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Flying Belgian
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US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 6:51 pm

First of all, with this topic it is not in my intentions to offend anyone here on the forum. But the core of this subject comes back very often especially in the trip reports.

My question is: Can someone tell me why the American FA's are so different from the rest of the world's FA ??
Here in BRU, I pass very often crews from UA, AA, CO, DL and previously US. And I always wondred why those FA (especially the females) were so careless about their style, appearance and for many of them weight !!
Of course, the appearances don't make the perfect FA but however one of the meaning of this job (as I was teached in my courses in SN) is to be attractive and stylished to represent your airline company.
I also noticed that on long-haul they were very very senior ones ! And I don't even talk about uniforms...

When I compare American FA with European, Afraican, Latin or Asian ones I would really be ashamed as in-board quality manager for a US carrier. Even Biman Bengladesh cabin crews have more style !!!

So come on guys I wait for your opinions, and once again the purpose of this topic is not the destruct a categoryof working people !!

Regards,

FB.
Life is great at 41.000 feet...
 
Guest

RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 6:54 pm

Freedom. Plain and simple..

Any US employer can't deny someone a job based on how they look. That would be illegal. You need to learn more about the constitution and US law.
 
SQ772
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 6:57 pm

Some Americans say FAs are only there to ensure passengers' safety, so I guess anything else is irrelevant and unimportant... and that could explain why dressing and personal grooming is not important to them.



There's always a better way to fly...
 
TNboy
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 7:00 pm

Maybe it's a lifestyle thing. Some countries pay a lot more attention to style that others. Some countries place more emphasis on being cheerful, or reserved or service-oriented.
I love the SQ idea of service, but I'm also really comfortable with the matey style of many Australian FAs, and the efficient USA style. As a number of people have mentioned before, it can depend on the circumstances. On a long flight, if you get a crew that has time and inclimation to chat, often the experienced Americans, with their brand of worldliness and a bit of cynicism can be a lot of fun. Service doesn't have to be obsequious to work well.
Where it all falls apart is when the crew regard the pax on a 12-14 hour night flight as an inconvenience which needs to be fed briskly after take-off and before landing, thus interrupting their The crew's) evening rest.This tends to happen less on the Asian carriers in my experience.
Bill
"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
 
artsyman
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 7:31 pm

As the comments about how Senior the US flight attendants all seem to be on the major international routes seem to come up a lot, I will explain why that is to some of you that don't know.

While I can't verify this for all airlines, I can verify for Continental.

Flight attendants bid at the begining of each month what line (route, dates, position) that they want to fly for the month.

The computer allocates the lines in order of seniority of the FA that makes the bids.

Flight attendant lines are based on an 80 hour work month.

Flight attendants like in most professions, want to achieve their hours as painlessly as possible

If you fly for example IAH > LGW or IAH > CDG, the block time for those flight is a combined 20 hours

This would mean that you only have to fly 4 trips per month, and you have acheived your hours, leaving you with 19 days off per month

If you fly EWR >HKG for example, this is blocked even longer, and you only have to fly 3 trips per month in order to acheive your hours.

Almost all senior flight attendants bid the longest flying time routes that they can hold in order to work as little as possible

Junior flight attendants, have almost no say in what flights they get, and therefore end up flying 6 days a week with silly routes like IAH>DFW>PHX>LAX>IAH each day, and it takes them forever to get their hours up to the 80 hour mark.

Remember that flight attandants and Pilots only get paid for the block time, they dont get paid for the hours beforehand when they have to make sure the plane is clean, while they do federally mandated security checks, while they help you load your luggage into the overhead bins, while they take your drink order on the ground. All of that is done for free

This is why you see the older flight attendants flying all the longhaul routes and the younger ones flying the shorter domestics

Out of IAH, the most senior lines for an FA are NRT, CDG, LGW followed by HNL and then maybe some LAX turns.

The reason why airlines like Virgin have younger FA's on the longhaul routes is that longhaul is 90% of what Virgin atlantic does.

Hope this helps

Jeremy
 
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Flying Belgian
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 8:05 pm

This clarifies the US carriers sytems I guess Jeremy.

Very interesting to read this from a European FA point of view really !!!

Regards,

FB
Life is great at 41.000 feet...
 
VonRichtofen
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Artsyman

Thu Mar 28, 2002 8:59 pm

So are you an F/A for CO? If so do you ever get flights up to YYC? Just curios what you think of my city if you ever come up here  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
NG737PSR
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 9:07 pm

Well I'm probably going against the more frequent observations made about US flight attendants.

