Behind the scenes: Flight attendants and baggage handlers

As customers, often than not, we can be very critical of the services we pay for. We can get really cranky if things don’t go as well as we expect. But what’s it like to be on the other side? To be the one who provide the service?

I came across two articles online that gives us an insight on the lives of flight attendants and baggage handlers.

Confessions of a baggage handler by Tim Cigelske

Luggage left behind: Check in at least 30 minutes before the flight. Any later than that and your bag will probably miss the plane. Sympathetic ticket agents sometimes call and ask us to swing back and pick up late bags, so you might want to beg them for help.

Most times, bags are delayed or lost for other reasons. Depending on the airport, luggage is sorted by the three-letter destination code, flight number, or both. (The ticket agent usually tears off bag tags from old trips, but it can’t hurt to rip them off yourself to avoid confusion.) There was one day when a delayed flight meant that we had two departures at the same time to the same city, and I loaded an entire cart of bags onto the wrong plane. Another day, we loaded so many bags of golf clubs bound for Myrtle Beach that the plane ran out of storage and we had to hold 10 bags. And sometimes there’s no explanation: Miscommunication is easy when everyone’s wearing hearing protection and shouting over jet engines.


Unsung heroes by Charles Leocha

Airline flight attendants are unsung heroes in this country’s “war on terrorism.” Recent events demonstrate that this is true now more than ever. The efforts to attack us have not abated, but they have been thwarted by better intelligence and higher levels of security. For example, when terrorists came up with new ways to mix explosives with liquids last year, the Department of Homeland Security banned liquids aboard the nation’s aircraft. Once again, flight attendants found themselves on the front line of a war whose battles are constantly shifting while ever exposing them to danger.

Though experts cannot predict when there will be another terrorist attack, they can all agree that one will come. New plans are certainly being tested to attack our transportation systems. The stress on our airline systems has increased and will only get worse. And yet flight attendants continue to report to work every day, ready to do what they can to keep us safe. I hope the traveling public does not take them for granted.

Every time a plane takes off, every time a traveler stands up and walks toward the cockpit, and every time a passenger ducks behind his seat to dig through carry-on luggage, flight attendants go on high alert.


Both gives great insight on what these people do for a living. Makes you appreciate them better.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 1 Comment
  1. sarah says:

    There was a point in my life when I wanted to be a flight attendant. Mostly because I was interested in languages, and the thought of travelling for free (or as a job) sounded so awesome to me. And my favorite aunt was a flight attendant then.

    And…just recently I was actually seriously thinking of changing my career path and trying it out. And my friends said I actually could be a flight attendant because I was all smiley and I liked serving people, and I’d pass the height requirement.

    But, anyway. Enough about me. Thanks for the article! Isn’t it that the people that serve us, ones we don’t usually notice, are the ones who are most awesome and worthy of being commended? ^_^ ‘Background workers’ rock!

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