American Airlines' longest serving flight attendant, 72, retires after 53 years and 8,000 journeys
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 16:07 EST, 27 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:20 EST, 27 February 2013
American Airlines' longest-serving flight attendant has taken her last ever journey in the role as she steps down after a staggering 53 years.
The airline threw a retirement party for Barbara Beckett, 72, in Miami on Monday before she boarded her final trip to London Heathrow.
On Wednesday, she returned from London to Miami, where she lives in Boynton Beach, and has now retired after more than five decades with the company.
A cake bearing a 'thank you' message at the retirement party also bore Beckett's picture from when she graduated from training on July 29, 1960.
Grounded: Barbara Beckett has retired from American Airlines after working as a flight attendant for 53 years on more than 8,000 flights. She is pictured left in 1960 after she completed her air hostess training
Speaking to NBC Miami, she explained that she had always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant.
'My parents took me to the airport in Baltimore, and I saw the stewardesses coming off the airplane, and I thought, "I would really like to do that, they're absolutely beautiful",' she said. 'It was an American Airlines flight.'
Since, Beckett has worked on more than 8,000 flights for American Airlines, travelling across the globe and going to places like Hawaii, Japan and Argentina.
In recent years, she has averaged around five trips per month, mostly between Miami and London and Miami and Buenos Aires, the Sun Sentinel wrote in a 2010 profile of Beckett.
'I love the people and the job,' Beckett said at the time. 'On those airplanes, we're all family.'
Farewell: A picture of Beckett as an air hostess in her younger years was printed on her farewell cake
She described watching aircrafts becoming larger and more affordable over the years, as well as the progression of women's rights on board flights.
When she began her career, there were weight restrictions and an upper age limit of 32. Air hostesses were also required to be single.
But women's rights advocates vastly improved the outlook for female flight attendants over the years; the no marriage rule was voided by the 1980s and weight restrictions were banned in the 1990s.
'If I weighed 130 pounds, they would put me on a scale every time I reported to work,' said Beckett, who weighed 118 pounds for years. 'They put the fear of God into you until you lost the weight.'
American Airlines also dropped the upper age limit rule as Beckett was approaching 32.
Time off: She was joined at the retirement party in Miami by her long-term partner and family and said she now looks forward to flying for leisure - with Hawaii as her first stop
And ever since, she has seen a variety of people on board: 'I've had passengers who were close to having a birth on the plane. I've had heart attacks, strokes, a seizure,' she said.
Ms Beckett was joined at the retirement party by her long-term partner, colleagues and friends and passengers also spotted the celebration signs and wished her well.
Beckett said that when she retires she wants to travel more, but she and her partner laughed and said she will be grounded for a little before heading to Hawaii for a trip.
400 Jobs. 50,000 Applicants. Delta Undertakes Massive Interview Process
By Jim Burress
When Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines put out word it was hiring flight attendants, 50,000+ people applied for 400 jobs.
Delta’s spent this month interviewing candidates face-to-face. But it’s not your typical interview.
Even those applicants who are most nervous smile when a chorus line of Delta flight attendants comes at you singing the airline's version of, "New York, New York."
Delta flight attendant Troy Thoroup is part of a team who help make the hiring decisions.
Troy Thorup has spent the past month interviewing potential Delta flight attendants. The airline received more than 50,000 applicants for roughly 400 jobs.
“It’s been one of those careers that have always held some mystique through the years, that people have always looked at our jobs and wonder what it is we truly do," he says.
The large applicant pool is not surprising to Veda Shook. The International President for the Association of Flight Attendants, CWA says the response is indicative of the current job market.
“People understand that it’s a good job to be a flight attendant, and unfortunately our economy hasn’t fully recovered. So I can appreciate that many people would apply," she says.
The AFA says the average flight attendant’s wage: $33,000.
Today is International Women's Day and Air France is doing it up with an all-female crew on a flight from Paris to Washington. Apparently they've been doing this since 2006, but this year the ladies are commandeering a A380 superjumbo, which can carry up to 516 passengers. Progress!
Air France celebrates International Women's Day with the world's biggest female crew:
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Air France is forming the biggest ever all-female crew, with 2 pilots and 22 stewardesses on board flight AF054 to Washington, operated by the Airbus A380.
Air France has celebrated International Women’s Day for several years. For the first time, in 2013, it is celebrating the event on board the world’s biggest superjumbo which can welcome up to 516 passengers.
All-female flight crews often operate at various other times of the year, but the March 8 female crew has become an established tradition at Air France. Whether they are flying to Beijing, Tokyo, Mexico City or today to Washington, these all-female flights are always a popular event for both crew and passengers.
