FlyGuyClt, excellent post.
I hope that my remarks are not repeating something that I missed in reading through this thread...if so please forgive me.
To those that compare f/a's with nurses/paramedics/firefighters, etc. --- of course we are not the only ones that save lives, etc etc. And we frankly don't do it on a very regular basis. But here's the difference: WE DO IT
ALONE. For however long it takes to get the plane on the ground, which can be hours in the case of transoceanic flights, WE
ONLY HAVE WHAT WE
HAVE. A paramedic who encounters someone having a heart attack quickly moves that person to an ambulance, and then to a hospital. They are excellent first responders, but they have backup.
We do not. Whether it is an oven fire, a medical emergency, a hysterical passenger, or whatever....we are on our own. We can't even get help from the pilots any more...they are required to stay in the cockpit.
I don't think most of you can imagine what it is like to have a passenger on oxygen or on the AED or having a diabetic shock...we've paged for medical personnel and there is none on board....the stress is enormous (but we are trained for that, and will deal as best we can with it).
And then a call light rings and someone wants pretzels. Or when you finally land and ask people to remain seated so that the paramedics can come aboard, and someone says "but my son is picking me up and I have to get off right now!". It happens all the time! I think sometimes that stresses me more than the original incident!!
The other point I would like to make has to deal with those who say that F/A pay is market driven, we are idiots not to realize it, etc. etc. etc. Of course what you say is true.
But look at it a little differently. Take another profession...a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, an auto plant worker, it really doesn't matter.
Tell them that they have to give up 25% of their pay, and will have to work more to get the remaining 75%.
Imagine their response. Do you think they will say, "Oh, ok. No problem. Good idea...wait, why don't you take 30% instead of 25?". I don't think that is how they will react. It involves changing the rules in the middle of the game, and that is never fun. I have worked for AA
for 24 years. The one thing I always thought I could count on was my pension. Clearly, I can no longer do so...although AA
says it wants to try to preserve them. And now that I have to do additional planning for retirement, do I have extra money to sock into my IRA or 401K or whatever? I do not...I have less money to do so.
Yes, I could quit. But I like my job and don't want to leave. I think that is the case with most F/As. Do I complain? Yes, I do. Would you complain? Yes, I think you would.
I think that what gets us (and all airline workers, for that matter) worked up is not that perhaps we are going to have to adjust. Clearly, we are. The problem is when we percieve, rightly or wrongly, that the adjustment is not equitable. For instance, in 2003 when AA
was going through its restructuring, right as we were voting on the cuts it came out that Don Carty had set up a bulletproof pension for executives, and that upper management was getting large bonuses. Do you blame us for getting upset? I am willing to take whatever I have to take to see that AA
survives and prospers, but I am not willing to be the "fall guy" for management ineptness and errors. Nor am I willing to fund perks for the executive team that managed their way into the mess.
The result of that fiasco was, of course, that Don Carty lost his job.
I think most of us are relatively pleased with the progress we have made with Gerard Arpey at the helm. We are the only legacy carrier remaining that is paying its bills and has always done so. Will more cuts come? Maybe. But at least the company is sharing the information with the unions so that together we can try to come up with ways to save money that do not involve our personal livlihoods. And so far, we're doing a pretty good job of it.
Of course, if we could get people to pay the same thing to fly that it costs them to drive their car, we'd be rolling in the dough!!! (only partially kidding).
Just some additional thoughts on the subject. Remember: we're people too.
The views expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my employer.