Saturday, July 11, 2009

Karen, the Flight Attendant, or Flying with Hitler …

I have thought long and hard before I started writing this. Life has been particularly good to me lately, so I didn’t want to jinx myself, and let Ms. Bitter come out of me … But … honesty always wins, and as my dear friend says, if you’ve got something to say, you gotta write a blog. Something like that!

You also knew me better than this, and you knew I could not be on a plane trip and not post something about airlines, and such! That would be so out of ordinary for me, wouldn’t it?!

So, without further ado, I’d like to share with you my latest experience on a Delta flight from Atlanta (does it ever end with Delta, you’ll ask: I suppose not!).

So, I board the 2:57 flight from Atlanta to Greensboro one Monday, recently. I am thinking I will miss the flight, because I only had 20 minutes between when my previous plane (from Salt Lake) landed until the second plane would take off. So, out of breath, I get to my gate at 2:40. I had a boarding pass, but no seat. At the gate, I jump the line of stand-byers (I HAD a pass, all right???) and I ask for a seat. The lady is all ready for me, and hands me a ticket, with my seat assignment. Seat 1D.

“Oh, peachy!” – I tell myself, “Can’t use the seat in front of me to store my carry-on’ Lovely!”. Little did I know that was to be the least of my worries. I try to run onto the plane, but the flight attendant is guarding it with her life. She barks, seeing my intention of getting onto her flight (and I mean “her” flight: proprietary as hell): “ONLY, if you’re going to Greensboro!!!!”.

OK. I am thinking: Oh, maybe someone just tried to get into her plane for a different city and now she’s worried. I have never, in my life, have seen anyone going past the gate and getting into the wrong plane, but I am sure I still have things to learn. So, I say, smiling: “Yes, I am going to Greensboro”. She sighs, rolls her eyes to make sure I see it, and lets me in.

I go right in, on the first row. The overhead bin is closed, which is weird, since the plane is not finished boarding, judging from the empty seats and people standing by at the gate. I open the overhead bin (first row, remember, so I am trying to use the bin), and she is right behind me: “Umm… What are you doing?”. I tell her I need to use the bin for the storage. She goes on: “Is your seat supposed to be in the first row??” – just annoyed as hell. I show her the ticket: “Yes, ma’am. 1D! First row”.

She rolls her eyes and sighs:” Well, make sure your stuff will fit in there”. I can’t think of WHY she made that comment, because all I have is a soft shell backpack and the bin is completely empty, but I am, moving right along and trying not to mind her.

I pull out my book, my purse (small, also), and my mini laptop, and leave the rest in the backpack and up in the bin. I have traveled much in my time – not as much as most folks, true, and not as much as I wish, but I have been on one or two planes. I have kept my purse next to me, in my seat, and I have seen people doing it all the time. This is my fourth flight traveling with the mini laptop, and I have always put it in the pocket in front of my seat, without any sort of comments from the flight attending crew. So, I think nothing of stuffing my mini and my book in the pocket, and tucking my purse next to my hip, on my seat.

Then, I notice, she gives the same treatment to ALL the folks that are coming onto the plane: making sure they go to Greensboro. And for those who sit in the front row, making sure that’s where they belong. I am starting to get annoyed! I am trying to wonder, again, judging from my experience, who in the right mind would just walk on a plane with the wrong destination in mind and sit just wherever the hell they wanna sit, just for the fun of it?! They give you that coupon with a seat on it for a reason, don’t they???

Anywhoo … I am glad it’s not me that she’s yelling at anymore.

I also need to tell you that the woman is NOT nice through this whole thing. She sounds mad. She sounds annoyed with every single one of us that walks in. Everyone notices her bad mood, and they pop their eyes at each other. But she comes on so strong you kind of just … shut up.

All the fun of watching is over for me when she sees my purse, and yells: “I am sorry, ma’am. THAT (pointing) has to go under your seat. It is the Federal regulation, and you must obey it!”. She is emphatic like that on the underlines words, like I were deaf, of some sort. I wanted to say I have done it numerous times before, but I figure it’s not going to happen on her plane, so I just “obey” it.

The couple that is sitting across the aisle from me (older, cute couple) are trying to put their stuff in the bin across from me, and they fail to see the “For aircraft staff only” sticker on it. They get admonished, with no regard for their old years (the attendant is probably in her late 40’s). They pick my bin, next, and she puffs: “Oh, that’s already taken” (by my little backpack!!) “I doubt you can fit your bag there”. The gentleman does fit it, and closes the bin. The lady of the couple is keeping purse on her lap. She gets yelled at about The Fed regulations, also.

It’s 3:00 PM and the flight shows no sign of taking off. She mentions to the older gentleman across from me that she’s waiting for the food supplies. I am wondering what food, since we all know we get no food on commuter flights. And she mentions that she called in the supplies at 2:10 and she is still to receive them. So, this will go into my book of "weird reasons planes are late taking off", I am thinking.

Then, she mentions: “I am a very patient lady (I puff within myself, because not a pore in her body speaks of 'patience'), but I cannot put up with this crap! I have been up since 5 AM and all I want is to get home and get into that hot tub that I have been thinking about all day!”. And she is tapping her foot, with arms crossed, looking out the door, for the supply crew. Impatiently.

All right, at this point, I am pissed! I am mad, because I had been up since 2 AM (if we’re talking Atlanta time!), and been in lines in airports for hours, and on planes all day long, on my vacation. She is doing her darn job!

