The Rittenhouse Review

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

Sunday, February 15, 2004  

Renaming “Flight Attendants”
And President Chutes and Ladders

Devoted reader L.M. writes:

Sometimes, due to a busy week, I’ll get behind on my Rittenhousing. Then, thankfully, a quiet Sunday afternoon will present itself and I’ll choose The Rittenhouse Review over, I don’t know, dusting? Color yourself flattered.

So that’s why I just read your flight-attendants-shouldn’t-pass-out-pretzels piece. Can I just say, “O-M-G!”

This is the touchstone, the connection, that says, “You are not alone.” There are people out there that think as you think.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve voiced the exact same opinion. Flight attendants are not waitresses. [Ed.: Nor are they waiters.] They’re not there to sell drinks or massage the egos of the guys [Ed.: Slobs?] in first class. They’re there for safety.

I don’t think there should be any food or drink service on planes at all. I’d even go so far as to give flight attendants a whole new name and image. [Ed.: Emphasis added.]

Anything to get people to listen to them when they tell you to stop walking around the plane when you’re supposed to be seated, to stow your luggage above your seat -- not the seat 20 rows in front of you that hasn’t boarded yet -- or better yet, check it! [Ed.: Oh, please, L.M., don’t get me started on this one.] Not to mention, “We haven’t boarded your row yet, you self-centered moron. Get back in line.” [Ed.: Though, credit the professionals for being kinder with their words than we would be.]

When a flight attendant tells you to do something, they’re supposed to be treated with respect and have their instructions obeyed.

As tragic as are the stories of the flight attendants on the September 11 flights, what is especially sad to me is the knowledge that, on that day, as they did their jobs, some passengers didn’t listen. Some passengers treated them the same way they always treat flight attendants: as glorified waitresses [Ed.: Or waiters.], there to hand out drinks, be ignored during the safety presentation, and to receive the brunt of customer complaints about every single little thing that is or might be wrong about air travel.

Thanks. It was good to hear your thoughts on the subject. Much appreciated.

I think L.M. is right with respect not only to the drinks-and-peanuts thing, but also to finding a new name for flight attendants, one that more accurately reflects their true responsibilities during flights.

Look, if we can spend millions to devise a five-color security scorecard, one that President Chutes and Ladders understands but one that means nothing to anyone else except “local authorities” in Montana -- like anything is going to happen there -- can’t we at least call these professionals by a term they deserve? One they have earned? One they earn every single day?

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