The resignation Letter
I always thought I would be a flight attendant until I retired from the work force, but here I am writing my letter of resignation 9 years later. As of March 1st, I am terminating my employment with this airline.
I feel that this will fall on deaf ears, but on the small chance that my voice will be heard, I would like to explain how this happened, because things need to change and you need to do better. Right now, this company still has a lot of senior flight attendants who will stay until the the bitter end. My generation will not, and we are seeing that already.
This job appeals to a really idealistic group of people who want to travel and think this job is a great way to be able to do that. I was a 24 year old bartender with a sense of adventure and a half an English Literature degree when I applied to the airline.
7 1/2 weeks of unpaid training should have been my first red flag. We all went to the “charm farm” after leaving our jobs, apartments and lives with no guarantee we would even make it to graduation. In training, we were told to be palm trees over and over again, to be flexible and bend with the wind. What that would really come to mean later in my career was “accept unacceptable things and just deal with it.”
After almost 2 months of unpaid training we were thrown right on reserve after being assigned one of the most expensive cities in the US as a base. My first few paychecks were $500. Despite the salary, I used my benefits and enjoyed my first few years. I stayed in hostels on vacations in Europe and I enjoyed my layovers.
It took me about 5 years to be financially stable. Soon after that, Covid happened. It hit right after I had just had a woman go into cardiac arrest on the tarmac on my flight from CLT-JFK. I did compressions on her for 10 minutes by myself. I was exhausted and she died. Going though that was only the beginning of what I would deal with over the next few years.
A few weeks later, Covid hit us full force and we went though that collective trauma. The personal details are irrelevant, because it was personal to all of us. We lost people we loved, we were afraid, and all of a sudden our livelihoods were at stake.
We got stranded all over the country with no food options, both at the airport and on layovers. We hoped we wouldn’t get sick while we continued to work flights. We were asked to be the mask police and tried to calm everyone else’s fears.
Passengers lost their minds. While we were afraid of losing our jobs, we were being verbally and physically assaulted every day.
We were asked to take voluntary leaves of absence if we were able to, so we could save a few people from furlough. A lot of people decided to take long leaves and make other commitments, and a lot of us got furloughed anyways. Essentially, it was all so short lived that furloughs were basically paid time off, and the people who unselfishly took long leaves and made plans with that time were forced to come back immediately or lose their jobs.
Many flight attendants coming back were displaced from their bases and forced to commute. As if all of this wasn’t horrible enough, one of the most money hungry companies in the world decided to stop charging passengers to revenue standby on flights, making our flight benefits practically useless besides the limited jumpseats available. The lack of support was so blatant, it was hard to even try to dismiss.
It has been downhill since then. Passengers got angry and more violent. “The friendly skies” have been anything but. We do not feel supported by management.
Delays, sit time, irregular operations, and time generally spent at work while being unpaid has increased exponentially. I have spent 5 hours (more than once) on a plane not being paid. I have to constantly scrutinize my schedule to make sure I’m being pay protected and paid correctly.
I can’t even recount all the times I have been stuck in blizzards and hurricanes on hold for hours with tracking and hotel limo waiting for hotels or transportation. I’m tired of doing other people’s jobs especially when I don’t get paid for half of mine.
I spent 9 years here with a spotless record. I have tried to be the best flight attendant I could be. I held babies for moms who were traveling alone, I comforted nervous fliers and people who had lost loved ones and were heading to funerals.
I tried to be as loving and caring as I could, despite the mounting pressure and stress that’s been created in this job over the last few years. The good thing about being “just a number” is that you can fly under the radar here and not have to deal with overhead very often. The bad thing about being “just a number” is that no one really cares about you, you’re just a cog in the machine.
I found myself needing some time off recently. My 97 year old grandfather moved across the country to spend his last years with my parents. He needs hospice care that the VA is dragging their feet to provide him. Between working my schedule and trying to have a life, I’m also driving back and forth to Virginia a lot to help with his around the clock care.
The pressure was mounting up and I did something I hardly ever do: I asked for help. After getting stuck and delayed almost every trip, I was at my breaking point and I knew I needed some time for my own sanity. I am a human being, after all. I asked for a personal leave of absence (my first one ever) and was promptly denied via email the next day.
I didn’t get so much as a phone call asking if I was ok. If I had a drug or alcohol problem, I would be granted time off to go to rehab. I know of a flight attendant who was recently granted time off to be on a TV show, but as a healthy person who is dealing with some heavy life stuff I was told no. Something needs to change there.
*Out of respect for the family of the flight attendant I mentioned in my original post, I have edited out this part of my letter, and I apologize if my bringing it up was hurtful. What happened really had an impact on me and a lot of my colleagues.
What I want people to know is that there is a high suicide rate in this industry, and that still does not seem to make the company take the mental health of their employees seriously. Even when some terrible things have happened right under their noses.* Please wake up.
I will end this with a final thought: Good luck finding people who will work for scraps and care for such a large number of unhappy customers every day. You treat them just as badly as you treat your overworked and underpaid employees, and then leave us all to clean up the mess you don’t give us the resources to fix.
I am one of the many who are done being part of the machine. I know that no one will care, but you are losing a really good employee, and I know of many more who will be following me. I deserve better. We deserve better.
– Angela Andrechyn 687248
Angela said to Newsweek
“After leaving her time as a flight attendant behind, Andrechyn is now a full-time dog walker and sitter.
– I’m super happy, she said. It’s awesome being with the dogs all the time, and I love not having to deal with people.
Image: © Angela Andrechyn