in yesterdays post, I spoke about meals on planes. thus I figure why not talk about the people serving the food…

On my recent flight with American Airlines from Chicago to Tokyo, I must say I was served by a couple of airline stewards/s who were old enough to be my grandparents. Now please don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against older people being air stewards, though these people did not seem to happy to be doing what they were doing.

Many people who fly are accustomed to the sickening, overly-smiling airline workers who seem to smile from take off to landing. I’ve always wondered how they do it. Fly Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, various Asian Airlines, and many other airlines and you will most likely be served by a young-smiling-happy person. This is not the case with many of the American based airlines.
The people serving me on my American Airlines flight looked like they were in their fifties and sixties, and I did not see a single smile ONCE! They seemed to go about their job with monotony, indifference and boredom. My wife reported a similar experience on her recent flights with United Airlines; in fact, she said she had the worst flight she had ever experienced because of the negative attitude of the flight attendants.

Why is this?

Working as an airline hostess/stewardess used to be a job for young people, something they did for just a few years. They would fly around the world, get to travel, meet new people, and overall just have a good time. It was never a career decision. No one would say “I want to spend the next twenty plus years being an airline steward/ess.” It was more like something you did for 2-3 years while you figured out what you wanted to do with your life. You had to take a relatively short and easy course, and if you had a pleasant personality (and you weren’t too short to close the overhead bins, or to fat to fit down the aisle) you cold get the job.

But in America it has changed. Now there are middle-aged people who have made being an airline hostess a career, and I don’t think this is such a good thing. Instead of viewing their job as a fun adventure, they view it with resentment because it takes them away from their home and family. If you are a middle-aged person who enjoys your job as an airline host/ess and you are full of joy every day (my wife met a woman like this on a recent US Airways flight, so they do exist!), then by all means continue fulfilling your passions, but if you are no longer happy with this choice, then please move on to a new career!


4 Responses to “How Old Should an Airline Air Hostess/Air Stewardess be?”

  1. Ever flown El Al? I’d rather walk than experience that again. Bad mouthed, loud young people with a horrible attitude AND not smiling… Awful! I wrote a complaint, never got any answer.

    My experience with several airlines from the US is not great either – indeed many old people and I don’t even care about the lacking smile. But can I rely on them when the hummus hits the fan? I’m not too sure…

    Now… what comes to smiling staff. Personally, I get the creeps from continuous smiling people. Asian companies? No, not my thing. They smile so much, it cannot be sincere!

    The not smiling part goes for many people in professions. Bus driver to hair dresser, lawyer to judge. Just a little smile now and then would be nice – it’s free AND boosts your spirit.

    • Rabbi Ben says:

      Hi Liz,
      Am with you about El Al. I have flown them a number of times, and it is usually a stressful experience, though at least I know the plane is safe and they’ve got my kosher meal.

      Am not sure how those Asians air hostess mange to smile so much, but I think it;s better to over smile than under smile.

  2. Victoria Alford says:

    Someone with experience is worth more to me on a flight gone bad than “eye Candy”.

    My personal favorites are Korean Airlines and Virgin. I fly a lot of Southwest and have no complaints. They get you where you want to go cheaply and on time. You sacrifice an assigned seat.

    My complaints are usually based on the poor service – delayed flights- and the disregard for missed connections by Domestic American. I would avoid them at all cost. Unless it is something like a 5 hour delay, the passenger receives no compensation for not doing what they are paid to do. Instead of re-directing to other airlines to accommodate long delays, we were held hostage in the Miami airport while they flew in a part to the plane. A flight from Miami to San Antonio, Texas took longer than a flight to Spain…

    Have you ever gone overseas on United? Don’t. They had a single movie screen in the aisle. There was no choices of which movie to watch on a convenient individual screen. It had a kids movie. When I wanted to stay awake to read, my light did not work. What is more the ” pretty” young stewardesses on this flight could have cared less. It could have been the type of plane but the service was poor. I felt I inconvenienced the poor young things.

    I get very tired of people criticizing people for not smiling, for smiling too much… or because they could be your grandmother? Lucky for you, your grandmother does not have to work. Too bad you put so much emphasis on outer beauty. I feel sorry for you. You will find nothing but disappointment in your life if you base your relationships and value of people on their outward appearance.

    I say bravo to any airline who hires elderly.
    If they paid better than they do a glorified waitress they might actually attract younger people to the field. If the women were not subjected to sexist passengers it would make the field more attractive as well.

    Do you have any clue what pilots make? It is hardly what you would think they would be paid for being responsible for the lives of hundreds of people. The entire industry is grossly underpaid like teachers.

    I didnt hear you complain about the old pilots…the old codger who saved the lives of all of those people in New York…tsk tsk tsk bet those passengers thanked God for his experience and did not give a hoot that he was retirement or nearing retirement age. Thought it interesting you did not mention the age of the pilots who have always been males in my experience. They are a bit “long in the tooth” as well. Did they smile at you?

    Experience outweighs looks just as tolerance and brains outweigh prejudice, discrimination and stupidity. I don’t go on a flight to be charmed or my ego boosted by the stewardess. Likewise, I don’t go to a restaurant to be waited on by a server who will flirt with me, smile at me or laugh at my bad jokes. I appreciate good service. I happen to like who I am. I do not need outside validation. I go on a flight to get where I need to go safely. I never think about their age. Age seems absolutely immaterial to performing a service.

    • Rabbi Ben says:

      Hi Victoria,
      Thank you for your comment.
      You are certainly correct and it is true that we must not judge people by their outward appearance.
      With certain jobs, the older one gets the better they will get at it. This is not the case with all occupations. As you mentioned pilots, I’d say the older a pilot gets, the more I’d trust his experience. Reaching a level to fly a jumbo jet, takes many years and could cost a couple hundred thousand dollars. And thus it is a job that the pilot is dedicated to a lifetime.

      To become an airline attendant, usually only takes a few months, and airlines will often train people for free. After being an airline attendant for several years, it is highly unlikely you will become better at it. A teacher, doctor and lawyer can always become better at what they do, yet can still stagnate.

      My point in this post was to illustrate that the airline attendant profession was always something for young people to do for a few years, at least the way I see it. As there is little growth and challenging to have a family it is not usually suited for a long period of time.

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