that is being too loud especially if you know they’re trying to calm the baby down. I refuse to.

I have a question. When you hit the button, you expect one of us to come by and ask whats going on, right? Becauselately, almost all of the call buttons I’ve been answering either no one knows who rang the button, everyone is watching a movie with their earphones in and pays no attention to me what so ever, or they just say “sorry it was an accident.” For your information, you can turn off the call button by hitting it again. I find so rude though when I go up to a passenger whose wearing earphones and rang the call button. I ask them if everything is okay, and they yell “WHAT?” – so I ask again.. “can I get you anything?” and they say “I can’t hear you.” People take OFF your headphones when you’re having a conversation with someone, especially someone you asked to speak to.

Also, like I mentioned on The Crew Lounge, don’t ring your call button during taxi, takeoff or landing unless its a dire emergency. Ringing it during the critical phases of flight for a fork for the food you brought in the terminal, something to eat or even to question our flight departure/arrival time is unacceptable. During those phases of flight we are there for your safety, positioned by the doors and readily accessible to assist in a medical emergency, and for no other purpose.

I love answering the call buttons for “what lake is that down there?” – my answer is always “Lake Las Vegas.” Even though we might be over Kansas, no one ever questions it.

Oh yeah, and don’t ring your call button to hand me a half eaten apple or a dirty diaper. Get up and throw those out yourself. Ew.

Please Fasten Your Seatbelts. Thanks.

Since I’m usually the purser, time and time again I catch myself repeating “The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, please return to your seats, fasten your seatbelts, and remain seated until it has been turned off.”
How many people actually hear me? All 150. How many people LISTEN to me? about 50.

It’s amazing to me the disregard the traveling public pays to the seatbelt sign. It’s almost as if they think we turn it on and off for no reason, to the point that it means nothing.

Let me give you a background on the seatbelt sign. According to the Federal Aviation Regulations (or FARs), which are the laws that govern airlines and airline passengers, when the seatbelt sign is on, you as a passenger are required to fasten your belt.

14 CFR 125.327

(2) The use of safety belts, including instructions on how to fasten and unfasten the safety belts. Each passenger shall be briefed on when, where, and under what conditions the safety belt must be fastened about him or her. This briefing shall include a statement that the Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with lighted passenger information signs and crewmember instructions concerning the use of safety belts.


14 CFR 121.317

(f) Each passenger required by §121.311(b) to occupy a seat or berth shall fasten his or her safety belt about him or her and keep it fastened while the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign is lighted.

Further, when I make the announcement to do so, and you continue to not comply, you have now broken another FAR which states you must obey all crew member instructions. The seatbelt sign is turned on for taxi, take-off, landing and when we are approaching or are currently hitting turbulent weather. These are all phases of flight in which you should not be standing.

When it comes to aircraft taxi, the FAA has imposed restrictions on when an aircraft is allowed to push back and move forward. If any passenger is out of his or her seat, the aircraft must stop and hold position. That passenger is now a safety risk to others and themseleves in the event that they fall.

For take-off and landing, this should be a no brainer. If it’s not safe for anyone to stand, including the flight attendants.

But when it comes to turbulence people seem not to care. I was flying from New York to San Francisco this past weekend when over the midwest we suddenly hit moderate to sever turbulence. I happened to the in the back of the cabin letting one of my other crewmembers eat in the front when it happened. The other FA and I grabbed onto our seats and held on. Orange juice was going everywhere, cups were falls, cans were rolling.. it was a mess for about 10 minutes. During this 10 minutes, 5 people tried to make their way to the bathroom. I couldn’t even stand up, I was shocked they were able to get that far. The FA and I, in unison screamed “go back sit down.” All listened but one. She came all the way to the back to have the other FA say “the seatbelt sign is on” and her response was: “it is?”

YES it is! For one, we weren’t screaming for the fun of it and secondly, did you not realize the struggle you had to keep your balance getting back here.. What are you thinking?!

There seems to be a big lack of understanding on the passengers end as to why we tell you to sit down and remind you over and over again that the seatbelt light is on. One reason is because we have to. It’s our job. We’re not doing it to be mean, or to keep people out of the galley, we have to do it. If there’s an FAA inspector onboard and he sees you get up with the seatbelt light on, and I don’t say anything, I can be fined. We also do it for your safety. If you get injured, guess who has to help you? We do! Even though we told you over and over, we still have to help you. You also pose a safety risk to those around you because in a situation like severe turbulence your body can become a projectile and you can be thrown around the cabin.

