There has been a significant increase in passenger disturbances in recent months.  It’s important for passengers to understand the duties and responsibilities of flight attendants. There are many realities your flight attendant wishes that you knew about their job.  Here are just five for you to consider.

1.         The primary duty of a flight attendant is safety. The primary responsibility is to help passengers in the event of an emergency.  Other responsibilities include fighting fires, first aid, and directing evacuations.  Flight attendants are trained to conduct safety checks before each flight.  In addition, they present safety equipment and give instructions to passengers on how to use the equipment. While trained in dealing with unruly passengers, the level of passenger aggression seen recently is beyond what most flight attendants are prepared to handle.

2.         In addition to their safety duties, flight attendants provide customer service. They greet and communicate with passengers.  Help them find their seats, and assist in directing passengers in how to stow their luggage.  They are not bellhops and are not required to lift or carry bags for passengers. Most airlines urge their flight attendants not to lift or move heavy bags because of inflight injuries to the crew.

3.         Although flight attendants at times do serve meals and beverages. They are not waiters in the sky.  Serving customers comes secondary to the safety of the passengers.  Many times, flight attendants are blamed for not having a particular beverage or meal.  They can only serve what has been provided to them by the airline and have no idea of passengers’ wants or needs unless asked.  Most importantly, however, there is no supermarket in the sky.  If it is not on board the aircraft before departure, it cannot be served in flight.

4.         Flight attendants are often hired for their critical thinking skills and to be problem solvers.  They are not airplane police.  They are, certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and are required to make sure passengers comply with federal guidelines.  These guidelines include wearing seatbelts and, most recently, wearing face masks over the nose and mouth. Most passengers remove their masks after boarding and become very uncooperative and combative when prompted to follow the guidelines.

5.         Most importantly, passengers should know that it is a federal offense to interfere or physically assault a flight crew member.  Assaulting or intimidating a crew member can result in a felony conviction.  Interfering with flight crews can result in prison time and significant fines.  In addition, airlines can ban passengers from flying a particular airline.

The airline has important information on every passenger that boards their airplane.  Flight crews are given some of that information.  They know your mileage status, the extent of miles or money paid for your flight, and your assigned seating. Next time you fly, think a bit more about your flight attendant.  Know that they are human and experience delays, disturbances, and frustrations just as you do.  Be kind and give grace.