Cabin Crew: Letter Of Apology To The Flying Public

This was just sent to us via email. Consider it the personal manifesto of one flight attendant. The text is that of the anonymous author and we don’t necessarily endorse their remarks.

To the Flying Public: We’re Sorry

We’re sorry we have no pillows.
We’re sorry we’re out of blankets.
We’re sorry the airplane is too cold.
We’re sorry the airplane is too hot.
We’re sorry the overhead bins are full.
We’re sorry we have no closet space for your oversized bag.
We’re sorry that’s not the seat you wanted.
We’re sorry there’s a restless toddler/overweight/offensive smelling passenger seated next to you.
We’re sorry the plane is full and there are no other seats available.
We’re sorry you didn’t get your upgrade.
We’re sorry that guy makes you uncomfortable because he “looks like a terrorist”.
We’re sorry there’s a thunderstorm and we can’t take off.
We’re sorry we don’t know when it will stop.
We’re sorry you’re crammed into a space so small that if you were an animal PETA would protest.
We’re sorry our plane has no music or video entertainment for your 3 hour flight.
We’re sorry we ran out of your favorite soda.
We’re sorry there are no more sandwiches.
We’re sorry that Budweiser costs $6.
We’re sorry we don’t have diapers for your baby.
We’re sorry we don’t have milk for same baby.
We’re sorry you can’t hang out by the cockpit door waiting to use the bathroom.
We’re sorry you can’t hang out at the back of the airplane.
We’re sorry you have to sit down and fasten your seatbelt.
We’re sorry you have to put your seat up for landing.
We’re sorry we don’t know when we’re going to land.
We’re sorry we don’t know whether your plane to (substitute any city in the world) will be waiting for you when we land.
We’re sorry we’ve been diverted because we ran out of gas waiting to land.
We’re sorry for these and so many other things that we have absolutely no control over but which we are held accountable for EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Please understand. Flight attendants are not the enemy. We share your space. More than anyone, we want to have a nice, pleasant travel experience.

There is a reason behind everything we ask you to do. It may be a FAA directive. It may be security related. It may be a company procedure.

We don’t just make stuff up. We don’t spend 8 weeks at the flight academy learning how to pour a Coke. There are many things that flight attendants are watching for constantly on every flight FOR YOUR SAFETY. It’s not because we’re bored or so controlling that we just enjoy telling people what to do. I, for one, would like to have one flight where I didn’t have to repeatedly tell people to put their seats up for landing. Seriously. Can’t you just do what we ask sometimes? Without the glares, eye rolling and disdain? For the record ? putting your seat up for landing may not seem that important to your personal safety. However, it is very important for the person sitting BEHIND YOU. If you have ever tried to get out of a row where someone has their seat back you know it can be a challenge. Try grabbing your ankles (emergency brace position) or getting out of that row quickly with smoke in the cabin.

Understand a little better now?

Many of the things we ask passengers to comply with are FAA directives. Like carry-on bag stowage and exit row requirements. When we can serve drinks (in the air) and when we can’t (after the aircraft door is closed or on an active taxi-way). We are only allowed to move about the cabin during taxi out for safety related duties. We can’t get you blankets, or hang coats, or get you drinks. It’s not because we don’t want to. It’s because we are held personally responsible if we fail to comply with FAA directives. Meaning that the FAA can fine us personally up to $10,000 if we fail to comply or enforce an FAA Directive.

Like no bags at the bulkhead. No children in the exit row. No one moving around the cabin during taxi. Perhaps now you know why flight attendants get a little testy when people move about the cabin when they’re not supposed to. It’s not the company that gets in trouble for that. It’s us.

Personally, I wish the airlines would show worst case scenario safety videos. Like what happens if you walk through the cabin during turbulence. There could be a guy who has just fallen and smacked his face on the metal armrest and now has a bloody, gushing broken nose. Or an elderly lady who now has a broken arm because someone walking to the bathroom fell on her.

Maybe a passenger with a broken neck because somebody opened an overhead bin during turbulence and a suitcase fell out and onto the person sitting beneath it. These things can easily happen in a fast moving, unstable air environment.

Please just trust that we are looking out for your best interest and stop fighting with us about everything we ask you to do. It is exhausting.

Finally, please, please direct your hostility and frustrations in the direction where they will be most effective: The customer service department. They are the ones equipped to handle your complaint and implement procedures for CHANGE.

Think about it. Complaining to the flight crew about all your negative travel experiences is about the same as complaining to the office janitor because your computer isn’t working. It may make you feel better to vent about it ? but it really won’t fix anything. More than anybody we are already aware of the lack of amenities, food, service and comfort on the aircraft. Please share your concerns with the people in the cubicles at corporate who need that information to make better decisions for the flying public.

It’s frustrating that so many people are in denial about what the travel industry is about now. The glory days of pillows, blankets, magazines and a hot meal for everyone are long gone. Our job is to get you from point A to point B safely and at the cheapest possible cost to you and the company. So be prepared. If you are hungry – get a sandwich before you get on the plane.

