Back in 2010, JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater was cursed out and whacked in the head by a disgruntled passenger’s luggage. Needless to say, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Slater took to the intercom, publicly cursed out the rude passenger, and bid his career farewell. Via a very dramatic and arguably entertaining exit, Slater activated the inflatable evacuation slide, grabbed a beer and slid right out of the plane and his 20-year flight attendant career.
These days, the glamour factor of a flight attendant’s job has greatly diminished. Passengers are packed inside planes like sardines, attendants work crazy hours, and all in all, people are sometimes just the worst. And while flight attendants think they’ve seen it all, passengers continue to pull out all the stops.
Although flight attendants have handled drunk and unruly passengers for as long as commercial flights have existed, these most absurd and disturbing experiences have them ready to quit their jobs. No. 8 will make you want to douse yourself in hand sanitizer.
1. Sexual harassment and assault from passengers
Unfortunately, the skies are not always friendly. In light of the #metoo movement, sexual harassment and assault off the ground are extremely common. In fact, it’s an epidemic. Dawn Arthur spent eight years as a commercial and private flight attendant, and she recently told Huffington Post that she has “pushed into a corner and felt up” by passengers. To make matters even worse, there isn’t a clear-cut protocol to handle the problem.
2. Actual Weekend at Bernie’s
It’s a fair assumption that most of us traveling on airplanes have at least shared the curiosity of what would happen if someone, let’s say, had a heart attack on the flight. But what if someone actually died? It happens and flight attendants have to deal with the dead body. One flight attendant told Men’s Health, “I had to do this once. I’m still traumatized by it. We told the other passengers he was drunk. It was insane! It was like Weekend at Bernie’s!”
3. Pornography is not acceptable in-flight entertainment
Having the audacity to watch pornography on a commercial flight is absolutely mindblowing and strangely common. Flight attendant Amanda Pleva recently encountered a man in his 30s watching explicit pornography next to a 16-year-old girl. While the young girl was moved to a safer seat, Pleva and the victim were left feeling “helpless and angry”.
4. Mid-flight drug overdoses? Just another day at the office
Confession: My best friend and I had just boarded a plane to venture to the east coast from Colorado. As passengers filled the plane, a young man sat down next to my friend, clearly discombobulated. As my friend sips from her bottle of water, the young man asks if he can have a gulp as well. She reluctantly hands over her water to the sweaty mess of a guy, and he chugs the entire bottle. About five minutes later, the guy projectile vomits all over the seat in front of him. We quickly learned he was having a drug overdose.
Come to find out, drug overdoses on flights are far more common than we knew. And sadly, flight attendants are left to deal with the mess.
5. Bomb threats in the middle of the Pacific are really bad employee morale
Bomb threats on planes are more common than we know. Sometimes, multiple threats are coming in each day. The protocol typically entails aborting the mission and landing the flight. But what happens when a bomb threat is received while flying over the middle of nowhere above the Pacific Ocean? One pilot flying between Tokyo and Los Angeles received a threat to his plane and nothing could be done. Instead, the flight crew had to pretend that nothing was wrong and continue flying. Bring on the heart attack!
6. Passenger masturbation really does happen
Have some decency, people. Public masturbation is a horrendous act, but at least people can usually run in the other direction. Not so much the case on an airplane. Public masturbation on a flight is arguably even worse, considering the innocent bystanders can’t run away from the train wreck of a human being. One American Airline passenger, Chloe King, has raised awareness of the issue due to a male passenger masturbating next to her. Check, please.
7. Clip your toenails at home
Maintaining one’s hygiene should never happen on an airplane. Never. One flight attendant recalls the smell of a passenger’s feet when he removed his shoes. As if the smell wasn’t bad enough, the passenger started clipping his dirty toenails right there in his seat. Passengers were disgusted and so was the flight attendant. She quickly asked the man to take care of his hygiene business in the restroom.
8. Take your used condoms off the plane
Human beings are foul. And the bizarre choices humans make never cease to amaze. One flight attendant who only identified herself as Mary shared her appalling story. As Mary was clearing the trash from the seat compartments on the plane, she reached in to find something wet and “squidgy.” She was greeted with a disgusting, bio-hazardous, used condom. I’m surprised Mary didn’t resign right then and there.