Monday, August 30, 2010

Today's Cabin Attendant Woes

Provenance Unknown
Steven Slater brought it to the forefront with a spectacular stunt.
But we've all known for a long time that the once envied and perceived glamorous job of cabin attendants has fallen in esteem - both self and otherwise. Joe Sharkey of the New York Times has written eloquently about the situation in his piece A Flight Attendants Lot is not a Happy One.
Now Joe comes up with another story, in which he lays much of the blame for incivility in aircraft squarely on the airlines. He says it is because of their new profit center which generates fees for checking baggage. And what a profit center it is. In his piece Carry-Ons and Courtesy need to Co-exist Joe says the airlines generated $2.7 billion in fees for checking baggage last year. This has caused people to bring more and ever-larger bags on board to avoid the fees, and trying to stuff them in overhead bins not designed to carry them. Passengers squabble among themselves over overhead space and cabin attendants often find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to settle disputes, which can (Steven Slater comes to mind) cause personal injury. Meanwhile the airlines are pointedly looking the other way, letting what happens, happen.
Back in the day, overhead racks were used mainly for blankets, pillows, passenger's hats, souvenirs from vacations, make-up cases and an occasional cheesecake. (I speak from experience on the cheesecake item. I would regularly bring them home from New York for my Mom's girlfriend luncheons. She would tell them, with a twinkle in her eye, "I had this flown in from New York just yesterday."


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