And lastly, one of my biggest pet peeves, when a flight attendant tells you “I just have to remind you, the seatbelt sign is on and please return to you seat” asking us “so I can’t go?” is going to get you no where. We are not allowed to give you permission to use the bathroom when the seatbelt sign is on. We cannot stop you from going, but we can’t tell you its ok to go. Why? Because then we’ve just opened up ourselves and the airline to liability. You were in the bathroom “because the flight attendant said I could go.”  Please do not get mad if you ask that question or say “i’ll be quick” and the flight attendant responds again with  “I just have to remind you, the seatbelt sign is on and please return to you seat”– because that’s all we’re allowed to say.

Now, I will be play devils advocate for a second and say yes, there are times when the seatbelt sign is on because the pilots may have forgotten to turn it off. However, as flight attendants, when it is on we have to obey it and remind everyone to do so as well. The flight attendants can (and I do) call the pilots to ask them if there is projected turbulence or if they simply forgot to turn it off. Then there are those times when the flight attendant requests the seatbelt sign to go on.  It happens very rarely but when there is a lot going on in the galley usually involving a medical emergency. By turning the sign on, you can enforce a sense of order in the cabin, if there might not already be.

One of my other pet peeves about the seatbelt sign comes when I make an announcement 40 minutes prior to landing, that the seatbelt sign will be coming on in 20 minutes as we start our decent. I tell everyone to standup, stretch, put stuff back into the overheads and use the bathroom now. Usually a lot of people do. But when the seatbelt sign comes on, don’t get up and tell me “oh I didn’t know” or ask “so I can’t go to the bathroom?” because I told you 20 minutes ago it was coming, you just chose not to listen to me.

In closing, just sit down. If the sign is on, its on for a reason. Hassling the flight attendants about how long its been on (especially if there has been turbulence and seems to be smooth now) it isn’t going to help fix the situation either because we can only remind you that its on, and ask you to comply. Please remember, if it is a true “emergency” situation, make sure you go to the bathroom.. but realize if you do get injured you are at your own risk because you’ve been reminded and asked for compliance by the crew.

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Live from the Line: Hands Down

I know a lot of you including @SkyVan on twitter wonder why I work New York – LA all the time, and its a simple reason really: No one senior to me wants to do it, so I always hold my first preference in New York trips. In essence that allows me to build my schedule the way I like it. Lately, the passengers have been better than they have been in the past. I’m in the middle of a four day trip right now and of course, just worked New York to LA and there was only two passengers who got on my nerves. Go figure they were traveling together.

Just after take off I went to the overhead bin where my bags were stowed to get my lunch bag when someone behind the bulkhead asked me if I had a blanket. Because of “swine flu” we no longer have blankets, so I apologized to her and told her that we do sell them though and that she was welcome to order one. While this conversation took place, the woman sitting in the middle seat behind the passenger who asked me for a blanket started waving her hand in my face to get my attention. She didn’t raise her hand, she didn’t ring the call button, she didn’t say excuse me; she instead waved her hand as close to my face as she could possibly get. In the middle of explaining to the lady why we had no blankets, I had to stop, turn to this woman and say “I’ll be with you in a minute” to have her reply “well, that was rude.”

I’m sorry, “I’ll be with you in a minute” was RUDE? Was your hand in my face NOT rude?

So, I brought my bag back to the galley then returned to this woman to see what she needed. She told me she was having a problem watching the inflight movie and that she couldn’t hear any audio. The reason why she couldnt hear any audio was because she plugged her headphones into her neighbors headphone jack. So, I pointed out the problem and went back to work.

Later, after doing a trash run, I was headed back to the galley when hands went flailing again as I walked past her row, this time she was thirsty and wanted something to eat. The flight attendants in the main cabin had just past her row and when asked if she wanted a beverage, she said no.  So I explained to her how cabin service worked, and got her a drink.

Mid-flight I was bringing a drink to someone in the main cabin, when she threw her hands in my face again. This time, I told her that I didn’t really appreciate that, and that she should use the call button. She waved her hands at me again and said “anyway..” and continued on with her request. This time she pointed at her travel partner in the window and said “he wants his light put on.” I looked at her in disbelief. She really waved me down to hit the reading light button. So I turned it on and left.

