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By Heather Poole. Once I watched an entire group of passengers traveling to Haiti put a voodoo curse on a coworker in the middle of the beverage service. All the newspapers wrote about it. One paper even posed the question, What is with people going crazy on flights? Just how crazy can it get? Well, not long ago, I was at the rear of the aircraft, welcoming passengers aboard while keeping an eye on rolling bags and overhead bins.
As is not uncommon, a couple of passengers walking down the aisle looked upset as soon as they realized they were seated in the last row, otherwise known as the worst seats on the plane. Hey, someone has to sit there. I was explaining to one of those passengers that yes, his seat really did recline, even in the last row of coach, when another passenger, a woman wearing hip-hugger jeans and a yellow halter top that exposed a belly ring, walked up, handed me a boarding pass, and said, Someone is sitting in my seat.
I looked at the seat in question, 35E, and saw that Belly Ring Girl was right. Someone was in her seat. What made this particular situation a little crazy was not the fact that she had just yelled, This sucks! Excuse me, miss, I said to the seated woman in 35E with the pink cardigan sweater tied loosely around her neck.
I forced a smile at her. The flight is full. It had something to do with the movie screen. What did matter was that a tall man sporting a handlebar mustache now stood a little too close to me. Pink Cardigan continued to go on and on about the seat she refused to move to. How he knew this, I do not know.
Perhaps this is Crazy, I thought to myself. It was a little crazy, three people vying for the same crappy seat, was it not? One down, two to go. Sweet Stache walked to the back of the airplane and plopped down on the floor, placing an overstuffed backpack between his spidery long legs. I turned around. He smiled. Did he actually believe he could sit there? On the floor. In front of the lav. Beside my jump seat. It had a little something to do with that metal thing we like to call a seat belt.
I was pointing to the illuminated seat belt sign, trying my best to get through to this guy, when his eyes glazed over, he got to his feet, and he began walking up the aisle like he knew exactly where he was going.
A passenger from coach whipped back the stiff blue curtain. Wiping my mouth, I quickly got to my feet. Because right at that moment, as she stood there waving a crumpled bill to pay for the roll or something, Sweet Stache walked out of the lav with his pants undone.
Water, he said, pushing the hungry passenger out of the way. In the galley, right next to me, is where he decided to zip up his pants. Of course, I did what any other flight attendant would do—I quickly reached for a plastic cup.
Anything to make him go away! The woman who wanted the roll or something quickly disappeared. Here ya go. I handed him a glass of water without ice, not once taking my eye off the belt, now stretched tightly between his hands.
I peeked into the coffee pot. An empty pot. And I guess crazy was catching, because then I did something totally insane. Forcefully, he jabbed the leather through the belt loops. Damn right you are. And with that he took a bite of my half-eaten sandwich and disappeared back to wherever he had decided to camp out for the flight.
The warning bell immediately rang in my head. Whenever someone uses my name, it almost always means a special request is coming. Just as I was about to tell her that even if there had been an open seat we still would not have been able to accommodate her up front, she waved me away with a flick of the wrist and continued down the aisle to a coach seat. On a , the business-class galley is located behind business class in coach. She rang her call light thirty minutes into the flight. I turned around holding a linen-lined tray with four drinks balancing on top—Diet Coke with lime, water no ice, vodka tonic, chardonnay—and asked, Can I get you something?
Herbal tea. But not in a Styrofoam cup, a mug—a real mug, she said, eyeing the oven-warmed business-class porcelain mugs lining the chrome counter. As my partner continued working his side and only his side of the business-class cabin, I called my coworkers in coach who were just about to pull the carts into the aisle to do the service to get a rundown of snacks that were available for purchase.
When I hung up the phone, she said, Do you have any uncooked vegetables? How about a roll or cheese and crackers? Nor could she eat the delicious homemade combination fried rice the passenger sitting directly in front her kindly offered. But I did and it was delicious! Thank you, Kwan. As soon as the flight attendants working in first class were done with their service, I went up to see if there were any leftovers available.
There rarely ever are. Well, not only did I find a bowl of green peas sitting on the salad cart but the lead flight attendant actually allowed me to take the first-class peas to the princess in coach!
Not a word was said. No thank-you. No nothing. Just two bites, an ugly face, and the bowl was handed back to me. The passenger seated beside her rolled his eyes. Taking her elbow, I helped her to stand.
Then she quickly took four steps to the business lav. Do I need to page for a doctor? I just need. I leaned in closer and cupped my ears against the door. Potatoes, she mumbled. Do you have any potatoes? We have potato chips, but not potatoes. With all ninety-nine pounds of her weight leaning into me, I helped her walk back to her seat. It might make you feel better. The only thing I was more sure about were my passengers in business class.
I shook my head. We had no potatoes. I love my job. I will. Still, this passenger had gotten on my last nerve. I inhaled deeply and nodded my head in agreement.
In fact, she had asked me for more than any other passenger in fifteen years of flying! Not that that mattered. What mattered was they were based in San Francisco, one of the most senior bases in the system. I am New York—based, which is and has always been the most junior base in the system at my airline. At some airlines, flight attendant positions on the plane are determined before each flight based on seniority.
If a more senior flight attendant wants to trade positions, the junior flight attendant will do so. Not at my airline. After I stowed my bags in the crew-designated area for my position, a bin in the middle of coach on the right hand side, I walked to the very back of the plane to introduce myself to three flight attendants hanging out in the galley.
The crazy look in his piercing blue eyes immediately gave him away as the problem colleague. I smiled anyway. Mike sat down on his jump seat. He crossed his legs and smoothed his thick black mustache, not once making eye contact. Not sure of what to make of this, I looked to my fellow colleagues for support.
By Heather Poole. Once I watched an entire group of passengers traveling to Haiti put a voodoo curse on a coworker in the middle of the beverage service. All the newspapers wrote about it. One paper even posed the question, What is with people going crazy on flights? Just how crazy can it get?
Cruising Attitude : Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet
Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet