Flight Attendant Compares Pan Am Era To Today

Flight Attendant Compares Pan Am Era To Today

They're sexy and glamorous, the flight attendants of Pan Am, the new hit TV show that has everyone wondering if they should quit their jobs in favor of flying the friendly skies.

"I am here to debunk the myth. While it might've been glamorous back in the day, today is a totally different ball game," said Rene Foss.

Foss has been a flight attendant for 26 years. She's even written a book about the dark side of her job, Around the World in a Bad Mood, Confessions of a Flight Attendant.

"Every day is a horror story," said Foss.

So how did life as a flight attendant get so bad?

For one thing, today's planes are more crowded than ever, with passengers more inclined to fly into rages.

Rene says the biggest source of tension is the overhead bins.

"I saw two grown men get into almost a fistfight, and in the Pan Am day they just came on with hat boxes, it was quite a different time," said Foss.

But it's no wonder that people are in a bad mood when they get on board. For one thing, they have to survive intense security screenings.

Rene says adding alcohol to the mix doesn't help.

"You've got a small space, and a lot of people. If you add that to the mix, that's going to escelate into a situation," said Foss.

Rene is actually a second-generation flight attendant. Her mom flew in the golden era of travel depicted in Pan Am.

"She was wearing white gloves, I'm wearing rubber gloves. She was learning to serve lobster thermidor, I'm learning how to put handcuffs on unruly passengers," said Foss.

But Foss is happy that some of those old rules stayed in the '60's, like the one that forced flight attendants to retire at 32, when they were expected to be married.  

"I'm grateful that I'm working now. I've been able to have a long career. Back in those days they had a short shelf life," said Foss.