FROM EXPERIENCING THE thrill of adventure to taking amazing holidays at little or no cost, there are a lot of unique perks to being a flight attendant.
But the job comes with its challenges as well.
Delays and flight cancellations, 4am wake-up calls and sporadic hours, weekends and holidays spent working, and long work commutes top the list for many.
Flight attendants are also privy to a wide array of human behaviours, some of which would challenge anyone’s people skills.
Here are some of the most bizarre working conditions flight attendants have been subjected to:
Unusual forced landings
The BBC reports that in March 2015 a British Airways flight from London to Dubai was forced to turn around because of a “smelly poo”.
Abhishek Sachdev, who was on board the flight, told BBC:
The pilot made an announcement requesting senior cabin crew, and we knew something was a bit odd. About 10 minutes later he said ‘you may have noticed there’s a quite pungent smell coming from one of the toilets.’ He said it was liquid fecal excrement. Those are the words he used.
A BA spokesperson said the situation posed a health and safety problem because only half the air is recycled and cleaned on an airplane.
Passengers were put up in a hotel overnight since the next available flight was 15 hours later, BBC reports.
Dirty diapers in the seat
One dangerously impatient passenger
In 2014, a passenger on a China Eastern Airlines plane who said he wanted to “get off the plane quicker” deployed the emergency slide after the aircraft landed at Sanya Phoenix International Airport.
The incident caused the aircraft to be delayed for two hours and reportedly cost about €14,500 in damages.
People who make soup with the airline water
In response to the Quora question, “What are the weirdest things flight attendants have seen in their line of duty?” former flight attendant Heather Wilde says she’s seen her fair share of things many people would consider weird.
Among the strangest were people who made soup using the airline water. “Guys, the water lines haven’t ever been cleaned — ever,” she says.
Animals left on planes
More than 700 international cabin-crew members revealed an extensive list of items they found on flights after passengers disembarked to Skyscanner in 2013.
Animals accounted for several of the more unusual items on the list, including a falcon, dried fish, a frog, a tortoise, and a parrot.
Strange item requests
A flight attendant with the pen-name ‘Betty’ writes in her online series Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant that the strangest things people have asked her for on a plane are actually fairly ordinary items.
What’s surprising is what some of these items would be used for.
Items requested include tweezers for pulling thorns out of a passenger’s butt; a pen to clean ears with; a screwdriver “to take the seat apart”; and a cup, lid, straw, and knife “to make a catheter”.
From streaking down the aisle totally nude to falling like an axed tree, when passengers consume an unfortunate mix of Ambien, which people take to sleep on planes, and airplane cocktails, it make even the most normal people do very bizarre things, ‘Betty’ says.
“These folks are sleeping, which means they think they are at home and safe in their beds. When they are home and safe in their beds they think it is perfectly acceptable to take off all of their clothes,” she explains.
Alas, this is not acceptable behaviour on a long-haul international flight.
‘Betty’ writes that passengers tend to get more inebriated on flights to Las Vegas. In his drunken state, one passenger passed out while he was in the restroom, fell backward, and ended up on the galley floor with his fly still down and his privates exposed.
After much debate between the attendants on the flight about what to do, “they finally decided to get the long metal tongs that we use to serve bread in first class to move the exposed body part back into his pants! He didn’t feel a thing,” Betty writes.
Spiders on a plane
“I know more than one fellow flight attendant who has had the uncomfortable situation of having to tell a woman that she can’t breastfeed her … cat! You read that right: Breastfeeding. A. Cat. And this isn’t an isolated incident,” ‘Betty’ writes.
She says the cat-feeders’ response is always the same:
I’m just feeding my ‘baby’.