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Thursday, March 17, 2011

All In a Day's Work.....

So, I know you think that we Air Hostesses do nothing but pour refreshing cold drinks, take coats for hanging, and say "Oh yes, why of course...." to any request.   Well, there is the occasional heart or asthma attack....but that really doesn't count.  But I'd like for you to take a careful look at what happened yesterday on a flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles.  This hits strikingly close to home.  And pay attention to the repeated Air Hostess requests for compliance.  I spend a huge percentage of my work life asking people to do this, or that, or reminding them of things that I'm required to do.  And, quite often, the requests are disregarded or ignored.  So, even more often, I find myself simply turning my head or ignoring things that are going on.  For my own sanity.  And because it happens so very very often.  Take a look:

Shortly after Flight 241 departed from Mexico City bound for Los
Angeles yesterday, flight attendants observed unusual behavior from
three male passengers that continued during the four-hour flight. Out
of concern for the safety of all of the passengers onboard, the crew
erred on the side of caution and authorities were notified. The crew
did not realize at the time that the passengers were Orthodox Jews
engaging in prayer ritual in Hebrew.

Here are a few of the issues that concerned the flight crew:
  •  Flight attendants instructed everyone to stay seated with their seatbelts fastened as the aircraft flew through turbulence shortly after takeoff. The three passengers disregarded repeated requests, however, and stood up several times to retrieve objects from their luggage in the overhead bin that the crew had never seen, including small black boxes fastened with what appeared to be black tape. The crew learned after the plane landed that these were tefillin boxes worn during the prayer ritual.
  •  The men prayed aloud together in a language unfamiliar to the crew while wearing what appeared to be black tape and wires strapped to their forearms and foreheads and wires on their chests. Their actions and behavior made some other travelers and the crew uneasy. The three passengers responded, but provided very little explanation, to a flight attendant’s questions about the tefillin boxes and what they were doing.
  •  Later in the flight, two of the three passengers visited the lavatories together while the third waited in the aisle and continually looked around the cabin and toward the flight deck door. Flight attendants thought he appeared anxious, as if he were standing guard.
The safety and security of our passengers is our top priority. While
our flight crews must be vigilant in watching for suspicious behavior,
they are also trained to be aware and recognize the personalities and
practices of a very broad and diverse group of travelers. Out of an
abundance of caution to protect all of our customers, we
misinterpreted the behavior of the three passengers who were praying
and wearing tefillin.

We embrace the cultural and religious diversity of our
passengers and employees. We apologize for the experience these three
passengers went through after landing in Los Angeles as well as for
any inconvenience to our other customers onboard. To help make sure
this misunderstanding does not happen again, we plan to incorporate
awareness training of Orthodox Jewish religious practices into our
ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts. We’ve asked the Jewish
Federation of Greater Seattle for their assistance to help us better
serve our Orthodox Jewish customers and employees alike.

This is the official report from the airline.  You can find the complete Internal Review HereWould anyone care for a beverage??


Homer said...

I don't think this is the first time this has happened. I recall something similar in the last couple years.

Sean said...

And were is the apology from the three passengers who didn't follow directions? Did they not speak english at all? Shouldn't they have at least a note explaining what they were doing and why? They really deserved the treatment they received.

Ron said...

Look, I respect all the various and sundry religious rituals that some folk do to give themselves comfort or provide further punches to their ticket to heaven but my God, can't some of these people put it on hold just for the flight of the airplane. It seems to me that their actions were selfish and self centered at best and just plain stupid at worst. Surely they must know the changed climate of air travel these days? What's next, ultra religious Muslims getting on their knees in middle aisle and bowing east? And to think when I was a teenager I wanted to be an airline steward. No thank you.

wcs said...

Only if it's Kosher. ;)

Ur-spo said...

today I had yet another flight attendant patient with the 'chief complaint' their work is making them nuts.
I admire you all for doing what you do !

Damien Oz said...

As a Jew - I personally believe Orthodox Jews and practicing Muslims should NOT pray on a plane.

Given the nervousness of air travel these days I find it HIGHLY insensitive that these three did NOT stop to think of their actions.

But then - these types of Orthodox Jews don't really respect others so...

Oy vey indeed....

CJ/Rick said...

So there will be awareness training for my Apostolic Pentacostal relatives that speak in tongues, do cart wheels,and rock back and forth when praying?
Were they idiots too? I say security takes precedent over any religious practices.
Four hours from Mexico City to LA, praying Jews, and turbulence? I'll have a double rum and coke please. And keep them coming!

tornwordo said...

Yeah, it's a four hour flight. Sit down and do your ritual when you land. Or, if you really must do it then and there, get permission. I know there has to be PR damage control from the company, but I'm glad they had trouble upon landing.