I understand that as passengers you might want the flight attendants attention for one reason or another, but please don’t be rude about it. Please realize there are 149 other people on the plane who also want/need something from us, so please ring the call button and get in line. Don’t throw your hands in my face, especially for things you can do yourself, like turning on a light. Thanks for reading my Rant!

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The Line Dance

Being a Flight Attendant comes with many perks. Some of which you use on a regular basis, some you hardly ever use; and then there are some that you use every single day when going to work.

The perk/ability to cut the security line.

I’m finding that this is a very touchy subject. Especially on high travel days such as Friday and Sunday, where the lines are literally, out the door. Most of the traveling public understands why we cut the line, but let me explain it for those of you who are against it or don’t know anything about it.

First, how happy would you be if your flight was delayed because your crew was at the end of the line at the security checkpoint? Not happy I’m sure. But, your first instinct is to say, ‘well, get to the airport earlier.’  Now, we’re dealing with a crew rest issue and I have to ask: should the government and the airline now factor in possible wait times at the checkpoint when building rest regulations and trip pairings?  We know how the government works, that’ll never happen. As it is we are on our ‘rest’ during our transportation to/from the hotel, the whole checkin/out process and going through security. Making the airline put us on the clock longer then they have to means you’ll encounter more crew rest delays.

So, crew members cut the line. Most airports now a days make it a little bit easier on crew members to cut the line by adding signage that says “Uniformed Crewmembers may cut to the front of the line during peek travel periods” and some have designated employee lanes to allow us to get screened through. Having a dedicated lane makes life less stressful on you, the normal everyday business/leisure traveler, as I’m not adding time to your wait in line.

However, some airports have employee “lines” to get our badges verified, which then dump us into the normal “lanes” to get screened, leaving us to cut the line at the lane (confused yet?) to get our bags screened first. This is usually when I hear the most griping. People who have been in line for 45 minutes to an hour get upset and start screaming ‘”I’m going to be late now!” Well, if you’re going to be late because I cut in front of you, just wait until its your turn to get your bag screened and you left a bottle of shampoo in there or you’re “randomly selected,” then we can talk about late. Then there are those who don’t seem to understand why we’re cutting them and start with the whole “the line is back there” routine. Yes, I’m in uniform (we have to be now a days to get anything through security. Ugh how I long for the days of going through with just an ID badge), no- I don’t wear the uniform for fun, so yes, I’m going to work. Do you wait in line when you go to work? Well, I don’t either.

The line dance is going to be a touchy subject for as long as I can see, and has been one for as long as I remember. We can both take action to live peacefully, together. I apologize every time I cut the line: “I’m sorry, I’m headed to work, I’m just going to slot in in front of you and won’t take longer than a minute” or “excuse me, do you mind if I cut in front of you, I’m headed to work a flight.” As passengers, you can just accept the fact that we don’t have to wait in line to go to work, and that we have the right to cut the line. Putting up a fuss about it isn’t going to change anything or get you to your flight quicker. Yes it may seem unfair, but in the scheme of things flight crew know how to get through security quickly, we do it everyday, it really shouldn’t take long.. now, that’s not to say the screeners won’t take their sweet time screening the bags and moving the conveyor belt. That’s a whole other subject.

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Holiday Travel Treats and Tips

Wow. For the last few holiday seasons I didn’t fly much. Prior to my current airline, I worked in the office during the holidays, and prior to that, at my first airline; I was in training for Thanksgiving and somehow got Christmas off. But, wow. People who haven’t flown since Carter was President are now in the skies and it’s scary.

I recently worked a trip in the main cabin— I know, I know — what was I thinking? It’s really like a circus sometimes.. literally. From Los Angeles to New York, my specialty, Winnie the Pooh joined us, and in a middle seat. I’m not kidding! I was working the back galley and all of a sudden I heard the call button going off non-stop. The Flight Attendant in the aisle was trying desperatly to get my attention. I go out to row 15 and the FA points.. and says.. have you met Winnie? Well, there she was.. a woman, in a middle seat, dressed as Winne the Pooh. She was fully dressed, hat with ears, full costume. I tried to sneak a real picture for you, but, it would give away what airline I work for – and violate my airlines blogging regulations — but this was a sight to see. She didn’t take it off the whole flight long.