Do sexy flight attendants really sell more seats?
By Ramy Inocencio in Hong Kong and Frances Cha in Seoul, CNN
March 22, 2013
(CNN) -- Images of bikini-clad women in Thailand posing suggestively in an online ad for a local airline inflamed passions -- both positive and negative -- earlier this year. Domestic low-cost carrier Nok Air stood at the center of the frenzy. The airline had employed the provocatively clothed women to attract more attention in a Facebook publicity move.
"I kind of expected it to be fairly controversial, but at the end of the day more people ended up liking it than hating it," says Patee Sarasin, Nok Air's chief executive officer.
Thailand-based low-cost carrier Nok Air's controversial calendar.
"When it debuted on Facebook, we had over 200,000 likes. I'm happy."
The campaign proved to be a social media success -- it also brought into focus the different ways international airlines use the attractiveness of cabin crews to brand and market their product. Though acknowledging that "beautiful does not equate to being a good flight attendant," Ji Yang Xiong, director of China's Foreign Airlines Service Corporation, notes a difference in aesthetics when comparing airlines from the East and West.
"Maybe Asian airlines emphasize looks just a bit more when compared to European or Middle Eastern airlines," says Xiong. "European airlines don't have any requirement on looks. They mostly focus on personality and having the right attitude for the job and a service-oriented mindset."
Legal issues: Grounded at 30?
While some Asia-based airlines openly embrace glamour in the cabin, most U.S. and European airlines long ago altered such strategies to reflect shifting social standards and more severe legal restrictions.
"It's one thing to be able to help people out of an emergency exit door, it's another to say they must weigh less than 130 pounds, as Pan Am and others might have done in times gone by," says Kenneth Quinn, partner and head of aviation practice at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop.
"Most governments have enacted laws and other protective measures against gender and age discrimination, as well as fitness discrimination," says Quinn. "But Asian countries have less precise formulas in their labor laws that permit airlines to impose age and appearance limitations upon flight crews."
In addition, says Quinn, governmental bodies in Asia are generally less committed to regulatory oversight in this area.
"They try to leave it to the airlines and unions and work forces to deal with any problems," he says. "Certainly weight and appearance limitations tend to be not strictly enforced."
"Laws covering employment and particularly discrimination tend to be less rigid in Asia," agrees Tom Ballantyne, aviation expert and chief correspondent for Hong Kong-based "Orient Aviation" magazine.
"A British Airways or a Qantas in Western society would never get away with promoting the sort of image that, for instance, Singapore has always done with its Singapore Girls."
Nok Air has no flight attendants over the age of 30, says CEO Sarasin. While laws in the West protect against discrimination, "it is kosher here in Asia to push youth and beauty," he says.
How a Thai budget carrier keeps its flight attendants young and hot
The lifespan of a Nok Air flight attendant is short, according to Sarasin.
They typically take to the skies from graduation around the age of 23, stay in the company for three years -- maybe another two if they're "really, really good" -- then can move to non-cabin crew departments or get help with being placed with other airlines.
"We keep them young -- not because we're sexist -- but because our customers prefer younger crews," says Sarasin. While "everyone is unionized in the United States, we are much more open. That's what gives Asia the magic. We've been radical from day one, differentiating our marketing. If we don't, we die."
How to reject propositions and other flight attendant training tips
Profits: No link between beauty, bottom line?
The jury is still out on whether sex sells more seats.
"I've never seen any evidence that directly links the beauty of flight attendants to the bottom line," says Ballantyne. "Certainly it is true that many airlines in Asia-Pacific, especially low-cost operators, base part of their brand image on young, attractive flight attendants. How that translates to additional passenger numbers I'm not sure."
"I'd say it's impossible to put a monetary value to the contribution of the Singapore Girl to Singapore Airlines' success over the years," agrees Nicholas Ionides, spokesman for legacy carrier Singapore Airlines, referring to the well known imagery of the company's female flight attendants -- conceived in 1972 -- wearing distinctive "sarong kabaya" uniforms.
Thai airline's calendar too sexy for the government
Nok Air's Sarasin himself hedges on whether his company's Facebook stunt helped pull in more profits.
"It's hard to measure if it boosts sales or not," he says. "Load factor (the number of seats sold for flights) has always been in the 80 to 90 % range. But it did bring Nok Air into the limelight in terms of brand awareness."
If anything, the charismatic CEO believes the added publicity brought a change to the passenger mix. Before the photo shoot, international travelers made up 10 percent of the passenger manifest. After the shoot, the percentage jumped to 18 percent based on passport checks. With Nok Air set to make its first international flight -- to Yangon, Myanmar, in the third quarter of 2013 -- Sarasin says: "It's good timing."
Sexy flight attendant uniforms of the past
Offensive: Is "sexy" a bad word?
Thailand's Ministry of Culture received complaints from local organizations and critics who were shocked by Nok Air's sexy photo shoot, according to local Thai media. One fear was that the photo shoot might propagate Thailand's image as a destination for sex travel -- but the Ministry of Culture says no laws were broken.
"The Ministry of Culture didn't call me. In fact, I received no call from any government agency," points out Sarasin. "We were all careful not to expose the women to be too naked."
Contacted by CNN, the Ministry of Culture says it's no longer commenting on the matter.
While sex appeal is the blatant strategy for Thailand's Nok Air, further north "sexy" is a bad word in the Korean airline industry -- which is not the same as saying that Korean carriers don't value what might politely be called "attractiveness."
"Projecting any sort of sexy image in a flight attendant interview would be hugely risky here," says Mi-kyung Chung, a former flight attendant who now teaches at the Airline News Center (ANC) flight attendant academy in Gangnam, Seoul.
At ANC flight attendant academy in Seoul, students practice role-playing in a classroom simuating a plane.
This might come as news to flight attendants on South Korea's Asiana Airlines, whose union has been in a long-running conversation with the airline about ending its skirts-only dress code and relaxing strict guidelines for hairstyles and makeup. In February, the airline said it would adopt a trousers option on its next uniform renewal.
Asiana cabin crews say "no" to skirts
With a "few thousand students" -- mostly women -- ANC is considered the largest flight attendant academy in the country. The school charges $1,440 for an all-inclusive package in which students can take classes for as many months -- or years -- as they need.
Despite Korean Air's obvious use of old fashioned sex appeal in its widely distributed "For life on a whole new scale" series of advertisements ( http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEA3AE2AEECEE48C5 ), professionals insist that sex isn't the primary appeal.
Instead of sexy, "bright, clean and sophisticated" is the look that's most sought after in the recruitment process for Korean airlines, according to Jinah Lee, a flight attendant turned ANC lecturer.
Korean airlines have been setting the standard for flight attendants for almost a decade now, says Eunice Kim, head of BCCA flight attendant academy in Shinchon, South Korea, which specializes in foreign airline recruitment.
She admits that looks are part of the package.
"Recruiters for the foreign airlines I work with often tell me that Korean flight attendants are much more good looking and better to work with compared to flight attendants from other countries," says Kim.
She says the BCCA's 2,200 students include many foreign-educated young women, "NYU grads," PhDs and graduates from the top universities in Korea.
According to Kim, a number of foreign students come to South Korea to study at the academy. Some, she says, even undergo cosmetic surgery during their stay in the hopes of being recruited by foreign airlines.
When asked about the demand for Korean flight attendants at foreign airlines, Kim cites "high education rates ... good teeth, complexion, height and positive outlook" as attributes.
In addition, Korean flight attendants embrace the service mentality more completely, says the BCCA head.
"Personally, I think it comes from the conservative Confucian background, where women were expected to do a lot of the service in the household," says Kim.
9 easy ways to make a flight attendant go insane
Attitude trumps looks
Chinese flight attendant hopefuls at an interview for China Southern airlines in Beijing.
The sentiment is similar in China, where the Foreign Airlines Service Corporation (FASCO) recruits Chinese flight attendants for foreign airlines, such as Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways. At the end of 2012, FASCO helped about 1,200 Chinese nationals find flight attendant jobs around the world, according to director Ji Yang Xiong. In 1996, when the company first began recruitment services, just "a few hundred" candidates applied. While airplane safety, meal service and customer hospitality are taught, physical fitness is also emphasized.
"Aerobics classes are held in both aviation schools and in training centers in order to keep the aspiring flight attendants in shape, to refine their figure and posture and to strengthen their body," says Xiong.
Some candidates even learn kung-fu and yoga "so that they are ready to face stressful situations."
Training and attitude might well go farther than a mere attractive image in explaining the success earned by Asian flight attendants.
"American service standards generally have dropped vastly below Asian service standards in many industries, and most particularly in hotel and leisure and travel communities," says aviation law expert and frequent traveler Quinn.
This may seem self evident to certain frequent fliers, says Quinn, but for those flying on an Asian carrier for the first time, the difference can be a surprise.
"What tends to be lost in the debate over this is that it's not a crime to insist upon high standards of service and courtesy and professionalism in flight crews," says Quinn. "For the U.S. businessperson who spends a lot of time in Asia -- I'm just back from Tokyo this week -- the contrast between U.S. service standards and Asian carrier service standards could not be more stark.
