Thursday, July 3, 2008


The friendly skies aren't so friendly these days. You can blame high fuel prices, which it seems everyone is blaming on everything. But, on two recent flights between New York and Los Angeles and aboard Delta Airlines, I rarely caught a smile from the flight attendants, let alone a friendly remark. Not only that, at times, they were downright rude.

Why is this, I wondered? Sparked by higher fuel prices, the airlines have cut back. This means, you're charged for just about every on board service. $2.00 to rent headphones. $2.00 to watch a movie. $7.00 for a cheese plate. $10.00 for a Caesar salad. Drink prices have gone up and now many airlines charge to check even one piece of luggage.

Here's why the flight attendants appear exhausted, angry and rude. They have to handle cash. "Exact change," they bark. On one trip, I asked for both the cheese plate and a salad and they had this "how dare you make me do more work" kind of look.
Many of us were especially antsy because the pilot ordered the flight attendants to stop the drink service because of rough weather ahead. It was indeed a bumpy ride, but the service ended at about the 10th row prior to the storms and didn't resume until 3 hours later. We were hungry, thirsty and tired of waiting.

Then, after our meal was served, I wanted to clear my space of the left over debris. I asked a flight attendant if she had a trash bag where I could unload this stuff. In a gruff tone, she said no, go back to your seat. A half hour later, as the clean up cart arrived seat-side, I reached up and tried to drop the garbage in the trash hole of the rolling cart. Again, I was barked at , "I'll do that. Just wait." Imagine that, I'm trying to help her perform one less task and she growls at me. If you don't have a credit card, you're going to need the assistance of the flight attendant to swipe a card on your personal TV set to pay for your movies. You give the attendant two bucks and she swipes the card. Another task, they had never been asked to perform before. I had a credit card, so it was one less thing for them to worry about, at least with me.

What's happening here is that, as the airlines continue to charge for items and services it had never charged you for before, the attendants are getting grief from the passengers. Don't be surprised if the next time you fly, they charge you for a cup of water and that nice warm blanket. So, as they're feeling the heat from passengers, they're passing on their frustration back to the passengers, even the ones, like me, who don't complain and happily pay the price.

I can only speak for the two flights I took, but I would imagine it's not just Delta airlines, but grumpy flight attendants probably abound industry wide. There's not much you can do, but grin and bare it. Speak your peace on board and the next thing you know, you'll be subdued by a self-defense trained flight attendant and then questioned by the FBI as a potential terrorist.

FBI agent: "You were making certain demands on board, weren't you?"

Passenger: "Yes I was. I wanted a salad and she gave me a cheese plate?"

FBI agent: "That angered you, right?"

Passenger: "I could have strangled that woman. She was such a bitch."

FBI: "How often do you have these murderous thoughts?"

Passenger: "Usually, just when I fly."

FBI: "So, you're saying, when on board airlines, you want to kill people?"

Passenger: "I guess."

FBI: "Where did you get your terrorist training?"

You get the picture.

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