Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Flying the Unfriendly Skies: One Flight Attendant Explains How He's Held on to Both His Job and Sanity

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Flying the Unfriendly Skies: One Flight Attendant Explains How He's Held on to Both His Job and Sanity

Article excerpt

THE WORK ENVIRONMENT of US Airways flight attendant Stephen Schembs is a far cry from the one depicted in Coffee, Tea, or Me, the lurid 1967 memoir of two "stews" living the mile-high life. Schembs doesn't wear Pucci miniskirts, and his concerns are more about keeping his health insurance than bedding a pilot. As the airline industry plummets, flight attendants are being laid off and providers are cutting services. The 43-year-old Schembs tends to his passengers while in the air, but on the ground he turns his attention to his coworkers as vice president of a D.C.-based flight attendants union.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

After flying for 19 years, are you worried about layoffs? I think my seniority is relatively secure. But as an officer of the union, I know a lot of my members will be impacted [by layoffs] in the next month.

Airline travel gets progressively worse. How has your quality of life changed? We've seen our wages cut. The cuts were supposed to help [the company] through the tough times, and when things got better we were supposed to negotiate better pay. …

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