Back in the Air: A Flight Attendant's View

November 29, 2021 00:19:57
Back in the Air: A Flight Attendant's View
Your Window Seat
Back in the Air: A Flight Attendant's View
/

Show Notes

Back in the skies is such a welcomed treat for both leisure and business travelers. Since early 2020, it hasn’t been that easy for either our travelers, or those serving them during the flights. This podcast provides the flight attendant’s view and their personal perspective during these interesting times. Special thanks to Delta Air Lines and Teresa Fuxa for this terrific discussion.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Hi, and welcome to this episode of your window seat, where we at travel incorporated discuss the topics that you care about most in this ever-changing business travel industry. I'm Chaney Waddell your host for today's topic. Back in the air of flight attendants view traumas around the world are excited to get back in the year, both domestically and internationally. And there are many leisure travelers hitting the skies. Some for the first time ever business travelers are steadily returning as well, especially with the reopened European borders and for vaccine to travelers to enter the U S as travelers return much as being discussed about their experience and expectations. Today, we're going to flip that perspective as we've been curious to learn more about the experience from the flight attendants to view those wonderful crew members who are there to both serve and manage our safety. We've probably all heard stories about the new challenges they face. And now we'll bring that discussion straight to you. We're here today with 35 year veteran flight attendant for Delta airlines. Happy to have you with us today, Theresa. Speaker 2 00:01:15 Hi Cheney. Thank you so much. I'm so excited about this opportunity. Speaker 1 00:01:20 Awesome. Well, first Theresa, tell us a little bit about yourself. What inspired you to become a flight attendant? Speaker 2 00:01:26 Cheney? It's something that has been in may since I was a little girl, even in first grade, I'm going to age myself here when they said, what do you want to be when you grow up? I would say airline stewardess. And I had no idea where that was coming from, and I certainly couldn't spell it. As I went throughout my career, I focused on always being a flight attendant. And once I do become a flight attendant, about five years into the business, I asked my mom was mom, whatever provoked me to be a flight attendant. She told me it had always been her dream. And so that was instilled in me from her. And it has been a great career move. And I have loved all 35 years. I've been here with Delta. Speaker 1 00:02:08 That is such a sweet story. Theresa. I have to say as a mother of three little ones at home, I dream of getting on an airplane and flying to glamorous places. But I'm guessing now with the magnitude and just the ever changing restrictions, it's safety precautions. It may not be as glamorous as it was pre pandemic, Speaker 2 00:02:31 Right? We have had a lot of changes and probably the biggest one of course is wearing the mask. But what customers passengers don't know is that cruise, especially internationally, we are still restricted when we arrive at some of these destinations, whereas we can even leave the hotel, some destinations, we can't even leave our hotel room. So it seems made it a little difficult, not quite as glamorous. And then of course, with the mask on, we're saving a lot of money on our lipstick. Speaker 1 00:03:08 Well, goodness, that's quite a sacrifice you guys are making there on the ground, um, not just to protect yourself, but also the people at that destination and on your return flight back. So in addition to the sacrifices you're making on the ground, let's talk some about the challenges you face in the air today with route still somewhat limited planes are full and even on domestic flights, or are you seeing a higher ratio of leisure or less experienced travelers than before? And if so, how's that affect you? Speaker 2 00:03:43 Yeah. In the beginning, right after the pandemic started and the airline industry really cut back, we had no customers onboard. It was unbelievable. We've seen that grow. And right after the pandemic, when you bought a ticket, it was buy one, get three seats free. And then Delta was really good about keeping that middle seat blocked for a long time, a lot longer than the other airlines. So we've gradually moved into a buy one, get one free. And now to the point that summer hit and we just filled up our airplanes, but it was more leisure travelers. We didn't see our business travelers, those medallion fliers that are always there with this week after week, it was a lot of leisure travelers. And with that came the unknowing of etiquette on an aircraft. So we have struggled with that. And then of course the mass mandate was one that we all hated to see, but we're living with it. And Delta is taking all the precautions to make airline travel as safe as possible. Speaker 1 00:04:52 We certainly appreciate that and are looking forward to getting a higher ratio of business travelers to leisure travelers back on that aircraft. It sounds like, you know, with the business travelers, knowing what to do, what to expect, we can get a ratio back to normal. It might make for a more expeditious service experience for all on board. Would that be fair to say, Speaker 2 00:05:16 Oh, absolutely. With our business travelers, we love them. Sometimes I think they know the service and while we're offering more than I do. So it's nice to have them on board. They come on, they know what they want and it's business as usual. So let's have a drink, let's have dinner. And then let me get to my business, let me do the work that I need to do. Whereas with the leisure traveler, they want to know a little bit more about, Hey, what is there to do in Athens? Can you recommend any good restaurants to eat at? Oh, and by the way, what's on the menu and what do you have to drink? And it's a lot more questions. So with the business traveler we'd know them. We know what they want. And so, yeah, we're looking forward to getting them back. Speaker 1 00:06:04 Wonderful. Well, so what advice would you give travelers today by