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The flight was US Airways flight 1787 from Charlotte to Portland, Oregon. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the 6 hour flight, but it’s the price you pay when your project is in West Palm Beach Florida and you live in Portland, Oregon. Anyway, I boarded with the priority customers as usual and when and sat in my exit row seat 2/3 back in the plane. As I was boarding I noticed one of the flight attendants working her way to the front and I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t see her come back. After we were all mostly on board, the captain announced over the intercom that we were delayed because one of the flight attendants had to be replaced and we were waiting on a new flight attendant.
Immediately, right behind me a gentleman in his early 60s loudly proclaimed “I volunteer, let’s get going.” He didn’t really stop there, which is how I got the rest of the story on the departing flight attendant. The flight attendant in our exit row briefing heard him and said, “We need to wait for a qualified flight attendant before we can take off.”He quickly responded, “I can serve drinks, it’s not that hard.” This obviously upset the flight attendant, whose name is Jane, and she said “It is much more than just serving drinks. There is significantly more training involved in making sure this flight is safe.”Another passenger asked, “How long will it take to find another flight attendant.” To which Jane said, “Not long to find one, but the reserves here in Charlotte have already been taken, so we need to wait for someone to come in. This wouldn’t be an issue if you weren’t so impatient to get going and would just listen to us. Someone pushed their way past the other flight attendant and it tweaked her shoulder so she couldn’t stay.”So that’s where the flight attendant went. Several of us expressed disbelief and frustration that anyone would be so hurried.The loud guy then said, “That’s stupid. We can fly with one less person. It isn’t going to ruin our flight. This must be some lawyer stupidity going on.”Jane, trying to keep calm, said, “And what if there is a medical emergency in flight? Are you FAA certified to handle that issue?”The grumpy man then continued his offensive rant, “What are the odds of anything like that happening. Look at the statistical averages. Have you ever taken a course in Statistics?”“I was a major in Mathematics at Northwestern University, so yes I have taken classes on statistics.”“There is a law of averages and…”Jane bent down close to the guy and said, “Sir, are you going to give me problems on this flight? We need to have one flight attendant for each set of emergency exits. If you don’t like that, I will gladly escort you off this plane and you can find another flight.”He said, “I’m not moving until we land in Portland.”“Sir, are you going to give me problems in the air?”Resigned, he said, “No, I won’t give you any problems.”“Good.”The new flight attendant appeared shortly after and we were on our way.