Flight attendant: How the job has changed

Sunjet Flight Attendants

“This airline sucks!” exclaimed a passenger after he spun from the ticket counter and looked directly at me. As if it were my fault he didn’t get an upgrade! My faint smile – a nervous reaction – caused him to go from angry to irate in a matter of seconds. He quickly called my smile a “smirk” that he promised to write about in a letter that, as far as I know, never landed on my supervisor’s desk.

“Hello, how are you?” is how I often greet passengers during boarding, but after a handful of passengers tell me exactly how they are, and how they were on their last trip, and why they’ll never fly my airline again, I’ll eventually shorten it to just plain “Hello.” Why roll out the red carpet and invite confrontation into my life when I don’t have to? But sometimes even that one word will get shortened to a simple, yet very pleasant nod after a few of them go ignored long enough. Hey, my life is crazy enough without the one-sided conversations.

Upon spotting a pair of cat-eyed frames during boarding, a co-worker cooed, “Oh I love your eyeglasses!”

“We’re not sitting together and it’s your problem!” the passenger responded. No longer did the funky frames look quite as cute paired with an evil glare and a pointing finger.

And passengers wonder why flight attendants aren’t always smiling.

Has flying always been so bad? Depends on who you ask.

16 years ago I worked for Sun Jet International Airlines, a low cost carrier that is no longer in business. For the record, we never flew overseas. We didn’t even have layovers. We worked turns, meaning we flew to a city and back in a single day. From either Long Beach, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, or Newark, passengers received a drink and a blueberry muffin or chocolate chip cookie, depending on the time of day, for $69 a flight.

By the way, I’m the one on the left in front of the Sun Jet plane in the photo above.

Cheap Flights, Angry Passengers

What I remember most about working for the airline was not all the broken armrests, or the time my jump seat fell off the wall on landing, or the used hypodermic needle I found in a seat pocket, or the angry male passenger who chased me into the ladies room at DFW airport because of an hour long delay.



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