Thursday, 5 July 2012
Have you noticed a lot of crazy-flight-attendant stories lately? There was the American Airline FA who dared his passengers to leave the plane at LaGuardia after a five-hour delay. The JetBlue FAs who had a father with a tantrumming 2-year-old bounced from a red-eye.
In some respects, it's not surprising we're seeing more flight attendants snap. It's summer, flights are predictably full, everybody's hot, and a lot of airlines have cut capacity this year. The pressure-cooker of tension that airline travel has become post-9/11 just got a bit more crowded.
I'd be interested to know why these stories get so much press. We know that aviation stories in general catch people's interest. Maybe it's that in this post-9/11 world, these stories appeal to the widespread sense that air travel is a living hell. Maybe it's that we love to see anyone knocked off their perch, and it's satisfying to see flight attendants - who are often depicted as power-hungry harpies on a crusade against anyone with a BlackBerry or naughty t-shirt - freaking out and losing control.
Then there's Shane Walker. He and his wife and her (their?) extra-marital playmate were found guilty of "conspiracy to commit bestiality" recently.
All the headlines for this story led with "Flight attendant". Guess that gives the story a racier, sexier angle than if Walker had been an insurance actuary or restaurant-supply salesman.
There's still the irresistible link between flight attendants and sex that dates back to "Coffee, Tea or Me?" and "Boeing, Boeing." What's not sexy about young, attractive women in fitted skirts, nylons and heels? This time, though, it's a middle-aged male FA, and if he's living in Arizona, he's probably doing more flights to Milwaukee than to Madrid.
And similarly, this is really just a garden-variety, Middle America kind of perversion, not much different to the many couples who must be out there who "swing" except, of course, for the presence of the Golden shepherd.
That Walker was an inflight crew member doesn't materially affect the story; it's not like they were sneaking Lassie aboard so they could join the Mile-High Club together. I think the emphasis given to his occupation has more with a perverse delight the traveling public takes in seeing flight attendants - normally so composed and in control during boarding and the safety demos - taken down a peg or two.
We're seeing a lot of stories lately too of the "Are cellphones on a plane really that dangerous?" variety that are mostly the tantrums of gadget addicts resentful of flight attendants' attempts to regulate their behavior. Wonder how long it'll be before some million-miler fires back at the flight attendant who asks him to switch off for taxi "Hey, why don't you leave me alone and go home and have sex with your dog?"