This should not require pity!

The gentleman that is to sit next to me comes in late, and he is questioned why so late. He apologizes and says he just landed and almost didn’t make this flight. She sighs. Gives him the same spiel about “oh, you’re not fitting your stuff up there. Oh, I am sure it’s not going to fit, so don’t even try it”. The guy is speechless, mouth open and just annoyed eyes, but doesn’t say anything. His bag fits. I give him a sympathetic smile.

Then she is off to the rest of the plane, yelling at this older lady, telling her that maybe she doesn’t hear well (??!!), but she did say about half of a dozen times that no one can keep purses in their laps! Everyone is speechless and just wants to say something, but we all want to go somewhere, so we don’t budge.

Then, the supply crew comes, around 3:05. Yes, you remember right, the flight was to leave at 2:57 PM! She argues with the supply crew: no, she does not need M&M’s, she needs peanuts. The cross country Conair Jets get M&M’s, she is a commuter flight on the East Coast, she gets peanuts. The man pages someone for peanuts! Then, she wants more water – she gets that; and also a Conair liquor kit! I am thinking: this is a commuter flight and it’s 3 PM! Who will order liquor that probably is an arm and a leg!??? Who will have liquor and peanuts??? Anywhoo, she wants a liquor kit. We’re waiting for the second crew to arrive with the liquor kit.

Then, she argues with them about the paperwork: the list of supplies she gets has no carbon. She needs one with carbon, to keep a copy on board. The people (by now instead of the 2 people that showed up with supplies initially, we have five folks and three carts outside!) are saying they have no kind of other paperwork, this is it, for all planes. For all airlines. Sorry, Conair (which is us) gets carbon, she needs carbon! Their manager shows up, a bossy, gentlemanly man, and yells back at her (FINALLY, I say!!!): “Ma’am! This is what we have! You take it or leave it! But we cannot produce any other kind of paperwork! Make a copy when you get to the office, and be done with it. I can’t give you a carbon copy, and I am pulling my crew! You got what you need??”. She talks over him, but finally accepts the paperwork.

It’s 3:30. She closes the doors. Yay! At 3:40 we’re leaving!

Not before … she comes and notices my laptop in the pocket in front of me, and barks again – now even more mad, after the fight with the supplies people: “Ma’am!!!! (I blink!) Federal regulations prohibit the placement of electronics in the pocket in front of you. I would like you to listen to me when I speak, and do what I say!!” – this is very much verbatim!

So, I grab the laptop, and slide it under my own seat, mumbling (I just could NOT keep it inside me): “And WHAT ELSE, I wonder?!?”

The gentleman next to me goes “Geez!”.

She comes back, and pulls out of the seat pocket the Sky magazine, to show me the page with the Federal regulations. She shoves it in front of me, while I am looking out the window. I say, after a while: “ I heard you!” – annoyed and not looking at the page, but at her with my evil look (oh, you know that look!)

She cannot believe the gall, and says “Well, I heard you say ‘Whatever’, so I just needed to show you the rules!”

I say, undisturbed: “ I did not say ‘Whatever’!”

She puts the magazine back and walks away. The guy next to me says again: “Geez! She sucks!”.

I agree.

And the journey continues. For the rest of the flight, I avoid her. I pretend to sleep when she serves peanuts, and I don’t make eye contact. She still blabs, looking at us, unfortunate folks of first row for comment and approval, and I look out the window. The other folks are quiet. She’s all but talking to herself …

We arrive in Greensboro, and she wishes us a nice day, and then she wants to leave us with a thought. And it pains me to put it out there … but I have to: she says on the microphone: “ I would like to leave you with a thought for the day folks. I want you to remember that ‘a smile is a facelift that we call can afford’ and I wish you all a very pleasant day!”.

Some people are laughing and some people (those who have been yelled at) are looking around at each other with inquisitive eyes of “are you freaking kidding me????”. We shake our heads, and instead of “good bye” I wanted to say: “you earn a smile, you don’t demand one”. But I figured I’d waste my breath and I don’t know about you, but I have more respect for my breath than that!

So, next time you fly Delta on a Conair commuter flight, and your flight attendant is Karen and she asks you if you belong there – be warned! You just saw Hitler, in a new incarnation!

And, for the sake of accuracy, all the similarities between names, institutions and reality in this bit are not purely coincidental. And I am not too sure what The Fed says about that, either …


Romy Mc said...

What an awful woman! She really needs to work on her people skills. Sheesh.

TonyaB122 said...

You're not going to believe this, but I had the SAME flight attendant on a flight from ATL to Greensboro! On my flight, she yelled at a guy that had his knee in the aisle because he was very tall. I swear she tried to take his knee off with the snack cart. The poor man shrank into his seat when she was yelling, and I do mean YELLING, at him.

What's worse, this particular flight is the one where my terminal was changed, then my gate changed, and I ran to make it on time - only to sit for 30 minutes before we left. Now I know the cause; she was waiting on her damn peanuts and copies!

A.W. said...

WOW. Maybe we should report her, or something.
I mean, in this world, I would not want ANYONE without a job, but my God, this is ridiculous. The woman needs to know she is out of line.
What made me wonder, also, was the fact that the pilot NEVER come on speaker to say anything about the delay, or anything. They, in fact, never came out of the cockpit. They never even said a word to us. Not one! I wondered the entire time how fed up with her they were themselves ... Hhmm...
The woman is not right!