Flight Attendant Fatigue

Consistently, I make early exits at Saturday night get togethers, usually using the completely valid excuse of, “I have to be up at 3:45am.”  Ouch.  On a Sunday no less. 

Sometimes I just want to sleep in, to rest, and after yesterday’s 15 hour duty day, I feel like snuggling into my bed for three days straight.

When it comes to airline accidents, did you know that human factors cause 80 percent of accidents, and crew fatigue is a huge component of that?

Studies show that when humans are fatigued, they are more likely to underestimate problems and overestimate our ability to cope with them.  17 hours of being awake is the equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05%.  Your IQ is lower and you are easily distracted, both of which are not helpful when working as a flight attendant, as alertness and focus are crucial, especially in the case of an emergency.

Flight attendants have FAA required rest periods, but it’s not uncommon for a duty period to run into, or past 16 hours.  Required rests, and actual rest are two completely different entities, and when it comes to the airline industry, even though a company may be legally meeting the required rest rules, the airline personnel may be anything but rested.

Yesterday, with the delay, my collegues and I were hoping to be pulled off the second part of our trip.  Operationally, it would have been easy for crew services to change, as there were extra flight attendants to re-crew the flight.  When we found out that we would be flying the entire day, we were disappointed, but really, what did we expect?  It would have been nice and considerate, but legally, scheduling had no obligation to remove us from the trip.

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Yesterday, sitting on the jumpseat, on final approach to Los Angeles, after interacting with over 600 people during the last 14 hour period, with delays on two consecutive days, I commented to the stew next to me that, my alertness level was probably not where it should be if…

I kinda left it at that.

It’s interesting that airlines say that they are all about safety, but is it more accurate that saftey can sometimes take a backseat to legality or profits?

**The annual risk of being killed in a plane crash for the average American is only about 1 in 11 million.  The annual risk of being killed in a motor vehicle crash for the average American, which is about 1 in 5,000. (Ropeik, David.  How Risky is Flying. PBS NOVA. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/how-risky-is-flying.html)

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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A Flight Attendant's Schedule | The Flight Attendant Life says July 15, 2012

[…] months of being required to have my cell phone on me at all times, and the months and months spent not having enough days off or money to travel at all.  I’ve been left out of many invites to birthdays, missed weekend […]

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