(Illustration: Ryan McCullah)
Last week we gave our praise to the Jetway Jesus and the week before taught you some airline slang and industry lingo — attention, passengers, this is Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant, a Yahoo Travel series where “Betty” describes the harrowing, real-life situations she and her comrades in the sky face every day, 35,000 feet away from a foot massage and premium whiskey. You think you’ve got it bad when your in-flight entertainment conks out, the Pixy Stix-addicted kid behind you mistakes the back of your chair for a vertical trampoline, and the plane runs out of “Good Morning Sunshine” cheese boxes? That’s child’s play. Try tackling these wacky parents.
I’m sure as a passenger you’re not fond of sitting near a screaming baby or hyped-up child who keeps kicking the seat. But for us crew members, children are not much of a problem. Lots of times they are my favorite passengers — because they are so darn cute!
It’s the parents who cause the problems. Sometimes their wackiness is really the worst.
Say It Isn’t So
And sometimes “parents” aren’t even parents.
I know more than one fellow flight attendant who has had the uncomfortable situation of having to tell a woman that she can’t breastfeed her … cat! You read that right: Breastfeeding. A. Cat. And this isn’t an isolated incident.
There are all types of people out there, and some of them are very “interesting.” Their response is always the same: “I’m just feeding my ‘baby.’” But it’s not a baby, it’s a cat!
You Didn’t Want Your Apple Juice?
When working the beverage cart, my co-worker and I have a way of talking with each other when we don’t want passengers to notice us — “ventriloquist style,” we call it, out of the side of our mouths, not really moving our lips — and like the “cat-cident,” this was definitely another one of those times.
Related: Airline Crews Behaving Badly
“Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?” my colleague said, raising her eyebrows and pointing with her eyes to the mother and son at the window. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw the boy standing on the seat naked, his mother holding him as he peed into one of our plastic beverage cups.
I don’t know if she didn’t have time to get to the bathroom or simply didn’t want to get up. It was just wrong on many levels. One thing I knew for sure is that when we went to pick up trash, she would be handing that glass full of amber liquid (that isn’t apple juice) back to us.
My friend on the other side of the cart suggested (out the side of her mouth) that we have the male flight attendant who hadn’t seen what just happened to pick up the trash.
Baby on Board
Everyone wants to get some sleep on an all-night flight, and passengers are always coming up with crazy ways to increase their personal space to do so. My fellow crew members know I get a kick out of the wacky things passengers do, so I get a call in first class that there is something I have to see in the coach cabin. I went to investigate down the dark aisle of the airplane. I start seeing something in the aisle, I couldn’t make it out at first, but as I got closer I see it’s a baby asleep face-up in the middle of the aisle.
I immediately tell the mother that she can’t put her baby in the aisle, because someone will step on and crush the baby. Can you imagine the horror of such a thing! She casually answered that she needed the baby to get some sleep and the baby was more comfortable in the aisle. Again I explained it’s too dangerous to leave her baby for people to trample on. She said she would watch to make sure people wouldn’t crush the baby.
I tested her theory by asking what happens if she falls asleep?
Finally, reluctantly, and with a scowl on her face, she picked up the baby. She acted like I was inconveniencing her by not letting her baby become aisle kill! Ack. #parents
An illustration from the BBC World Service Documentary “Betty in the Sky With a Suitcase” (Illustration: BBC)