The Not So Friendly Skies

On Friday of last week, I watched an episode of 20/20, entitled Just Plane Crazy.  I’m certain we’re all aware the one time friendly skies on any occasion nowadays, can  become the sinister, other worldly skies.  Way back in the day, and as ABC television has portrayed with their new show Pan Am, becoming a Stewardess (what they were called at the time), almost held the same recognition as a rock or movie star.  And, the Captain certainly possessed an ethereal mystique.  I myself remember once in my life having a desire to become one of these airline jewels.  Why didn’t I? Who could wait five years to even get an appointment.  As I watched 20/20, my husband and I sat amazed at how the rules have definitely, and so harshly changed – only being paid for on hours and even then, a minimal amount? Yes, the industry is certainly different.

Who remembers Steven Slater, the male flight attendant back in 2010 having a meltdown, and his antics being posted on You Tube?  He advises, in this age they can make as little as $9,700.00 a year.  What! Added to the stress of today’s pace, the agitated and unpredictable passenger; the one who has been poked and prodded one too many times at the gate, mixed with that extra Bloody Mary has all made the attendant question his/her desire to maintain that job.  I mean only a few weeks ago, we all watched in amazement as a Captain, yes CAPTAIN, lost his cool and found himself in a Hannibal Lecter type chair, being removed from his flight.  Then, some time before that a plane had to make an unscheduled stop to have two sisters on their way to a fashion show in Asia wrangled off.  This incident also tied itself to having more alcohol than needed.  It is a very good thing that the punishment for such outrageous behavior has now been elevated to the Federal level.

One attendant interviewed confessed, she could spot a trouble maker right away; they are usually the ones  highly agitated and flinging complaints as they come through the airplane door.  I myself am a horrible flyer.  The inter-island service in Hawaii runs back and forth like the M6 bus in Manhattan – no assigned seating – it operates on a first come basis.  I remember an extremely confusing and tense flight from Oahu to Maui, because  my husband decided to plop us down in seats at the Emergency exit.  The entire experience sent me into a mini-tirade; this is what my fear does.  So, let’s say I’m dealing with this, and then out of nowhere he has to assist in subduing some out of control person threatening everyone’s safety.  And, as if all of this were not enough, what is up with the Transportation Security Administration searching babies, the disabled, and grandmothers.  They make us all want to write the Fourth Amendment message on our chests in protest.  Aah, for the old days, huh?

Way back when, the friendly skies really were hospitable; a loved one could walk you to the gate or stand outside as the airplane taxied and took off.  In fact, in my mind, I remember only yesterday when that same loved one could hang out there and watch that flight until the contrails were the only visible thing left.  What has happened to that America?  If you’re old enough to recall that time, then like myself, you miss it as well.  As you sat on board, you only had arriving at your destination on your mind; maybe getting to your business meeting or beginning that vacation.  Not to point this out, but shoe bombers, captains and attendants having meltdowns, absolutely never entered anyone’s mind.  I have so many places left on my Bucket List, and I simply refuse to develop my mother’s philosophy – if I can’t drive there or take a bus and train – then, I refuse to go.  Who is with me on this?

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto


10 thoughts on “The Not So Friendly Skies

  1. I also fly as little as possible these days, even though it’s the only way I can visit some favorite relatives who live in California. When I went out there last year–being a bit out of practice with the security measures–I had a very unpleasant exchange with a TSA officer in Newark airport. As I reached the X-ray machine, I realized I needed to remove even MORE clothing (it was winter) and needed a third bin, which was way back down the line. Apparently, I requested a bit too often or too frantically that someone down there pass me another bin, because the guard pulled me aside and asked me what my problem was. I tried to laugh it off by saying, “I haven’t flown in a while, I’m not used to all this craziness,” but she took exception, looked me hard in the eye and said, “Its. Not. Craziness.” At that point, I guess she had me fingered as either a psycho or a card-carrying member of Al Quaeda. I managed to calm HER down, but was shaking with anger for about an hour afterward. Great way to start a trip. And as for the overcrowing on the plane itself–don’t get me started. I traveled quite a bit when I was younger, and even besides the airport security, being on the plane itself was so much more comfortable than now. I’m amazed so many people do put up with it without complaining!

    • Hi Eileen: you know I read your comment in my e-mails, and I thought you were another friend named Eileen. Must be old age. The entire industry is really not like it used to be, huh? In a situation such as you described, I may have been handcuffed and taken away. There is no need for rudeness.!end.

  2. I’ve never been on a plane nor will I. Between crashes, terrorist, the security at the airport, what you can and can’t bring on a plane, being treated like cattle, turning off cell phones, laptops, etc., paying for extra luggage and now this what possible reason would anyone in their right mind want to pay the price of an airline ticket to be treated like this.

  3. Sometimes, you have to get on a plane. Hubby’s father died in Florida and we had to fly there. Take off and landing make me a nervous wreck. Landing on a snowy runway can totally freak me out. Sometimes … alcohol is a good thing.

    • Even though I’m generally not afraid of flying–though anybody can get nervous in bad weather–the fact is that getting on a plane is stressful enough for many people, without all the other stresses the airlines put you through these days. For example, a lot of people feel claustrophobic and “trapped” on an airplane. So how does the industry respond? Mash us all in even tighter, so you can’t even stretch your legs full length and you have the person next to you practically in your lap. I’m only 5’6″ and fairly slim, and I’m extremely cramped on a 747–I can’t imagine how a tall or heavy-set person stands it. Health experts tell you to get up and walk or stand frequently, but between the seat belt signs being on and the drinks/headsets cart blocking the aisle, it’s hardly ever possible. The whole situation is really nuts!

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