Pilot here. Girlfriend is a flight attendant. Personally, I haven’t seen too much go wrong. Just the usual tantrums over bags and missed connections (protip: if you book a 30 minute connection, you will miss it). Pilots have the luxury of the locked door, but she is locked in the back with some nasty people sometimes.
Like the time when a middle aged man screamed at her for a few minutes during a 25 minute flight because she ran out of apple juice.
Like the time when a man asked for a glass of water during a tarmac delay. After delivering said glass of water, he dumped it on her head.
Like the time when a man heckled her during the safety demo to the point of a needing to return to the gate to escort him from the aircraft.
Like the many times when a passenger insists that their bag will fit in the overhead, forcing it so hard that it breaks the bin, and requires a 4 hour delay to repair.
Please, be polite to your flight crews! :)
21. Gun to head
Dora the Explorer without earphones on a night flight.
A friend of mine was a flight attendant who told me that a guy called the air hostess and very politely asked if the pilot could shut off one of the jet engines so his son could sleep peacefully.
My husband flies a lot for work (he makes Delta Diamond every year), so he’s got a ton of crazy stories about insane passengers; the most recent and ridiculous, however, took place on a trip back from Hawaii.
While he’s waiting to board the plane, he’s noticing a distinct smell of body odor. He’s doing the whole “wait, shit, is that me?” panic, trying to surreptitiously sniff his own armpits, when he notices that a bunch of the other people waiting are all doing the exact same thing. Figuring that it’s either someone else, or that there are, like, a stockpile of raw onions nearby, he stops thinking about it. Until they board.
Because of all his Delta miles, he’s in first class, in the aisle seat. He sits down, and pulls out a book. The window seat next to him is empty, and stays that way for a while, so he’s thinking, cool — empty row! Then, just as boarding is finishing, suddenly, this horrible, pungent smell just FILLS the cabin. It’s so bad that he said literally every passenger in first class reacted, snapping their heads up to see what in the smelly hell just walked on the plane.
It was a young-ish woman, probably late 20’s, early 30’s. Very hippie-chick style, wearing sort of a flow-y top over a tank top. And she smelled like she had not bathed in daaays. Seriously, best guess is that she’d spent a week at a sweat lodge, and hadn’t cleaned herself since. And, of course, she plopped herself down right next to my husband.
Now, like I said, he’s a seasoned traveler, so he’s used to a lot, and his tolerance is pretty fucking high, but he said this woman’s smell was so bad that his eyes immediately started watering. The flight attendant came over, and the woman ordered a Mai Tai; then she pulled out a book, and started highlighting passages. Meanwhile, call buttons are beginning to light up like crazy, with pretty much every other passenger on the plane being all, “Oh, HELL no” about being stuck in a metal box from Hawaii to L.A. with someone who smells like she fucked every member of Phish back in 2006, and vowed to never bathe again.
Anyway, over the next fifteen minutes while this woman sits there reading obliviously, my husband watches as the poor flight attendants have multiple whispered, nervous conversations at the front of the plane, all the while staring at this smelly lady. My husband is alternating between texting me in horror and making eye contact with the attendants, and he’s doing the Wide-Eyes-of-Terror at them, and they’re nodding at him and Wide-Eyeing right back. By this time, my husband is nervous that he’s going to get a migraine because the smell is so overwhelming, and people nearby are wrapping shirts around their faces to combat the odor. Finally, the gate agent approaches. She asks the woman to follow her to the front, where apparently, they gave her some soap and a new shirt, and sent her into the bathroom.
A few minutes later, she emerged wearing a new shirt, but still smelling atrocious (“THEY GAVE HER SOAP, BUT NO INSTRUCTIONS,” my husband texts miserably. “Can’t they SEE she doesn’t know what to do with it? SOAP IS HARD FOR HER”). She sits back down, and promptly orders another drink.
Another few minutes pass, with more wide-eyed-silent-“help me”- face from my husband, as well as increasingly not so silent complaints from other passengers nearby, until finally, it becomes apparent that if action isn’t taken, there’s going to be a big ol’ mutiny in the first class of a Delta plane. At this point, two agents approach the row. Now, this lady had the window seat and my husband was in the aisle, so this entire conversation had to take place with him awkwardly in the middle, pressing himself against his seat back, but the agents lean in and tell the woman that, sorry, she just can’t ride on the plane; she smells too bad, and she’s not fit to fly.
She’s incredulous, and keeps saying, “Just because you think I smell?” and “This sounds like a lawsuit to me.” Meanwhile, the agents are being as friendly as they can be, explaining that they will happily put her up in a hotel for the night so she can take a shower, but that they can’t allow her to board another Delta plane until she’s cleaned herself off. She didn’t make that much of a scene, and they all gathered her things and walked off together.
The best part, though, was that right before she stood up, she complained that she had an important meeting back in L.A., and absolutely had to fly out that afternoon; in response, one of the attendants smiled and brightly said, “Well, we can’t help you, but I think there’s still room on a United flight!”
My husband said it was one of the most surreal travel experiences ever.