way of etiquette? You know, I always appreciate hearing attendance, remind passengers to use this space under their seat in order to save overhead space for larger baggage. But what else do you wish we knew that would make your job easier? Speaker 2 00:06:22 I think you can ask any flight attendant and the number one request would be take your headphones off. When we come to you to serve you. If you take the headphones off, it was save us a lot of energy because we repeat ourselves over and over until finally we give them the motion, Hey, you know, take those headsets off. So that would be number one is please be respectful and take those headphones off. Never two would be. I don't think you realize that we're standing up above you and up there, there's a lot of ambient noise from the fans, from the air conditioning units. And we can't hear you real well. So go ahead and speak up. And when you do speak up, you don't have to take your mask off, go ahead and leave your mask on. That's what they're there for. So leave your mask on when you're talking to us and speak up. And then the last thing would be, you know, when you do order something, go ahead and order the full order. So if you want coffee, let us know that you want coffee and I'd like cream and sweetener or cream and sugar. Just like if you were at Starbucks, just pretend where your barista in the air. And when you order your coffee, let us know exactly how you want it. Speaker 1 00:07:39 Those are great tips. Thank you for sharing that with us. You mentioned masks, so let's move on to the elephant in the room. Would you say that passengers are accepting the mask requirement in general, or are you seeing an escalated frustration from passengers Speaker 2 00:07:56 And the beginning? There was really good mass compliance on the most part, but now as we've moved along, I actually have seen it get worse. People are more frustrated. They're more irritated. There's a misunderstanding where I don't have to wear this mask at home. I don't have to wear it. When I go to a restaurant, I do, I have to keep it on, on an airplane. And that's a federal mandate that you have to wear that mask from the moment you arrive at the airport, until you leave that airport at your destination. That's not something that Delta put into place and believe me, it is nothing that the flight attendants want, but yet we're there to enforce it. Unfortunately, it's hard, it's hard. I think people are really getting frustrated and they're really tired of the mask. And so I've seen a greater number that have abused wearing the mask lately, but for the most part, people are really, really good. Speaker 1 00:08:56 Good. I know the FAA has been cracking down on unruly passengers. And I read recently that incidents have dropped by about 50% from earlier this year, which is great. And a recent survey of flight attendants, 85% said they dealt with unruly passengers in 2021 and 17%, 17 out of a hundred have been the victim of a physical attack this year. This is really serious. How are these behaviors impacting your job Speaker 2 00:09:25 Cheney? It adds a lot of stress and anxiety for us because you never know, is this the fly that I'm going to have that unruly passenger? And I think flight attendants are at a place where we're ready for the mass to be gone too. But it's becoming more of a lack of respect for us. We've kind of been put in that law enforcement position that we weren't trained for. We're doing our job. We're following that mandate. We want to make sure that come January 13th or 15th, that yes, that mandate ends. And we don't have to wear those masks anymore. Fortunately for me, I've never had an unruly passenger or a situation that I felt threatened. I do know personal friends, flight attendants that have, and so the stories are true. It can be really ugly out there. You know, we just ask, Hey, hang in there with us just a few more months. And hopefully we'll be at a point that we can all take them off and breathe a lot easier. Speaker 1 00:10:29 Yeah. And Theresa, I understand the airlines are also taking additional steps and creating their own no fly list. These are obviously different than the FBI terrorist, no fly list. And I believe Delta may already have up to 1600 passengers on their list alone. And I'm really glad to hear that your employers are taking these extra precautions to protect you. But I understand the association of flight attendants are calling for centralized database where airlines can share this information among one another. What are your thoughts on that topic? Speaker 2 00:11:04 Yes, absolutely. I totally agree with it. And Delta has taken the steps to come out and say, Hey, we're willing to share our no fly list. And the last I heard, I think we were up to 2,600 that are on the Delta no fly list. So yes, let's share that amongst the airlines, because if you act out like that, there's no room for abuse and the unruliness on board, our aircraft, you know, we're in a metal container, very tight quarters, 35,000 feet in the air. And if you're going to do it once, then there's no reason to give you a chance to do it again on another airline. So yes, I highly believe let's share those lists and the people that have been abusive, we have no place for them. Speaker 1 00:11:54 Well said, Theresa, good luck to the association on gaining attraction with centralizing those lists. I'd like to talk a little bit more about the enforcement of the mask mandate. What's the process when a passenger isn't wearing their mask and how do you and your team members handle this? Speaker 2 00:12:12 We have great communication as crew members on board and for Delta airlines, our procedures are, we're going to give you three opportunities. So we're going to come to you. And three times ask you, please put your mask on. And on the international flights, I really haven't had that much difficulty. I think maybe because it's a longer flight, they know they're with us for a long time and it really could cause problems when they get to their destination. I'm very lenient. But when obviously you're doing it intentionally three times, we're going to issue you a violation card that basically says you're in violation of the mass mandate. There is the opportunity that you could be fined