When you think of a flight attendant, you may think of a beautiful woman, sharply dressed, floating down the aisles, ready to serve your needs thousands of feet in the air. Perhaps this idea was planted in your mind through the media or your own experiences, but this romanticized image is not only outdated, it’s dangerous to the profession.
Discrimination against flight attendants is still happening today
This female-dominated profession has been dealing with discrimination for years and, even today, it doesn’t get the respect it rightly deserves. It wasn’t that long ago that women were fired for turning age 32 or for being married — a practice that was abolished in the US in 1968. The discrimination still lingers and the importance of this role is rarely acknowledged.
When was the last time you heard about a flight attendant’s role in an air disaster? You’re more likely to remember hearing about the pilot or firefighters, but almost never do you hear about the people whose literal job it is to assist in an in-flight emergency. Flight attendants open emergency exits, activate slide rafts, fight fires, act as EMS and evacuate passengers while the emergency is actually happening in the air. Emergency responders, like EMS and firefighters, help after the plane reaches the ground while the pilot is busy trying to land the plane.
Why aren’t flight attendants considered frontline workers?
The COVID-19 pandemic has helped to give frontline workers the respect they deserve, from nurses to doctors to firefighters, but flight attendants are rarely a part of the conversation. Imagine having to fly in a plane with re-circulated air during a global pandemic. It’s a situation so risky that governments around the world have done everything in their power to stop people from being on a plane during that time. They’re so overlooked that The World Health Organization left flight attendants out of the list of people who should be prioritized for their COVID shots.
The bottom line
We can’t help but wonder: are flight attendants undervalued because it’s a mostly female profession? Flight attendants are emergency responders and deserve the respect that comes with helping to save lives. They have the training, responsibility and reliability of an emergency responder. They’re tasked with saving the lives of passengers, and then themselves. The issue is that their role isn’t humanized, which also feeds into even the sexual harassment they face in their jobs. Flight attendants aren’t robots designed to cater to our every need — they’re human and their roles are incredibly important.