"It's a quantum leap in service standards as soon as you hit Tokyo and go beyond, whether you're on a Japanese carrier or Singapore Airlines or an airline from Hong Kong or Thailand. They're all vastly superior in the service level.
"U.S. carriers are trying to catch up, but they've got a long way to go."
C.Y. Xu in Beijing contributed to this article.
Is Being a Flight Attendant the Worst Job in 2013?
Posted: 04/30/2013 11:50 am
It seems as though the flying public has become a bit fascinated with the role of a flight attendant. In years past it was a glamorous position, which nurses held to attend to the needs of the elite who could afford to fly, and as the years flew by changes to the position developed. On board service was cut by the airlines to save money, flight crews were tasked not only with looking after on-board safety but now also security, and the airlines were deregulated setting off fare wars and the fight for customers.
In recent years we've witnessed flight attendants blow emergency slides and quit (ala Steven Slater), flight attendant's have nervous break-downs on board and rant over the public address system and we're about to see an airline dress their cabin crew as maids and butlers as a marketing ploy, so where am I going with all of this? CareerCast just released a "study" of the worst jobs for 2013 and being a flight attendant is number 10.
Now the evidence would suggest that a flight attendant losing it and blowing a slide and ranting over the PA is stressed and overworked... and at some airlines they are! Each airline operates differently with their own policy and procedures based on the foundation of what the FAA regulates.
Here's what CareerCast says about the job: High stress, low pay and a shrinking job market all contribute to flight attendant's inclusion among the worst jobs of 2013. The BLS projects virtually no change in job prospects, as airlines continue to consolidate and reduce staff.
Now, let's go through these claims.
High Stress -- Yes, there is high stress in the job... sometimes. Boarding is stressful, you need to get the flight out on-time otherwise you have some explaining to do. Irate and unhappy customers also add to the stress of the job, but they add to the stress of any customer-facing position out there; not just flight attendants. As much as some flight attendants don't like to admit it, we are on board for service/customer service and safety. Sure, we're there "primarily for safety" but we also have a role to play in making sure our passengers are happy, taken care of and chose to fly with the airline again in the future. Security adds to the stress as well, the thought of 9/11 is in the back of everyone's mind and being situationally aware at all times can be a burden. Let's remember that flight attendants are the first responders for any situation that happens on that airplane and they're trained for those situations. In fact, yearly, flight attendants return to training for recurrent lessons in evacuations, CPR, and other emergency scenarios.
But is it always stressful? No! There's a lot of downtime on trans-continental and international flights (ever wonder why the flight attendant never throws your magazine in the trash bag? They're reading it themselves!), if a flight attendant works for an airline with more than two cabin crewmembers on board their co-workers can help solve passenger concerns and problems, and their overnights are their time to explore, eat, and enjoy the city they're visiting... all stress-free!
Low Pay -- Now here's where it gets tricky. Yes, generally speaking, the starting pay for a flight attendant is low. And, I'm not just saying low... I mean... very low. Regional airlines usually make less than legacy airlines (or the majors) but even the legacies start out flight attendants around $18-20 per flight hour (every hour the door is closed). Flight attendants are not paid during boarding, deplaning, or delays. Some will argue that their "per diem" (an hourly rate that the airline pays to help in covering the cost of eating and entertainment on the road) counts as pay. But, for the most part, that per diem payment is $2 an hour. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't call $2/hr getting "paid."
With that said, the longer you stick with an airline the better your pay will be. Every year your hourly rate will increase, your seniority will improve (at some airlines this will happen more slowly than at others) affording you better flights, schedules and lifestyle. A flight attendant blogger, The Flying Pinto, also posted about this study and said: Am I rich? Yes, in terms of freedom and lifestyle. How many people can build their own schedule and work as little or as much as they want or need to?... How's my actual pay check? As good as, the higher end of a nurse's salary.
And while her seniority allows her to build a schedule that fits her needs (as does mine, in full disclosure) I cannot discount those flight attendants hired after me that don't have the seniority to build their own schedules yet (junior flight attendants are usually on call in the event a senior ones calls in sick), they don't have a say in where they go, what time they leave, or what days they have off. Further, to say that the average flight attendant salary is the higher end of a nurse's is a bit bullish. You may earn that amount if you fly 120+ hours a month and take only eight days on the ground. But, the longer you stick with the airline the more livable the wage, and in time, if the airline a flight attendant is employed at grows, so will their job opportunities and salary.
