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Flight Attendants Face an Uncertain Future



Flight attendants have taken on various roles in the public imagination over the last century: nurse, companion in the skies, doting provider, glamorous traveler.

Though commercial flights have become much cheaper and more frequent since the T.W.A. heyday, there’s still an inherent magic to air travel that rests on the cabin crew providing safety and comfort.

The job is far from a traditional 9-to-5. Perks include schedule flexibility, international travel and, in some cases, work uniforms designed by the likes of Zac Posen and Vivienne Westwood. Oh, and an office above the clouds.

“It’s hard not to appreciate the moment when the sun shines in through the airplane window,” said Allie Malis, 30, an American Airlines flight attendant. “It gives me perspective on how I want to spend my working hours and my life.”

But for the time being, that view is out of reach for many flight attendants. Earlier this month, United Airlines and American Airlines furloughed more than 32,000 employees. Among them were about 15,000 flight attendants, or close to 12 percent of the total flight attendant work force.

Airlines are reporting billion-dollar losses for the year after months of curtailed travel. The International Air Transport Association predicted that air traffic this year will be 66 percent less than in 2019.

Many flight attendants have been grounded for months, but since the furloughs were announced, the number has shot up. Now they are forced to wait as the government deliberates over a stimulus package. And while the future of travel remains uncertain, some are considering giving up a career that has afforded them stability and adventure, and become a way of life.

Earlier this year, Angel Ricumstrict-Zamora, a flight attendant who lives in Detroit with her 2-year-old daughter, bought her first home. “I bought a house for $75,000 less than I was approved for,” she said. “I wanted to live within my means.”

She has worked for United Airlines for 17 years. “It was my plan to do this job forever,” Ms. Ricumstrict-Zamora, 41, said. “We are there for people in their good times and bad times. We have had people find out a family member passed and they’re on the airplane. We have people going to see their first grandchild. We have little kids and adults going on their very first flight, their eyes full of wonder.”

But in recent months, she saw the social world of her profession shrink. “It was like being in ‘The Twilight Zone,’” Ms. Ricumstrict-Zamora said. “Chicago is a crazy city. In the Chicago airport there’s always activity, people running here and there. In August it was a ghost town. More than half the stores were closed. All of us — airline workers, janitors, attendants, pilots, people driving the vans — we knew this dark cloud was hanging over us.”

On Oct. 1, Ms. Ricumstrict-Zamora was furloughed. Soon after, she applied for unemployment benefits and food stamps. “I have taken half of the money out of my 401(k),” she said. A member of the Association of Flight Attendants, she has been tweeting, and calling and emailing her representatives in Congress, as well as those of her colleagues.

“Come December, I have to drain my 401(k),” Ms. Ricumstrict-Zamora said. Though she is looking for other jobs, so far nothing has come through. “I’ve already cut back. I don’t know how much more I can cut back. I’m in danger of losing my slice of the American dream.”

“The last flight I worked was the end of February,” said Robert Garcia Remmert, 45, a flight attendant for United Airlines who flies out of Chicago and lives in Houston with his husband, who is also a flight attendant. “I had no idea that was going to be my last flight.”

In March, Mr. Garcia Remmert, a member of the Association of Flight Attendants, decided to take a voluntary leave of absence because he has an autoimmune disease.

Though the couple has been able to hold on to their insurance, basic living costs have stretched them thin. Now, Mr. Garcia Remmert is concerned about what will happen to his insurance in the new year; without coverage, his medication costs $18,000 a month.

“My doctor asked, ‘Why is your blood pressure so high?’” Mr. Garcia Remmert said. “I can only assume it’s from stress. Are we going to be able to pay our bills? Am I going to have a job?”

Mr. Garcia Remmert is the son of a preacher and used to travel around Texas and Mexico doing missionary work. He attended five elementary schools, six middle schools and four high schools. “I loved meeting other people and seeing new cultures,” he said. In 2015, he and his husband decided to make a change. “He wasn’t happy with his sales job,” Mr. Garcia Remmert said. “I wasn’t challenged at all.” At the time, he worked in accounting.

In 2016, Mr. Garcia Remmert began flying with United. “I never expected to make those big changes, especially at 40 years old,” he said. “Once I did it, I found I loved the job. I don’t want to do anything else.”

Amy Ticknor took after her mother and grandmother when she joined American Airlines as a flight attendant in 2014. “It was always the job I wanted,” she said.

