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.


Worst Airline Ad Ever

Okay, so I saw this ad on TheFlyingPinto blog and I had to post it myself. Maybe they should have reversed the position of the airline logo and make the plane point upwards? ha!

Can’t we all just get along up in the air?

I came across this blog post on Gadling, via Twitter. The author, George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, writes about passengers and crewmembers being polite to one another up in the air. He writes about the famed orange juice incident on American Airlines and a few personal situations he’s found himself in. He also comments:

When asked, “Can I get you something to drink sir (or ma’am)” by a flight attendant (or by a waiter for that matter), it is not acceptable to bark out “Coke” without looking up from your Sudoku. It’s not acceptable in the air, and frankly, it’s not acceptable on the ground, either. But especially not in the air. Flight attendants are trained to save your life if there’s an incident.

He goes on to say,

and it is not acceptable when handed your beverage to skip the “thank you.”

I agree! A lot of travelers have been complaining about delays, cancellations and missing/timed out flight attendants on Twitter after this past weekends snow storm on the East coast. We take a lot of heat and disrespect from the traveling public but I still manage to be polite, and as nice I can be under the circumstances.

As I mentioned on the UPGRD.com podcast, I reward passengers who are polite. On my flights, if you’re the first person to say “please” and/or “thank you” – I’m going to offer you a free drink. You would be VERY surprised to learn that sometimes I go 4 hours into a flight or days into my trip before someone actually says it.

One of the comments on Geroge’s post particularly infuriated me

SpadesHead: Let me get this straight, you want me to thank her, after being treated rudely by every single employee of her airline until now? After her airline is adding fee after hidden fee? I’ll tell you what, I’ll start saying “thank you” after they do. Listen after you conversation at the ticket counter, do they say “thank you”, no, usually not. How about security? “Thank you.” No.

To you, Mr. SpadesHead, I want you to keep one thing in mind. We are all different people and our own person. Just because the company I work for implemented additional fees for checked bags, food, etc.,  and the agent at the ticket counter didn’t say “please” or “thank you” doesn’t mean I’m not going to or I agree with what they did. I deserve the same amount of respect you would pay to any stranger you meet on the street. I just so happen to be your flight attendant today, and could, potentially, save your life.

Would you say “thank you” to that?

George, thank you for writing you did. Flight Attendants across the world, I’m sure, thank you as well.

I don’t know why flying has to be a battle of negativity. Flying used to be a luxury and something everyone dreamed to do, now, it’s dreaded because of the supposed lack of customer service and humanity.

I for one like my job, enjoy what I do, and that shows in my work and my interactions with my passengers.

Being polite will get you everywhere.

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Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant’s file lawsuit due to Turbulence

Yep. You read that correctly. I was just as shocked as you are when I first read this story.. and frankly, I’d love to meet these ladies.

Donna Dacko and Inga Isakson were working a flight to ONT (Ontario, CA) from SEA (Seattle, WA) on December 25, 2007  when just prior to landing the flight hit “previously unreported sever turbulence.”

Inga allegedly hit her head on a seat armrest and metal rod below the seat which left her surrounded in a pool of blood and foaming at the mouth. Donna, was reportly thrown “at least” 6 rows of seats after hitting her head on the ceiling and landed on top of Inga.  In their lawsuit, they claim that Weather Service International (WSI) neglected to properly predict the weather and/or warn Alaska Airlines of the weather and are seeking payment for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and emotional distress. They also named the U.S. government in the claim because they think Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Air Traffic Organization should have warned them about the severe weather because their injuries were “totally preventable.”

Are you KIDDING me?!

If I filed a lawsuit for every time I hit turbulence, when I was told by the pilots reading their weather reports, that it should be smooth- I’d be spending my days in a courthouse filing paperwork.  Nevermind the lawsuits I could file claiming “emotional distress”  when the flight deck asks me to take my seat because the aircraft in front of us reported hitting some bumps, and after strapping in, we never encounter them. Smooth as glass. A lot of aircraft get their reports of turbulence from other aircraft in the area who have already experienced it, whose to say that Alaska 464 wasn’t the FIRST aircraft to encounter the turbulence and that no one else in the area or on the ground knew it was there. I mean, can the meteorologists and the FAA Air Traffic Organization really SEE the disturbed air?

This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

Yes, of course, if they really got hurt, I do feel sorry for them and send my deepest heartfelt well wishes. Going through severe turbulence isn’t a fun situation to be in, and can be very scary. However, I find it odd that they file this lawsuit one week before the statute of limitations expires. Why wait until now to file this claim? Why wait 2 years? What happened to the other one or two FAs on board? Are they okay? Furthermore, are you to say that when a meteorologist forecasts a foot of snow at 11pm and the next morning there is only 2 inches, because the storm got weaker through the night, that we can now sue them? It could be claimed that schools closed and flights canceled which caused lost revenue for those businesses, much those flight attendants lost wages from being out of work.

I’m really stunned at the audacity of these flight attendants. Turbulence is always something to be unexpected in my book, and proper precautions are should always be made in the event you hit “previously unreported” turbulence.  It comes with the job. When you going through training your taught about the many things that can happen to you on board an aircraft, including aircraft crashes. Turbulence is one of those things that we encounter on an almost every day, every flight basis. This is nothing new for them.

