Flight attendants look forward to post-COVID summer travel
- Five flight attendants told Insider they look forward to bouncing back this summer.
- Workers miss the opportunity to explore cities during layovers and spend time with crew members.
- Some added that they felt a better sense of job security from the height of the pandemic.
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Sarah, a Georgia-based flight attendant for a major U.S. carrier who said she worked through the COVID-19 pandemic, is ready to bounce back.
Recent data shows Americans are ready to see the outside of their homes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s insightful journey for those vaccinated in April. A record 1.9 million people passed through airport security before Memorial Day weekend, compared to just 327,000 passengers screened at the same time last year. Americans are taking advantage of very low fares and are already booking trips for Christmas.
Sarah said she appreciated the reduced stress that came from working during the pandemic, maintaining empty planes when people felt less safe in flight. She added that boarding backwards and helping fewer passengers with their luggage made her job more efficient.
But more than a year after the pandemic, Sarah, who like many other flight attendants interviewed asked to remain anonymous to speak without fear of reprisal, said she was excited about the benefits of her job – as visit new destinations during layovers – which has been put on hold.
“We want travel to come back, flight attendants probably the most,” she told Insider. “We miss traveling on our days off and we want travel to be safe for everyone. ”
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Although the pandemic has changed the way we fly, some flight attendants are “cautiously optimistic” about the return trip
A San Francisco-based flight attendant said the job had lost some of its “glamor” during the pandemic as crew members were unable to visit beaches and other attractions due to quarantine warrants in many. American states. The flight attendant recalled preparing her lunch in mid-2020 for flights, as airports had closed many restaurants.
“I just made consecutive stopovers in Hawaii and, you know, crew members are not exempt from quarantine,” the flight attendant said. “I would have put on my bikini in the old days, so it’s definitely a little less glamorous now, for sure.”
The San Francisco-based flight attendant said work became lonelier during the pandemic because she and the other crew members couldn’t go out for happy hours due to COVID restrictions. Some protocols have also left flight attendants feeling more alone on planes.
“I miss being able to smile to my passengers so much,” she said. “I’m smiling now, but you know, you can’t see it. I hope my passengers can smell it, but I miss being able to give them a real smile.”
Jenn Ayala, a New Jersey-based flight attendant, told Insider she also felt wearing masks made communication with passengers more difficult, and took a hit in the game. customer service work.
Passenger policing over mask policies had made passengers more aggressive during the pandemic, flight attendants recently told Insider. The Federal Aviation Administration said it has received 2,500 reports of unruly passenger behavior since January 2021. About 1,900 of the reports involve passengers who have refused to comply with the federal face mask mandate.
According to the CDC, Americans – vaccinated and unvaccinated – should always wear masks at airports and on transportation. But airlines like United and Delta are taking more stringent approaches to COVID-19 safety than other private companies by requiring new flight attendants to be vaccinated.
Anthony Fauci said he predicted that all airlines and cruise ships will need proof of COVID-19 vaccination before boarding.
Sarah said she felt safe in flight because she knew vaccines were safe and airlines constantly filter the air in the cabin.
Although she said passengers who don’t want to wear masks were “difficult” to deal with, Sarah said she saw less nervous passengers and people boarding the plane wearing protective suits. against hazardous materials in recent weeks – a sign that Americans are grateful to be in the air after being “locked” at home.
“At the moment, I am cautiously optimistic about the future of air travel,” Sarah said. “I am really proud of the way American airlines handled flights during the pandemic and kept everyone safe. “
Other flight attendants said more travel means more job stability.
A Los Angeles-based flight said another benefit to the rise in travel is reduced fear of time off and layoffs.
American and United began laying off workers on September 30 after predicting the two would lay off a total of 32,000 workers. Globally, airlines could have cut nearly 5 million jobs if travel had not rebounded after COVID-19, according to analysis by the Air Transport Action Group.
But a year later, American, Delta, United and Southwest all announced they would hire pilots and other positions before the end of 2021. The Association of Flight Attendants union expects the number Flight attendant jobs increase from 80,000 in June to 100,000 by 2023, Insider’s Kate Duffy reported.
“The more we fly, the better it is for passengers and crew,” said the Los Angeles-based flight attendant. “I hope everything stays and we don’t have a setback in the future.”
A Chicago-based flight attendant told Insider she was laid off for four months during the winter and returned on board in March. She said the state of the industry has been so volatile that she is unsure whether to wait to be recalled or find another job.
She said she was ready for air travel to “return to normal” and that she was happy to see flights full again.
“I really like my job,” said the flight attendant. “I didn’t realize how much I would miss interacting with people until I was released and quarantined. The leave made me appreciate my job more.”