“My grandma used to fly in the times when it was super-glamorous,” Ms. Ticknor, 29, said. “She took movie actors on her planes. She had to quit because she married my grandpa, and you couldn’t be married and be a stewardess. My mom was a gate agent, and she had the same experiences. She met a ton of famous people. We always went on vacations because we would always fly for free.”

Early on in her career, Ms. Ticknor, who lives in Denver, relished the freedom to travel. Now that she’s a mother of two, she appreciates the job’s flexibility. “I get to spend a lot of time with them, but my husband also gets a lot of time with them when I’m away on a trip,” she said.

Ms. Ticknor hasn’t flown since March, when she was pregnant with her second child. Now she’s not sure when she will again. In the meantime, she’s been applying for other jobs; her husband is self-employed, so she is the main insurance provider for her family. “We just had a baby, and we have doctor’s appointments coming up for her almost monthly that we won’t be able to go to if I don’t find a full-time job that can get us health insurance,” she said.

Like many of her colleagues in the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, she has been calling and emailing her representatives every day. She even joined Twitter to speak on behalf of her profession.

“You have a chance to keep your job,” Ms. Ticknor said. “You don’t. You do. It’s been back and forth almost daily. The Republicans are saying it’s the Democrats, and the Democrats are saying that it’s the Republicans. It’s hard to keep up with who is on our side, if anyone even is.”

A couple of years after joining American Airlines, Allie Malis decided to take on a role with an American Airlines union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. As a government affairs representative, she has been fighting to extend the Payroll Support Program.

“I’ve been doing this for four years,” said Ms. Malis. “We’ve had issues we’ve activated on, like minimum rest times, but this is astronomical compared to any other issue we’ve worked on. The flight attendants are more engaged than they’ve ever been before.”

But after months of watching Congress negotiate the bill, Ms. Malis said she feels that she and her co-workers are political pawns. “It’s really hard on us,” she said. “These are our lives, our livelihoods. Our families depend on us.”

Ms. Malis became a flight attendant in 2014; some of her colleagues have been in their roles for decades. “A lot of people love this job because it’s not a 9-to-5, it’s not an office job,” she said. “There are delays, exhaustion. You miss special family events. There are sacrifices. At the same time, our office view is a beautiful blue sky with white puffy clouds.”

When Ms. Malis began working for American, her father retired. During the next three years, Ms. Malis and her family took advantage of her benefits and visited 10 national parks. “We would fly to Utah or North Dakota or wherever, rent a car and go hiking,” she said. “We would stay at a cheap motel or maybe camp. We created some really incredible memories.”

Ms. Malis said she does not have a backup plan if the aid bill fails. Her immediate goal is to see the bill through and get her job back, as well as the jobs of thousands of her co-workers.

“For many of us, this job changed our lives,” Ms. Malis said. “It’s provided opportunities that we couldn’t have dreamed of. To have done everything right and worked hard at this job and to lose it is devastating.”

During the last few months, Phillip Delahunty has joined colleagues in the airline industry to rally for the extension of the Payroll Support Program in Florida, where he lives, and in Texas. In early September, he and 30 others picketed outside the office of Ted Cruz, the Texas senator.

Mr. Delahunty, 27, has flown with American Airlines for six years and belongs to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. Seeing his colleagues joining together to fight for their jobs has made him hopeful. “There are people who are willing to organize in 2020,” he said. “We think of this generation as Netflix and Facebook, but I’ve definitely seen an organized labor resurgence.”

Mr. Delahunty followed in the footsteps of his parents, a captain and a flight attendant, when he joined American Airlines. Because he speaks French and Italian, Mr. Delahunty has regularly flown to Montreal, Milan and Paris. “The lifestyle feels natural,” he said. “It’s kind of how I grew up, just traveling constantly.”

But flying in a pandemic introduced new challenges to an already demanding job. “The mask compliance is a huge issue on airplanes,” he said. “We’re taught how to de-escalate a situation. That’s the emphasis of our training up and down, and diplomacy. Take a tense situation and make it survivable for the next couple of hours. When you have one person not wearing a mask, you have three people who are agitated around them.”

Mr. Delahunty expects to file for unemployment benefits in a couple of months and to move back in with his parents, who say this is worse than any of the crises they saw during their time in the industry.

“That’s a story you’ll hear a lot,” he said. “I’m 27. My generation hasn’t had the same financial stability that our parents did at this age. It always feels like we’re behind. That’s part of the problem here. I had a solid union job that paid well and had great benefits. Now it’s going away.”

By: Valeriya Safronova
Title: Flight Attendants Face an Uncertain Future
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2020 18:16:37 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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