Whilst I believe there may be crabby ones out there, I personally did five legs with United during November 2001 (LHR-ORD-LAS-ORD-EWR-LHR) and all of the very senior crew that I encountered were all well presented and very polite and courteous, some as old as 55-60.

True I have to say that some of these grand lady's of the skies let the side down re:grooming with other carriers I have seen, I think it has been proven time and time again that it is generally the older ones that shine thru when there is an emergency on board.

There will never be a substitute for age or experience, no matter how it is packaged IMHO.
 
eugdog
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 11:14 pm

I think it is matter of culture - Americans do not see air travel as glamarous activitiy but merely a way of getting to a to b. Americans are more concerned about price then service.

In Europe air travel is still the domain of the businessmen and woman. Service is more important.

I have heared the view that European businessman are so sophisticated that they are prepared to pay more in order to get top quality service. This myth has been propogated by the big airlines who which to avoid price competition at all cost. But I suspect there is no difference between US and European business people. They would be happy to sacrfice service (and have lees attractive sfaff) for cheaper fares if they could!
 
usflt1778
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 11:32 pm

Without a doubt the sexy "air hostesses" were the norm for US carriers all the way through the 1970s. These young women had to be young, single and childless, and were essentially sex objects to please the (mainly) businessmen flyers.

Attitudes changed some of this after the sexual revolution of the 60's/70's.

However, a lot of refoms have come about in US labor law that prohibit discrimination. This has had a huge impact on who can or can't be hired for any job, including flight attendants.

NEVER in the USA will you see a job application (for flight attendant or anything else) that asks your age, weight, height, marital status, number of children, etc. And you will never be required to add a picture to your resume/C.V. This is very different from other countries where pictures are part of the application process, or getting married and having kids means you can no longer keep your job.

Along with all the social changes, flying in America has lost its status. It is no longer the special experience it used to be; now it's a way from point A to point B. As Europe goes through deregulation it will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds there; airlines that were once symbols of national pride (eg, BA, AF, LH, etc.) will be diluted by low-fare carriers without the same "glamour factor." The priority will be to get staff willing to work without the same job securities and possibly salary as the majors could provide. It becomes less special and more akin to working at McDonalds or any other entry-level job.
 
VH-OJO
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Thu Mar 28, 2002 11:46 pm

Exactly. That is one of the main reasons why I always prefer to fly European/Asian over any U.S. carrier and many of my friends and acquintances share the same view so I guess it is not just me. And I see some of this forum´s members obviously feel the same way.

Young and attractive F/A´s are part of an overall product in my book. It is as simple as that. Even if it is discriminatory.
 
Guest

RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 12:19 am

NEVER in the USA will you see a job application (for flight attendant or anything else) that asks your age, weight, height, marital status, number of children, etc.

Well this is pretty damned stupid if you ask me.

Can anyone show me a photo of a 5'2" female flight attendant? Or how about a 125 kg female flight attendant? The truth is...there isn't any. Employers, even with anti-discrimination laws, are allowed to deny employment to anyone on the grounds of:

1) Hindrance to safety

The fact is, is that a 5'2" flight attendanty CANNOT perform the duties which are required by the job....most importantly, that being of safety.

From Southwest Airlines website:

Must be able to lift of up to 50 pounds from floor to shoulder level with assistance as required. Also requires the ability to lift carryon items from floor to shoulder level with assistance.

Fact is, is that a 5'2" f/a would not be able to do this.

Also, I know that most American airlines will stipulate that their f/a's are to be of at least 20 years of age.

From the AA website:

Applicants must be at least 20 years of age

As to f/a's not having to look "their best" because of freedom or whatever people like to think of it as, from WN's website:

A well-groomed appearance is required. Weight must be of such proportion to height that a neat appearance is maintained and physical ability to perform all functions is not hindered. The ability to, while facing forward, walk and fit comfortably down the aircraft aisle, fit quickly through the overwing window exit, and to fit into a jumpseat harness without modification, including closure without a seatbelt extension.

This would mean that a 125kg woman would probably not be able to fulfill this criteria. I also doubt that AA would allow a "goth" to dress in that garb whilst on duty.

Companies have a right to portray an image which they feel is representative of the company as a whole....EEO laws or not. Maybe some people need to really understand the principles behind this when it comes to employment law. Whilst not an employment law expert, I am employed within the Human Resource function in my country, and the EEO laws between Australia, Canada, America and Europe don't differ all that much.
 
