The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, February 12, 2004  

And a Dr. Seuss Moment

I don’t think flight attendants should distribute beverages, meals, or snacks.


Not on short flights. Not on long flights. Not on big flights. Not on small flights. Not on any flights at all.

(Sorry, I had a Dr. Seuss moment there. I’m back now.)

Why not? Because that’s not why flight attendants are on the plane. That -- serving beverages, meals, and snacks -- is not why they are, well, attending flights.

All of those tired, old, stupid, frat-boy, and moronic stewardess jokes aside, the primary reason airlines staff flight attendants, and are legally required to do so, is not to make pasty businessmen feel good about their self-important frequent-flying selves, but for the safety of the passengers -- all passengers, not just the self-important frequent-flying pasty businessmen.

Until a few years ago, this concept of safety, which I think most travelers grasped at least to some degree, largely addressed such things as air masks -- “Help yourself before helping the child next to you.” Or is it, “Help the child next to you before helping yourself?” It’s been a while. -- seat-cushion floatation devices, emergency-exit rows, and all of that kind of not so believable stuff about “an incident over water.”

As we learn, or are allowed to learn, slowly and begrudgingly, more about what really happened on September 11, 2001, it becomes obvious that the attention of flight attendants should not be diverted, at any moment, from anything other than the safety of all passengers.

Flight attendants like Amy Sweeney and Betty Ong are, and I hate to sound like some puffy-chested congressman in front of a TV news camera, literally on the front line when it comes to potential, possible, and all-too-real acts of terrorism.

So I say toss the beverage carts. Ditch the dopey drinks. Lose the lunches.

It’s not necessary to militarize the operation -- Sweeney and Ong proved that -- but let’s have the flight attendants focus on safety, not snacks.

I know, you like the peanuts, don’t you?

Bring your own.

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