This post started out as a comment and a couple of private emails, to answer a number of questions that have come from the last post.In the end I just decided to answer for everyone, so here goes a post about airline life…
I think I shouldn’t say what company I work for publicly. Better bloggers than me have gotten in trouble that way!
As for the bag thing, I have always found it strange that we’re not covered medically, but it’s because putting up passengers’ bags is not in our *official* job description – and you know how the corperate monster loves loopholes when it comes to having to pay for something! And that’s an expensive injury – out of work for back problems? Big one. (Another example: They also pressure us *heavily* not to go out sick, yet if we fly sick and our eardrums burst [possible from a mere cold] then they say it is our fault for flying sick. Again, that’s a major injury for a F/A. Then it’s a tooth-and-nail struggle to get coverage. Crazy system, I know!) Most of the airlines have similar situations. They want us to take one for the team, but they won’t cover us if it backfires.
As for the bag lifting, it generally just means that we chose carefully. Of course if someone has a good reason not to be able to do it, I’m happy to help them. An old lady? My pleasure. In a wheelchair? No question that we’ll eagerly help anyway we can. Even if you just ask really nicely, I’ll always help. (But you have to help too. I won’t put up the bag of any *able-bodied* person alone while they stand aside and watch.)
But otherwise, people are strangely loathe to check their bag. I know you have to wait longer and it could get lost but that’s what the cargo hold is for. (Actually, we’re far too lax on allowing people to bring so much on, but that’s another discussion.) If you KNOW you can’t handle your bag, you can’t assume that there will always be someone else there to take responsibility. I always check mine in that situation. (That’s why I was so embarrassed when I couldn’t lift my bag!) Sure, it happens to everyone sometimes. We’re human. And F/As are not heartless. But you’d be shocked how many people come on the plane and just dump their bags in the aisle, then go on to their seat. When we ask who’s random bag this is blocking the way they just look up at us from their magazine and say, “Oh…I can’t put it up”. Third parties will also say ridiculous things like, “That lady weighs 110 pounds. How’s she supposed to lift her bag?” And I wonder who they think they’re looking at.
How do I do travel? It sounds obvious but remember: Take a small carry-on with anything that you’d “cry if you lost”. Jewelry, keys, camera, souvenirs, etc. Everything else goes into the checked bag. If it gets lost, it’s annoying, but not devastating. Literally ask yourself, “will I cry if this gets lost?”
Yup, flying can suck. It’s all about picking the best strategy and just getting on with it. It worked with cancer; it works for flying too. (Heh! Do you see what I just did there? That’s talent, right? Zap!)