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Boarding Habits of Homo Sapiens

cadams
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This would be the title of my Flight Attendant Doctorial Thesis - if there was such a thing!   In  twenty three years, I have never lost interest in observing passengers board the aircraft.   Many are predictable while others have their own style.  Yes, the usual drill is a "Good morning; Good evening; or Hello";  baggage stowed; seat chosen; open book.  I am grateful for the personalities and those who stand out from the crowd.   Could I ever forget the dark haired, dark eyed gentleman with his hat cocked to one side who walked two steps past, and then looked back at me and said, "Hi Toots!"  He must have watched a lot of old Hollywood gangster movies! Families are the most fun to watch as they rush on ready to save the needed seats for the clan.  Now the fun begins.  Who is sitting with whom?  Who needs the window? Who gets the aisle seat? "The middle seat is perfectly fine, now hush!"  Once the luggage is stowed and each settled in a seat, out comes the food.  If I'm lucky, I may score a few M&Ms.  It's fun finding out the purpose of their trip--are they anticipating going?  Or, are they looking forward to coming home?  I now phrase my questions carefully.  When we had the lounge seating arrangement, I had a group of six--obviously a family.  I was monitoring the overwing window exit and wanting to make conversation.  "Did you have a wonderful time in San Antonio?"  A gentleman looked at me and said, "We buried Mother."  I gave him a sincere, "I'm sorry" and have been sorry I asked the question years hence.  Weddings often involve flying.  What was Boeing thinking when they left out the closet for the wedding dresses?  Sharing the excitment of taking the bridal party to Vegas or any of our other cities is fun.  If the flight is long enough, it's nice having the other Customers write on  beverage napkins their tips for a happy marriage.  Many are heartfelt, and I hope the couples enjoy these messages again and again.   Along with weddings come funerals.  We do what we can to make the mourners comfortable when we know this is why they are traveling.  When there are tears, we can bring tissues, and then many want to share their sorrow.  I remember stories and still feel their pain.  I've had a few families bring the departed with them--in the form of ashes in a box about the size of a cookie jar container.  By this time, they are ready for a glass of wine and a toast.  My heroes are the mothers traveling alone--often with several preschool children in tow.  They can multitask like none other.  I've seen a mom with one child in a backpack; the baby on one hip (mom folded the stroller before anyone could help), and the older child pulling a child-size suitcase.  She will have a minimum of four varying sized bags hanging from shoulder to wrist!  "How best can I help you?" I ask as I start to move toward the family.  "It's okay, I've got it!"  she says with a smile.  I often get to hold a baby as the car seat is strapped down.   Every now and then, I find a young military wife who has already flown across an ocean before getting on the final flight home.  Have I just forgotten?  Did I ever have that kind of energy? Young children lift my heart.  Recently, a three-year-old boy looked me in the eye and proclaimed, "Happy Easter!"  I asked a five-year-old how he liked being a big brother.  With knitted brow, he threw his arms out, palms up, and declared, "She gets in my things!"  Kids like to be noticed.  They still enjoy receiving plastic wings and a color book. It's important that our "Customer's of tomorrow" enjoy their flight. On a flight out of San Diego, I was at mid cabin when a recently graduated sailor came back.  "Has it been a long time since you've hugged a woman?" I asked.  He replied, "Yes, maam!"  I told him, "Come here and hug this woman!"  When we got to Lubbock, he insisted I come off and meet his family-- such proud and happy faces.  I love to fly because of the many moments of serendipity created by the Customers of Southwest Airlines! 
33 Comments
Going_Like_Sixt1
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"hug this woman." How cool. You are a good soul.
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[...] Travel Carole Adams is a Southwest flight attendant based out of Dallas.Â
Kathi
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You are the reason Southwest is a success story! If we could just give a little piece of your insight to every new hire, we would be #1 forever!!!
