Dear Pax: Just a FA

Dear Passenger in 5A,

Yesterday when I wouldn’t let you come to the front of the airplane because the pilots were going in and out of the cockpit you informed me I was “just a flight attendant”. I’ve had some time to reflect on that and decided to educate you on a few facts regarding this flight attendant.

First, lets’ review my training and requirements for this job. I know how to fight fires-while 35,000 feet in the air; I can perform CPR, do first aid-basic all the way up to inserting an IV; I know how to identify guns and weapons; identify bombs and then move them to a location on the aircraft that will hopefully cause the least damage should they go off; I know basic survival skills for land and water; I know how to disarm people; how to actually kill someone if need be; how to prepare an airplane for an emergency landing so that every person on there has the best chance of survival and then evacuate that aircraft-which may have hundreds of people on it-in under 60 seconds; I have been taught how to deal with people from many different cultures, people who are disgruntled, and people who are downright rude-All the while, smiling. I received excellent training in all these things and every year have to go through refresher training and learn new skills.

Second, I’d like to share with you some of the personal experiences I’ve had in the last twenty years as a flight attendant: I’ve have held the hand of a grieving mother who was flying across the country to claim her 21 year old sons dead body; I have given my personal clothes to a passenger who threw up all over themselves and had nothing else to put on; I have been poked in my arm and sides-many times-by people who can’t wait for me to finish with one person before they get their drink; I have held babies while their parent went to the bathroom; I have been yelled at for not having the exact food a person wanted-since we can’t just pull over and get it for them it must be all my fault; I have prepared an aircraft for an emergency landing and while you were arguing with me about not wanting to turn off your computer I was hoping I would be able to see my children one more time; I stood with tears in my eyes in the door off an aircraft while the remains of a US soldier were lowed in a flag draped coffin-thankful it wasn’t my child and grieving for the families who stood on the tarmac waiting for their loved ones remains; I have had the honor of flying US troops into foreign deployment areas; I missed Christmas Day with my own family so that you could get to your family; my work schedule is constantly changing and there are times I go 5-6 days without a real nights sleep; I watched the events of 9/11 in horror, heartbroken for what my colleges went thru that day, scared to go back to work but reassuring my child that I would come home-all the while knowing it could happen again; I watched a man die in front of me because the CPR we performed didn’t revive him, then tried to reverently place his body on the airplane floor for the remainder of the flight and when we landed sat with his body for over an hour until the coroner could pick it up.

Please know that I do love my job and I choose to do it. I have a college degree, am a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a human being. So the next time you look at me and think “just a flight attendant” I hope you quickly remember who is trained and willing to get you out of a crashed airplane, hopefully save you from hijackers, perform CPR on you if need be and-the easiest part of my job-give you food and drinks. Next time you need to travel perhaps you should avoid this “just a flight attendant” and take the bus.

A great flight attendant!

*Written by a fellow flight attendant*

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