The Katherine River in Australia’s Northern Territory is a place… (Amanda Jones )
Good for Amanda Jones, who wrote about a not-always plush trip to Australia with her daughters in "New Reality for Teens? Priceless" in the Jan. 20 issue. Her girls' lives will be changed forever.
Thanks for your article "Town Shaped From Clay," by Alison DaRosa (Jan. 13), about pottery in Mata Ortiz, Mexico. It was very inspirational to my wife and me.
It is also such a breath of fresh air to learn something from Mexico-U.S. relationship that is not about drug lord murders or illegal immigration.
I have been a big fan of both Native American and Mexican pottery, so I was particularly interested in the article on Mata Ortiz and Juan Quezada.
After looking up Quezada online (yes, he now has his own website), I was astounded by the prices. Life has truly been very, very good for Quezada.
"Flight Attendants' Secrets" (Travel Insider, Jan. 6, by George Hobica) was a great article. I have to side with the flight attendants. It is crazy to think that if they are delayed and the wheels are on the ground they are not getting paid. No wonder some airline attendants look at travelers as if you killed their dog. Now I understand all the sad faces in the air.
Shame on the airlines. Flight attendants deserve the same respect as employees on the ground.
When I was a new first officer at Trans World Airlines, I flew with an older captain once, and we had switched on the seat belt light several times because of turbulence. We turned it on for about the third time, then didn't have any turbulence.
Instead of switching the light back off, the captain said, "Watch this," and proceeded to induce some turbulence by hand, to justify keeping the light on. He did that a few times during the next hour. Wise captains know flight attendants like it when the seat belt light is on.
Michael P. Nishimuta
Aviano Air Base, Italy
I am a 34-year flight attendant, and I was appalled by this article. Flight attendants will be busy out there defending themselves thanks to your spotlight on what you think the majority is doing to create a less-than-desirable and unsafe environment for our customers. I'm not saying there are not a few out there with the attitude and lack of competency the article referred to, but they are definitely the exception.
My No. 1 complaint is constantly trying to gain respect from the flying public, and this article has just made that even more difficult. Getting passengers to understand that I am asking them to do certain things, such as turning off their electronics, is part of my job.
Now let me briefly as possible address some of your points in the article.
— I don't know flight attendants who brew decaf unless someone requests it.
— We are all human, and I won't deny on occasion maybe a door is not armed. It is very rare, but that is why we cross-check one another. In case of an emergency, our training teaches us to go through a mental review, which includes the exit door each attendant is responsible for. The door being in the armed position so the slide deploys would be one of the first things we would double-check. And as a backup we are trained to always pull the manual inflation handle, which would provide a way out. Our training is pretty foolproof.
— We have always NOT been paid for the boarding and deplaning process. This does not affect my job performance. I don't change my attitude once we push back from the gate when we begin our rate of hourly pay. Can you imagine being surly and unhelpful on the ground and then becoming "super stew" when in the air? Pretty unlikely.
— If a flight is late, I never heard of an airline paying overtime. On some trips, we do get compensated if our actual flying time is not about a third of our entire time away from base, but delaying a flight an hour might give you an extra 15 or 20 minutes of flight pay. We are accountable for any delays we cause. I don't know many flight attendants who would rather still be on the airplane instead of on their way to their layover hotel or even better, on the freeway heading home. Delays are not usually in our control as a flight attendant.
— It is not my responsibility to upgrade customers. I guarantee every frequent-flier member is watching to see if they got their upgrade. They know they are "next" on the list. If they see someone else get upgraded, they will call you on it. Not worth it to me. I don't care how cute you are. The only exception: If you were kind enough to move for a family that has small children and not seated together, or other similar situation where you have assisted the crew in accommodating someone else, I might try to arrange that you have a better seat.
— Yes, I usually don't know where we are, but if it is important to someone, I can call the flight deck, which I will gladly do.