Flight Attendant Weighs In On Angry Passengers, Job Stress

Steven Slater’s dramatic job walk-off slide-down on Monday wouldn’t have been anywhere near as cool if he hadn’t used that escape slide. Another flight attendant named Bobby Laurie, writing about the stress of the job for The Daily Beast, says popping the slide and stealing alcohol are “the two most taboo things in the industry.” He also says he’s fantasized about doing something similar after being forced to deal with angry or obnoxious passengers.

Why was I having to apologize for an airplane breaking and my pilots deciding not to fly it? Getting yelled at for being the bearer of bad news–or even non-news–is not uncommon. Passengers take the things we tell them personally. Let’s say you’re sitting in your seat sending a text message. The main cabin door has been closed, and the safety demonstration has been completed. By now, you’ve heard at least three times that all electronic devices have to be turned off. So why isn’t yours?

I can sympathize with Laurie over the other story he tells, where a man insults him and then later deliberately pushes his food onto the floor mid-flight. Anyone who has worked at a job where there are customers has encountered that man, and I’m pretty sure that man is the devil.

But one thing I thought while reading his article was, “Passengers are as tense and stressed out as you are–that’s why we overreact.” Security checks, delays, cancelations, unhelpful customer service reps, security overreactions, the occasional threat to behave if you know what’s good for you, cramped seats, absurd rules on electronics, and a general attitude of “shut up and be still, because for the duration of this flight you’re not human, you’re just freight”–yeah, those things can make you uncooperative.

Perhaps if airlines spent more time looking at how to make flying something to enjoy instead of something to endure, everyone would have a better time in the air. There will always be bad customers like the overhead bin guy who thought he was better than everyone else on Slater’s flight, and stressed employees like Slater whose personal lives make them susceptible to snapping. But the rest of us might all accidentally end up being a little nicer to each other.

“Confessions of a Flight Attendant” [Daily Beast]