Entries in Flying (2)


Program Helps Flight Attendants Handle Stress of Job

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The flight attendant's job has changed drastically in the past 10 years, with the stress level skyrocketing, as demonstrated by some of their own caught-on-tape, airborne freak-outs.

This past June, American Eagle flight attendant Jose Serrano roughly invited passengers to deplane in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

"If you have balls to want to get off, I'll let you get off. Get off," he said into the flight PA system.

Then there was the 2010 case of JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, who grabbed a beer from his airplane's galley, cursed out the aircraft and bolted through the plane's emergency exit at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, intentionally deploying the emergency slide to disembark.

"Due to 9/11, the job has become more stressful, because when passengers get on they're already stressed," Sheila Dail, a US Airways flight attendant, told ABC News.

Dail, a 30-year veteran, suffered her own traumatic and incredibly stressful day back in 2009 aboard the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight that crash landed in New York's Hudson River.

"There was a shudder; the plane shuddered," she said. "A few minutes later, we heard, 'This is the captain. Brace yourselves for impact.'"

Dail was unable to sleep for days following the experience and found she had nobody to talk to about her frightful flight. Dail's wish that she had someone to call drove her to set up a new peer-to-peer hotline called CIRP (Critical Incident Response Program). The hotline now is in its second year, using 46 volunteers to answer flight attendant crisis calls at all hours.

"We help people deal with death on board, serious illness on board," Dail said. "We have medical equipment to use ... security issues, weather issues, turbulence, emergency situations in the cockpit that require an emergency landing."

Incident reports show stress also comes from passengers "demanding drinks and cussing," according to the Association of Flight Attendants.

In one instance, a report said that a passenger "did some karate moves ... then rushed at her with his hands out in a choking way."

Susan Gilliam became part of the CIRP air team after an emergency landing made her afraid to fly.

"Sometimes, I'd turn around and just go back home and say it wasn't meant to be," said Gilliam, a US Airways Flight Attendant. "I used all of my sick time."

Trying to recover from anger and mood swings were difficult to accomplish alone.

"I thought I was strong enough to do it on my own, but I wasn't," Gilliam said.

Doug Parker, the CEO of US Airways, told ABC News that although pilots and flight attendants have trained for years for the stresses and traumatic events that can occur on a flight, it can "still be a traumatic event when it actually happens."

The CIRP program allows US Airways flight attendants to confidentially speak to another flight attendant after a traumatic event.

"They have a peer out there that they're able to talk to and be able to deal with it rather than telling them to go back out there and fly again," Parker said. "This program offers the flight attendants this opportunity to deal with that better and we're really happy it's in place."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How Can You Protect Yourself in a Plane Crash? Five Tips for Surviving 

Digital Vision/Thinkstock (BOSTON) -- More than one in ten Americans say they are afraid of flying. It's the first jolt of moderate turbulence that gets our hearts pounding and out bodies shaking, even though we know it's an irrational fear.

Most of us have heard the facts and know that we're safer in the skies than on the highway, but that still doesn't stop most of us from dreading that takeoff.

MIT airline safety expert Arnold Barnett did a study on aviation safety and found that the chance of dying on a scheduled flight, from propeller planes to jetliners, in the United States is 1 in 14 million. At that rate, you would have to fly every day for 38,000 years before you had a fatal accident.

His MIT colleague John Hansman agrees flying is the safest mode of travel available today. "Riding on a commercial airliner has about the same risk as riding on an elevator," says Hansman.

And as pilots always seem to remind us, flying is 22 times safer than driving your car. Still, all it takes is a few stories on close calls to bring back that emotional fear of flying.

So what are the chances of you surviving one of those extremely rare accidents? Believe it or not, the National Transportation Safety Board says 76 percent of passengers do survive the most serious of crashes.

Here are some ways to protect yourself if you're still nervous:

1. Sit within five rows of an emergency exit.

2. Make a mental note of how far away you are from the nearest exit.

3. Sit in an aisle seat.

4. Sit in the rear of the cabin. It is statistically safest.

5. Don't sleep during takeoff and landing. That is when most accidents occur.

So why are we so afraid of flying? Professor Barnett blames the media. Over a two-year period, he studied the front page of The New York Times, looking for stories on flying. He found that for every 1,000 homicides, The Times published fewer than two stories. For every 1,000 AIDS deaths, there were 2.3 AIDS stories. But for every 1,000 airplane fatalities, there were 138 plane crash stories.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio