The Not So Friendly Skies


Is it just me, or are most of the flight attendants these days disgruntled, impatient, angry, and ill-tempered? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to play the blame game. I know the airline industry is a mess and flight attendants are likely getting the short of the stick, but wow.

I took a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles earlier today and right from the get go the woman managing my part of the cabin was in the worst mood I’ve ever seen. I tried to be friendly and stay out of her way, but she seemed to be on a mission. And this was the 6:45am flight, so it’s not like it had been a long day. Although it could have been a long night.

She was far from accommodating and did very little to appease anyone’s wishes. In fact, she spent most of her time kicking people’s legs out of the way of the cart path and making it a point to show her anguish. I understand that we all have bad days at work, and there’s really no place to hide on an airplane, but I’ve seen this pattern on nearly every flight I’ve been on in recent years.

I remember a previous episode when a female friend of mine asked what types of wine they were serving on a particular flight, and then inquiring about a White Zinfandel. The flight attendant was quick to smirk and say, “Wrong class, it’s either red or white” with a condescending chuckle. Sure she was bold to ask if they had White Zin in coach, but telling a paying customer they’re in the wrong class isn’t exactly customer service.

A few years back I actually missed an international flight because American Airlines had only two out of about 15 of their check-in desks open, though the domestic check-in was chock full of workers. By the time someone in the line got to the front, they had already missed their flight and spent another 30 minutes arguing. The result was a nasty chain reaction of missed flights for everyone else in that fateful line. At one point one of the two employees took a lunch break, leaving one very overworked employee to manage the entire line.

Now I understand that airline companies are cutting back, with amenities such as pillows, blankets, and snacks coming at a premium. But the customer service too? How far can we take it? Things just seem to be getting uglier and uglier in the travel industry, though perhaps it’s because traveling has become more affordable, and competition has driven the personality and pleasure out of flying, making just routine, if not inconvenient.

Add comment July 15th, 2007

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