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