If it’s a 3 hour flight, anticipate that you may get hungry and bring some snacks. If you are cold natured ? bring a wrap. Think for yourself and think ahead. Otherwise, don’t complain when you have to pay $3 for a cookie and are left with a crusty blanket to keep you warm.

We hear often that the service just isn’t what is used to be. Well, the SERVICE we provide now isn’t what it used to be. When I was hired, my job was to serve drinks, meals, ensure that safety requirements were met and tend to in-flight medical issues.

Since 9/11 my primary job is to ensure that my airplane will not be compromised by a terrorist. 9/11 may be a distant memory now to many, but be assured that EVERY DAY a flight attendant reports to work he or she is constantly thinking about 9/11. We feel a person al responsibility to ensure that something like that never happens again. We can never relax. We can never not be suspicious about someone’s intentions.

It is difficult to be vigilant and gregarious at the same time. Especially when most of us are working 12 hour days after layovers that only allow 5-6 hours of sleep. Not because we were out partying and having a grand time on the layover ? but because the delays that you experience as a passenger also affect us as a crew, so that what was a 10 hour layover is now 8 hours which doesn’t leave a lot of time to recover from what has become an increasingly stressful occupation.

Despite everything, I still enjoy being a flight attendant.

I am writing this letter because I do still care about my profession and about the public perception of flight attendants. In the increasingly challenging travel world it is becoming more imperative than ever for people to just be decent to each other. I can go through an entire day without one person saying anything remotely civil. I will stand at the aircraft door and say hello to everyone who enters and maybe 50% will even look at me and even less will say hello back.

I will try to serve someone a meal who can’t be bothered to take their headsets off long enough for me to ask them what they want. Most of the time the only conversation a passenger has with me is when they are complaining.

Is it any wonder why flight attendants have shut down a bit? After suffering the disdain of hundreds of passengers a day it’s difficult sometimes to even smile, much less interact. We are human. We appreciate the same respect and courtesy that passengers do.

The next time you fly, try treating the flight attendants the way you would like to be treated. You may be surprised how friendly your flight crew is when they are treated like people.

Author Unknown

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  1. Polly Krueger

    Thank you for your comments which are so true. I was a flight attendant for TWA back I the day when things were simple My husband and I travel mow for pleasure for many years and I see the difference We are always appreciative of what staff does but so irritated of people bringing too many bags not monitored upon boarding which causes last passengers not a bin space May God bless each one of the flight crew We will continue to say hi and thank you always if that might may make one of the crew appreciated.

  2. Mark Mul

    unfortunately, the flight attendants are the visible representative of the airline.
    As such, they are seen as responsible for the company.

  3. Trolly Dolly

    Thank you so much for articulating what cabin crews cannot (if we want to keep our jobs). The days of big seats, hot food, and creature comforts on an airplane went the way of propellors. Now it’s about the bottom line and economic sustainability in a competitive marketplace.

  4. Trolly Dolly

    Thank you for articulating what cabin crews cannot (if we want to keep our jobs).
    The days of big seats, sumptuous food, and creature comforts on an airplane went the way of propellers. There’s no way to keep providing “basic” services if the traveling public refuses to ante up for them. Nowadays it’s all about the bottom line and sustainability in a competitive marketplace.

  5. SlotcarBob

    My wife is in her 45th year as an FA on a major airline. Her response to FA’s who complain about their situation with customers?: “They pay your salary”.

    Look, I get it. This article is spot on. But the people in uniform are the professionals on the plane, and more is expected of them. Is the public abusive? Yes, in many cases. Are they also enjoyable, fun, and interesting? They are. It’s not one sided. As a uniformed crew member you are trained, and expected, to handle the things you describe.

    I have the utmost respect for the airlines. No other industry is expected to perform at that level. Up 35,000 feet, in a metal tube, with demanding agitated clients, AND, the confidence that these planes won’t fall out of the sky – and they never do. Offering food, drink, and entertainment. Imagine what it takes to handle the luggage and in the greatest majority of cases, get it where it’s intended. The odds against all this working, and working so well, is fundamentally not calculable. There is no expectation that it should work so well, but it does. because of the crew, not in spite of them.

    I held jobs where I had to work with the public. Some would immediately come at me with there complaints, as if I had caused them. My method of defusing was to reply, “Look, if you and I can get along, I’ll be the last person you talk to on this topic”. Learned that from my wife. It’s always worked. The public doesn’t get your job (blame that on the lack of information that could be presented in ads). Don’t expect it. They’re actually kind of stupid about the whole thing, for the most part. Be happy with the fact that YOU do your best, and have an important job. Thanks for your service.

    • Cee Cee

      Pay their salary? Lol. Yeah at less than minimum wage averaged out. Treated like crap for peanuts. She may be on her 45th year, but how long did it take her to accomplish a “living wage”. Please, remind her what it was like to be on reserve and making nothing dealing with unruly, disrespectful passengers.

  6. Sandy

    WAKE UP CALL !!! QUIT referring them to Customer Service except .com wrong thing to do as CS in person will not take care of what you WRONGLY directed the public to do that’s MISLEADING n would be like CS telling them well Inflight will fix it ..I think customer service should reverse it back to you! Because you are not doing the public any good you should refer them to Comp mail not go see CS to fix your prob.You are way out of line!!!

