In the wake of airlines trying to stay afloat in a discretionary spending market, I've noticed a major shift in the verbiage and attitude of flight attendants. What I mean by this, is ever since things like having a Sprite or mini package of too-salty nuts became an in-flight luxury, airlines' announcements have changed from "please let us know if there's anything we can do to make your flight more comfortable" to "we are here for your safety..." with no mention of service.
The Chicken or the Egg Has this shift in focus become more and more accepted and evident in the wake of 9/11, or is it due to less service offerings on the flight so attendants can focus more on safety? Or both? I'm not sure, all I know is that a monumental shift has occurred and if you travel in both economy and business class, the shift is all the more pronounced. On some economy flights I've taken, the feeling like flight attendants are only "there for your safety" rings very true. As in, the focus on safety is so strong, there can be a serious lack in service--and not just because I have to pay for a water. On the flip side, when traveling business class, the service side of airline travel is still alive and well.
The Same Plane This is what the service and safety breakdown 'seems like' between economy and business class: Economy = service 10% / safety 90% Business or first class = service 90% / safety 10% I know you get what you pay for, but really, it's the same plane, so why is the safety message so much stronger in economy?
First Line of Defense I have a friend who used to be a flight attendant with Air Canada. During her rigorous training my inquisitive nature and fascination with all things travel came out, and I'd always get the "411" on the ins and outs of her training. As a frequent airline passenger, I'm happy to know that her training was very safety-intensive. Because flight attendants are the first line of defense, I know their roles are an invaluable to travel. And I also know they put up with a lot. Among other things, it's not easy to calm someone down or deal with a 'situation' in front of hundreds of people.
Safety has Always been Important It's not like all of the sudden airlines decided to focus on safety in the New Millennium, it's always been important. My concern is that a PR-esque change has taken place, and I wonder if the 'new focus on safety' has given some flight attendants a carte blanche to forget about the needs of passengers? There are ways of still having a service-oriented attitude even if the airline has completely stipped the in-flight services.
Updated Announcement? I know this could be a controversial post. Let me be clear; I have a deep respect for flight attendants. I am the type of passenger that abides by the golden rule and values both the safety and service parts of their roles. I wonder if in the constantly evolving aviation field, perhaps the in-flight announcements should say something like "We are primarily here for your safety...and...please also let us know if there'a anything we can do to make your flight more comfortable. Thank you for flying with Awesome Airlines, we hope to see you again soon." This message would hopefully remind passengers and airline staff about the balance of priorities while traveling.