over $13,000 as well as be placed on a no fly list. And once they've been given that card, if the situation occurs again, that we have to remind them to place their mass back on, then we do go through the necessary procedures to have them added to that no fly list. And sometimes that includes having authorities meet the flight. Speaker 1 00:13:21 Well, having to act not just as a service attendant, but policing those mandates as well. I'm certain adds complexity to your ability to do your other responsibilities and roles. So talking about passenger behavior, were there any lessons learned during the period when alcohol was suspended by many carriers? Did you notice any significant changes, good, bad, or indifferent when it was not available? Speaker 2 00:13:49 Well, we weren't having the parties on board that we used to that's for sure. But internationally, we never stopped serving alcohol. So there wasn't a big change there. Domestically our customers, they accepted it very well. There weren't any issues. And now that it has come back, things have escalated. There is more drinking. There is, I would say the masker down more and they're using that drink as the opportunity to say yeah, but I'm drinking. And so I think what they don't understand is if you do have a drink, leave your mask on, take it down. When you have a sip of your drink, put it back on after the sip of your drink. Speaker 1 00:14:31 Yeah. It would be great if everybody could comply and we would not have a few bad eggs ruin that for the rest Speaker 2 00:14:38 Of us, it would be correct. Speaker 1 00:14:41 So from a stress perspective, whether we're talking about nine months ago, or just looking ahead to next week, how do you feel when you're coming to work? Every Speaker 2 00:14:51 There's a lot of anxiety, I believe with the flight attendant group as a whole, again, you just waiting, you know, is today the day that someone gets really at set, that I have to deal with it. We're still at the point that we could be subjected to the virus by somebody on board and, you know, fly to and suite and traveling as much as we do. We are subjected to being exposed to the virus a lot more. And I hope that customers understand that. You know, when we go home, our parents, our grandparents, our children, anyone that may be at high risk, we have to isolate ourselves from them still, if they are in that high-risk category. So it's not as glamorous as it used to be. We're working hard. You won't see your flight attendants without a mask on, we keep them on. We don't take them off to talk to you. Speaker 2 00:15:49 It's just, it's really changed. And just like the essential workers and our healthcare workers, we've never received a reprieve since this started. And I don't think people recognize that enough, that your flight attendants really are an essential worker because we're there to keep those planes fine. And to keep you going to your destinations. And I know our business travelers, I know they're ready to come back and fly as well. It's been tough. And at Delta we're gradually bringing back our services. In the beginning, we were limited. It was a bottle of water and a bag of snacks. And now we're reintroducing the beverage cart as well as new beverages and Cheney. We're actually bringing in some new drinks, alcoholic drinks, we've got some new craft beers that we're bringing in. We've got a Visy sparkling drink. We still have our Perseco and our wine. And we're limited on the actual alcohol. So we know we have, like, I don't think we brought tequila back yet. That may be a little while on that one for we get it back. But we do have some other pre-mixed drinks as well, like a margarita and an old fashioned. And they're really good. And a little bit of those goes a long way. Speaker 1 00:17:07 I'm so excited to hear that things are slowly returning to normal, but it certainly doesn't minimize the sacrifice that the flight attendants are making every day in order to allow those that want to travel, need to travel, to have the ability to do so safely. So thank you for that. Speaker 2 00:17:27 Thanks Janie. Speaker 1 00:17:29 So back in the Arab, it's been so interesting to discuss all these topics with you. Are there any parting comments for travelers? Anything else you'd like us to tell our listeners as it relates to your role as a flight attendant? Speaker 2 00:17:42 I would ask that everyone, and I say this to my crews before every flight just be kind, be kind to us, be kind to each other, hang in there with us, with those masks. And hopefully in a few months, this mandate will go away and we can all take them off. So be respectful and please know, we don't want those mask on any more than you do. And so hang in there with us. And then I'd say those little small gifts and tokens of appreciation that we've been getting recently, you know, the Starbucks card, the Chick-fil-A sandwich, or the bag of candy, those go a long way right now, and more appreciated than ever that you all understand exactly what we're going through. And it's really hard for us out there as well. Speaker 1 00:18:34 Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I've thoroughly enjoyed this fun Frank and lightening discussion. Thank you so much to our very special guests for today's episode, Theresa <inaudible> from Delta airlines and also to Delta as well. An elite partner of ours here at travel, Inc. We appreciate your collaboration on this interesting topic, Speaker 2 00:19:00 And it's been a pleasure joining you. And I want to give a big shout out to our corporate flyers out there as well as our medallion flyers. Thank you so much for flying with us. We've missed you. Come on back. We're ready. Speaker 1 00:19:16 So good. Well from all of us here at travel, Inc. Thank you for joining us today. As we honed in on this very important perspective, if you'd like to learn more about us, visit our [email protected] We appreciate your listening and as always, we appreciate your business. Speaker 3 00:19:36 Thank you for joining us today on this episode of your window seat, to learn more about travel, Inc. You can find us on our [email protected] Inc com or follow us on any of our social channels. We look forward to the next episode and as always at travel Inc, travel safe.