  7. PMH

    The problem is the people who wrote this are in the minority. For the most part I have had good experiences, however I find most flight crews overworked & hamstrung by $$$$hungery companies that see both flight attendance & customers as an expandable numbers.

  8. William B Hunter

    This pithy editorial is a prime example of why many airline travelers hate to travel and often voice their displeasure with the airlines in general. If that heat is too much to bear than you can always get out of the proverbial kitchen. My career has been in healthcare for over 3 going on 4 decades. I wouldn’t dream of writing such a scathing review of my career experience nor would I lay such a self loathing burden on the people, YES PEOPLE, that I have had the pleasure of working for all my years. I won’t bore nor stoop to the level of comparing negative experiences this article has, but suffice it to say we too have unhappy, ungrateful, unpleasant, and occasional uncontrollable clients as well. Heck, most healthcare workers have been accosted in the performance of our duties we are held accountable for on a daily basis; bitten, punched, kicked, spit on, pinched, hair pulled, urinated and defecated on, thrown up on, cussed out, stole from, etc. However to not just write an account of rebuke, but to actually believe, embody and proclaim that such behavior is correct is morally and ethically unsound and astonishing. To try and persuade the traveling public that because you took and 8 week class gives you inalienable superiority that can wielded with a heavy hand is overshooting your boundaries more than a little. This would be a wonderful opportunity to be more self reflective, empathetic, humble and forward thinking. Point the finger less and start pulling your thumb more.

    • Joey

      Hair pulled? I don’t know what kinda healthcare u work in, but whatever this author wrote was legit facts that the public need to know. I work in both healthcare and airlines industries and I can tell u they are totally different jobs that you should never compare one with another!

  9. K

    Why are you telling cus to call cus serv to complain about FAA procedures? That is rediculous! Also, customer relations is where they meed to be directed to.

    We will not apologize or compensate for procedure.

    Just like you are frustrated we are too in cus serv for stuff like this.

    OWN IT and do your thing.

  10. Jamie Fletcher

    Out of respect for flight crews who don’t beat the living crap out of customers. I was just wondering this morning how Southwest is doing. They have always provided me with good service. Thanks to at least one friend (flight crew; J.L). for your service! Keep up the great work ;)

    • Cee Cee

      Flight crews never beat anyone. Try reading the facts and looking into the real issue. You are a biased idiot if you think that’s what happened at United.

  11. jarie

    Stop whining there are tough things to deal with in any job. Low pay, leturous boss, rude John Q Public. As a Nurse believe you me @ William B Hunter. When we get over crowded we don’t start deciding who needs to leave hospital so others can take their place. When we are to full we find a bed at a competing hospital. The patient is first. I f airlines don’t have enough room get the fastest flight out for their non-boarded Customers. Even if going to a rivel airline. Auther of letter. Get another job. Say like a 7-11 I high risk area 11-7am shift. You’d get get back on that plane with your tail between your legs! Join the Armed forces now. They need soldiers.

    • Cee Cee

      And ANOTHER moron who knows nothing. YOU are the problem and why this article is written. Please get off your high horse and do some research. You make way more money as a nurse than a flight attendant by far. I’m sure your job is actually worth it at the end of the day. No wonder you don’t really complain. No flight attendant would of they had a nurse’s salary.

    • Cdr

      I am a flight attendant and a nurse. So you have no idea what you are talking about. Matter of fact if you did you would know Flight Attendant were required to be nurses at one time. No one has right to be rude to anyone. Out training is boot camp. And we are it at 40000 feet police, EMS and fireman.

      • Cdr

        Your job people is not a risk you take every day. How little you all forget 911. There are threats everyday so the day you fly 30000 miles a month and risk your life get back to me on what u think being a FA is today.

  12. Carol A Glasscock

    I don’t believe that I have ever had a flight attendant who was rude. I have had passengers to be rude. I have had many passengers, and flight attendants who have been really nice. Everyone on the flight is on their way to somewhere. No time for Prima Donnas, or high maintenance people. Get over yourselves. P.S. I have never been a stewerdess. I have had excellent pilots as well as flight attendants. I say, Thank You.

  13. TexFlyGuy

    It’s a pithy letter and eloquently stated. The FAA does not personally fine a flight attendant for safety related duties, it fines their company. Personal fines are waged against FA’s for not carrying an up-to-date manual.

    For those who are complaining about contacting customer service, I am sure this person is implying for people to contact customer relations in headquarters of said company. It is not implied for customers to contact those employees who work at the airport for changes.

  14. Piper

    We’re sorry the overhead bins are full.

    **Maybe your company shouldn’t be charging for bags and making smaller and smaller overhead compartments**

    We’re sorry the plane is full and there are no other seats available.

    **Maybe your company shouldn’t overbook as many flights**

    We’re sorry you’re crammed into a space so small that if you were an animal PETA would protest.

    **Maybe your company shouldn’t be shrinking legroom and seats.**

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