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15 Things Only Flight Attendants Would Understand

15 Things Only Flight Attendants Would Understand

If you thought that being a flight attendant was easy or even glamorous, think again. According to one source, it is one of the worst jobs out there because of the high stress levels, miserable pay and poor job prospects. Some airlines have been called the slave ships of the air! The minimum salary is $24,000 and maximum might reach $73,000 for senior staff. There may be some good perks such as hotel and car rental discounts and some free travel. But the everyday grind of dealing with difficult and demanding passengers makes you wonder why you chose this particular job. Here are 15 things that only you will understand.

1. You hate the rowdy, drunk passengers

Of course most passengers are polite and fairly well behaved. The problem is that there are always those who step out of line and are downright unruly and difficult. Passengers who expose their smelly feet and drunken passengers are the worst. They all get a mention on the Passenger Shaming page on Facebook which now has over 333,000 likes! Watch the video here just in case you think all this has been exaggerated. Not exactly pleasant working conditions for the poor flight attendant (FA).

2. You have a difficult social life

Another challenge you face is that because of your crazy schedule, you are the one who has to reach out and organize your social life when you are actually on the ground. There is no point in waiting around for friends to call you because they never understand or even try to memorize your schedule which is continually changing anyway.

3. You have a really complicated timetable

Getting up for an early flight could actually mean 1am in the morning! You may have to do long haul flights which inevitably means upsetting your body clock and you have problems with jet lag. You may be on the infamous ‘red eye’ flights and that also means disturbed sleep patterns.

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4. You have to handle the scared passengers

It has been estimated that up to 30% of plane passengers are on the nervous flyers spectrum. A much smaller number will actually have aviophobia and you think that they should be given a refund and told to go by train or ship! But, of course, you are empathic and skilful in dealing with these special cases.

5. You are in the front line if hijackers strike

You have had to go through all that training and you know exactly what to do. This is scary if a terrorist manages to get on board and create havoc. The pilots are okay because they will always remain locked in the cockpit, no matter what happens. You are in the front line and you are responsible for any decisions you take. Nevertheless, you are glad you did that training because you feel more confident.

6. You are the scapegoat

You are the one who gets it when anything goes wrong. It could be flight delays, bad weather, pricing, seat allocation, leg room, tray tables, reclining seats, and the food. Passengers tend to think that you have decided all these things. You are only trying to make their stay on board a pleasant one so you get really angry when they blame you for everything.

7. You did not walk into this job

Yes, passengers think that you just walked into the job and there was not that much competition. You would like to tell them that when Delta advertised 1,000 openings some years back, there were 100,000 applicants! Looks like getting into Harvard is easier than this. You also had to invest time and money in learning another language because that can really increase your chances.

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8. You really had to train hard after you got the job

Passengers who think that the FA is just a glorified server or salesperson is totally wrong. You are responsible for their safety and well-being. That means you had to go through rigorous training as regards emergencies, safety, evacuation and first aid. You wonder how many of them would actually know what a defibrillator is and how it might work to actually save their life.

9. You wish they knew your schedule

I bet that many passengers do not realize the cruel scheduling that you have to put up with. Just imagine a 2 hour working day followed by one of twelve hours. You get to work five days in a row and do a world trip while doing that. Doing six cities in 48 hours is not so unusual. Everybody thinks the job is great as you can stay in luxury hotels and surf on the beach. At the start when you are on reserve status, you cannot even enjoy your 10-15 days leave as you have to be on call and that means you might have to leave at just a few hours’ notice. Many people do not know that reserve status can last a few years in some cases.

10. You get passengers’ germs as a bonus

Dealing with all these people in a small space with recycled air means that flight attendants get exposed to all sorts of viruses, germs and bacteria. Not surprising that the rate of minor illness such as colds and flu in our group is pretty high. There are sick-day policies so you can take sick leave but sometimes you just cannot afford that. If you call in sick at the last minute, you are going to get reduced pay. That makes you feel even worse! But there are other health risks and FAs are more likely to suffer from bronchitis, skin cancer, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety than the general population.

11. You never get to work with the same colleagues

Imagine walking into your office and working with a different set of colleagues every day! This is what most flight attendant have to get used to. One small advantage is that you will never meet that obnoxious colleague again! But you never get to work again with really nice co-worker and that is a shame.

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12. You risk back injuries

When you have to help a passenger to lift an overstuffed carry-on into the overhead bin, you risk putting your back out and you might even have to take time off. Not to mention all the walking you have to do up and down the aisle pushing the heavy beverage cart. You do the cabin every fifteen minutes and that all adds up.

13. You may risk a FAA fine

It may seem unbelievable but if the flight attendant breaks a rule by giving someone a glass of water after the safety demo, they risk a fine of up to $1,100 if a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) inspector happens to be on board. You often wonder why the FAA does not leave you in peace. You rightly feel that they should charge much heftier fines for those air-rage passengers who disrupt flights and make life hell for everybody on board.

14. You have to keep your emotions under control

You can spot a difficult passenger the moment they step on board. This is the one who will have problems with their carry-on luggage, the seat will not recline because it is on the exit row and of course s/he will not be able to order a snack because they are sold out! You have to make sure that you are not threatening them by your body language, you have to shut up and just listen, you cannot let emotions take over and you have to stick to the facts. You feel great though when you have managed a really difficult passenger well.

15. You hate screaming babies and unruly kids

You know the scene only too well. A passenger rings the call bell because there is a toddler who is kicking their seat. Yes, it is really irritating when a passenger’s seat gets kicked. But when you have to act as a temporary parent, it is very risky. Being the disciplinarian sometimes backfires and the parents get angry. As for screaming babies, the changes in pressurization are causing their ears to hurt, so they cry. But try telling that to the nearby passengers! All you can do is to make sure that the parents have everything they need to calm the baby.

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The next time you work as a FA, pat yourself on the back that you are doing a great job and that very few passengers really know what it is like. You just hope that 95% of them know how to act like a gentleman or a lady.

Featured photo credit: WI: Midwest Airlines flight attendants candlelight vigil July 8, 2008, Milwaukee/ Bernard Pollack via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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