Other Episodes

Episode

June 20, 2022 00:22:40
Episode Cover

Travel Technology, Ahead of Travelers' Changing Expectations (featuring Kathy Karlesses from Deem)

Business travel is back! Great… but the way we travel, the way we think and what we expect is changing. Technology must lead the way to stay ahead of travelers’ expectations. Joining this episode is Kathy Karlesses, VP Channel and Large Market Sales at Deem to discuss the challenges and opportunities head on! ...

Listen

Episode

July 13, 2021 00:17:48
Episode Cover

Breaking Down the Myths of Consolidating your Global Travel Program

Planning on consolidating your global travel program? You have much to consider, and it may not be as straightforward as you think. We have broken down the top three myths to help you avoid  the most common misconceptions around global travel consolidation. Join Alyssa Andersen, TI’s Global Implementation Manager, and Chip Herold, BCD Global Affiliate Partner, to learn from the experts in this episode of Your Window Seat. ...

Listen

Episode

November 29, 2021 00:39:30
Episode Cover

Neutral to Net Zero - Understanding what Sustainability Means to your Travel Program

Earlier this month, we hosted the October Georgia Chapter BTA (Business Travel Association) meeting on sustainability. Join us on this episode of Your Window Seat Podcast with guest speaker Helen Hodgkinson, CoFounder of CACTUS; a climate action group for corporate travel, as we discuss sustainability in business travel, and the steps we can be taking as both individuals and corporations toward a more sustainable industry. ...

Listen