A lesson that is best learnt earlier rather than later in aviation is that you can never judge a passenger by their looks! People are at their most vulnerable (and sometimes downright daggy) when they travel. Comfort is of the essence and it is virtually impossible to tell if someone is a well versed businessman or a first time traveller. With this in mind, you should treat all people with the respect, dignity and benefit of the doubt that they deserve.
You’ve been on your feet for a solid 12 hours, coming towards the tail end of a 16 hour shift. Coffee is hot and has not been working for you since your break about 6 hours ago. Your eyes are bleary, your thoughts are fuzzy and you would like nothing more than to throw yourself onto the floor and cry until it is time to go home. A man approaches you, at least you think it is a man because he is wearing a beanie and has a beard the size of a small child. All I can see is a pair of very tired eyes. He looks like someone who may not have a steady place to live, much less be travelling on an aircraft tonight. He is cold and surly, and demands to be granted access to your place of work. He doesn’t have any information in his booking to support this so you enquire as to whether or not he has a card or some ID that you can see. You try to remain calm, cool and professional even though he is looking at you with a bored an aloof contempt. He stares at you through his beard as if to say “don’t you know who I am?”
No, no I do not! I thought to myself; as I tapped away at the computer and pasted on my chipper “customer service” voice, and by default, smile. Who does this guy think he is?! Inevitably, he was one of the biggest selling artists in the country.
A word of advice to all the musicians, DJ’s and bands using Pseudonyms…don’t be surprised if airline staff do not know (or need to find out) your real name! It is a legal requirement to cite a photo ID/ passport when checking passengers in. It is totally normal for us to ask for your card or ID! We are not dense, or unworldly (ok maybe at times). We are simply doing our jobs.
Once a band member’s ID was produced, and then the party was checked in, I then proceeded to “research” read: google the name of the guitarist. He seemed famous enough in his own right, but then I saw who he was the supporting act for. Only the one artist whom my friends and I had been listening to on repeat for the duration of our entire holiday! Not to mention that one of his quieter songs was my 230am alarm. In my defence, the photo that Apple Music features has less of his beard, he isn’t wearing a hat and his music is stored under is pseudonym rather than his actual name. Not even an “aka” to help a sister out!
The silver lining in all of this is a) you cannot and should never judge a passenger by their looks. EVER! Unless it is unsafe or offensive for them to be dressed a certain way, keep your thoughts \ to yourself! Did you know that it is unsafe (and prohibited) for passengers to travel barefoot? You cannot enter the aircraft without shoes. You may remove them in-flight (ew) but ultimately, no shoes means no-go! And b) if you like a certain artist, and only know their pseudonym…Maybe it would pay to know their real name! It will save you excessively checking twitter for the next 24 hours checking in case someone super famous bad mouthed you (by name) on the internet about work! Flying and working in Aviation means being nice when others can’t, smiling when most won’t and being awake when everyone around you is asleep! If you can remember that- you’re golden!
Also you may notice the artist’s name hasn’t been mentioned: it is against privacy laws to disclose anything private about anyone travelling, much less a celebrity. Sometimes we see the coolest bands, artists and famous people without even being able to tell a soul. This is all part and parcel of Aviation!