When I am working a four-day trip, I see a diverse mix of cultures, personalities, characteristics and demeanor of many individuals. I always keep in mind that I have no idea who these people are, what they have going on in their own lives and what have they had to deal with before taking this flight. I am their flight attendant. It is important for me to be the most positive, uplifting person they come across for that day and for them to have confidence in me for their comfort and safety. I may be successful with some passengers and with some, I may not but I know that I have given one hundred percent of myself.
Last week was no different. I was the A-FA ( this means working first class and the boarding door position of the aircraft) so once again, I was being my usual, cheerful self. If you know anything about the stereotypical first class passenger, they are usually dressed very well. Their personal grooming is pretty much top-notch and they are certainly not at their first rodeo being in first class. Or are they?
Our boarding was almost complete. We had a few open seats in the main cabin and only one open seat in first class. One last passenger comes on board and tells us that the gate agent told her to take an open seat, to which the gate agent was right behind her verifying this information to me and the other flight attendant. She was a very young woman, struggling with her items (I think because she was feeling rushed) and she seemed frazzled. She walked down the aisle of the main cabin looking for those open seats and come back to first class and asked me could she sit in the one empty seat. I told her it was totally fine for her to sit there since the agent told her she could take any seat she wanted.
This young woman was not the stereotypical first class passenger. She had never sat in first class and she had never flown but once before, many years ago. I think the most compelling thing that I noticed was how the other passengers in first class were looking at her as if she had the plague. I was very troubled by this. Very troubled because I knew at that moment, they were all judging her (the stares said it with volume) and I know she had to of felt that as well. I also think that made her more nervous. Sounds silly? I don’t think so. She was just needing to get somewhere like anyone else on that aircraft and I mean heck…when you are told to take any seat and there is one in first class open, why not?! She deserved to know what that was like! I had a job to do as her flight attendant and that was to give her first class service but I also had another job to do as a Christian and a believer in Christ.
As we were settling in for our taxi out and take off, I noticed her looking at her safety demo card with devoted attention. Her seatmate was almost hugging the fuselage of the plane as if he was concerned to be near her. I had to pray. No, I can’t close my eyes while on the aircraft (it’s a FAA rule) so I had to talk to God while looking at my passengers and prayed that He could hear my cry to Him! I had to ask God to use me right now, at that moment to be nothing but a light for her. To use me to show her Christ like love in a way that will make her feel loved and cared for. It was important for me to accomplish this.
Through out the flight, I was able to have the time to show her how to pull out her tray for beverage service, explain that there is no charge for snacks or a beverage. She then shared with me some medical problems and some personal situations (which was why she was traveling) she was going through. For her comfort, I made her a homemade heating pad. I took some paper towels, placed them in a plastic bag and added some hot water on the towels and sealed up the bag. A fellow flight attendant showed me this trick and it was heaven for this young woman. She was delighted over such a simple gesture! Later on in the flight, she spilled her beverage and was feeling really badly about it because the gentleman sitting next to her was surprisingly understanding and helpful. I would like to think it was because he had a good heart and could see that while he may have been skeptical about his seatmate in the beginning, that he seen a really sweet person and not just the appearance. I was also praying that the other first class passengers could see the compassion and kindness that I was not only giving each of them, but to this young woman as well. Everyone deserved to be treated the same!
I learned much about this young woman in the time she was on my flight. She shared with me her story and as I listened to her, I begin to think of how we really should not judge anyone but yet we do. It is human nature no matter how good of a person you are. Yes, I am sure she was feeling a little out of her element. She was taking photos of her snacks, her beverage, a selfie in her seat. She could not wait to tell her mom that she got to sit in first class. She was thrilled to be there! I was thrilled she was there too because it gave me an opportunity to show Christ like love in a way that didn’t need to be broadcast or drawn attention to. It just was.
On a daily basis we come across many, diverse personalities and individuals from all lifestyles. My question to you is are you going to judge or are you going to help? Help can be in the form of a smile, being kind, showing compassion, sharing a seat, saying thank you, offering to hold a door open but no matter what you do, let those attributes of love show through. It cost nothing and you lose nothing but you gain so much more!