That brings us to the final note from CareerCast, the shrinking job market. A little research will show that the airline industry is bouncing back! All of the majors and most of the low cost carriers have hired new flight attendants this year. To say that it's shrinking shows their lack of information.
So, is being a flight attendant one of the worst jobs in 2013? That depends on you. Everyone is different. If you're willing to devote the time and "pay your dues," and wait patiently as every year you move up the pay scale and seniority list the end benefits are amazing, like The Flying Pinto described. However, do your research before just applying to any airline. Each one of them has a different definition of how and what your seniority means and how it'll affect your life. Make the right choice for you.
April 23rd, 2013
Airline to dress Flight Attendants as Maids & Butlers
A Chinese budget carrier is planning to dress its female flight attendants as maids and their male cabin crew as butlers. It’s true! This is not a joke!
Spring Airlines said it would be the first domestic Chinese airline to have crew members dressed in such a fashion. Passengers on some flights from Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport this week will be the first to experience the new look.
The airline says they plan to offer several flights with a permeant ”theme,” such as your crew dressed in costume, in an effort to drive traffic. One blogger wrote: “The airline should respect their crew members because flight attendants are still quite different from maids and butlers.”
So what we the pilots going to wear? The Spring Airlines spokesman said the male crew members who would be dressed as butlers would include the pilots, with their outfit featuring a long black apron as well as a tie.
What do you think? Is this a slap in the face to the job the flight attendants do? Or is this an amazing marketing plan to sell tickets?
(Source: http://shanghaiist.com/2013/04/23/spring_airlines_to_dress_stewardesses_as_maids.php )
13 Things You Need To Know Before Ordering A Drink On An Airplane
OK, I am going to break it down for you. Don’t be an asshole when you fly. Entering an aircraft is no excuse to lose all common sense yet many of you do so. Ordering a drink is a fairly simple process, please don’t make it so fucking difficult.
1. Be Prepared. Listen to the announcements we make regarding what is available, and/or look at the inflight menu in the magazine located directly in front of your face. It’s 2 inches away, grab it.
2. DO NOT ask “What do you have?” unless you want daggers shooting deep into your soul from my beautiful blue eyes. Also, I can not be held responsible for what will more than likely be a less-than-friendly response such as “Not a lot of time, pick something”.
3. Ask for exactly what you want.
4. If you would like something in your coffee please ask for it WHEN YOU PLACE YOUR ORDER.
*Side note: A “black coffee” does not include cream and sugar, asshole.*
5. If you would like cream and/or sugar that is great, however if you wait until after I serve you the coffee, and walk back a few rows as I am already on to the next few passengers I will punch you in the throat.
6. DO NOT ask me for 2 ice cubes. If you do, I will pick them up with my fingers and plop them into your cup. Really, two?? Jesus Christ.
7. Don’t touch the cart, and do not even think about helping yourself to whatever you want off of it. Just ask. Would it be OK for me to come to your office and start grabbing shit off of your desk? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
8. If you need to get my attention, kindly ask for it like a normal human being. Maybe an old fashioned “excuse me”. I do not take well to someone pulling at my blouse, trousers, apron, tapping my shoulder, flailing their arms in front of me, snapping their fingers, shaking their cup, etc. NOT. FUCKING. COOL. Keep your hands to yourself and be polite. I mean seriously, who raised you?
9. Don’t even try to pull a fast one on us, we’re not idiots — and most of us even have at least a 4-year degree (!). If we come to your row and serve everyone else in it (while you’re too busy listening to your iPod, fake sleeping, and totally ignoring us) and you do not reply, that’s it. You’ve had your chance. I am not playing that back-and-forth from row to row bullshit during a 1-hour flight. Sorry about your luck.
10. We cannot take trash from you during our beverage service. Do you want someone’s half-eaten sandwich, napkins they wiped their nasty-ass mouth with and rotten banana peels touching your cups? I promise we’ll come back after everyone else is served, that is if you can wait the FIVE MINUTES.
11. When I am making eye contact and asking your seatmate what THEY would like, please let THEM answer. If it is a female and you talk over them, you are a douche. I always ask ladies first, and if I am asking them and you cut them off with your dumb-ass yelling of the word “COKE” I will fill your cup up with as much ice as possible and add just a teeny-weenie (size of your dick) splash of COKE to it. Jerk-off.
12. If you tip me (and yes, I WILL take tips – I made less than $18K last year), you will most definitely be treated like a king or queen.
(NOTE: Flight attendants do not expect tips and many will not/can not accept them. I am only speaking for myself, so calm down.)
