Monday, February 28, 2005

Air Hostesses

I knew that title would grab your attention. It appears that most of the people who I have forced into reading this blog on a regular basis are more interested in reading about air hostesses and human mating activities at 37,000 feet rather than the actual airplane and boring stuff like who invented the jet engine etc. So this blog is dedicated to those who couldnt care less if they are flying on a Boeing 747 or an Airbus A340 or a A320 or if the plane has 4 engines, 6 engines, 2 engines or indeed none at all.

Most people associate the term "air hostess" with an image of a rather striking woman in a sexy uniform politely offering you a choice between veg and non veg. I have noticed that when men are about to fly on a new airline or have just flown on an new airline the first thing they do is to enquire/comment on the looks of the air hostesses. It appears that the looks of the air hostesses is second only to the price of the ticket when it comes to choosing an airline. No doubt the level of attention during the emergency procedures demonstration prior to takeoff is directly proportional to the looks of the crew member.

Unfortunately most people underestimate the importance of their role and the skills required to perform their jobs effectively. The term "trolley dollies" is often used to describe them which I think is very unfair although it has a nice ring to it :)

Let me briefly describe an occassion where I found a whole new level of respect for the members of the above mentioned profession. Not too long ago I had the opportunity (or perhaps the misfortune) of being selected as a guinea pig along with few other victims in a mock aircraft cabin evacuation trial which was being used to train cabin crew. I was placed inside an aircraft cabin mockup along with the other victims and we were being looked after by the soft spoken cabin crew as if it was a normal flight.

The "captain" shortly announced that an emergency landing was about to take place and we had to assume the crash positions. At this point we were all happily sitting in our seats looking around with silly smiles and not taking it seriously at all. Shortly before "landing" the crew underwent a startling transformation which at the time reminded me of Bruce Banner and his alter ego. They rapidly moved from seat to seat to ensure we all assumed the brace position and our belts were fastened etc.
After the "landing" which was accompanied by very realistic crash noises from the surround speakers in the cabin and smoke being released into the cabin the crew made us unfasten our seat belts and shouted out instructions and literally pushed us out of the "plane" as fast as possible in as orderly a fashion as possible. Gone were the "welcome aboard", "thank you for flying with us" tones. They were replaced by "get the **** out of here before i kick you out" tone which no none dared question. It is difficult to describe the entire exercise in words but the professional and almost military like manner in which it was executed was most impressive.

I think by this point most of us had forgotten that the whole thing was an exercise and we were actually sweating by the time we exited the aircraft mock up and assembled outside beside the exit slides. The exercise turned out to be very realistic. The one thing that really struck me was the drastic change in behaviour of the crew and the effective way in which they herded us out of the "burning wreck" and got us all out as soon as possible. You may think you can ignore the routine oxygen mask demo at the start of every flight but you certainly cant ignore them in the event of a real emergency. I almost felt that they would physically attack me if I didnt listen to them and did what they said after the emergency was declared. This I felt was exactly the kind of approach that should be taken as their advice is probably the only thing that will save your life in a real emergency.

Therefore in addition to serving coffee and tea these people are directly responsible for your lives in the event of a crash landing. It is their duty to stay calm and ensure the passengers are evacuated as swiftly and as safely as possible. If an aeroplane catches fire after landing then the first few minutes if not seconds are the most important. It is vital to evacuate the aeroplane before the fire takes over completely. It is the crews duty to ensure that panic and fear does not overcome the passengers. In a smoke filled aeroplane it will be the "trolly dollies" and their male counterparts who will have to ensure the emergency doors are opened and the passengers including the old and frail, the disabled, the kids are all safely evacuated before worrying about their own personal safety.

If you ever have the misfortune of ending up in a burning plane and you are not Bruce Willis and are screaming like a baby, or sitting frozen in shock or regretting listening to your IPod during the safety briefing it will probably be the "trolly dollies" who will guide you to safety.

So the next time you fly remember to show these crew members a bit more respect :)

Cheers

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats a very valid point. There are many working women whose jobs are looked down upon as 'secondary'. Air hostesses, nurses, secretaries etc have an imperative role in the functioning of a system. Its the glamour quotient added to each that makes one forget the hardwork behind the smiling face. But then again, they are often used to sell, since time immemorial, when women were the only mode of advertising. So even now, people pay a lot more to fly Jet than Sahara, owing to the outfit of the airhostesses. So if we dress em up in boring robes and let them do only important jobs, the sales of an airline will fall. Glamour, therefore, is important as long as we dont forget character.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever said they're not respected. Don't be all stuffy, gramps :-) I bet you were checking them out as they were giving you orders anyway...there's something about a woman in uniform giving you orders...yum. And anyway, since crash-landings don't happen very often, and since I have nothing but the fullest respect for these fine human beings, can they, in more normal flights, get on my lap and...

R

3:27 AM  
Blogger Shreyan said...

R & B, (oh! hahaahahaahaha)

You guys are incredible. R, dirty thoughts always, tsk tsk, even when the aviator is trying to explain his emergency responses (ahem!)

Buds, dude...what respect man! You will get married to one, and then we'll tell her all about you.

Shreyan

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2:08 AM  
Blogger cathy said...

i could not have put it better myself.. I'm cabin crew for easyjet and i'd say that we get even less respect from the general public, being a budget airline. We still have to do the same training as every other airline. And it's nice to get some appreciation, as i've given up a fair bit of my life to try and learn my job as much as i can and we still have to stay very alert even after 12 hours flyin in case the unthinkable happens..so thanks

11:59 PM  
Blogger Reeta said...

Air hostess training is of utmost importance for employment of aspiring boys and girls as air hostesses also known as Cabin crew or Flight Attendant who are primarily on board an aircraft for the safety and welfare of the passengers and secondly for their comfort. If there were no services of food or drink during a flight, there would still have to be a minimum presence of Air hostesses or cabin crew for safety which is a legal requirement.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

good article, being in engineering department in airline myself, people tend to be more interested in airhostess. My airline prefers to put the cabin crew in the forefront rather than the engineering staff... although we are more knowledgeable about the technical aspect of the aircrafts

joha
http://new-airhostess.blogspot.com/

3:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Good article.
Air hostesses are more than polite and good-looking women, they are hard-working and have important responsabilities, such as the safety of the passengers.

3:25 PM  
Blogger joha said...

I think the airhostess on most airlines are doing a good job, otherwise it will be a dull and boring journey.

I have to say that these charming ladies are more interesting that the technical jargons about the engines and the aircrafts.

Joha
cabin crew blogger

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