On the same flight seated in the last row of the plane was a mother and her daughter. We’re taking the daughter is about 23 years old. The other flight attendant in the back with me, a female, noticed the hairclip that the mother was wearing, it was a metal sprig of holly. The FA mistook it for a missletoe and in her southern (Charlotte, NC) accent politely said “is that a missletoe in your hair?” to which the woman replied: “I don’t know, is it?” and proceeded to look up as if she would be able to see her own hair to decide if it was, truly, missletoe.

The next day, thinking we were out of the crazy woods, we met the king. About 4 hours into a 7 hour flight from New York to San Francisco this man comes to back.. throws his hands up in the air, much like Evita and began to proclaim, loudly: “economic crisis..economic crisis..economic crisis..” over and over. I finally asked him what he was talking about, and he said “no food for 4 hours! NO FOOD for 4 HOURS.” I politely told him that we had food onboard but it was for purchase. He again goes into his “economic crisis” speech, this time I cut him off. I explained, again, that food is available but you have to pay for it. He then tells me that he hasn’t flown in 5 years, and he can’t believe he had to pay to check a bag, pay for headphones, pay for food and pay for everything. Then he said “and even customer service went downhill.” So, my response was “okay, I need to go back to work.. go back to your seat.”

So, I went back to work.. turned around to pour a drink for a passenger and I felt a hand on my back.. slide all the way down to my backside.. I quickly turned around and it was that man again! I was LIVID. I yelled “EXCUSE ME.. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” He said he was looking for food. The other FA said, “well you’re not going to find it there!” I again said, “go back to your seat.” This other passenger, at the same time he touched me, turned around to come to the back to use the restroom.. she comes up to me and says: “oh my god! I saw that! I saw him touch you! are you okay?” I laughed it off, said yes.. and said he was just a crazy old man. She turns around, goes back to her seat and pulls an apple out of her bag. She put it on the old man’s tray table and said “here. Now don’t get up again!” I LOVE her!

So, in true holiday spirit.. please keep the following tips in mind when traveling this holiday season:

1. Don’t touch the flight attendants.

2. Don’t caress the flight attendants.

3. Bring your own food, there might not be free food on board. In fact, other than snacks, no airline has “free food” other than Continental. Keep that in mind.

4. Remember that you are one of probably over 150 passengers and there is only 3 flight attendants. It’s going to take time for them to complete everyones requests.

5. Keeping the total amount of passengers in mind, don’t get upset if you ask the flight attendants for something and they forget, 6 more people asked us something after we talked to you.. we don’t usually walk around with note pads.

6. Again, don’t touch the flight attendants.

7. Saying “please” and “thank you” will get you everywhere. I reward good behavior.

8. Don’t dress like Winnie the Pooh

9. Remember: You cannot look up and see the back of your head.

10. Remember, we want to go home too. Delays aren’t the flight attendants fault.

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Galley Medical Center

At my airline they make boarding seem like this really big deal. So big that we take *over* 30 minutes to board an A320..35 minutes to be exact. At my past airline we took 35 minutes to board a 757 with 50 more people than an A320 holds.

Anyway, a few trips ago I was working the dreaded New York – Los Angeles flight. This flight, notorious for something going wrong, was renumbered a while back. I thought the renumbering would break the curse. It didn’t. This time, it wasn’t so bad.. just…odd.

We’re about 3/4 through the boarding process and this guys comes to the front galley. He looked at me and screamed

I have to get off!

Uhh.. okay? So I asked him “why do you have to get off?” and his response was “the flight attendant in the back told me I can’t fly!”

Knowing one of the two FAs in the back really well, I started to laugh a little. I was kind of surprised someone would listen to a flight attendant at all when they make a statement like “you have to get off the airplane.”

Anyway, I asked him why the FA said that. Then, I heard a story.. I’ve never heard before.

Well.. I’m afraid of flying and more than that.. I’m petrified of turbulence. So.. I put ear plugs in my ears so I don’t have to hear the noises of the airplane.. and … well.. I lost one of them.

So I laughed a little — told him it was no big deal, I could get him ear plugs. He then quickly responded with

You don’t understand. I lost one of them IN my ear.

I’ve never heard of such a thing. Apparently, in his paranoia of flying this passenger went into one of the lavs in the rear and proceeded to place ear plugs in his ears so he didn’t have to ‘hear turbulence.’ He became so scared of the imposing 5 hour flight that he shoved a foam ear plug so far into his ear, it is not virtually unreachable.

Am I on candid camera?

Kind of confused on what to do, I called the back to track down which FA sent this passenger to me. It was the female, I knew it was her. She is also a purser but happened to be flying coach on this trip and said “I’m happy I’m not you.” She then made up this convoluted story (which has little truth to it) that if he didn’t deplane..when the aircraft pressurized the ear plug could expand/contract and/or become further lodged inside of his head. Now the man is freaking out. He doesn’t like to fly.. and we just told him it could cease his hearing.

Thanks honey!

So, as I try to tell him to take his things and there was another LA flight a few hours after us, a random passenger (who was waiting to board the airplane but was blocked by this gentleman with the soon-to-be hearing issue) says “let me take a look at it.” Without flinching the depth challenged man allowed a stranger to check out his ear. The guy then says “hold on.. I can get it!”

He goes into his bag pulls out a tweezer, and I kid you not.. chop sticks. In that moment my galley was transformed into a medical center. 2-5 minutes later, the ear plug was freed, the passenger saving the day was thanked by his fellow pax and us (with a free drink) and boarding continued.

10 minutes later I get a call from the back, all I can hear is laughter. The guy tried to go back into the lav to put the ear plug back into his ear prior to pushback. The FA had to physically pull the door away from him and tell him we recommended he doesn’t try to thwart his fear of turbulence with ear plugs again.

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Pre-Boarding Hoarding

You would think by now that I’d be unfazed by passengers being rude because I have to deal with it on an almost daily basis, but on some level it always bothers me.

We were boarding a flight from New York (I know, enough said — right?) to Las Vegas (yep..it just got worse), the flight was full and we we just started boarding first class. The passenger seated in 2A boarded, put his stuff away, and quickly after 2C boarded and did the same. About 2 minutes later i walked over with my normal “good morning, can I get you anything to drink while you’re getting settled” statement.. and 2A’s response about knocked my socks off

Yeah, when the f*** were you planning on coming over to take my jacket?

Umm, hello to you too. So, I explained that unfortunately we didn’t have closets on board, so everything goes into the overhead bins. Now a days, its almost normal to not have closets on board because most US airlines removed theirs in the oil crisis last year to help make the planes weight less, using less fuel — this shouldn’t be a shock to the passenger. But it was.

Are you f***** kidding me? God I wish I flew Continental

So this time, I responded with

well, I’m sorry you regret your decision to fly with us today, but if you want something to drink, please feel free to let me know.

Okay, that was over. Moving on, 2C is traveling with a garment bag that takes up 2 over head bins in first class. As row 1 boarded and I tried to make some room for their bags, I touched the garment bag to simply slide it over to create space and I hear

do NOT touch my things

so I leaned over and explained I was trying to make space for someones bag, and if he wishes I not touch it, would he mind moving it for me. He responded saying that he bought his seat, and it came with “his” space and since I couldn’t provide a closet, he wasn’t moving it. Great. Tweedle Dee and Tweetle Dumb right next to each other. Then I explained that he actually paid for the service and the seat, not the space — it is shared space. To which he waved his hand in front of me and sarcastically said “and look at the level of service I’m getting.”

So I left the situation alone there.. and waited for our Passenger service team to arrive and I was going to pass the situation on to them, I mean after all, I’m not getting paid to board — why deal with this now? Later I realized this was the best decision I could have ever made.

As the PaxSvcs talked to the passenger, he explained that we needed space…etc, etc, and that he was going to move the garment bag to the other side of the bin and place it ontop of other items. Well, after he did that — the passenger flipped out. He thought his “$5000 suit” would all crunched up and not flat.. he was screaming, yelling and being downright rude. Luckily, at this point in time I was making my departure announcements and had nothing to do with it.

After the agent got the bags situated, he kneeled down to the passenger and said “I’m sorry for the inconvenience and I hope you enjoy your flight” to which the guy responded: “I’m already having a horrible experience.”

Once inflight, after I cooled myself down, I went and took beverage orders, 2C was nicer than ever to me. Please, thank you, you’re welcome; everything. I was shocked. 2A wouldn’t speak to me. At all. Not a word. Fine, Good luck if you get thirsty.

Whatever happened to common decency and courtesy? I swear sometimes people in first class get a huge head because they think they’re better than everyone else, when really, all they have is a bigger seat and a hot meal.

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