”There you are just pouring coffee and serving drinks!” This is how quite many people describe a flight attendant’s work. That is understandable since that is the part most of the passengers see of our work. Especially if things go well, that is the only thing they will see. What you can’t see, doesn’t exist, right?
Usually those who criticize the flight attendants the most actually have the least knowledge of the subject. The loudest critics have obviously always had very smooth flights with no troubles. “Why do you need to take a course when you are just servants on the flight?” Yea, I wonder why. Few people know, that the most profound reason for cabin crew’s presence on the flight is safety and all the service aspects come after that in the order of importance.
If a passenger breaks his arm during a rough turbulence or suffers a heart attack during a flight, it is the flight attendants who take care of the first aid. I heard that flight attendants get a longer training on first aid than the nurses. The reason for that is the fact that cabin crew can’t ask for a doctor’s help when something happens, but they have to deal with the situation until it is possible to land somewhere. If the aircraft is over an ocean, for example, the landing is not possible right away. What if there is a fire on the plane? The fire has to be put out very fast and the cabin crew does the firefighting. Firefighting is a part of the flight attendants’ education and it is practiced with real fire.
How about a situation where the plane ends up outside the runway after landing and catches fire? The passengers need to be taken out of the plane immediately before the fire takes over the whole plane. For example in a wide-body aircraft eight flight attendants need to take 300 passengers under control and get them to exit the plane according to their instructions. Some of the passengers are panicking, some are in shock and some don’t understand the severity of the situation and refuse to leave without their luggage. During the course the flight attendants also practice emergency landings and evacuations in a simulator.
Flying is fortunately one of the safest ways of transportation and it is very rare that any big accidents happen. Still many people don’t understand the risk of a fit on a flight or injuries caused by turbulence before it actually happens to them. The cabin crew does recurrent training each year, where they rehearse their skills on first aid, firefighting and other safety matters.
Would you be flying with a peaceful mind if the cabin crew was on board just to serve coffee?