Looking to the Sky to Save Me

“Oh my God. Are these people ever going to sit down?”

“I know. Overbooked, oversold. Takes forever to get ’em in and down.”


“Oops, wrong button!” Giggling over the intercom. Halting safety announcement. “Oops!” More giggling.


Enter a gate agent.

“Why is she still here? We can do this ourselves. We know what we are doing. She’s just slowing us down.”

Exit a gate agent.

“Okay. Good. Show the video.”


“Hey, do you ever take home the cookies if no one else in First eats them?”

“No, I guess I never have.”

“Do you mind if I do? My kids love them.”

“Sure, I don’t care.”


Flight attendant one stomps back to the front galley, clearly exasperated.

“So that family with all the carry-ons–the one with the two kids?”

“Midway down?”

“Yeah. Mom hit the back of my leg with her bag.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes! I asked them to make sure they got all the bags under their seats, and she got pissed and yanked out one of the bags and hit me as I was walking away. When I looked back at her, she pretended she was putting it away.”

“Takes all kinds.”


“Hey, that lady just asked me for my name.”

“Oh, please.”

“Yeah, well, I told her. I don’t care. She can report me to everyone.”

“So stupid.”

“Such a bitch.”


“Why are using so much of that stuff?”

“The viruses. There are SO many.”

“I take Airborne.”

“So do I. But I use Purell like it’s water. Can’t be too careful up here.”


By some odd quirk of airline scheduling, I managed to have the same three-person crew on both my outbound and homebound flight to and from Restaurant Gal Daughter’s birthday weekend. I also managed to snag an upgrade and sat in the same bulkhead seat with the broken seat-back both ways. Yeah, what are the odds?

Despite the excruciating whining that passed as conversation between the flight attendants, they did get their jobs done. I’m pretty sure they’d have been “on” if we’d had an actual emergency.

But this was the weekend, the off-peak amateur hour for flying on a commercial jet in the United States. Most weekend passengers are clueless going through security: “Take off the belt, sir. Your shoes, sir. The computer, sir. Open in and place it in a bin. Your coat, too, sir.” They take forever, and then they take forever some more.

The weekenders are also completely hopeless at getting settled on board. They drag oversized bags down the narrow aisle, bumping and jostling their fellow travelers without a care. They spend five minutes blocking the aisle trying to cram their oversized bags into an unyielding overhead bin. They always sit in the wrong seat.

They drive anyone who flies more than twice a year crazy, and they are the bane of airline staff.

And so, on flight one, I felt the pain of the flight crew. I empathized.

It was like any slow day on any podium I’ve ever worked. Time drags. The public’s warts are a little more visible. You talk more to each other about yourselves and your guests, and so much less to your guests.

But by flight two, I was really sick of listening to them whine. I couldn’t turn up the Nano loud enough. I lost my empathy. I got irritated. Justified or not in their gripes, I just wanted to scream, “Shut up, already!”

And then I felt embarrassed. For them, for me, for everyone else I’ve worked with. I’ve been them and someone else has been me. Who knows how many times? Who knows what we said for all or just one to hear? The bitches, the malcontents, the clueless diners, the never-to-be-pleased guests, the quest for scarfing food–we pretty much covered it all, too.

Not that we weren’t justified, in our own minds. Not that many wouldn’t empathize with us.

But, never again. I am sure I couldn’t bear to listen to myself.






3 responses to “Looking to the Sky to Save Me”

  1. Aaron DeLay Avatar

    Whenever i fly, I try and make friends with the people who have to deal with the 500 other crazies on the plane. International flights are very much…painful at times.

    One more trip and dealing with the crazies is ovah! Woot and stuff! Glad ya got back safely…:)

  2. Jelly Bean Avatar
    Jelly Bean

    Welcome home.

    When our team plans our big week-long company meetings, one of the many reminders we have before the gang starts arriving is to be careful what you say — you may not recognize the person next to you, but they probably work with you. They’ll be in the next bathroom stall, the person who sticks their hand in as the elevator doors close, or that creepy person (who is actually just exhausted) walking behind you.

    I’m not planning them any longer, but there are days i just wanted to scream, “Look, Bozo, the bathroom is right there. You know, the door you walked past to get directions.”

    But, like so many things, you suck it up, and when everyone else is gone for the evening, you shut the office door and have a good laugh with you fellow co-workers.

  3. Zeo Avatar

    I don’t know if you’ve ever spotted it, but I found at the library a year ago “Plane Insanity,” a book by a (career) flight attendant of some of the wild and wacky goings-on he’s observed in his years flying. It’s a fun read, and you can tell through his writing that despite it all, he still loves his job.