CX Flyboy
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 12:29 am

It is not hard for an ugly, fat, bad attitude old woman to meet the safety standards set by the airline and FAA. If they meet that, then many airlines cannot deny them a job. It's one of the bad (or good, depending on how you see it) things about the employment laws in the US. You can't have everything I guess!!
 
JOliver
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 12:42 am

As a frequent flyer I found this topic quite interesting.
There are thousands of F/As. It is so hard to generalize. Many take pride. Some don't. Overall,
I am on UAL 99 percent of the time. I feel they look very good almost all of the time. I'd like to add...
from the other side of the seat....when I started flying
90 of the people had not flown....10 percent had...and those who did fly....DRESSED. Now, 90 percent Americans, at least, fly....and don't dress well, again...as a generalization. Pax behavior also is WAY different than it used to be. Expectations of the experience have changed drastically in the 50 yrs I've been in the sky. Again, very though provoking post.

Polite, friendly and well dressed crews to all,.....

--JaO

 
roguetrader
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 1:02 am

The problem mentioned here, is in my opinion due to two different attitudes taken by FAs.

ATTITUDE 1: The American FA attitude: they think of themselves as 2nd only to the pilots as the most important people on the airplane. They think they are more valuable to the airline than the passengers. They feel the years they've put in plying the high paced LGA-ORD run or the numerous overnight trips to crappy cities --earns them the absolute right to fly on desirable international flights, whether they're good FA's or not.

ATTITUDE 2: The non-American FA attitude: they think the passengers are the most important people on the plane. They think they are there to ensure the passengers have a good trip and come back to fly their airline. They feel they are lucky to have a flying job and think they have to continually earn the privilege of working as a FA everyday. They think they should lose their job if their service is poor and think that only those who can give good service should be FAs.

As to how these attitudes developed, I have some ideas on that too. But these two attitudes are the proximate cause for the difference in US/nonUS FAs.

kind regards,

RogueTrader
 
Guest

RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 1:33 am

Interesting topic.

Tekelbery started out by saying this:

Any US employer can't deny someone a job based on how they look. That would be illegal. You need to learn more about the constitution and US law.

This is absolutely false. Ugliness iis NOT a protected class in the United States and any company for whatever reason can refuse to hire someone becuase they are ugly. HOWEVER, if for the the company "ugly" translates to being black or too old or handicapped or any number of other protected classes, then yeah there is a problem.

I also want to add that last summer I flew JFK-LHR-JFK on United and on the first trip JFK-LHR was one of the most beautiful FAs I had ever seen. Goddamn.

TNNH
 
dutchjet
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 1:36 am

Its a cultural thing in my opinion.......americans are just more casual, do not consider flying an "event" but merely a way to get from A to B, and demand and expect differernt kinds of service. European are more formal, sometimes more "correct", but, in my opinion, at the end of the story far less service oriented. Thank goodness we are all different.

As good as the service is on Singapore airlines, for examples, some are uncomfortable with the Singapore girls and that whole scheme.

In general, I admire how professional flight attendents are.......regardless of nationality, race, language, sex or orientation, they seem to like their job and committed to their industry......that is not true of many professions.
 
JOliver
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 1:50 am

Comparing New-York-London on British Air vs ORD-LGA on domestic is not fair. A lot of the "class" being compared here
is on glamour runs across the oceans. Is London-Paris always a first class experience?

Flight attendants ARE next in importance after the flight deck crew! When you have a heart attack...guess who is going to help you? Guess who is going to inflate the slide. And, yes,...it happens more often than you think. On a flight from ORD-SAN on an 319 we had a pax with heart situation. Carts had to be quickly stowed....the pax had to be dealt with....and I've never been prouder of the profession. The UAL crew did a wonderful job...quickly and professionally all the while keeping the other pax informed as to what was happening.

The airlines exist because of the pax....but that does not negate the safety feature and focus of the flight crews. It is a hard job...demanding....and attitude IS very important. But, come on!! Try this one.....try being classy and glamourous and yes cheerful...while working a flight of hung-over American teens just returning from Cancun....bad dress, bad language...and bad attitude. It's a whole package.
I have the utmost respect for American F/As and although I have only flown with 15 airlines or so....
I respect the fact that Chicago - Little Rock will never compare with a glamour flights to Paris or London.
Senior Mamas and Papas have earned the right to fly the more glamourous routes. One of the most professional and well dressed F/As I know has 40 years in.
In this industry it is so easy to generalize. Your version of looking good and being professional may not match my criteria....or someone else's.

