We love all our passengers. Or actually we tolerate them because we recognize that they are the reason we are able to pluck the benefits of a jet set lifestyle. But no matter how much we appreciate them there are certain dirty deeds that passengers indulge in that continue to drive crew crazy.
Unfortunately boarding a plane is the first contact between crew and passengers. Because boarding causes enough tension to ensure crew are dying for a smoke break even before take-off. No matter what the size of the seat numbers, there will always be merry wanderers who end up right at the back when their seats are in the first row.
These passengers then proceed to trudge upstream, with full luggage consignment causing other passengers and crew enough irritation to want to initiate a stampede. Even when passengers who are bright enough to find their assigned seats, mixed-ups during check in inevitably mean that a family of four will be split in all four wind directions, while I am completely sympathetic to the distress this causes our passengers, I take offense to angry accusations of “WHY DID YOU SPLIT MY FAMILY UP?!”
Then comes the stage that crew nightmares consist of, finding space for hand luggage. Although hand luggage is a term that fails hopelessly to describe the mounts of possessions that passengers drag on board. Passenger revenge to airlines losing and misplacing check in luggage is to bring everything they own as land luggage. That is why the first passengers on board claim all the space in the surrounding seven overhead compartments, leaving disgruntled later boarding passengers with only enough space to stow their boarding pass.
But somehow, we mange. It is then during all this insanity of conjuring up space for bags and relocating seats to three hundred complaining passengers that a little voice will demand a glass of water. And if you’re nice enough to comply, the other 299 passengers will copy the request as soon as they see you passing with this hated glass of liquid.
By this time you’re tightly belted in for take-off, there is only enough time for one argument with a passenger who needs the toilet at the very time of a turbulent take-off.
I am very impressed with what some of the better airlines do to keep their passengers hydrated and full. These days it’s not uncommon to see even economy passengers having an edible meal. But at the end of the day any reasonable person should realize that a meal at 30 thousand feet is never going to add up to a five star dining experience.
When presented with a choice of beef or chicken it’s quite common to hear “don’t you have anything else?” Well sure, we’ll just consult the onboard chef as to what else he can whip up in a galley the size of a petite shoebox. I’ve been amazed at the absurdity of requests for milkshakes, fries and eggnog, mostly on a 40-minute flight.
Deceptive advertising is at the root of passengers believing they will enjoy the full attention of crew salivating to tend to their every demand. Crew faced with a ratio of 50 passengers to one stressed out crew member know the feeling of serving one passenger who wants an extra cocktail, vegetarian meal and a list of medication all during the service.
But the moment that provides most opportunity for full on flying rage is when passengers need the toilet during a time-pressured service. Rolling the food trolley back and forth while passengers approach and leave the toilets for their seats provide time for nurturing murderous thoughts.
Passengers are even more impatient than crew. They are eager to complain when their meal does not arrive the second crew are cleared for service and they want their tray removed as soon as the last fork full of food enters their mouths. And after all this fun it’s time to start serving the passengers who believe they are in a ‘drink as much as you can bar’.
Despite all the potential pitfalls most flights turn out all right especially when the long awaited descent starts. Descending is also the time when every passenger on board needs to use the toilet just in case they never get to use one again. It’s also a time of collecting headsets and being blamed for every unfinished movie that will scar the viewer for life.
There is a myth out there that if you jump up as soon as the wheel touch ground you’ll be out of the aircraft first. This myth has survived despite passengers witnessing the fact that taxiing takes about half an hour, a time when passengers are meant to be securely strapped in.
Even after almost decapitating fellow passengers to get bags out of the over head compartments with impressive speed and strength, there is still the inevitable standing in the aisle waiting for the air bridge and other landing formalities.
If only we could start an educational campaign that no matter what you do, everyone leaves the plane at roughly the same time, disembarking will be a much more peaceful endeavor.
All this does not take the fun out of flying, because cabin crew are a very resourceful bunch. We have learned to deal with all these little passenger peeves without relying on physical force.
And every now and then we are blessed with a flight of model travelers who never press the call bell, stay in their seats with their seat belts and even thank the crew when they leave after a 14-hour flight. And this inspires us enough to deal with the next bunch of peeveful passengers.