Passengers are as Much the Problem as Flight Attendants…

A couple weeks back I speculated on the causes of variation in flight attendant service levels around the world. I argued that there was a mix of union rules, corporate leadership, and cultural factors which explain differences in service levels among airlines both within and across regions.

But The Flying Pinto makes me think that it’s the median passenger that drives much of this.

You don’t have to be a flight attendant who believes they’re there primarily for your safety to become jaded pretty quickly if every flight was like the one that Sara describes…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I don’t see that story as anything out of the ordinary, which i know is the point. But it seemed whiny, rather than constructive. And don’t understand the condescension towards the lifeguard, who is simply being helpful. While I agree putting a large number of the general public in a pressurized tube can be stressful to those that serve them, no reason for being indifferent, which I observe often from those that are there primarily for our safety.

  2. You might be right. Japanese passengers, for example, may come across as rude (there is not as much emphasis on saying please and thank you in Japan, particularly as a customer) but they tend to be quiet and well-behaved in general.

    Maybe this allows the flight attendants to do their job without becoming defensive and aggressive?

  3. Ok, so a customer is like a kid in a candy store getting her upgrade, a lifeguard offers to help, a family forgets they didn’t bring the stroller…(and I know FAs get many more challenges than this on an average flight, no question).

    Perfect example of the level of condescension and rude attitude by many FAs. Jaded indeed.

  4. Certainly jaded. The woman in first class had limited experience there, and if there are no other passengers there she has no one to observe. Of course she’ll expect certain behavior, and FA should not whine about having only one person to care for.

    The whine about the family and stroller…I’ve been there with tired kids and you forget what you’ve brought since you’re probably more worried about what you forgot in your seat or what was thrown on the floor.

    And the guy in the middle seat, there is always an idiot somewhere.

    All in all it sounds like this was a very uneventful flight handled by a bunch of disgruntled or tired FAs who hate their jobs. Most of us deal with things at work that we don’t like, but we certainly don’t whine about the small things. Overall I’m appalled by FA’s attitude here…

  5. But imagine having to “endure” this flight after flight. I think it would get to me (even if the tales of pax “misbehavior” are somewhat exaggerated).

    It is a tough job at relatively modest pay. I have sympathy for them. Not sure what the solution is: the job should probably not be a “career,” but it appears the good outweighs the bad for them (or they would leave).

  6. Hi Gary, thanks for the mention!;-)

    Lol, I’d like to mention to everyone that I’m not disgruntled. I think Gary would tell you most of what I post is positive about my job and passengers. Once in a while I post my notes about flying and it is just in good fun…my observations.

  7. Hey folks, it’s just a blog post of some memorable events from an FA while at work. They are kind of funny. It is not a scientific or summary analysis of all flyers. Calm down – maybe a little less coffee…. My experience is if you say Please and Thank You often, life gets a lot better. How about thanking everyone when you leave, even the ground crew guys in the jetway. You’ll surprise a few people and get smiles in return from many more.

  8. @ Sara – I read some of your other posts later in order to gain some context and appreciate the constructive and common sense tips for traveling, especially for those with small children and for those of us that sit next to children. Your website is very enlightening and productive, so mea culpa!

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