The aviation sector has experienced its share of ups and downs. For more than 20 years, British flight attendant Kris Major has worked in the field. During those years, he saw how airline companies fared during emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic, the SARS outbreak, and foot-and-mouth illness.
The worst catastrophe the airline sector will see in decades, however, is yet to come, according to Major: the mayhem of the 2022 summer. Major claims that flight crews at numerous businesses are having difficulties. He well comprehends the struggle of his fellow crew members because he is the chair of the Joint Aircrew Committee of the European Transport Workers Federation.
“It’s completely unsustainable as a job,” said Major in a statement to the media.
Now that travel restrictions have been relaxed as a result of countries dealing with the pandemic, airports all over the world are battling to keep up with the expanding demand for travel; however, according to Major, it is in shambles.
Numerous flights have been postponed, numerous pieces of property have gotten lost, and other incidents like these have made travelers lose faith in the aviation sector. It’s “totally shambolic,” he said.
Agreement among flight attendants
Flight attendant Daniel Kassa Mbuambi of the Lufthansa Germany said, “The lack of staff, delays, cancellations, no baggage — I think it’s a very difficult situation for everybody.”
Allie Malis, a flight attendant from the United States, said, “There’s some kind of breakdown happening that I believe should be preventable.”
Two years ago, when the pandemic hit the tourism sector, several businesses had to fire employees to deal with the drastic drop in demand. Companies are struggling to catch up, though, since travel demand has picked up and is now sharply rising every week.
Many crews had to ‘sprint’ to their next job because of the previously delayed flight, according to Allie Malis, who also functions as the Association of Professional Flight Attendants’ government affairs representative, who claimed that the case made them “uncomfortable.”
“Sometimes the passengers are cheering that you’re arriving because it means their plane’s going to go, or even that they’re upset — they think it’s your fault that the flight has been delayed when you can’t work for two flights at once, although I’m sure the airlines wish we could,” Malis said as she recounts her experience.
Malis contends that the situation not only has a consequence on their bodily well-being but also on their psychological health.
“Sickness levels have gone through the roof, fatigue levels have gone through the roof, not because [flight attendants are] rejecting or they’re protesting in any way. It’s just that they can’t cope — they just can’t cope with the constant changes,” Major adds.
Many airlines claim that employee absenteeism is the root of the problem. This is not what Malis thinks. “It’s kind of offensive that we’re being blamed for any type of labor shortage or operational mismanagement because the airlines have failed to adequately plan,” Malis stated.
“Flight attendants are being maxed out, working the longest days we’ve had, with the shortest rest periods overnight that we’ve had, and that does get you sick, that does lead to exhaustion and fatigue and weakens your immune system.”
With the current condition, what should travelers do
Malis offers some advice to airline passengers from her experience as a flight attendant on how to deal with the current state of the travel industry:
- Pack your patience
- It should be anticipated that delays will occur frequently. However, Malis believes that acknowledging these possibilities would at least align with passengers’ expectations.
- Pack Snacks
- It is recommended that you bring your own food to eat while you wait for your flight in the event of delays. Passengers should also receive an empty water bottle to fill up after security checks, along with snacks. It is best to be prepared in cases where you may need to rehydrate and fill up on food, such as when the aircraft is stalled, or there is a long queue in front of you. “If the weather’s bad, if it’s really bumpy, there’s no guarantee that we’re going to be able to safely perform a beverage service,” Malis added.
- Book early morning flights
- It would be better to use these itineraries because early flights are typically unaffected, according to Malis.
- Leave buffer time
- If there are significant events, like a wedding, travelers should depart a day or two early since delays and cancellations could happen at any moment.