Cabin crew are there to cater for passengers and make sure they have everything they need. Consequently, passengers can be baffled and annoyed if they spot a flight attendant seemingly not doing their job. Former flight attendant Betty N. Thesky, who has worked for a “major airline,” revealed an important truth about crew in her book ‘Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase.’ Betty explained what it really means when you see cabin crew sitting in a seat and doing nothing.
“Passengers sometimes get confused when they see flight attendants on board that are not lifting finger or doing anything at all,” she wrote.
“This is because we are ‘dead-heading’, which is when we’re just flying home for our days off, or we’re flying to another airport to pick up another flight we’re scheduled for.”
Passengers shouldn’t think that just because a member of the crew is in uniform that they are working.
“Often time, we’re still in our uniforms, but we’re not on duty,” said Betty. “This drives some people nuts.”
Betty experience one occasion when a female passenger was very unhappy at the sight of a flight attendant seemingly doing nothing.
“On one such flight, I was sitting in the middle seat with a passenger on either side of me, when a lady across the aisle kept giving me the evil-eye, glaring at me the entire time,” explained Betty.
“Evidently, she thought I was the laziest flight attendant ever. Finally, she stood up and, with her hands on her hips, said, ‘Would you at least get me a blanket?’
“I explained to her I wasn’t on duty, and since she was standing up already and I was trapped by two passengers, it would be easier for her to get the blanket herself.
“So take it from me, if you see a flight attendant reading a magazine and sipping a drink or taking a snooze, they’re not being lazy – they are just dead heading.”
Betty also revealed in her book that pilots do sometimes play pranks on passengers.
One pilot Betty spoke to revealed his colleague had once alarmed his passengers in a very amusing way indeed.
“I was working for an airline that had installed a kind of dash-cam or webcam in the cockpit,” the aviator said. “It was focussed on the instrument panel, showing only the panels and the hands of the pilots.
“This was so passengers could see what was going on in the cockpit during takeoff and landing.
“Well, one pilot who was something of a joker smuggled the arm and hand of a gorilla suit on board.
“When the flight was ready for takeoff, the passengers were treated to the sight of the co-pilot’s hand holding a banana in front of the instrument panel.
“Then a giant gorilla reached out to take the banana and push the throttle forward.
“I believe the dash-cams were phased out quite quickly following that incident.”