PILOTE.US - Journal d'un pilote francais aux Etats-Unis

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Mon histoire



Journal d'une hôtesse

Mon hôtesse a écrit le texte suivant que j’ai découvert sur son ordinateur portable. Je lui ai demandé de m’en envoyer une copie par email. Le voici.

Désolé, mais j’ai décidé de le garder dans sa forme originale (in English) :

“Here they come, Shauna,” says my pilot.

“Thank you,” I reply while swallowing the last of my coffee and putting a smile on.

“Good morning, welcome aboard.” I repeat this line about thirty times and begin scanning the fifty passengers for potential needs and wants. An array of replies come back from a pleasant “good morning” to a comment on the outside weather.

I always love being told what it is like outside because I stand between two doorways that create a sort of wind tunnel exposing me to all elements. When it is cold my toes become numb, when it is hot I am thankful that I have an undershirt beneath our tissue thin white shirts, when it is raining it looks as if I forgot to dry my nylons, and when it’s windy my hair looks beautiful.

During this time there are a lot of questions, most of which I am prepared to answer because they have been asked many times before. As the Flight Attendant I am not allowed to do much more than that, due to the many restrictions placed on my position. I am trained on all of the emergency equipment located in the cabin and on the procedures for effective evacuations.

I am also required to know the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations and company policies which cannot be deviated from without a hefty fine. I am not trained or educated in the booking or reassignment of flights, seat assignments, maintenance, dispatch, air traffic control, or meteorology. I do not control the aircraft’s climate control, speaker volume, pushback time, or Mother Nature. What I do control is safety, the galley, and my attitude.

A family of four comes up the stairs carrying two car seats. “May I see the label that says ‘for use on an aircraft', sir?” I ask. He inquires why, and as I explain that it is necessary in order for them to use it on our aircraft, he informs me that they were allowed to use it on their last flight. After searching for and locating the required safety label, I then ask to see their boarding passes. As the family struggles with several items they have brought onboard, they finally locate them in the bottom of the oversized diaper bag.

It ends up that I am going to have to move them because they will not be able to use the seats assigned due to the rules concerning the location of car seats. The family is getting a little irritated, but I manage to get them seated. This does not happen, however, until after I have explained to several already seated passengers the necessity of moving in order to meet FAA regulations.

It is time for the first announcement that gives passengers the initial rules they need to know before we push back. Standing in the front of the cabin, microphone in hand, I have to tune out the two passengers in row one who are talking about their experience at security and what they had for breakfast. The volume of several conversations increases as well as of a few individuals with a cell phone glued to their ear.

In my announcement, I talk about where and how carry-on bags need to be stowed. I am amazed when the passenger who had poached eggs gives me grief, because they may not leave their bag in front of the bulkhead and there is no room in the overhead bins until row four. When I ask for cell phones to be turned off so I can close the cockpit door indicating we are ready for taxiing, I am ignored.

Another passenger informs me that the speakers are very loud. I let them know that it has been written up and that I will see what I can do. She begins to get a bit upset and tells me that she is going to lose her hearing. Since I will not deal with this type of attitude I turn to walk away. I plan on holding my hand over the microphone and a little further away than usual when making announcements, but when I begin walking forward I somehow catch her foot and almost sink my nose into the carpet lining the aisle.

I turn to tell her that she is not allowed to interfere with a crewmember’s duties but before I get anything out, she says with a straight face and in a monotone voice, “Sorry, it was an accident.” It is now her word against mine, and passengers always win. To create better rapport with her, I go back later in the flight to ask if the volume is better, and she carries on complaining right where she left off. Through patient conversation, I find out she thought it was just her seat that was loud and that I would not move her when in fact all the speakers are the same. I even sensed that she felt a little apologetic for her behavior.

“Sir, can I get you something to drink?” I ask politely. The reply is nothing but a wave of the hand for me to go away.

“…checked luggage can be found in baggage claim located in Terminal One. We will be arriving in Terminal Two…”, I say in my arrival announcement. As the passengers deplane they inquire about this information. “I have to go all the way to Terminal One to get my luggage?” asks a passenger in a not so pleasant tone. I apologize sympathetically but it doesn’t seem to help because they continue to grumble as they make their way down the stairs informing me that that is ridiculous.

I understand this can be both confusing and frustrating. However, all United Express checked bags must go to United Baggage Claim located in Terminal 1, while it is United Airlines that has assigned my company to park at the F Concourse in Terminal 2.

There is an awful stench in the cabin and since the blue-juice in the lavatory has been changed we are having trouble figuring out where the smell is coming from. As I cross seatbelts and clean the cabin I see a bulge in one of the seatback pockets. When I peer into the pocket to see what it is before placing my hand inside I am relieved yet disgusted. It’s only a dirty diaper, not something potentially harmful.

The airlines sometimes do things that end up annoying passengers though that is not the intent of these rules and regulations. Many times passengers are not able to understand this and respond with annoyance. The result of this kind of war between airline employees and passengers, which all too often redounds on the innocent in a way that cries out for justice. It is going to take understanding and respect from both sides to improve the way things are run and people are treated.

Employees have rules to follow for reasons of safety and consistency. This allows passengers to expect some reasonable semblance of order for when things go awry. It appears to me that people get angry and defensive when unexpected situations occur out of their control.

All too often passengers let me know that they want the truth. I do my best to give them all the information I have. Sometimes things change and situations occur that throw everything out of line not only for the passengers, but for the airline too.

During a recent flight resulting in a diversion very late one night due to bad weather, I was told by a passenger that they were going to sue our airline for false imprisonment. Knowledge of contracts, understanding of regulations, and common sense will make the travel industry a better place for employees and passengers.

Shauna