FriendofBlogBoy
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Carole, This was a great post, and I laughed and shed a tear at some of your memories. Working with people is always full of unexpected surprises but also many great rewards. In all fairness, though, I have to point out that FAs are not the only ones who observe traveling people. There is a subspecies of Homo Sapiens called Roadus Warriorites, and a favorite pastime of that breed is Studying the Greeting Habits of Flight Attendants. You really should realize that we're just as busy studying YOUR behavior as well. There are several distinct types that I've seen. Very common is the young female version that stands in the front galley busy repairing and reconstructing her facial war paint in a mirror prior to the arrival of first pre-boarders. However, sometimes that work takes longer than anticipated, and she is 'caught' in the act. That species is lower in the seniority pecking order than their cousins who gather in the rear galley and are able to primp and preen for a good two to three minutes longer before they are observed by outsiders. Equally frequently seen is the genus of FA known as the Suckus Up To The Captainus variety, which are usually absorbed with making small talk to a specialized group of Homo Sapiens with four distinctive black stripes adorning their shoulder area. A common garden variety of FA is the Nervous Twitterer, who is seen repeatedly and furtively checking a small piece of printed paper neatly folded and placed on the backside of their ID sleeve. This group of FAs appear to be highly concerned with their own migration patterns and some ritualistic timetable that requires their presence at certain pre-ordained locations at certain times. But, the subspecies most regularly encountered at Southwest is the Friendly and Helpful Variety. These are the ones who make eye contact when other Homo Sapiens arrive, and who smile and greet them as they might their own relatives. This type does not know a stranger and is kind to the youngest and oldest Homo Sapiens alike. They provide comfort, bring nourishment, answer repeatedly inane questions, and manage to maintain their great composure while doing it. Just remember, Carole...while y'all are watchin' us, we're watchin' YOU. Kim :) External Blog Boy P. S. Thanks for the great suggestion. The next time I see a lovely FA, I'll just saunter up and say "It has been a long time since I've hugged a woman!" I can hardly wait to get back to the airport and see what happens!!
Cliff_Barnard
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Carole, Wonderful post! But one thing I need to correct you on... Boeing didn't leave out the closet for wedding dresses, Southwest did.. Airlines are generally responsible for the interior layout of seats and closets in the plane, not the manufacturer...
carroll3
New Arrival
Thank you Carole for being just who you are, you are a shining star at Southwest and I am glad another airline did not snatch you up. Keep up the good work and spread your unique brand of LUV.
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Wait until your wife sees this Kim! It will be a long time until you get a hug from her or anything else! hundreds of ding specials today!!!! Ding! boy Joe
Blake2
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Great article Carole! One of the best I've read on here!
Leah4
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It's interesting to me to watch the FAs & "get an idea" of their personalities. I also like to watch the people at the gate & as they board the plane. I even often wonder where they're traveling. Thanks for another great post, Carole! Can you be my FA to MCO in July? 🙂 I'm changing planes in STL (going & coming), though, & not DAL.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Leah, You're NOT going to come through DAL? Then how in the world will you get to see me?? LOL Kim 😞
FriendofBlogBoy
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Just to show that I'm an equal opportunity guy... Hey Joe, come here, fella.... Kim 🙂
blusk
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Ummm, Kim, Don't you think that figured into Leah's travel plans? For those of you who have never been on a flight with Carole, you are missing a real treat. Blog Boy
FriendofBlogBoy
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Uh oh, are you suggesting that she routed herself away from DAL on purpose? Gee, and I thought she said I was a good hugger. I guess we'll have to get a second opinion from Joe... LOL Kim External Blog Boy and former Leah Hugger 😞
Leah4
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Awww, I'm sorry, Kim! It's too bad I don't go through DAL again! There's certainly nothing wrong with STL. Maybe I can ask the pilot to make a stop in DAL, in addition to the scheduled stop in STL. 🙂
Leah4
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Kim, how about letting me send you a hug? Will that work? 🙂 In addition to wanting Carol as one of my FAs, I want James to be one of them, too; I know he's based out of MDW, though. When I went to CMH last October & November, I changed in MDW & was hoping he'd be one of the FAs! Keep up the great posts, Carole, as well as every one else! 🙂
Bill_Dickenson
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I had to write and comment on having had the absolutely best experience on an airplane I have ever had on flight 186 on June 7th from San Antonio to Dallas. The flight was delayed and when we boarded, we had a crew change which required the flight attendants and pilots to rush from a different flight to ours. The flight attendant who was working the front of the cabin gave the most entertaining narration to the safety demonstration I have ever heard. It captured everyones attention and made them listen to what is often tuned out. She gave excellent service throughout the flight and then as we were landing performed a Southwest Airlines version of Patsy Cline's "Crazy that was ad-libbed and brilliantly done. Unfortunately, she and the other crew members had to rush off the plane in Dallas to change to an Oklahoma City flight because of another equipment change and neither I nor the other passengers ever got to thank her. I never caught her name but whoever you are, Ms. front-cabin seranading flight attendant (Sounds like a beer commercial for real American heroes...ha), I hope I am on your flight again soon. Bravo! Bill Dickenson
Tamra
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i wanted to share a story. 6 years ago yesterday, my dad died. he was my step-dad, but i thought of him as my dad. he was out of state and suffered a massive heart attack while visiting his ill mother. i had been with SWA for 6 months and 6 days when he died. my mother, step bother and myself flew to RDU and rented a car for the trip to West Virginia where my dad was. on our flight, i met some of the most wonderful flight attendants. I am not even sure if they knew i was an employee. they sensed there was something wrong and showed compassion. each leg of our trip we were so fortunate. everyone was very kind and helpful. my greatest relief was with a young man in cargo who assisted me with EVERYTHING about getting my dad home to DAL. i was never so more proud of our great company. I don't think anyone will ever know how much the kindness EVERYONE showed to us meant. to this day, i do not know any of the names involved. the young man in the cargo department will never ever know how much he truly saved me. for i had to be strong and take care of my mom, he was strong and took care of me. our company took care of my family. they arranged time off for me, covered my shifts and brought my family home. to this day, i am upset that i cannot remember any of the peoples names involved in that tragic day in my life. but what i can say, if you just about look at any SWA employee, it could truly be one of my "guardian angels." we are fortunate to work with the greatest people. sometimes you just may not know how you truly impact our lives. thanks to all for having a big heart and taking care of us all. and my pal in cargo and our f/a from BNA-RDU you truly are forever in my heart! you made a difference! thank you!
