Do any of you remember back when commercial flying was considered glamorous? For us it meant looking forward to going on vacation and NOT having to drive daaaaays to get there. Flying was a special event. Flying was actually fun! A window seat was prized....there's nothing to compare with looking down on terra firma from 30,000 feet! And since it was expensive, it was a rare treat for us commoners.
My, how times have changed. Today air travel is a dreaded chore. With the introduction of low-cost airlines, everyone can now afford to fly....and they do. The roads to the airport are congested, the parking lot is overflowing, and the lines inside the terminal are loooooooong everywhere you turn. And then you come face-to-face with the infamous TSA, where they strip search you and feel you up, just to make sure you don't have more than 3 ounces of toothpaste on you. Oh, and maybe a bomb.
My point is, your nerves are usually frazzled and your snarl is out before you even board your plane. And this is what flight attendants have to deal with every day.
And back in the day, in the prospective flight attendant's imagination at least, there could be nothing more glamorous than traveling the world, visiting exotic places, meeting the rich and famous, and actually being paid to do it! *dream job* They were just conveniently not told that before you could do all that you first had to spend years flying the quick turnarounds to Lubbock or Tulsa or Des Moines. Once you acquired some seniority, THEN you might could bid for a glamour destination with an overnight. In reality it was and still is a hard job.
This brings us to where we are today, namely highly publicized violent maulings on aircraft, and just this weekend, a near fistfight between an offended passenger and an American Airlines flight attendant. When I first saw the cellphone video of the confrontation my gast was totally flabbered!
I've had the privilege of personally knowing many flight attendants over the years, a few very well, and I can tell you that what was shown on that video is NOT the way 99.999% of flight attendants behave. In the American Airlines incident, the (male) F/A was very recklessly handling a stroller belonging to a traveling mother with her child, who was almost struck. Strike 1. Then another passenger, outraged by what he saw, got up out of his seat and aggressively threatened the F/A. Strike 2. Finally the F/A freaked out and got right back in it with his finger in customer #2's face. Strike 3!
But did you also notice the other flight attendants getting the crazed(?) F/A out of the way, pushing him behind the bulkhead away from the situation, and trying to calm things? (On a related note, did you notice the pilot come out of his hidyhole with his thumb still firmly inserted up his posterior, NOT [noticeably] taking control of the situation? He should have....it was HIS aircraft!) Flight attendants regularly have to deal with upset passengers, and I know for a fact they calmly, tactfully, but quite firmly take control and bring order back to their cabin. They're well trained and very professional.
If you don't like paying $25 for checking an extra bag, don't blame the F/A. She isn't getting a dime of it. If you don't like the crappy food they serve, don't blame the F/A. She didn't prepare it. If you don't like being told to turn off your electronic devices, don't blame the F/A. She didn't make the rule.
Flight attendants can have bad days just like the rest of us. They go through divorces, family sicknesses, financial problems, etc, just like we do. Life isn't easy in "the tube". Yet in virtually every instance they still put on a smile, come to work, and serve us. And the few who crack under the pressure, well, I guess they're just in the wrong line of work.
IMO American Airlines, no doubt learning from the earlier United Airlines fiasco, responded perfectly to this situation. They apologized immediately and publicly, and even upgraded their mistreated passenger and her family to First Class for the rest of their international travel.
Wanna have a nice flight? Try this: Discretely give your flight attendant a small (still factory wrapped*) box of Andie's Candies (delicious chocolate mints), or something similar, and invite her to share them with the rest of the flight crew. After all they put up with, it's a gesture they'll appreciate, and I promise they'll respond with the best TLC you could ever imagine.
* so they'll know it hasn't been tampered with....you can't be too careful these days