Amateur Travel Season

Inside Parma Airport. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Amateur travel season, when all the individuals crawl out of their homes and decide it would be a glorious idea to descend upon a port of flying metal tubes. This is the one time of year they leave the ground behind to fly off and visit loved ones. It usually runs from Thanksgiving through New Years. I had thought that Amateur Season 2011 had ended, and was hoping to return to business as usual with the start of 2012. Unfortunately, I’ve been proven wrong every day this year as more and more aeronautically challenged individuals keep stepping into my office.

During the holidays I’ve learned to expect chaos and seasonal anxious flyers, but when I let out my breath to welcome the new year I was forced to choke on my own hope, as the amateur flyers are still out in full flight.

I think we need to set some ground rules to play by before you entire my domain.

Lighten up, you are about to defy gravity. 

First things first, flight attendants have many roles and responsibilities, none of which is to make traveling more difficult, so get that idea out of your head before you board your next flight. We are however convinced that some of you make it your ambition to make traveling an excruciating experience for anyone crossing your path. Lighten up, you are about to defy gravity. No one enjoys having to choose a handful of necessary items and cramming them into a bag. Nor is it a fun recreational activity to then lug it through the TSA checkpoint standing barefoot where countless numbers of flyers before you have stood barefoot, only to find out you have not received the new in-flight liquids manual since the last time you flew, and you have broken 37 of the new rules. Suh-curity! Then everyone gets to walk slowly down a cramped noisy jet bridge onto a metal tube, and finally settle into a single seat with shared armrests for the next few hours.

We flight attendants are social creatures, but like any wild animal, we can be feisty if tested and defensive when threatened, and our number one concern is safety and security. So remember everyone, including flight crews go through security, have rough days, and are confined in the same flying tube that you are.

Second, I am not psychic, nor can I attempt to be while we are inflight. I know flight attendants seem to defy gravity while serving your drinks in turbulence, but mind reading was unfortunately left out of our training manual. I like to think that if someone is able enough to buy a plane ticket, arrive on time and make it through security and onto the plane, they can pretty much take care of themselves. Surprisingly this isn’t the case. Even though we can anticipate most of your needs and are prepared to get creative with the random odd requests, we can’t predict every single guest’s every need. I have had a number of passengers who sit down for a 5 to 6 hour flight and suddenly remember they are diabetic. I hate it when my aeronautical amnesia sets in. Suddenly they are furious because I did not bring them a sandwich and the airline doesn’t offer the right type of food for their diet. That seems appropriate, don’t you think? Let me tell you, the best way to get a sandwich at 35,000 feet is not to yell at your flight attendant, please do not cause a scene. It perplexes me to no end that an event like this can happen. So here comes the interrogation: When did you find out you’re diabetic? Do you have dietary restrictions? What happens when you don’t have any food? Why did you think it was a good idea to board a 5 hour flight without bringing any food? Again, no need to yell. I’m just becoming more concerned with how you actually made it onto the plane with that clear lack of critical thinking.

Of course, being a classy lady and all, I would never say this to someone. It is astonishing to encounter the expectant nature of some passengers and the hostility towards flight attendants. I could not have known that any of my guests were diabetic, remember mind reading was not included in training, but I will gladly do anything within my abilities to meet dietary restrictions and maintain a healthy state of your consciousness. My only request is that you approach me kindly, I am a human too.

Lastly, don’t be an angry honey badger of a passenger, because even though we’ll get a good laugh watching you fret around and piss everyone else off, what another passenger may do in response is out of my control. Passengers and crew alike are confined to the same space, the same air, and the same delays as everyone else. Relax and enjoy your flight. Energy generated from anger does not yet make planes fly faster so you might as well get comfortable, watch TV, order refreshments, take a breath in and turn open the air flow a little more if you are feeling heated. If you don’t you’re still an angry honey badger when the flight is over, and we will get over you as quick as you get off our plane. Leave the attitude at home and you might have a little more room in your luggage for the things you really need.

So, dear travelers, before you venture out from your homes, consider the playbook, the rules of the travel world, there are a few things I would like you to remember: First , flight attendants are not out to ruin your trip, we’re on the plane with you to ensure a safe, comfortable flight. Second, we are not psychic and while we try to anticipate the most common needs, we can’t anticipate every traveler’s unique needs. And lastly, don’t be an angry honey badger of a passenger, or do, and we’ll continue to laugh because we know there is no hope of pleasing you.

Deep breath. I consider this practice and I’m the coach — hopefully they’ll learn someday.

Courtney O'Connor

About Courtney O'Connor

Court O'Connor is a flight attendant based in San Francisco, CA, which serves as the launch pad for this small town girl's spontaneous adventures around the world. Follow along on her journeys, pick up priceless tips, and experience the adventure of life in the sky.