This is what cabin crew cannot stand being asked on a flight. Picture: iStock
This is what cabin crew cannot stand being asked on a flight. Picture: iStock

‘Disgusting’: Simple request hosties hate

It's nearing the end of a chaotic day of travelling and you've just sprinted through the airport in order to make it to your gate before it closes, narrowly avoiding the nightmare of being stranded overnight alongside your two young children.

You're flustered, exhausted and on the verge of collapse when you step on-board your plane with two minutes to spare. With a scarlet face plastered with stray hairs thanks to the copious amounts of sweat running from your hairline like a pitiful waterfall, you're relieved to spot a flight attendant and proceed to make a simple request.

It's one that many passengers have made before, assuming it's part of the job.

"Hi, would you be able to lift my bag for me?"

Asking for help with your luggage does not sit well with cabin crew. Picture: iStock
Asking for help with your luggage does not sit well with cabin crew. Picture: iStock

Well, it turns out this question is likely to boil the blood of many crew members, according to the most popular cabin crew page on Facebook, A Fly Guy's Cabin Crew Lounge.

The group, which has more than 800,000 members, has made a scathing post taking aim at a major insurance company for encouraging passengers to ask crew to pick up their carry-ons.

"Oh hell no!" the post read, alongside a graphic of the misguided advice. "The international insurance firm Axa released their list of travel tips and their number one suggestion for avoiding back pain when travelling is: Ask cabin crew to lift heavy baggage!

"As the largest crew community on social media, why don't we tell them what we, the cabin crew, think of their advice and also make sure we avoid AXA travel insurance and other services … no regard for our health and safety."

The hashtags #liftyourownbag and #youbringityouslingit were also included.

The response from crew members was unified, with many agreeing to boycott the company.

"Asking cabin crew to lift heavy bags?" One crew member wrote. "Shame on you Axa! My job is not to lift heavy bags. I will definitely avoid you and not recommend you to any of my family and friends."

Another wrote: "Think it's disgusting. If they cannot put their bag up then they should put it in the hold. I would never ask cabin crew (sic) lift my bag it's disrespectful."

Others posted images of bloody injuries acquired when they had done as the insurance company advised.

"You can show this to whoever made your post about making cabin crew lift your bags," another wrote. "The handle of a passenger's bag broke during lifting and split my colleague's hand open."

One cabin crew member showed the injury a colleague experienced from lifting a heavy bag. Picture: Facebook
One cabin crew member showed the injury a colleague experienced from lifting a heavy bag. Picture: Facebook

Many pointed out the irony of the advice; crew members would not be covered by an insurance company such as Axa if they were to get hurt while picking up a passenger's bag as it's against their job description.

The company quickly issued an apology and correction on their Facebook page for what many crew ultimately deemed a "big mistake".

"We apologise to those of you who, rightly, challenged an article we issued yesterday about cabin crew and heavy baggage. We have amended this in light of your feedback."

Now, the Axa article advises to "only pack what you can lift".

When contacted by news.com.au, Axa PPP Healthcare, a branch of Axa insurance, confirmed the article had been changed due to the outrage.

"We've apologised for suggesting air travellers might wish to ask cabin crew to stow their hand luggage and, in line with the feedback we received, changed our infographic," an Axa spokesperson said.

Rightly so. You see, we all know that carry-on baggage isn't what it used to be. These days, flyers endeavour to pack everything but the kitchen sink and bags are simply a lot heavier.

More importantly, most flight attendants are simply not required to lift your luggage. Can you imagine if they hauled up the bags of all 300 plus people crammed on-board that Airbus plane? And then repeated this on multiple flights for multiple days? They would need to be built like weightlifters to avoid injuries.

Remember, they are not athletes. Well, some of them may be due to coincidence, however it's not part of their job description. Their key role is to keep us alive in the event of an emergency.

Most flight attendants are simply not required to lift your luggage
Most flight attendants are simply not required to lift your luggage

Can you imagine if there was an incident on-board and a flight attendant was unable to help you avoid a fiery death because they'd strained their backs picking your bag up for you half an hour ago?

This point was reinforced by Qantas earlier this year when it increased its domestic carry-on baggage allowance from 7 kilograms to 10kg per bag, at the same time insisting it was up to passengers to ensure they can personally lift their own luggage into the overhead locker.

Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David told The Australian: "We need customers to check their bags before security to make sure they don't exceed the allowance and can safely lift their bag."

The airline also confirmed that it's a general rule globally that cabin crew are not expected to help passengers pick up their bags. So let's give cabin crew a break, shall we. At the end of the day, it's your responsibility.

Kate Schneider is a freelance travel writer and the former travel editor at news.com.au. Continue the conversation @SchneiderK