James5
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Carole - Great post!! I wanna be like you when I "grow up"! Kim, Leah, et. all...I'd hug ya both!! 😉 James MDW FA
FriendofBlogBoy
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James, Don't do it!! I've heard from some who have made the transition to the Dark Side of Adolescence, and it turns out that growing up ain't all its cracked up to be. Follow my lead and REFUSE TO GROW UP! The rarely childish but always child-like External Blog Boy 🙂
Linda_Clifford
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Southwest has always been my favorite airline, because of its people. I agree with an earlier post who said he watches the FAs as they watch the travelers. My most memorable flight was to OKC a number of years ago. The forward cabin attendant held a race between the raisins and the peanuts (in drink cups) as we took off. Those cups slid all the way to the back of the plane and he "called" the race all the way. What fun! Everyone really enjoyed it. Applause and not a foot in the way. Of course, I have always loved those who serenade us. Thanks so much to all the Southwest employees who make the traveling fun.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Just an FYI to all of Carole's online fans... I finally got to meet Carole in person today, and I've got news for those that only know her here -- she's even MORE charming and delightful in person than she is on the blog! And, the best news of all is that I got one of those famous Carole hugs!! Eat your heart out, guys! Kim External Blog Boy 🙂
Leah4
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Did you really get to, Kim? Awww, I want to! You should have gotten a picture & her autograph! Carole, can you please, pretty please with SWA peanuts (or pretzels or plane crackers) on top, be one of my FAs next month? :) I have to share another rhyme I made up this morning about SWA. Here it is (actually, I didn't write it before now, so it may not be like it was in my head): I always like to fly the best, so I always LUV flying Southwest. I never need to bet a dime, because Southwest's planes are great at arriving on time! Plus, they have great fares, & I LUV the Employee's casual wear. When I fly & want something to eat, I never turn down Southwest's snacks as they make a tasty treat! The Company always has Positively Outrageous Service, so I am never nervous. So, if you want to fly the best, always go with Southwest! Well, that's all I can think of now; I want to make it longer.
Leah4
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Oh, Kim, I hope your wife doesn't know about that hug! Ha, ha! *Grin.* 🙂
FriendofBlogBoy
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Well, Leah, she won't if you'll keep your Okie mouth shut!! Besides, I can cleverly use a bit of blackmail to suppress this incident by simply suggesting that you ask Carole about a joint production effort with HK. That'll throw the bloodhounds off of my scent... As my friend Joe might say, Would you prefer paper or plastic? The Mystery Shopper 🙂
Leah4
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Well, okay Kim! My lips are sealed with Saran wrap. What if it shows up in People or The National Enquirer, though? 🙂
Ricky
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I would really love it if southwest started international flights such going to the caribbean, especially puerto rico southwest would make a killing.
Leah4
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I couldn't decide where to post this, but I want to say "Happy 36th Birthday, Southwest!" Yea! *Has a party with a SW plane on the cake & throws confetti.*
Jon_W
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Every flight should have a Carol; Before S.W.A. got as big as they are now, I remember quite a few Carols I've flown many years, The Carols make the rest of the crew and the flight much more enjoyable and seem shorter. Keep it up Carol, maybe my hugs coming.
Julia
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In response to there being no closets. Does that mean that I cannot carry my wedding dress on, or is there a hook or something that I could hang it on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Katie9
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I'm a flight attendant, and I loved this article! Very funny and HOW TRUE! Also, I love any lady who loves her job just as much as I do. 😉
brace_face94
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When I was reading your story, it made me think of something... I have never had someone as nice as you on my airplane. 🙂 I had a wonderful time reading this, and i hope you continue writing more stories. Signed, brace_face94
micheleN
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Stupid people say stupid things, why can't they get along with each other? MicheleN
Thor
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Hey thank you for the wonderful article it had been genuinely useful , I hope you will just publish additional about this ! This topic rocks