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Two flight attendants debunk 9 myths about flying

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Two flight attendants talk to “K” about the secrets of their job while commenting on the most common myths surrounding it

Δyο αεροσυνοδοκατ αρρiπτουν 9 μyθους για τις πτorσει&sigmaf ?

Marina Karpozilou
Illustration: Loukia Kattis

It is our reference point on every flight. They are the ones we turn to for our every concern as they seem to have all the answers to our recurring questions. But their work is not limited to the narrow corridor of the plane, but also continues behind the closed curtains, which protect their microcosm from our prying eyes.

Now that we met them on the ground and not in the air , our questions changed the subject. Instead of “What time do we land?” or “Will we have more turbulence?” we asked them to confirm or not the most widespread myths surrounding their profession.

1. The Myth: Flight Attendants Stay Awake, Even on Transatlantic Flights

The reality:Johanna Kalafouti, trainer of flight attendants and caregivers, certified by the Civil Aviation Authority for all types of planes, explains that there are special seats for them to rest and that they are entitled to sleep alternately, in shifts, every two to two and a half hours. “We sleep in the uniform, just remove the accessories and throw a blanket over us. But the important thing is that when we wake up we must give the impression that we have not slept. We brush our teeth, freshen up our makeup and get back to work.” Alexandros Drakakis, who has been working as a flight attendant for the last 5 years, clarifies that if there are empty seats in the VIP cabin, they are entitled to lie down there, otherwise they go to the crew rest seats, which he says resemble ship berths.

The reality:It may be that for us the moment when the food or coffee is served is extremely important, as it breaks the monotony of the flight, but for the flight attendants it does not have the same weight. Mrs. Kalafouti explains to “K” that “our main job is passenger safety. We train for every scenario, even the possibility of someone losing their life during the flight. The plane has all the life-saving equipment, a complete pharmacy is available, we even have oxygen.” As the experienced instructor points out, every plane that has more than 19 seats must have trained staff. There is one trained member for every 50 seats, even if there are fewer passengers: “Seats count, not how many people board each flight.”

3. The myth: Does greeting passengers have a hidden purpose?

The reality:The instruction that the flight attendants have is indeed to have a good knowledge of the passengers and to report anything strange they spot. Ms. Kalafoutis, who, although she no longer flies, has many flight hours on her resume, states that “we have met several drunken passengers. We always mention this to the skipper as it is at his discretion to allow them on board or not. In some cases, although the passenger eventually boarded the plane, he subsequently caused problems and we had to land at an intermediate destination in order to disembark him. After all, the captain has the right to take anyone he wants off the aircraft, even staff members”.

4. The myth: The captain and co-captain eat different food from each other

The reality:Indeed, the flight attendants serve two different meals in the cockpit. The reason is none other than security. Mrs. Kalafouti explains that “many times the captain and the co-captain belong to the same rank. In these cases, one often takes over the “go” and the other the return. But they never eat the same food. No matter how sure we are about the quality of what we serve, there is always the infinitesimal risk of poisoning. So we want to be sure that even in this eventuality one of the two will be able to cope with the flight”. As far as passengers are concerned, Mrs. Kalafoutis encourages us to record any dietary restrictions when we book our ticket. “The flight manager will have been informed about this and we will offer you the menu that will correspond to your needs”.

5. The myth: Flight attendants are responsible for our bags

The reality:Mr. Drakakis is straightforward: “All of us have had to help a passenger who cannot lift his bag. But under no circumstances are we obliged to put the hand luggage in the lockers of the plane. We are not porters!” In fact, the baggage issue can create a particular irritation in the cabin, especially on domestic flights. As passengers refuse to part with their (often overweight) hand luggage, the flight attendants are asked to find a few centimeters of free space, while at the same time reassuring the most anxious with simple but self-explanatory explanations: “We have placed your suitcase a few seats forward, don't don't worry, it's not going to be lost, it'll be there when we land.”

6. The myth: There are orgies on VIP flights

The reality:Mr. Drakakis confirms that this is obviously a myth. However, Ms. Kalafouti explains that flight attendants accompanying VIP planes must be trusted and maintain complete confidentiality. After all, this is also the most basic criterion for their recruitment. “Usually for these flights they ask for experienced flight attendants who won't start spreading who the passengers were and who was traveling with whom. For this reason, the salaries of VIP flight attendants can reach up to 5,000 euros/month. In these cases, of course, it is very difficult to have a stable base, usually you have to move every month and to a different city”.

7. The myth: Each aircraft belongs to only one company

The reality:There are companies that sublease not only their aircraft, but also their crew. Mr. Drakakis belongs to this category as since he started working in 2018 he has changed four subleasing airlines, two Greek and two foreign. “From one company to another, your rank remains constant. But if you change company, you are obliged to do training, according to its policy. Accordingly, the insignia on your uniform also change”.

8. The myth: There are strict guidelines for the appearance of flight attendants

The reality:Each company dictates its own guidelines. According to Mr. Drakakis, the general direction for men has to do with being freshly shorn and, in case a beard is allowed, it must definitely be well-groomed. Accordingly, women are usually asked to keep their hair down, although now there are companies with more relaxed guidelines. Many times we see the culture and aesthetics of each country reflected in the uniforms, but also in the general appearance of the flight attendants. In addition, Ms. Kalafouti explains that a flight attendant must be able to get ready in a few minutes, especially on days when she is on standby in case she needs to replace a colleague. “It doesn't matter how far you live from the airport. If you are on call and you are called you must show up on time, ready, dressed and combed, ready to take off”.

9. The myth: The uniforms belong to the flight attendants and they can wear them whenever they want

The reality: Each airline gives the uniforms to the attendants as a “loan” and they are obliged to return them at the end of their cooperation. They usually offer their employees 2-3 different sets that come with a matching bag and briefcase. As Mr. Drakakis clarifies, “even on a domestic aller-return flight, we have to carry an extra uniform as well as civilian clothes, in case something happens, either due to weather or due to a mechanical breakdown of the aircraft, and we end up spending the night. Underwear and cosmetics are also essential.' As for the uniform, caregivers are not allowed to wear it outside, except to and from the airport area. “One of the positives of the profession is that we never worry about what we will wear to work today”.

Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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