Passengers - An Endless Source of Joy and Pain
Second Guessing the Passengers:
Passengers, you do some funny things. Yes, you are very strange, and you are an endless source of both annoyance and amusement for cabin crew everywhere. There is an old adage in flying that says if it wasn’t for passengers, this would be the perfect job. You can be great fun, highly entertaining and really nice, sweet, patient and kind, but you have a dark side too. The world over, you are often badly dressed, quite greedy, very nosy and sometimes have the capacity to act like a sulky child. You can be moody, unreasonable, and bad mannered. Some of you, and you know who you are! are rude, impatient and delight in being difficult. You are a pain.
You do have some redeeming features though. Got to get the point in that you pay our wages. Oh, yes, and you can be very funny. Not when you try to be. That’s important. You are not funny at all when you try too hard to amuse us. We’ve all had some proper tool, hanging around the galley, coming out with lines that we have heard a thousand times before. Shit like, “Bet you’ve got a man in every port, airport that is, nerughhh!” or “Oooooo You’re a real high flyer, in a job thats really going places” You are a knob, mate. Leave us alone to get on with our work, and stop invading our personal galley space! And those complete bores, and there are plenty, who copy us doing the safety demo, pointing out the exits, and grinning inanely. How hilarious are you? I’d continue and demonstrate the life jacket, but sadly I fear my sides will split. And you are immune to the fixed smile, and withering look we throw at you. And all that clapping on landing, when did that start? Common, that’s what it is! But in the midst of all this, you do things that tickle us, but it’s never when you are trying.
We were once doing a charter to Minorca, and from Luton, it’s is a quick two and a bit hour flight. And it’s full of families, so usually quite irritatingly nice to do. Loads of kids, loads of nappies, harassed but happy parents, and some real lovely old dears. Now, the once a year flyers are cute, a bit demanding and determined to get their moneys worth, but quite easy generally. Not experienced, all big eyed and excited, the dads trying to be cool, acting like they do this everyday, and not checking out the Stewardesses too much in case the wife sees. A busy, pleasant walk in the park in flying terms. So, here we were, flying along, a lot to do. We’d served the bar and sold the drinks, we’d served the hot meal, invariably cottage pie and a chocolate mousse, and we were racing down with the tea and coffee. Now the service manual says that we must endeavor to serve a second round of tea and coffee. It’s a service “enhancement” and passengers love it. We’re happy to do it, (even though they are greedy, and even though they don’t really want it, but they’ll take it anyway because it’s free. They insist that their three year old daughter is getting a second coffee in her cup, “Yea go on love, if she don’t want it I’ll have it.” For God’s sake! They force it down or make dad drink it, or worse hand it back untouched so it slops all over the tray when we collect in. Passengers! you are the limit, you really are).
So, yes, the Minorca flight. Seconds. Happy to do it, (yea, right!), but time is short, and if there is one thing that is getting ditched from this service, it’s second tea and coffee. Be realistic now, we earn commission on the bar, and we earn commission on the duty frees. During a short flight, what do you think you’ll be offered? Make it worth our while! Well, I felt a little guilty about the lack of “seconds”, but was pressed for time. There were still hot towels to do, clear in, and then the duty free. So I thought, lets compromise. I said to the crew, “I’ll make an announcement, Julie, you get a pot of coffee to serve, Abby, you get the tea and Hayley and I will follow you with the hot towels. Perfect!” So, already to boogie, I said over the PA, (that’s the Public Address system),
“Ladies and Gentlemen, as the flight is quite short, we will not have time to offer you a full second tea and coffee service. If you would particularly like another cup, please press the button in the panel above your head, thank you.”
Now, I thought this was an obvious thing to say. Passengers have a call bell above their head. Those wanting a drop or two more, press the call bell so it lights up, and the Stewardess will see it and come and serve hot drinks in turn, as we follow with your hot towel. This will save loads of time by not asking every individual, the girls will make their way to the back galley, finish off the hot towels, get their trollies and clear in. But no. That’s not what they thought we meant. There was a shriek of joy from Julie as she popped her head round the galley curtain, preparing to set off with the pot, to the delightful chime of call bells. She ducked her head back in, contorted with laughter, and wheezed, “ Look, look, look what these mad fuckers are doing!” I shit you not, when we peeped, a sizable amount of the passengers, (dads especially, who always think they have it all in hand), were stretched up in their seats, pressing the call bells and holding their cups up to them. They were under the impression that fresh tea and coffee was being piped round under the lockers. Fucking classic!
And we loved the passengers for it. We split our sides at their innocence, and their belief that our 22 year old Boeing 737 was capable of such fantastic technology. It was a good few minutes before we could leave the galley, tear streaked and highly delighted. Too late for hot towels now, straight on with clearing in. But Julie and I had only got two rows before we were asked how “this coffee fhing works, nuffins coming owwt” and off we went again, into fresh peels of laughter. And, I’ll tell you a secret. A little drop or two of wee actually left my body as I went into the doubled over, silent, shoulder shaking laughter stage. There was definite seepage. Passengers!!! You are priceless, you really are! British Tommy Tourists, we salute you, you sometimes, just sometimes make it all worthwhile!