1. A crew really does make or break a trip! I worked a hellacious three day trip, but at least I worked with amazing people who were in it with me. (a couple opportunities for bloody marys didn’t hurt either)
    2. Reserve flight attendants really do need better protection and sick call rules than line holders. I didn’t have any reserves on this trip, and I was the most junior on it, but I was reminded of being a reserve. We flew into Portland early Monday, slept all day intending to fly out that night working the red eye to Newark only to wake up and find out the flight canceled (this is were the bloody marys came in) But, now we were supposed to be able to go back to sleep after sleeping all day! This is an all too common occurrence for reserve flight attendants. Scheduling jerks them around without any concern to whether they have been on a night or a day schedule or only had minimum rest the night before….and the night before that! When I got home from my three day, five hours late, I was barely “legal” for my trip the next day….only I was in fact “legal”. I knew scheduling was still extremely short handed so I didn’t want to leave any one high and dry. I called scheduling and explained that because of having had minimum rest the night before and not feeling well I needed more than five hours of sleep* in order to fly again the next day. I requested that she either change my trip for a later check in or provide a hotel room near the airport. The sarcasm in her voice when she said, “Ah no” and no” was the same that used to make me cry when I was on  reserve…but not this time. “Ok, I’m just letting you know I don’t feel well and I will have to see how I feel in the morning, I may have to call out sick…thank you.” Yes, we do have a contract that dictates minimum rest periods, but I’ve always thought it’s the airlines inability to treat crew members like people and not robots is the root of a lot of sick calls.

    3. Bad (not all) gate agents treat flight attendants as bad as they treat passengers. Some gate agents don’t like flight attendants, it’s no secret. They think we’re the prima donnas of the airline. When other employees such as cleaners, ramp agents, and gate agents see us, they see us “resting” while they are working.  I think that’s were that perception comes from. Also, the airlines kind of pit us against each other. When there is a delay the company wants to know was it inflight or the agents delay? Anyway, when we finally did make it to Newark we headed to a hotel forty five minutes away which cut into our rest and after a few short hours headed back to the airport to “dead head” (ride as a passenger). We arrived at the gate to find the aftermath of the blizzard. It was Wednesday, but there was still a ton of back up. Our flight had thirty five revenue passengers and thirty five non-revs (employees.) A lot of the employees were positive space or “must rides” which was the case with us. You can imagine how stressful it is for the agents to tell paying passengers they’re putting crew members on ahead of them. Yikes! But, there were so many displaced crews that they needed to get us there to operate our flights. When my lead flight attendant checked in with the agent, she nearly bit her head off and told her, “unless I get thirty five volunteers, you’re not going anywhere!!” To which she replied, “Ok, just letting you know we are here because I have to. Thank you.” We called crew coordination who in turn called the agents, who in turn proceeded to give out seats to everyone on my crew except myself and the first officer. We reminded them we were still there and were told to wait a minute. Once the door closed, we asked what we should do? Could they roll us to the next flight? The agent that was rude to the first flight attendant now jumped down our throats and said she called our names…where were we? Ahhhh, no I don’t think so since we had been standing there at the gate from the time the agents opened up the flight. Oh well, no need to get into an argument, we called crew coordination once again and were then booked on the next flight. We arrived two hours after the first flight and I thought I would have been replaced and on my way home….oh noooo…they were so short handed they actually waited for me! That’s the nature of my job, you never know what your day will bring. The highlight of the day was when I walked up to the gate and the passengers started cheering and clapping for me!

    4. Scheduling doesn’t care if you’re a line holder or a reserve. Once they have their “hands” on you…watch out! (see #2)

    5. 99% of the traveling public are awesome and roll with the punches! It was amazing to me (although it shouldn’t be I see it all the time) how nice everyone was despite the long delays they had already had and were currently experiencing. I can’t tell you how many people thanked me for being there on my Chicago turn after waiting for me for two hours!

*minimum rest is block to block which means from the time the aircraft door opens (plus debrief time, about 15 more minutes depending on the airline)  until the aircraft door closes for your next departure. That means when my flight got to the gate at 12:40am, block time became 12:55am and I was supposed to be back for a 9:50am check in, but rest includes the hour before departure. So, I had 10 hours “block to block” Now, I needed to get out of the airport, wait for a van, drive thirty minutes home (arriving at almost 2am) and would need to be up at 7am in order to leave my house at 8am to get to work on time. Hmmmm…that would give me five hours of sleep if I hit the pillow and fell asleep instantly (lets not forget about changing into pajamas, washing your face and brushing your teeth) and forget about saying good morning to your family. I guess this could have been #6 Minimum crew rest is not long enough!



  1. Boy did this all sound too familiar!

    It’s nice in a way to see that it’s not just us. Don’t worry though. I know that you’re not just “resting”!

