Who’d be a flight attendant nowadays? It seems that every week there are new reports of air rage incidents, with passengers throwing tantrums, trying to open emergency exits and what have you.
Just last week we reported the case of a tour guide who was arrested in Kunming for encouraging his passengers to open the aircraft’s emergency exits. And while, yes, this was probably a rather poor piece of advice, there is a little more to the story than meets the eye…
It turns out that some passengers had been held on the aircraft for more than three hours due to a delayed take-off and were complaining of a lack of air. This problem is symptomatic of the Chinese aviation sector, where infrastructure and airspace limitations are struggling to cope with surging passenger numbers, leading to delays.
And earlier this month hundreds of passengers were stuck on the tarmac at Abu Dhabi Airport for 12 hours – that’s half a day out of your life!
Of course there is no excuse for opening aircraft emergency exits, but I get the feeling some cabin crew could be a little more sympathetic to angry passengers.
On a recent flight I took from Athens, a passenger shouted at one of the flight attendants before take-off. He was just frustrated at the delay and could’ve been calmed easily. Instead, the entire crew – pilots and all – went mob-handed to the man’s seat and gave him a first class rollocking. Which, of course, just reignited the argument and delayed the flight even more.
One of the passengers in the Kunming incident also accused the pilot of shouting at the passengers (although it should be added that China Eastern Airlines has denied this).
Let’s face it; air travel can be an unpleasant experience. You’re forced into way-too-close proximity to hundreds of other people, and often delayed without information. And while I appreciate that being a flight attendant must be a stressful job at times, they must realise that passengers are people with real emotions and not just ‘self-loading cargo’, as they’re often referred to in the aviation sector.
A little tolerance could go a long way. And if the passengers still aren’t happy, well, they know where the door is.