LETTER : Safety instructions from the cabin crew

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As a former cabin attendant with almost 15 years' service on long-haul airlines, I agree with Richard Paris's article "Dole out the drinks and hope they shut up" (Travel and Money, 1 June).

I don't think anyone expects air travel to be glamorous anymore but it could and should be more comfortable, even if travellers have to pay a little more on some routes. From the crew's point of view, the ratio between passengers and crew on a full flight and the cramped conditions under which they work is such that dealing with the special needs of passengers is difficult. And as it is normal to have only one night off after crossing half a dozen time zones, it is hardly surprising that cabin attendants, especially if they are on homeward-bound runs, do not always radiate charm and courtesy.

Airline food, which has never been good, is getting worse because of budget cuts. The tend- ency to be generous with alcohol and to provide wall-to-wall entertainment is indeed aimed at keeping passengers quiet and in their seats, but sometimes it has the opposite effect, with dire consequences. For safety and comfort, there should be fewer seats and more restrictions on hand luggage.

I am convinced that the lengthy check-in times now required at airports has more to do with inadequate facilities and staff than with security.

Bernard Laubscher

London SW19

MR Paris's sentiments exactly reflected my own after three long-haul flights within 12 months. A suggestion: could aircraft seats not be allocated as in theatres? Those who book early, and usually pay a higher price, could perhaps be allocated the better seats and be first in line for a (free) last-minute upgrade.

Diane Smithson

Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

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