When customer is king but unpleasant: How bad behaviour affects air crew | Business Standard News

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Behind the exotic travel destinations, prim and proper clothing, smiles, flawless skin, and perfectly manicured hands of the air hostesses, there’s a dark world of enormous struggle

airlines, air hostess

Occasional flight travel can be weary in many ways. But imagine doing it for a living every day. Yes, we’re referring to the job of air hostesses, who spend hours on their feet in an airborne vessel. Behind the exotic travel destinations, prim and proper clothing, smiles, flawless skin, and perfectly manicured hands of the air hostesses, there’s a dark world of enormous struggle. It encompasses vigorous training sessions, strenuous working hours, and endless fitness tests.

Then there are customers who may be stressed, anxious, or simply unpleasant. But despite it all, crew members must keep a fixed smile—or risk losing their jobs.

According to an aviation expert, the primary reason for the crew being on board is for the safety of the aircraft and passengers; service is secondary. The crew is trained to deal with intoxicated, unruly, and violent passengers. They undergo rigorous training, but training in a classroom and managing such a situation on board an aircraft are entirely different. It is challenging, and things generally don’t play out how they should. The situation is often so challenging that the crew doesn’t even know the procedure or chooses not to follow the rule book.

Few months ago, a video surfaced on the internet in which an argument broke out between a passenger and an IndiGo flight attendant, reportedly over food choices. In the video, the air hostess can be seen schooling a flyer, who is seen yelling at her. “I am an employee, not your servant,” the air hostess told the passenger.

“A situation between a passenger and a crew is like fire and oxygen, the more you come together, the more it’s going to inflame. The air hostess should get away from the situation, and after some time, when the tempers have calmed down, one should come back to the passenger and address the issue,” says K V J Rao, former Air India crew and aviation expert.

“In the hospitality business, you can’t afford to be rude, you have to take passengers’ attitudes and remarks with a smile. The crew has always been taught not to be rude, as the ‘customer is king’. This is the philosophy that the management would also take, and obviously, being rude doesn’t solve the problem,” he added.

The IndiGo incident was a rare sight. Often when passengers vent their anger on air hostesses, even for the trivial matter of a desired food item not being available on the menu, the cabin crew looks on helplessly and tries to calm down the flying tempers. The onus of making peace with passengers lies with them.

According to Rao, “there are a lot of disadvantages to being an air hostess, as people expect them to walk and talk like models. People forget that they are there for flight safety and to make your travel comfortable. One thing everyone should keep in mind is that the crew is trained to evacuate passengers in 90 seconds. So, it’s not an easy job. Aggravating the crew will increase the fatigue, and that will not help at the time of any eventuality.”

The crew has to be very mindful while serving the alcohol because a drunk passenger can create uncomfortable situations mid-flight., says an in-flight supervisor, who works for one of India’s leading airline companies.

In handling unruly passengers, the first approach has to be soft, always. Talking about the Indigo incident, I think the crew member handled the situation in a very unprofessional manner. If I were at her place, I would have followed the procedure authorised by my airline. The crew cannot lose patience, he adds.

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