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The airline industry has seen its share of ups and downs. Kris Major, a British flight attendant, has been in the industry for over two decades. During that time, he saw how flight companies struggled during times of crisis, like the Covid-19 pandemic, the SARS outbreak, and the foot-and-mouth disease.
However, Major believes that the aviation industry is yet to experience the worst crisis in decades: the summer chaos of 2022. According to Major, many companies’ flight crews are struggling. He recognizes the predicament of his fellow crew members as the chair of the European Transport Workers Federation’s Joint Aircrew Committee.
“It’s completely unsustainable as a job,” he said during an interview with the media.
Airports worldwide are currently attempting to keep up with an increasing demand for air travel, and according to Major, it is in shambles. In addition, travel restrictions have loosened as an outcome of countries effectively combating the pandemic.
Travelers have lost faith in the airline sector due to numerous flights being canceled, numerous cases of misplaced bags, and other such incidents.
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Same sentiments with other flight attendants
“The lack of staff, delays, cancellations, no baggage — I think it’s a very difficult situation for everybody,” stated flight attendant Daniel Kassa Mbuambi from Lufthansa, Germany.
A flight attendant from the US, Allie Malis, said, “There’s some kind of breakdown happening that I believe should be preventable.”
When the pandemic hit the tourism industry two years ago, many businesses cut staff to deal with the massive decline in demand. However, now that travel demand is back on track – and rapidly increasing every week – businesses are struggling to keep up.
Allie Malis, who also serves as the government affairs representative for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said the condition makes them “uncomfortable.” Several crews had to “dash” to the next runway due to the delay of the previous flight.
Based on her experience, Malis narrates, “Sometimes the passengers are cheering that you’re arriving because it means their plane’s going to go, or even that they’re upset — they think it’s your fault that the flight has been delayed when you can’t work for two flights at once, although I’m sure the airlines wish we could.”
According to Malis, the situation affects not only their bodily being but also their psychological fitness.
“Sickness levels have gone through the roof, fatigue levels have gone through the roof, not because [flight attendants are] rejecting or they’re protesting in any way. It’s just that they can’t cope — they just can’t cope with the constant changes,” Major explains.
Many airlines argue that the problem is caused by employee absenteeism. Malis is not convinced.
“It’s kind of offensive that we’re being blamed for any type of labor shortage or operational mismanagement because the airlines have failed to adequately plan,” Malis thought.
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“Flight attendants are being maxed out, working the longest days we’ve had, with the shortest rest periods overnight that we’ve had, and that does get you sick, that does lead to exhaustion and fatigue and weakens your immune system.”
Passengers should get ready
Malis presents some suggestions on how to deal with the present state of the travel business as a flight attendant to passengers:
- Pack your patience
- It is to be assumed that recurring postponements will occur. “I think that would at least put your expectations in the right place,” Malis said.
- Pack snacks
- In case of a delay, it is advisable to bring your own food with you while waiting for your flight. In addition to snacks, there should be an empty water bottle for passengers to refill after going through security. For example, if your flight is grounded or if there’s a long queue ahead of you, it’s best to be prepared to rehydrate and fill your stomach. “If the weather’s bad, if it’s really bumpy, there’s no guarantee that we’re going to be able to safely perform a beverage service,” said Malis.
- Book early morning flights
- According to Malis, because early flights are usually unaffected, it is best to choose these schedules.
- Leave buffer time
- Travelers should depart a day or two in advance if there are important occasions like weddings, as delays and cancellations can occur at any time.