Cops and Firefighters as Flight Attendants – It's Law & Order Time

Flight attendants don’t get much respect. Sometimes, anyway – especially on the internet. And it stinks.

Sometimes Flight Attendants Get No Respect

Consider creepy labels like “glorified waitress” or the even more execrable “cart tart” – or those spirited discussions about why they don’t all look like those cuties from the “Fly Girls” TV show.

Too-Fat-to-Fly Flight Attendants

And even today, some flight attendants are being threatened with termination if they’re “too fat” (this is the case now at Turkish Airlines, for male and female flight attendants).

Plus, ask any flight attendant about pay cuts in recent years and boy, will you get an earful. But you’d squawk, too.

So we thoroughly enjoyed Scott McCartney’s recent column on how so many retired police and firefighters are currently working as flight attendants for New York-based JetBlue. Makes sense to us.

Retired Cops, Retired Firefighters Make Good Flight Attendants

After all, these days the job is less about food service than security – and some of these “first responders” retirees have spent their adult lives being cool under pressure. Or, commanding, as the case may be (but please don’t imagine that these particular flight attendants are badge-heavy jerks – as McCartney points out, they are very good with people, and can entertain passengers with as many corny jokes as any Southwest employee).

We took a look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website to see what the government says it takes to be a flight attendant, and it was pretty interesting: first, a high school degree is required but more and more airlines want at least some college. Plus people skills. But here’s what’s most important:

“Trainees learn emergency procedures, such as evacuating an airplane, operating emergency systems and equipment, administering first aid, and surviving in the water. In addition, trainees are taught how to deal with disruptive passengers and with hijacking and terrorist situations.” Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do You Want in a Flight Attendant?

And in a separate section, the BLS mentions “related occupations” which includes food and beverage service personnel, but also emergency medical technicians and firefighters.

You know, in the old days – the 1930’s – flight attendants were required to be registered nurses; do you think today’s FAs should be required to have on-the-job experience in fighting crime or fires? Sure wouldn’t hurt, it seems to me – but you tell us.


Published: August 9, 2010