Wheeling’s flight attendant tries to keep the skies friendly | News, Sports, Jobs
WHEELING – When Tammy Paull chose the travel-rich life of a flight attendant rather than moving forward with a psychology degree from Bethany College, working mostly meant helping people stay connected. safety and to occasionally serve a touch of caviar on longer, more luxurious flights.
Fast forward to COVID: The Woodsdale resident regularly uses this 1980s training to keep the New York-London flights she manages user-friendly. Or, at least without the kind of passenger-crew conflict that led to a woman breaking the teeth of a flight attendant on a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this year.
“There is nowhere to go,” said Paull of the reality of a rocket over the Atlantic at 40,000 feet in a thin steel sleeve. “I don’t want to be hit. You try to defuse the situation as best you can. “
So, she patrols the cabin every 15 minutes under Federal Aviation Administration rules – determined to stay calm and pursue a job she still enjoys. Paull politely asks passengers to comply with a federal mandate on international flights to cover their noses and mouths, except when eating or drinking.
And requests and requests.
Paull estimates that she performs a mask procedure at least 100 times during each seven-hour flight. On a recent flight, she interacted with a single family 30 times. She counted.
Sometimes passengers mask each other with reciprocal politeness, Paull said. Sometimes they pull out a very large bag of crisps and extend their meal break endlessly. Sometimes one passenger makes fun of another. Other times someone becomes belligerent.
The confronting passengers are generally Americans, she said, noting that Europeans have become accustomed to the COVID restrictions which have been wider and longer than in the United States.
When Paull used the words’ federal warrant ‘when asking the woman to cover up, she said the woman had made aerial quotes with her fingers and replied,’ Oh, ‘federal warrant’. I’m so afraid.”
It was Paull who was afraid, she realized then.
Recently back to work after a nine-month voluntary leave for COVID, Paull was not yet eligible for the vaccination. She was afraid of falling ill. She did not want to pass the virus on to her family. She wanted to keep all of her teeth.
Still, Paull also didn’t want to step up the interaction towards an official warning from the airline on his side. This can lead to a passenger being stranded out of the country if placed on an airline-specific no-fly list. Or police involvement – the woman accused of the Southwest Airlines assault was arrested when the plane landed.
Paull kept the interaction calm – at a personal cost. “It’s exhausting,” she said.
A NEW WORLD
Beyond learning to calmly negotiate such emotional rapids, Paull said she also understands what the pandemic has done to the human mind.
“(There is) anxiety that people feel whether or not you wear the mask,” Paull said of what she sees on every flight. “The mask changed people. It all changed people.
It certainly changed her professional life, she added. Ahead of COVID, the 24-hour layover London crews need to sleep and cool off before a return flight included jaunts to the iconic Harrods department store, quick walks through Hyde Park, and finding great places to to eat.
“London is so pretty at Christmas,” she recalls of her favorite flights of the year.
Now she commutes from Wheeling to Pittsburgh International Airport, then by plane to LaGuardia Airport or John F. Kennedy International Airport. That’s all before technically starting his night shift.
“It’s a tough time… I put on this mask the minute I walk into the Pittsburgh airport,” Paull said. “I (still) have this mask when I get to my hotel room (in London).”
It’s about 15 hours of masking except for eating or drinking.
“It’s a long time,” Paull said. “When passengers get mad about it, it’s like, ‘I know’. “
And, until mid-August, flight crews faced an additional wrinkle of COVID protocols, she noted.
While it has the vaccine passport now required to travel to some countries, the UK viewed international crews as such a potential risk of illness that the government asked them to stay in their hotel rooms during their long layover. Their hotel even offered half-price meals to encourage dining in the room rather than looking for take-out.
Although some of the layover time is needed to sleep, Paull said it was difficult to spend three consecutive days on a plane or indoors, most of the time alone.
“You are doing Europe (flights) because you want to go out and have a good dinner or go sightseeing or meet up with friends. You don’t want to just sit in your room, ”she said. “You kind of need some fresh air.”
But, Paull said she thinks of such things in light of a long and largely enjoyable career.
“I will continue to do this job as long as I am still happy and, right now, I am still happy,” she said.
She added that she hopes COVID and the behaviors it triggered will go away soon enough that he cannot remove it. “I did not accept this job to be a police officer.