Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Flight crews’

Some Friendly advice for flying the not-so-friendly skies

You know that Liberty Mutual commercial where a random act of kindness inspires another random act of kindness? The message of that ad popped into my head after reading Chris Elliott’s article about the attitude of our modern day flight attendants.

In the article, Chris shares stories he’s heard of passengers who’ve had less than sparkling experiences with flight attendants while in the air. Could we improve our relationships at 30,000 feet if everyone was just a little bit nicer to each other?

As the President of a national tour operator, I’m passionate about delivering the best travel experiences at the best value to my customers. But there are certain things that are unfortunately beyond my control — airlines, for example. Grr. Anytime you bring an airline into the mix, there’s a chance that quality customer service could go by the wayside.

There’s been a lot of talk about how the travel industry has changed in the past 20 years. Invasive security measures, less accountability from the airlines, never-ending fees, cramped cabin space, and the constant battle with those overhead compartments, just to name a few.

But what about the flight attendants that Chris calls out in his story? Many say that they’ve become less interested in attending to their frazzled passengers and more concerned with simply keeping rears in seats until the plane lands. Chris asks readers, do flight attendants hate their passengers?

Personally, I don’t think this is the case. It’s no secret that airlines are cutting costs everywhere, and this likely includes the compensation for their overworked staff. These hard working men and women are probably stuck with longer shifts for less money. Their days are plagued with the same changing schedules, flight delays and cancellations, and disgruntled customers as every passenger waiting in the terminal or crammed in a too-small seat. You know how you feel when your flight is delayed or you’re stuck on the tarmac for an hour. What if that defined every day of your week?

While this is no excuse to be rude to the paying customer, it gives us some insight to the mindset of flight attendants. It’s possible that what we’ve been reading as rudeness or disinterest isn’t directed at the passengers at all, but is merely a byproduct of the attendants’ unforgiving job.

Travelling to fantastic, exotic destinations wouldn’t be possible without the work of airline staff whose number one job is to keep us safe. But in my opinion, passengers and airline staff could do a better job of working together to make everyone’s lives easier. The simplest things, such as those random acts of kindness I mentioned, spread virally and can improve the experience of everyone around us when we travel.

Help a fellow passenger with a heavy carry-on. Clean up after yourself. Be flexible with a family that wants to switch seats to sit together. Respect each other’s space. And understand that a flight attendant can’t get the plane off the ground any faster.

Doing our part to help flight attendants will likely result in their reciprocation, making our time in the sky more pleasant for everyone. 
What do you think? Am I defending the indefensible? Would making an effort to be a kinder passenger make a difference? Is this a simple issue of human accountability where everyone shares some blame? Or do flight attendants simply hate their passengers?
Anyone who knows me knows how frustrated I often get with the airlines. But I personally do not believe that flight attendants deserve all the blame for our bad experiences. Rather, I would look a little closer at their employers.  

Drunk Delta pilot: What this teaches the public about flying

By now you’ve probably heard about the Delta pilot who was arrested for allegedly being drunk before takeoff. The 52-year-old pilot from Woodbury, N.J. was about to fly a plane from Amsterdam to New Jersey. But fortunately his condition was discovered thanks to an anonymous tip, and he never flew the plane.

The poor judgment of the pilot, whose name has not been released, has garnered a lot of media attention. It’s also brought up many airline safety questions. And in this case, I think that Delta’s airline safety system worked.

Let me explain. I’m not making excuses for this pilot or condoning his behavior. Had he flown that plane, the consequences obviously could have been catastrophic. But in the end, the anonymous tip saved the day avoiding any potential disaster.

We don’t know who reported him, and any guess as to the identity of the tipster is speculation, but I will say this. In general, there’s something wonderful about flight crews on international flights, which is what this Delta pilot was flying.

It’s evident from every aspect of the in-flight experience that these flight crews do their jobs and do them well. I travel a lot and can attest to this personally. That’s not to say that the ticket agent who checks you in is going to smile and treat you warmly, or that every flight attendant is going to go above and beyond. But mostly, I’ve encountered a consistently high standard of performance in the air.

The fact that someone noticed this Delta pilot wasn’t in flying condition reinforces my belief about international flight crews. Someone was looking out for the safety of others and took the right actions to have the pilot removed from the flight.

While I’m sure the media will ultimately identify both the pilot and the tipster, I would risk venturing a bet that the anonymous tipster was a member of that Delta flight crew. He or she looked beyond camaraderie and personal factors to protect the passengers and the plane.

The flying public shouldn’t go into a frenzy or fear flying because of this incident. Rather, travelers can feel very confident that there are professional people who are watching to make sure air travel remains as safe as possible. And this incident exemplifies the point quite poignantly.

What do you think about the allegedly drunk pilot being arrested? Despite having been anonymously outed, do you still worry about safety and pilot competency while traveling on international flights? Leave your thoughts in a comment on this post.

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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