13. It’s not rocket science.
The First Flight Attendant in History
by Dan on July 9, 2010
Heinrich Kubis with passengers on LZ-120 Bodensee
The World’s First Flight Attendant
Name: Heinrich Kubis
Aircraft: Passenger Zeppelin LZ-10 “Schwaben”
Heinrich Kubis became the world’s first flight attendant in March, 1912, when he began caring for passengers and serving food aboard the DELAG zeppelin LZ-10 Schwaben.
Kubis served as chief steward on all the German passenger zeppelins that followed, including LZ-120 Bodensee (which made regularly scheduled flights between Berlin and Southern Germany in 1919), LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin, and LZ-129 Hindenburg.
Kubis worked alone on the early zeppelins, but there was an assistant steward and cook aboard the 20-passenger Graf Zeppelin, and a team of 10-15 cooks and stewards aboard the 72-passenger Hindenburg.
Heinrich Kubis (standing, dark jacket) in Dining Room of LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin
Kubis was in Hindenburg’s dining room when the ship burst into flame at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. When the Hindenburg sank close enough to the ground, Kubis encouraged passengers and crew to jump from the windows and jumped to safety himself. Kubis landed without injury and was not hurt in the disaster.
Kubis testified at the inquiry into the Hindenburg disaster and then returned to Germany, where he lived until his death in the 1970s.
Heinrich Kubis (standing, dark jacket) in Dining Room of LZ-129 Hindenburg
Years before heavier-than-air commercial airliners were large enough to accommodate stewards, and 18 years before Ellen Church of United Airlines became the world’s first stewardess, Heinrich Kubis was earning his living in the air as the world’s first flight attendant.
An open Letter to All Airline Passangers...before you treat a flight attendant badly.take a moment and know that she may save your life before saving her own! Hope Asiana Crash teaches all those fuss makers a lesson!
An Open Letter to Airline Passengers:
Many of you ignore us. And by us, I mean your flight crew – you know, those pesky, perky folks in polyester that pour Cokes. Flight Attendants, contrary to popular belief, are highly skilled and it’s not in the art of delivering beverages and snacks. Instead, we’re safety professionals initially taught for weeks, some of us a couple months, on delivering babies, putting out fires, administering first aid and, of course, evacuating an aircraft… which means getting you off and to safety along with perhaps hundreds more in ninety seconds or less. We are required by the FAA to maintain these skills through annual recurrent training.
In an incredible show of just how capable Flight Attendants are at their job, our colleagues at Asiana Airlines evacuated a full Boeing 777 before it was engulfed in flames after crash-landing in San Francisco. Kudos to them for sure… Among our industry, we hold them in awe, partly because we are thankful it wasn’t us on that plane. We can do it and perhaps must one day, but no one wants to be faced with the danger, with death.
But, you, Passenger, have to make a phone call. Send that text. Play with your iProduct. Ignore the safety demonstration. Do you recall where your exit was? The plane is on fire; the door near you is blocked. The overhead bin is now in your lap. Smoke has filled the cabin and you cannot see. Wires and oxygen masks hang in your face. Who are you gonna look for now?
Oh, it’s the Flight Attendant! The one who said hello to you during boarding but to whom you could not utter a word because you were too busy to notice.
We appreciate your flying; we genuinely do. We enjoy hearing about your world, where you’re heading for business or vacation. Without your business, we wouldn’t feed ourselves much less our families. We couldn’t pay our car payments or afford to educate ourselves higher than the degrees many already possess. We also wouldn’t jet off to exotic locales courtesy of the company we work for and enjoy a lifestyle unlike any other. We really do enjoy serving you.
What we don’t enjoy is being taken for granted. We are trained to react for both anticipated and unanticipated emergencies. The Asiana crew had no clue what was about to befall them. This would be an unanticipated emergency. After an almost eleven hour flight, the crew likely had discussed what they’d enjoy on their layover in San Francisco, one of my favorites. Without a doubt, though, the crew – like all of us – silently/mentally prepare for just what happened. Who would have thought that the landing gear would be sheared off by the sea wall and the tail of the aircraft ripped apart? Thank God the plane didn’t catapult down the runway…
When we sit on that jump seat for takeoff and landing, we are recalling our training. Where is my emergency equipment? What are my evacuation commands? If we land in the water, which exits are usable? What should I take with me to use until first responders arrive? The Asiana crew was en pointe.