Alaska Airlines says they know nothing about this legal action. Frankly, good luck to them. They have to prove that two years ago SOMEONE else prior to them descending to 8,000ft knew that the patch of rough air they went through, was already there. The only patch of rough air I can see, is in the same location their brain is supposed to be.

If you’d like to read their 18 page filing, click here.

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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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Flight Attendant Bags in the Overhead Bin

First off, I’m kind of mad at what I’m about to show you, and at the same time, I find it kind of funny. Below is an excerpt from USA Today’s Letter section where readers are commenting about an article written about the recent spike in carry-on luggage in aircraft cabins:

Apply carry-on rules to crew as well as passengers

Paco Martinez-Alvarez – Arlington, Va.

USA TODAY’s article “For air travelers, a ‘fight for the overheads,’ ” failed to mention the many times that flight attendants disregard their airlines’ own rules by bringing on roller bags, large purses and zippered lunch bags (News, Cover story, Thursday).

It is not uncommon to see first-class and front-coach overhead bins filled with bags labeled “crew.” I have yet to see crewmembers check their carry-ons at the plane door so that paying passengers can store their bags. Perhaps airlines need to start monitoring their own staff to help reduce overcrowding.

Dear Mr. I Don’t Know What I’m Talking About Martinez-Alverez,

Hello, sir. Welcome aboard. I’m glad you decided to fly with us today, and furthermore, decided to join us in First class. What do you mean there’s no space for your bag…the overhead bin above your first class seat isn’t reserved, its preferred space. Please feel free to put your bag after of the First Class cabin.

Mr. Martinez-Alverez, though we chose to do be a flight attendant because of the benefits and work schedule, when we are at work – we are also away from home. We’re away from home for up to 5 days at a time domestically, and maybe longer if flying internationally.

When you’re traveling, what do you pack? I for one pack a supply of clothes, shoes, beauty necessities, my laptop, and maybe book. My company requires me to carry a flashlight, a passport, a manual (that’s over 800 pages, so it’s big!), a wine opener and other items which need to remain in the aircraft cabin in the event of an emergency. Oh yeah, also, I pack food. Though my airline supplies meals to the cabin crew, it’s always the same meal — it gets old. Therefore, I travel with 3 bags.

Luckily, for us as cabin crew, the “one plus one” carry on requirement (one carryon + one personal item) doesn’t apply to working crew members. Why? Because we live and work out of our luggage. Your suggestion to have cabin crew check our luggage at the plane door, so YOU can put YOUR bag there wouldn’t work. Here’s why.

All bags “checked” go down to the cargo hold, which means that when you reach your arrival city, they are sent to baggage claim.  If I had to go to baggage claim and wait for my bag after the flight I worked, which happens to be the night before the flight you’re scheduled to take, and it doesn’t show up – how happy are you going to be the next day when your flight is cancelled because a crew member is missing their manual, uniform, or other required items? I’m guessing from the tone of your original letter: not very happy.

I invite you to take a look at the Flight Attendant RV section of my blog and look at what we do travel with. It’s nothing excessive, nothing over the top- just the necessities to get by while at work as well as our required items to make sure you make it to your destination safely.

One other question, if you’re in “first class” or the “front of coach” you should be in one of the first boarding groups to board the aircraft, so, why were the bins full when you boarded? Oh wait..let me guess, you’re the one person we were waiting for– one minute prior to departure, weren’t you?


Your Flight Attendant


The Cast of Characters

It never ceases to amaze me how people act once they get on an airplane. I’m starting to wonder if they also behave the way they do when they’re at home and if they do, how they get by in everyday life being so rude to everyone they encounter.

The cast of characters that I had on day 2  of my last 4 day trip was abundant. There was more people mad at NOTHING than I’ve ever experienced, it got me thinking about whether or not I was starring in a candid camera version of ‘Seinfeld.’

Please allow me to introduce the cast:

Mrs. Paranoia: She I met during boarding . As you all know by now, I work primarily work first class, therefore, always positioned at the boarding door. She walked on and asked if she could speak with me. I waved her into the galley and told her I was all ears. She then says:

I have a plastic bag full of surgical masks. If someone coughs or sneezes I’d like to you please remind then that we are in a time of critical awareness concerning the swine flu. Remind them to cough or sneeze into their elbows and hand them one of these.

I think my jaw hit the floor. I didn’t even know what to say! My first response was I understand you’re concerned, however, I cannot tell someone how to do something unless its safety or security related. Maybe you should wear your mask this way you can shield yourself from everyone’s germs. Well, you would have thought I asked her for her first born child. She was outraged that I would ever ask her to do that. What did she think she was asking ME to tell others?! The same thing. She then went to the main cabin and asked the FAs there to do the same thing, pass out the masks. Of course, I was able to warn them of what was coming before she got to them. They both denied her request as well.

