Why Disrespecting Flight Attendants is Totally Nuts

IMG_0030Why Disrespecting Flight Attendants is Totally Nuts by Marisa Garcia originally appeared on Skift.com Dec 17, 2014

As flight attendant, industry writer, and Cruising Attitude author Heather Poole, says: “The problem is that nobody gets this job. My job is not hard, but 99% of people couldn’t do it.”

Ongoing promotion of flight attendants as sex-objects diminishes the role, regardless of the flight attendants’ gender, which is detrimental to the carrying out of critical safety duties for both sexes.

“How do you get order in the cabin in an emergency when you’re wearing a bikini?” Poole asks. “When people think of you as a dancer or entertainer? We’re expected to keep order. Our job is the safety and security of passengers. When it comes down to the time you have to do that job, you have to adjust the tone. There are lives at risk.”

Poole says that flight attendants are especially compromised by hostile or abusive passengers because the aircraft cabin is such a tight, vulnerable space. “Flight attendants don’t have anywhere to go or anywhere to hide,” she says.

The disconnect between the airline’s advertising and the airline’s rules also confuse passengers, Poole feels. “Flight attendants have to balance between the image expected of them and adhering to the rules of what they can or cannot do. Passengers don’t get to see those contradictions. Upgrades are a good example of this. We can’t upgrade passengers because that’s in our rules, but passengers have certain expectations and they think we can do it to be nice—we can’t—and passengers get angry when those expectations aren’t met.”

The nature of the job also forces many flight attendants to put up with unacceptable behavior. “A lot of incidents are under-reported because there’s no one to report them to or no chance to report them,” Poole says. “Are we really going to delay a flight because a passenger was rude? We have to consider that, when there are quick turn arounds for a route. Do I go and make an issue over this, or do I just let it pass? Many times you just decide it’s not worth it.”

For Poole, and thousands of flight attendants like her, it can be hard to find that “glamour” on the job.

“The fact is nothing I do is very sexy,” she says. “Clearing out other people’s trash, cleaning up vomit–what’s sexy about that?”




  1. These are all big and significant issues, for sure. An important tool for FAs that’s hardly ever discussed is personal repoire. Of course, it starts with the boarding process, and carries through the meal service and the rest of the flight. A very hard but critical part of the job is to establish a 3 second personal relationship with each of 50 passengers. So many FAs have retreated to mechanical duties and robotic, cranky demeanor. Issues are far easier to solve between friends … in 2015, making friends seems a priority! 🙂 … I have so many epic memories involving FAs becoming 10- minute friends instead of just corporate representatives.

  2. I have long held the (minority) opinion that the same behaviors that would get someone thrown out of a restaurant or a bar should also get a Pax banned from flying on a specific airline. But to enforce that, the management at the airline would have to put the work environment and the safety of the cabin crews ahead of revenue.

    So, it will never happen. And that is a shame.
    And I blame the airlines, not the crews.

  3. Less space for each passenger is causing short tempers by passengers. Flight attendants should also support more leg room, and more comfortable seats. The airlines are creating the stress on passengers and flight attendants by cramming so many of us into the plane.

  4. To: Barry in La Jolla ^^^ I notice you have been posting the same comment on multiple articles. ^^^
    I travel for work 2-3 times per month all over the US and a little international. Never once I have seen a Flight Attendant not
    greet me as I enter or exit the plane. They always have a nice smile and are always willing to help me.
    I think you should read this article about bad passengers. https://heatherpoole.com/2015/12/08/bad-passengers/
    I have to agree with Heather and say I have notice the same thing about people while flying. People no longer want face to face interaction.
    It seems they are all addicted to there devices. I also remeber a time when I would meet people and establish a 3 second personal relationship with them. Sadly this is a very different era. Have you been to a resturant recently and notice a group of teenagers all sitting at the same table and no one is talking? Most of the time they are texing each other instead of enjoying the face to face contact. Again never once I had a Flight Attendant not be friendly and kind.

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