    Take care and have a great 2011


  2. As part of #5: I couldn’t agree more! 99% of the travelling public really is great for rolling with the punches.

    I had a flight a couple days ago that was 2 hours delayed. Despite the few that voiced their displeasure, most people were very friendly and understanding. I still got all my “Pleases” and “thank you’s” and smiles. 🙂

    Great Post 🙂

  3. Guuuuuurrlll….I couldn’t have said it better! Thank you!

  4. I remember flying to Boston the same day TS Hermine made landfall here in Texas. The short 50 min flight from SAT to IAH turned into a 3 hour delay. Once we got to IAH we had missed our first flight and were cutting it close on the second flight. We got to the gate and the agent was so helpful and got use exit row seats for the three of us. We got on the plane… and didnt push back. We had no pilots. As expected the storm had delayed our flight crew as well. No one complained though, I think we were all too entertained with the directv on board 😀

  5. I always find it simultaneously comforting AND depressing to see others going through the same UGH! trips…No one should have them , yet we can sympathize.

  6. Couldn’t have said any of it better myself. Unfortunately, to the airline, esp. crew scheduling, we are just numbers. 🙁

  7. I have to wonder why FA’s blogs all too often contain a lot more ‘bitching’ than they do positive comments. If it is not about your contract, it is about the line. If is not about the light crews, readers sure get it: You HATE passengers.
    WIle experienced FAs have a sixth sense that can tell ‘good’ pax from ‘bad’ I assure you that expienced Self Loading Cargo have much the same radar, especially in paid BC seats. Have your bad days when you need them, but please – don;t take it out on me! I’m a low maint flyer and I don;t need anything beyond my BC seat (away from those in flip-flops and unwashed.) I buckle my b elt when I sit and the electronics are off – I KNOW the drill and I won’t give you a hard time. When you approach, I will make eye contact and use the Please and Thank you words and no, I will never tap you or pinch your behind. Get a grip! Please do not assume that I will and, even on a bad day, pleae try to be at least plesant. Stay out of my face and I;lls tay out of yours. And for Gawd’s sake, quit whining! If you do not like the work, quit!

  8. Craig, people with jobs where they can’t ever show their real emotions but have to put up a smile even if they feel rotten need an escape valve, and a blog can be that.
    I’m no FA myself, but have worked customer telephone support which is in many ways similar (but you’ve a bit more downtime between customer interactions, and no uniforms), and it’s much the same there.
    When there’s noone calling you to bitch about a problem they’d not have had if they’d read the manual and/or paid for product training, you goof off together to relieve the pressure. If you can’t, you get cranky. You get cranky, there’s the tendency to be less than friendly with the next customer on the phone, can’t have that. FAs have far less opportunity to vent in between customer experiences, these blogs are a good way to do just that.


    The comment about gate agents at war with cabin crew is interesting. Maybe it’s (part of) the reason many European airports don’t make use of airline supplied gate crew, but have these be airport employees or 3rd party companies hired by the airport instead (of course the airline is billed for the service).


    I’ve had both excellent and terrible experiences with cabin crew, but all are better than the worst experience you can have with gate crew 🙂
    Most ludicrous may well have happened several years ago when I was to depart on an early morning flight.
    First rotation of the day, pilots and FAs still fresh from a good night’s sleep (early charter season, so not yet the cramped schedule of midsummer) arrive at a gate where there are several dozen passengers waiting and noone else.
    Scheduling has forgotten to schedule them an aircraft, ground crew, gate crew, fuel, everything.
    To the credit of the airline, less than 10 minutes after a phonecall by the captain a fleet of vehicles arrives and shortly after an aircraft is towed out of a hangar.

  9. From the Canadian Air Regulations (CARs):

    “minimum rest period” – means a period during which a flight crew member is free from all duties, is not interrupted by the air operator or private operator, and is provided with an opportunity to obtain not less than eight consecutive hours of sleep in suitable accommodation, time to travel to and from that accommodation and time for personal hygiene and meals;

    In other words, the purpose of the Minimum Rest Period is to, ummmm, get rest. Which is 8 hours of sleep plus all the overhead of eat, travel, etc.

    A quick glance of US Regs seems to define Duty Time, and then define rest time as “not on duty”, and then talk about 8 hours or 10 hours of rest time… but they never actually require rest to include “rest”. As you note, you still need to get to someplace where you can sleep, check-in, eat – and you steal the time for these activities by not sleeping.

    The battles over the regulations continue. Good luck with that. I wonder how many people in the general public know that the dudes driving the bus might be working on 5 hours sleep last night, on top of a same-trip shift from daytime working hours to night working hours, or demands to fall asleep now (even if you are not tired since you only got up 11 hours ago) because we need you fly a plan in another 10 hours? [There is probably a reg against that, but I’m manufacturing an example]