People Watching (while at the airport)

I just wanna go home!!!

Working as a flight attendant offers a good study in personalities as we watch how people react to situations or we watch for body language and what that can tell us. Here are some of my observations working on an Embraer 170 and 175 Regional jet that seat 76 or 86 passengers.

It’s interesting, and sometimes entertaining, to observe passengers trying to place a 14 inch bag in the 11 inch overhead space. Oh, and the look of confusion, then frustration, and some embarrassment when we realize it will not fit, even if I’m told it fit before. I enjoy watching the elderly gentleman walk on board the aircraft, ticket stub in one hand reading glasses in the other and no baggage. :-)

Weather delays or mechanical delays can mess up the best laid plans for travelers. It’s not unusual to have passengers hitting their call buttons to ask us about their connecting flights. We can feel helpless in these situations as we know very little about what is going to happen 1-2 hours from now. Time travel is what people want rather than being present to where they are, after all they are taking traveling. My response; turn you phone off and fasten your seatbelt. We go nowhere until they do. Just kidding. :-)

Some passengers wear suits or a sport coat, nice dresses, casual slacks, and loafers. While some passengers wear pajamas, really short shorts/mini-skirts, or pants halfway down their butts (which requires one hand to always hold them up), flip-flops, and tank tops. The second group almost always asks for blankets and pillows then get frustrated because we do not carry them on our size of aircraft. Dress for the occasion: layer next time. :-)

But, and there’s always a but, we do feel for those who have been traveling for the past 20 hours and sometimes with small children. Or those who are on their way to a funeral, or going say good-bye to a dying family member or friend, or carrying the ashes of a daughter killed in a war, or are afraid to fly, or have constant back pain, a bum knee. The list could go on but will say that a good flight attendant will observe body and facial language. When we see those signs we try our best to make the next hour or two a pleasant experience for them. More importantly we want to get them to their destination safely because maybe they are going to see their new grandbaby.

Not really a post about photography but what the heck, it was on my mind. Okay, I’m done ranting.

15 Comments

  1. Janet August 7, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    Now this just says it all … exasperation, exhaustion, defeat, …. You wouldn’t see this anywhere but at an airport. Great photo!

    • Monte Stevens August 7, 2010 at 7:42 am #

      You’re right Janet. Thanks, for stopping by again and it was great to meet up with this past week.

  2. Earl August 7, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Excellent photo, Monte — wonderfully processed.

    I’ve missed connecting flights and spent nights in an airport. Yes, I slept on the floor…if you call keeping one eye open and cat napping sleep. Not an experience I want to repeat anytime soon.

    Now flight attendant watching…stories to tell there as well. ;-)

    • Monte Stevens August 7, 2010 at 8:30 am #

      I’ve slept on benches in airports, also. Makes us appreciate our beds at home. I really was impressed with this lady and how she adapted to her situation.

  3. Steve Skinner August 7, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    It’s times like those pictured that one leans how interesting people can really be!

  4. Paul August 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    I like this shot, Monte, but more than that, I love the empathy that you have for travelers. You embody Plato’s saying: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

    • Monte Stevens August 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

      There are days when I just want to walk off the airplane. Those days come when people don’t care about the safety of the aircraft, living in the illusional world that nothing will happen to them. And, there are those instances when passengers are taken off the aircraft. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

      • Paul August 7, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

        Yep. Enjoying the weekend immensely, Hobbs and I. He got a haircut today and is looking rather dapper, now. Though not as dapper as you do in that photo of yours! :-)

  5. QPB (Mary Ann) August 8, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    Great picture and essay. I can’t imagine sleeping like that at the airport and I have spent some long days in airports…that is either someone very, very tired or extremely trusting of mankiing. And of the cleaning people. Yikes!

  6. Alan M. Collopy August 8, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    Monte,

    To me, this is a “photojournalistic” shot. I think the whole airline industry is like a separate culture. When in airports and on flights, people just act a different way. I like this shot!

    Alan

    • Monte Stevens August 8, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

      You are right, Alan, as are bus stations, train stations, subways. I’m glad you like the image.

  7. Eric Easley August 12, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    There’s is nothing about this photo that isn’t just plain awesome. It made me laugh out loud. great eye for the moment

    • Monte Stevens August 12, 2010 at 7:56 am #

      :-) Yes, I can see where you and I would notice this scene immediately. LOL

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