Flight Attendants Get No Respect. But Can They Do Their Jobs?

Wanted: Someone to push heavy carts along a narrow aisle dispensing drinks, cookies and conversation, with a smile.

Applicant must be able to evacuate a plane, determine, behind closed curtains, what passengers are most likely to help in an emergency and wonder about the little girl flying alone, sitting next to that suspicious man.

The big question, considering the multiple roles an attendant has to fulfill, is whether fluffing pillows and handing out pretzels compromise the authority flight attendants must have if they are to insure passenger safety in an emergency.

Or as Salary.com  says that attendants attend  to airplane passengers to ensure their safety while on the aircraft. Serve beverages and food and keep the cabin clean for passengers' comfort. Maintain supplies on the plane.

Average salary: Approximately $65,000 a year and endless hours flying in a metal tube. WhichBudget documenting job satisfaction, notes that flight attendants came dead last in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector, falling behind dishwashers and air traffic controllers.

And MSNBC’s “Bartenders or Bad Cops”  reports  that flight attendants are sleeping less, working longer hours , earning less and dealing with a public that is increasingly rude and demanding.

Who can forget Steven Slater’s dramatic departure as a flight attendant from a JetBlue flight a few years back?

One former Delta flight attendant clearly said that it’s very difficult  “be a good host, be helpful,  then have to police people.” That attendant has since left the airline to start her own web site, Inflightinsider.com where she dispenses tips to travelers on how to protect their shoes, make use of street-wise maps and other useful lifestyle-flying tips and advice, presumably a much less stressful job than her previous one.

Passengers apparently are flying with an increasing sense of entitlement and are apt to become outraged when a request for an upgrade or amenity is denied.

Isn’t it time, in light of an increasingly stressed-out flying experience, to reexamine the “clout” and “responsibility” attendants must have to do their real jobs: Providing passenger safety?

And if they’re seen as in-flight servants, smiling customer relations personnel, will anyone look to them in times of crises?

We say, get someone else to serve the soda and pretzels. Give the flight attendants  the training and authority to save lives, and concentrate on solving  real in-flight problems, not cosmetic or public relations’ ones.

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