Inside The Wonderful World Of Flight Attendant Internet

BuzzFeed - Latest 2015-07-13


Any flight attendant will tell you that there’s something about being stuck in an aluminum tube 35,000 feet in the air that makes ordinary human beings behave in extraordinary ways. Excited baby-boomer vacationers toss back miniature bottles of hard liquor with reckless abandon like co-eds while toddlers wail over the coos of frustrated parents. First-class frequent fliers let their eyes, thoughts, and hands wander around the cabin while perfect strangers with elevated blood pressure fight passive-aggressive battles over elbow room. On any given day one airline passenger’s dream flight is another’s waking nightmare, and both are thoroughly chronicled and readily accessible for your perusing pleasure down here at sea level.

Welcome to the cabin-pressurized otherworld of Flight Attendant Internet.

“Air travel breaks passengers out from their normal lives,” Heather Poole, a flight attendant who’s written a best-selling book about her time in the skies, told BuzzFeed News of the glut of air travel content floating around social media. “It’s an extraordinary circumstance for most and so they tend to write and tweet and Facebook more than normal. Plus you're anonymous on the plane and that anonymity allows you to be your worst self.”

Among the delights of spying on the world above from the comfort of a laptop below: unexpected celebrity encounters, scores of ill-mannered and barefootedly belligerent passengers, juicy flight crew confessions, pilots and crew "after dark," exotic and mundane layover locales, valuable tips on how to coexist with others in a fast-moving aluminum tube, and endless numbers of wing-framed sunsets. It was, for my purposes as an infrequent flier, an engrossing window into the unfamiliar inner workings of a somewhat familiar world. Also: pilots after dark!

But unlike Twitter’s more popular gathered masses and clubs, Flight Attendant Twitter wasn’t flooded with incessant chirps and jockeying for attention or even all that concerned with building followings. Few flight attendants seem conscious they’re speaking to an audience; very few brands are being built or cultivated. The tweets are often, in the purest terms, about sharing an experience with one’s peers, regardless of outside interlopers who might listen in. For those in the air, however, the feeds are filling a larger, more important need: allowing flight attendants to vent, brag, search for sympathy, and chart the contours of an often misunderstood profession.

“At my job there are millions of different kinds of people who walk into our lives,” Poole said of the ephemeral nature of airline service. As Poole and the flight attendants were quick to note, harried passengers, overworked crew, high altitudes, and tight quarters create perfect conditions for conflict, which in recent years has been exacerbated by in-flight internet access. As a result, it’s now common practice for passengers to complain about flight attendants to airline Twitter accounts. “Search flight attendant on Twitter and it’s just crazy what people are saying about us on there,” Poole said. “And if the slightest thing goes wrong, people grab their phones and get ready to film in the hopes that it might go viral.”

For these flight attendants, Twitter and Facebook are a way to reclaim their own narrative. They tweet about couples flirting, philandering, and falling in love in-flight. They roll their eyes at bloviating business class bros. They vent about stubborn passengers and tight layovers and note that if you’re having an awful delay-ridden garbage day of travel then they probably are, too. Like most social media, it’s a highly humanizing experience. “It's a weird job but Twitter has been great. I feel like it helps to bridge the gap. Passengers can see how we do what we do it and maybe on their next flight they’ll be nicer, not so quick to judge, and a bit more understanding,” Poole said.

When that doesn’t work, there’s alwa


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Charlie Warzel

Date tagged:

07/13/2015, 13:32

Date published:

07/13/2015, 13:26