And that is where we need you to be, Mister and Mrs. Important Passenger. We need you to turn off your damned electronics and listen to us. Debate the specifics of whether it interferes with aircraft navigation guides with someone else. We need you to hear us and not just for your sake. While you’re being caught up to speed on the very important details other passengers are comprehending, you’re cutting into the ninety seconds we’re trained to get you off the aircraft, namely because that’s approximately the time it takes for it to become engulfed in flames. It’s not just you we’re tasked with saving… it’s everyone on board, and then ourselves.
You can thank us later… after you say hello. And, leave your damned belongings behind like we told you. No one needs luggage during an evacuation. And, if you puncture the slide on one of our only usable exits, we’re not going to be as happy as we were when we were pouring you that Diet Coke.
Think it cannot happen to you: You can’t ask those two teens that died but ask the hundreds who walked away.
Flight Attendant Called Hero
Lee yoon-Hye, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 flight attendant and cabin manager (AP)
10:45 AM, Jul 8, 2013
Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY
Asiana Airlines attendants are being lauded as heroes for their role in helping passengers to safety after the crash-landing of Flight 214 at San Francisco on Saturday.
Lee Yoon-hye, described by The Associated Pressas the "cabin manger" who was "apparently the last person to leave the burning plane," was among those being called out for her efforts to lead fliers to safety.
Speaking to AP, Lee described evacuation in the moments after the crash-landing, in which 305 of 307 people onboard the flight survived.
She tells the news agency that one of her colleagues carried a frightened elementary school-aged boy on her back off the plane and down the emergency exit slide.
AP adds "Lee herself worked to put out fires and usher passengers to safety despite a broken tailbone that kept her standing throughout a news briefing with mostly South Korean reporters at a San Francisco hotel. She said she didn't know how badly she was hurt until a doctor at a San Francisco hospital later treated her."
San Francisco fire chief Joanne Hayes-White praised Lee, whom she talked to just after the evacuation, according to AP.
"She was so composed I thought she had come from the terminal," Hayes-White is quoted as saying to reporters in a clip posted to YouTube. "She wanted to make sure that everyone was off. ... She was a hero."
Passenger Eugene Anthony Rah, who was sitting in business class on Asiana Flight 214, echoed a similar theme in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
He describes a chaotic post-landing scene, telling the newspaper he saw an attendant helping passengers to the exit slides.
"She was a hero," Rah says to the Journal. "This tiny, little girl was carrying people piggyback, running everywhere, with tears running down her face. She was crying, but she was still so calm and helping people."
The speed of the evacuation of Asiana Flight 214 ... suggested to observers a textbook example of how to get more than 300 people off a plane after a crash and before it burns.
"It's incredible to see what these flight attendants were able to accomplish - with half the doors," Leslie Mayo, a flight attendant for American Airlines on 777s and national communications coordinator for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, says to USA TODAY.
The Journal also picks up on that theme in its story, writing "such quick-thinking heroics in the minutes after the plane's spectacular crash at San Francisco International Airport, combined with technological enhancements in recent years that have made jetliner accidents more survivable, likely prevented Saturday's disaster from being far more deadly, experts said."
As for flight attendant Lee, the 40-year-old who has been with Asiana for nearly 20 years says she sensed something was wrong with Flight 214 as it neared the runway.
"Right before touchdown, I felt like the plane was trying to take off. I was thinking, 'What's happening?' and then I felt a bang," Lee is quoted as saying by AP. "That bang felt harder than a normal landing. It was a very big shock. Afterward, there was another shock and the plane swayed to the right and to the left."
Then the captain ordered the evacuation of the aircraft, and Lee says she instinctively jumped to action.
"I wasn't really thinking, but my body started carrying out the steps needed for an evacuation," Lee says, according to AP. "I was only thinking about rescuing the next passenger."
And when she noticed flames, she adds: "I was only thinking that I should put it out quickly. I didn't have time to feel that this fire was going to hurt me."
Asiana flight attendants hailed as heroes
By Madison Park, CNN
July 10, 2013
Hong Kong (CNN) -- Veteran flight attendant Lee Yoon Hye sensed something was awry as Flight 214 neared the San Francisco International Airport runway.
As the plane was supposed to land, it rose briefly as if it was trying to lift off again.
Lee had worked 18 years with Asiana Airlines and on Saturday, her skills were tested.
The plane slammed down with "great impact," said Lee, who sat in the front.
Then boom -- the plane hit again.
"It was even more than a hard landing," Lee, 40, said. The plane teetered left and right.
Shock and survival: Plane crash through the eyes of children
After striking the edge of the runway at San Francisco International Airport, the Boeing 777 tumbled into the ground, igniting flames and a trail of smoke. Its tail splintered off and parts of the plane peeled off as it skidded into the earth.