Better flying moods to all, pax and crews. --JaO
 
EWRvirgin
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 2:14 am

Since everyone's throwing around generalizations, I'll add my own to the mix:

Could it be that chauvinism has gone out the door in the US but is still alive and well in Europe and Asia?

I also think personal grooming (in general) is more of a problem for above said continents than in the US.
 
heavymetal
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 2:18 am

So come on guys I wait for your opinions, and once again the purpose of this topic is not the destruct a categoryof working people !!

Which is precisely what you've done, purpose or not.

Congratulations on an amazingly sexist post.


 
ual777contrail
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 2:42 am

First, you cant take an opinion of someone who is non american to extremes. we all know that there are wonderful flight attendants out there. some who make us laugh and some who make us drool. every airline had ugly flight attendants and some that look like they need a make-over real bad. not all american flight attendants are bad. i have had a few that make you proud to have flown that airline, they represent the airline well.
i have flown with some european airlines and a select few asian. i think the asian flight attendants are better than the english when it comes to service.they are polite and very well kept. that is all, not all american flight attendants are bad, some do fly with honor and pride for themselves and their airline.
 
travelin man
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 2:49 am

Heavymetal and EWRvirgin are dead on! This post is so full of crap, I am finding it difficult to read. Hey, flyingBelgian, why are Belgian people so ugly? I have met one Belgian person, and she was ugly, so I am assuming all Belgian people are ugly. But I hope Belgian people do not take offense!

Give me a break. It was explained rather nicely about how the American system of bidding for routes works. I just returned from Australia, and on my United flight it was staffed by older female flight attendants. They were some of the best crew I've ever had, on ANY airline regardless of whether it was a US airline or foreign airline. They were a little heavier, because once you get to 40 or 50+ years, it's hard to be skinny. But that didn't affect the job they did!

In contrast, I had some beautiful Qantas flight attendants SYD-CNS. But their "service" was abominable, and they barely acknowledged my existence. Which would you rather have?
 
manni
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:52 am

Totally agree,
US FA are the worst I've ever seen. And I've seen many! Americans dont need much to be satisfied.
SUPPORT THE LEBANESE CIVILIANS
 
dutchjet
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:59 am

Very kind and thoughtful remark Manni, as an American I am glad to know that I do not need much to be satisfied.

Too bad Sabena is no longer is business, their inflight service did not offer much, maybe I would have liked it.
 
artsyman
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 4:04 am

One of the things that many of you are overlooking is that the old 'hags' as many of you call them, that have been with the company for 30 years, WERE ONCE THE GLAMOROUS, SEXY young women that you used to oggle...

what did you think happened to young FA's when they grew old ?
Jer
 
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Flying Belgian
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 6:40 pm

@ Travelin man:

Just calm down and don't take it personnaly.
I made this post after I passed SEVERAL US f/a here in BRU. So yes what I've seen is a generality.
I don't put their profesinalism into question but their look and appearance.
When you have the oportunity and chance to do this job you have to be :
1/ Professional minded
2/ Well groomed, dressed, smiling,... Whatever you are 20 years old or 55. It doesn't matter at all !!!

When I see U.S FA they are very careless, should they be 20 or 55 years old !!!

Hope this clarifies,

FB.
Life is great at 41.000 feet...
 
gr8slvrflt
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RE: US Carriers FA's: Why So Different From The Rest?

Fri Mar 29, 2002 10:57 pm

When I was first hired as a Flight Attendant by Eastern Airlines in 1983 I had to submit both a head shot and a full-length photo. The selection process then was quite rigorous. The industry in the U.S. changed drastically about that time. Deregulation and the proliferation of low-cost carriers had a huge impact on the bottom line. As salaries fell, so did standards. Anti-discrimination laws became tougher and broader. It became impossible for a company to say in exact terms how an employee should look and dress. I'm not sure about other countries, but in the U.S. most Flight Attendants are unionized which makes terminating or disciplining them somewhat more difficult.

From a more personal viewpoint, I feel a Flight Attendant (or gate agent or pilot, for that matter) that is neat and pressed with flattering hair and makeup probably takes great pride in their appearance which is usually reflected in their attitude and their performance. As for me, I ain't much to look at but I use all the tools at hand to provide the best experience possible to my customers. I can't make the overhead bins any bigger, the seats roomier or the flights faster but I can be friendly, helpful and caring in all types of circumstances. Call me "old-school," but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Big thumbs up
I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.