Pilots, FAs Vent To Reader's Digest

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The Reader's Digest version of how pilots and flight attendants perceive their jobs (and their customers) has hit newsstands and we hope this isn't the condensed version. The magazine said it polled 17 airline pilots for "50 Secrets Your Pilot Won't Tell You" and 13 confidences kept by flight attendants. FAs got to expand their contribution with a list of the 10 things that really get their goat at work. There aren't many surprises from the pilots. Most deal with well-known irritations like work schedules and declining pay but there is the odd pearl. "No, it's not your imagination: Airlines really have adjusted their flight arrival times so they can have a better record of on-time arrivals," says one AirTran captain. "So they might say a flight takes two hours when it really takes an hour and 45 minutes." The flight attendants' responses are indicative of just how bizarre their jobs can be at times.

Much of what they have to say is instructive, but a lot of their comments vent frustration at the poor behavior their charges display at 35,000 feet. "Passengers are always coming up to me and tattling on each other. 'Can you tell him to put his seat up?' 'She won't share the armrest.' What am I, a preschool teacher?" There is a smattering of safety-related concerns. At least one pilot bemoaned the tight fuel margins most airlines impose to save fuel. The more fuel an airliner carries, the more it burns so they're not topping the tanks on a trip that will theoretically use two-thirds of that. It can make things interesting in bad weather, the pilots interviewed by RD say. Others said the airlines penny-pinching irritates them as much as the pax. "We miss the peanuts, too," said one pilot.