The internet, social media, and technology in general has allowed us to more easily live within our own bubble, a world of confirmation bias and groupthink. My conversations lately with flight attendants have been quite revealing in that respect.
A lot of FAs read my blog, and I am quite thankful for that. I’m often given tips and constructive feedback that are quite helpful. One wrote a very heartfelt rebuttal on an internal United FA issue I wrote about.
Over the last year, I’ve heard an earful on the Dr. David Dao dragging drama and more recently on the dog who died after being stored in an overhead bin on a United flight.
These are usually in the form of conversations and I’m sensing an alarming trend.
FAs know what to say publicly, but ask them privately what they really think and I overwhelmingly hear the following:
- Dr. Dao deserved what he got: he should have known better than to argue (not that a FA was directly involved in the case)
- The gate agent in Houston who assaulted an old man was merely acting in self-defense
- The FA was not even 1% responsible for the dog that recently died in the overhead bin
- Passengers NEVER listen to FAs: we have no more authority
And that may well be the case, though I would argue otherwise on all four points. Yet I find these views striking for the degree in which FAs seem unified. Also keep in mind I don’t just communicate with United FAs, but FAs from other airlines as well, both in the U.S. and in Europe. Could this be the view of the vocal minority rather than the silent majority?
These opinions are not politically correct and I cannot find a FA willing to speak on the record concerning these issues. But do not underestimate the power of this mindset and how it influences the way FAs perform their job duties and view customers.
Sometimes FAs are right to feel they are being blindsided. Case in point: the bonus/lottery “enhancement” that Scott Kirby was forced to drop. But these viewpoints do concern me, a bit at least. They also humble me: I am probably guilty of being blind to some of my own errors as well.
image: Tom Purves / Flickr (CC 2.0)