When the aircraft finally stopped, she noticed that the emergency inflatable slide located at the right side of the front door had deployed inside the plane. Witnesses say the overhead bins dropped open.
Hailed as a hero who ushered passengers out of the Asiana plane, Lee was one of the 12 flight attendants on Flight 214.
Two other flight attendants were not in their seats at the rear of the aircraft when the plane finally ground to a halt, because they were ejected as the aircraft broke up. They were later found near the runway, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Lee calmly described the chaotic minutes of the Asiana plane crash. Dressed in her airline uniform, her name tag pinned to her jacket and her hair in the airline's trademark bun, she addressed Korean journalists gathered in San Francisco earlier this week.
According to the airline, flight attendants helped passengers get off the plane safely. They opened doors, deployed slides and helped passengers escape, according to JoongAng Daily, a South Korean newspaper.
As soon as the plane stopped, Lee knocked on the cockpit door to make sure the pilots were OK.
The captain opened the door.
"Are you OK, Captain?" she asked.
"Yes, I am OK," he replied.
"Should I perform the evacuation?" she asked. He told her to wait, she recalled.
Interactive: What happened with Asiana Flight 214?
Lee made an announcement to assure increasingly agitated passengers, telling them that the plane had come to a complete stop.
Once evacuation began, Lee said she had a plan.
"I was not thinking, but acting," she said. "As soon as I heard 'emergency escape,' I conducted the evacuation."
"When there was a fire, I was just thinking to extinguish it, not thinking that it's too dangerous or 'What am I going to do?'"
Asiana flight attendants undergo three months of training including emergencies and terrorist training before their first flight.
Did passengers ignore safety messages?
Lee said she saw her colleagues jump into action to help passengers and injured crew even as a fire burned in the back of the airplane. They popped the first emergency slide that had deployed inside with an ax to free a crew member who was struggling to breathe underneath its weight. Another emergency slide in the back trapped another crew member and was deflated with a kitchen knife, Lee said according to South Korean news station YTN.
One shaken elementary school-aged boy was afraid to go down the emergency slide, but one of the flight attendants lifted him on her back and escaped with him, Lee said.
Earlier this week, Eugene Rah, who was flying his 173rd flight on Asiana Air, told CNN that he saw a 100-pound flight attendant carrying the injured on her back.
Joanne Hayes-White, the San Francisco Fire Chief also praised the flight attendant for being "so composed."
"She was not concerned for her safety, but everyone else's," she said.
Lee said she was the last to leave the plane. And she glanced back.
"The ceiling was coming down and I felt like something was dragging the plane. Behind me I couldn't see, because it looked like there was a wall."
She had no idea the tail had snapped off or how the plane would be nearly engulfed in flames moments after they had escaped.
Two teenagers, both 16, died in the crash. The rest who were on board escaped: 305 of them.
By Brent Wittmeier, Edmonton Journal December 12, 2013
EDMONTON - A man is lucky to be alive after flight crews at the Edmonton International Airport used a defibrillator to restart his heart.
The incident happened early Wednesday evening when an arriving passenger collapsed behind a U.S. security checkpoint, said Heather Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Edmonton International Airport.
“WestJet crew grabbed one of the defibrillators off the wall, used it, shocked the patient once,” Hamilton said, adding that United Airlines crew members also helped. “Fire crews were on site within a couple of minutes, and he was already able to sit up and talk to them.”
Since 2009, Edmonton International Airport has installed more than 60 automatic external defibrillators with the goal of having one no more than a minute away. Chances of survival increase by roughly 75 per cent when an AED is used within three minutes, along with cardiopulmonary resuscitation and dialing 911, the Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates.
The airport’s AED devices are essentially foolproof. They give audible instructions. And since the machine checks for a heartbeat, it’s impossible to shock someone who doesn’t need it. If there isn’t a pulse, the patient is essentially dead, Hamilton said, so there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
It wasn’t the first life-saving incident in that area of the airport. Airport defibrillators have saved at least three other lives. Last year, an RCMP officer and an off-duty firefighter revived a man behind the U.S. customs area using a nearby AED, shocking the man’s heart four or five times.
Hamilton says she’s glad the man’s family won’t have to “cope with a really, really different Christmas.” But she also wonders if the message about the power of AEDs is getting out. It was crew members, not passengers, who stepped in.
Hamilton hopes that incidents like this one will embolden others to act when necessary. While the machine automatically sets off an alarm, passengers shouldn’t be afraid to grab and use it. After all, a life might be at stake.
“You’re not going to get in trouble at all,” Hamilton said. “You want the alarm to go off, the alarm is what’s bringing help to you.”