The dreaded word "Boarding" comes over the intercom. We look at each other and sigh, and wonder if today we'll need our hard hats, our suite of armour, the patience of a saint. We will. "Boarding" is almost always the hardest part of any flight. People line up outside in the gate area, getting into position, staking their claim--sometimes an hour before the flight even leaves. When it is finally time to board, they rush on with arms full of bags, coats, coffee, etc. Then the battle for the overhead space begins. Some people know the drill and put the roller bags in wheels first, handle out, leaving more space for others bags. Others believe that they should stow their bag in the first bin they see, even if that is row 1 and they are sitting in row 45. No. Others believe that the place they get to stow their bag is only right above their head, and get angry if I move it to make more space. Others take so long to decide where to stow their bags that a very long line forms behind them. Oblivious to the chaos they are causing, they wonder "Does the white bag fit better here? Where should my coat go? Did the Dodgers play today? Wonder if the person sitting next to me is normal?" I watched a man get on and put his bag away, then closed the bin with a big space left in it. Another passenger came on and opened the bin and started to put his bag in there. The first passenger stood up and said, "No, you can't use that bin. I saved a spot for my wife's bag in that bin." I clear my throat. "Actually, you don't get to save a spot for your wife's bag. First come, first serve." I say. Score: One happy passenger, One really pissed off passenger--make it two, his wife will be pissed off too when she finally gets on.
Our job, the crew's, is to try to get a handle on all the craziness. "Miss, someone is already in my seat." (Sir, that's your boarding pass for your next flight, not this one.) " "Can I have a glass of water? I need to take a pill." "I have a connection in (arrival city)--are we going to be on time?" (Geez-we haven't even left yet and you are already worried about being late)? "Is there anywhere to put this painting/lampshade/flower arrangement/parakeet?" Without a doubt, this is the hardest part of our job, but we don't get paid for this. I don't know why. No one has ever given me a good answer for this. It annoys me to high heaven. Besides all this, there is a huge push to be on time, to make sure everything is taken care of 10 minutes before we are supposed to leave. Because on time ratings are very important to our airline, to our reputation. But, very often, the plane has just landed from another city, taken 20-30 minutes to deplane, needs cleaned and catered, and maybe 20 minutes has been reserved for this. And then 150 new passengers, bags, and problems come on and we need to make it all "OK" in minutes. I get really crabby during this process, which is bad because this is my first interaction with the passengers. Add to this, overhead bins have been reconstructed to fit more bags in the bins. Now, one bin can hold 120+ pounds. We have to lift this! It's really heavy! I've already had to go to Physical Therapy off and on for 10 years to deal with the effects of these bins. They say I should do stretches to prepare for lifting these bins. Really? When? In the 5 minutes before some passengers get off and more get on? When I could eat? Or go to the bathroom?
No thanks. I think I'll take a minute to myself, check my phone and my lipstick and go head to head with the overhead bin when the time comes. Another day, another physical therapy appointment.