What Life Is Really Like For Flight Attendants During The Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, flight attendants have been working hard to enforce mask guidelines and have seen plenty of changes in their jobs, such as a decrease in flights, with the number down by 43.5 percent in comparison to last year, according to Statista. On top of this, these professionals are exposed to health concerns day in and day out.

The Washington Post spoke with several flight attendants who expressed their thoughts about working during these strange times and shared experiences they've had that would've been unheard of in years prior. For Paul Bowles, his favorite part of his job was "being on the cart" and interacting with passengers. Since food and drink services have been reduced or eliminated, this has made it harder for workers like him to create an engaging and hospitable environment.

Raven Johnson used to fly around 100 hours while working, a number that has gone down to about 30. Despite the reduction, she can't help but wonder: "Am I getting this virus? Am I going to bring this home to my family?"

There have been struggles for flight attendants, especially when it comes to masks

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of backlash when it comes to wearing masks, and many flight attendants have had to feel the brunt of it. CNN reported that passengers involved in "a simple mask issue" on one flight eventually escalated the problem to a point where the plane had to return to its gate at the airport. In another instance, one passenger refused to keep his mask on, telling flight attendants to "shut up" upon reprimanding him. Situations like this aren't uncommon now sadly, and it's been difficult for flight attendants to bear this burden.

On a happier note, airplanes may be cleaner than ever. According to CNBC, large surfaces in American Airlines' planes are cleaned every seven days with an electrostatic spray that provides week-long protection against different kinds of bacteria and viruses — the one that causes COVID-19 being no exception. 

Areas that are touched frequently, such as seatbelts and air vents, also get disinfected with a hospital-grade cleaner prior to every flight. And the cabin's air is refreshed every two to four minutes. So while flight attendants are being put through a lot at the moment, at least there has been plenty of pressure on companies to keep their work environment clean.