Mr. Bad Boy: Mr. Boy arrived in his wheelchair during boarding with a grumpy face, a cane and a necklace with a battery powered medallion attached which flashed “BAD BOY.” So, jokingly, I said “so are you going to be giving us problems today?” and he said “you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Of course, I thought he was playing around with me, but, he wasn’t. During service one of the main cabin F/As accidentally bumped into him while in the aisle, and quickly apologized. He very rudely yelled “EXCUSE ME! Can you be more careful next time?!”

In a different occurrence a few minutes later, I was handing the gentleman in the window seat a sandwich and answering a question he had. Mr. Boy then chimed in, again, loudly, and proclaimed “uhh excuse me I’m trying to have a conversation here!” and I said.. “Yes, I know..I am too.. and you just rudely interrupted!” Two can play this game.

Ms. Jet-Blue: Once in-flight we met Ms. JetBlue. She rang her call button while I was on my back to the first class galley.. so I attended to it. She’s seated at the window and proceeded to tell me that her seat didn’t recline. I told her it should, nothing was damaged in the cabin. She then demonstrated the fact that her seat didn’t recline by pushing in the button and rocking back and forth very forcefully trying to push the seat back. When her tantrum stopped, I asked the lady seated on the aisle if her seat reclined. She then pressed her button, and reclined. Well, the seat reclined to the same level that Ms. JetBlue’s seat was already at! A ha! Ms. JetBlue’s seat is already reclined! So I told her if you notice, you’re seat is already reclined as it’s at the same level as this seat is. Her brain couldn’t comprehend this information and was still confused. One of the FAs from the back was walking forward and as the purser, I officially juniored down the situation. ha!

Now, you’re wondering why her name is Ms. JetBlue. We’ll, when she realized her seat was reclined, she had nothing else to complain about so she had to find something. About an hour and a half later she came to the back and was holding her neck. The 3 of us looked at each other, started to crack a smile, just wondering WHAT this was going to be about. She then told me

Your headrests on your seat are so fluffy that its pushing my head forward making me point my head down which is causing my neck and back to hurt.

So I asked her if she tried to adjust it, as they are FULLY 100% adjustable. She said yes. Then she asked if all of our seats were made this way. It took everything in me to say.. Did you not notice every seat looks like yours on your way back here?!

I didn’t.. but then she said

JetBlue’s seats are so much more comfortable than yours are. This is just riciulous. My seat doesn’t recline and now its hurting my neck and back. Can you change my ticket so I can fly home on jetBlue?

Yes, ma’am, since all of the airlines in America code-share, let me just change your ticket over to one of our biggest competitors. I told her I couldn’t do that. Obviously! She was so upset that I couldn’t just move her ticket to a jetBlue flight. She tried to complain more, as if I was just holding out. Then, one of my FAs said “actually, someone just came back here and told me we have one of the most comfortable seats they’ve ever sat in!” Ms. JetBlue then returned to her seat.. that reclined and had to fluffy of a headrest.

Ms. Menu: Last, but ohhhhh so not least was Ms. Menu. We had a menu substitution on board this particular flight. The galley FA made the announcement about the menu items, and said “I’m sorry, though the menu says we have the steak sandwich on board we don’t instead we have an Italian sandwich.” Then, I re-said the announcement prior to the FAs went into the aisle for service in the main cabin, and then we made it one more time before we heard the dreaded call button. I went over to find its the woman RIGHT behind Ms. JetBlue. . . she is holding our menu in hand and told me that she wanted to order the steak sandwich. I said I’m sorry, we don’t have the steak sandwich today, instead we have an Italian sandwich. She then said “but the Italian sandwich isn’t on the menu!” I took a deep breath and said

Like we have said 4 times now, we have a menu substitution on board today, we received the sandwiches we usually receive for a Eastbound flight. Therefore, the Italian sandwich is all we have.

Finally it sunk it and I left. She ordered the sandwich and it was delivered by a FA in the back. Five minutes after that, the call button again. The same FA that delivered the sandwich returned to find the passenger complaining that the sandwich didn’t have enough italian dressing on it, and she wanted more. So, the FA explained that the sandwiches are all prepackaged with the dressings etc, we don’t get extras on board. Well, Ms. Menu packed up the sandwich and handed it over and asked for a refund because there wasn’t enough dressing and then proclaimed “and wheres my fruit and cheese box!” (which she didn’t order!) The FA said “okay, I’ll go double check and I’ll be back”

She gets to the back and tells me whats going on. I said Oh please let me go talk to her.. she’s already on my shitlist and I would love to tell her she still owes us money.

Well, the passenger leaving the bathroom overheard me say that and pointed right at me. My heart stopped because I thought she was going to get pissed that she heard me talk about a fellow passenger. Instead she said

thats awesome! you guys are awesome! I’ve been watching and listening to you deal with all these weird and crazy people and I’m going to write a letter about you guys and the great job you are doing!

She did, too. We got it already. Of course for those comments we ensured she was taken care of the remainder of the flight as well.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a group of people on a single airplane before. Lucky I was with 2 FAs whom are my friends and we were able to tag team the situations and laugh about them in the end. It should go without saying, and I’m sure you guessed it. This flight was JFK-LAX.