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108 Reviews
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is Hilarious
I bought this book on a layover in Phoenix and didn't put it down until I was finished. As a very frequent business and personal traveler, I've seen many of the "nightmare" passengers described with such wit and humor by Mr. Hester.
It's always amazing to me how flight attendants are frequently treated like sub-humans by passengers, and how many people...
Published on July 24, 2003 by Michael T. Rognlien

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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too tame.
PLANE INSANITY isn't insane ENOUGH. You hear about wilder and wilder doings on airplanes nowadays. The most famous being when a businessman defecated on a serving cart. (The runner-up might be the high-school kids who had a wet T-shirt contest on a flight.) It's those ludicrous, bewildering stories that you expect to hear in this book. But it's not really what you...
Published on March 10, 2002


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is Hilarious, July 24, 2003
I bought this book on a layover in Phoenix and didn't put it down until I was finished. As a very frequent business and personal traveler, I've seen many of the "nightmare" passengers described with such wit and humor by Mr. Hester.
It's always amazing to me how flight attendants are frequently treated like sub-humans by passengers, and how many people seem to lose all sense of tact and personal dignity once their boarding pass is taken. Having witnessed air rage, carry-on's the size of Texas, drunks, brawls and a million other human failings, reading Mr. Hester's flight attendant perspective confirmed what I've always suspected - they deal with a LOT, they're in a thankless position, and they're never appreciated until some heavy turbulence hits.
HIGHLY recommended, whether you're a frequent traveler or not - the humor is universal.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Visit To the Psych Ward at 30,000 feet!, January 27, 2002
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Question: What happens when you combine from 100 to 350 human beings, confine them in a cramped space for hours on end, and move them around the earth at 500 miles an hour at an altitude of 30,000 feet?
Answer: You create a laboratory for the observer of psychological pathology- or more plainly, you have the antics that occur on a typical airliner on most days in any year.
In" Flight Insanity", Elliott Hester provides the reader with "highlights" of his sixteen-year career as a flight attendant.
Having traveled a fair amount in my life, I know firsthand that flying is nothing exotic. Increasingly, air travel is an uncomfortable trial to endure -- it's "what we have to go through" in order "to end up where we want to be".
Hester's book is rollickingly funny! A breezy read -- detailing incredible, yet entirely believable stories as viewed from the plane's galley.
While I have heard all kinds of flight attendant joke, and laughed at quite a few, by the end of Flight Insanity, I had a new respect for the challenges of this beleaguered profession. The attendants get the last laugh!
Through his stories, Hester provides some great detail into odd tidbits of factual information on air travel and the industry itself. The human beings - passengers, pilots and attendants themselves, are a curious mix at high altitudes. If you travel by plane at all, I highly recommend "Flight Insanity."
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too tame., March 10, 2002
By A Customer
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PLANE INSANITY isn't insane ENOUGH. You hear about wilder and wilder doings on airplanes nowadays. The most famous being when a businessman defecated on a serving cart. (The runner-up might be the high-school kids who had a wet T-shirt contest on a flight.) It's those ludicrous, bewildering stories that you expect to hear in this book. But it's not really what you get. The tales of passengers freaking out, having a little midflight sex, growing belligerent over a lack of overhead space, getting ill -- it's all very mild and routine. Stuff you've probably seen yourself. You'd think with sixteen years in as a flight attendant, this author would be able to expose fantastically improbable moments of jaw-dropping stupidity/insanity/hardheadedness/etc. Doesn't happen. A few of the stories make you laugh, but nothing really socks you over the head. This is a book for anyone who wants to nod his or her head in agreement that plane passengers can be a tough lot to please. (One "outrageous" scene is described like it's the zenith of Sadean debauchery, and all we're hearing about is two women who strip to their undergarments.)
For a flight attendant, this guy can write. His metaphors are a bit broad, but they are amusing.
Anyone expecting the "Kitchen Confidential" of the flying business will be disappointed.
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43 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly amusing, February 18, 2002
Since misery likes company, I was interested in reading this as I fly a good deal. Additionally, my philosophy is when things are incredibly tedious and frustrating the best tactic for maintaining your sanity is to mock absurdity and celebrate the outrageous.
Based on the gushing recent review of this book in the New York Times, I eagerly anticipated an uproarious collection of "war stories" from the air. I was again reminded, however, not to attach too much credence to reviews with the "New York Times" imprimatur. This is a very tame, and unfortunately pretty predictable collection of air line experiences, interwoven with whining about hard working stewards and stewardesses, under appreciated by the public and exploited by the airlines that employ them. While initially the observations on the egos and cheapness of pilots were amusing the tune quickly rings flat by being overplayed. There is a bit of cautiously expressed, very non-specific, worker frustration over corporate greed. Yawn.
The book is entirely too safe, too politically correct, and too defensive about why Hester believes passengers should be satified with the food and service that they get. He is very careful not to go out on a limb or risk enough bite to compromise his position (so you kind of wonder to what extent his travel column is reliant on travel industry support). You get the sense that the flight servers view themselves as doing a favor to passengers who, as a whole, they regard as annoying, insufficiently docile, and underappreciative.
My sense was that the exceedingly boring chapter "The Mile High Club" discussing sex in the air was viewed as essential by the publisher to sell copies. While I didn't expect (or what) graphic descriptions, I did anticipate anecdotes that were at least entertaining in terms of being unique and absurd.
I don't believe I laughed out loud once reading this. While generally "okay", in light of the immense potential for such a book, this was a crushing disappointment.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wake me when it�s over., August 1, 2003
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I purchased this book after reading the reviews of how funny the book was. While there are some humorous stories, overall, it is fairly flat. Rude flyers, sick passengers, and sexually active passengers only goes so far. The stories of more interest were interaction between crew members, sexually and otherwise. But soon you look up half way through the book waiting for the good stories and you realize that's all there is. I'm surprised the readers found this so funny as I found it mildly entertaining at best.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Friendly Skies, March 29, 2002
By 
D. Clancy (Portland, Or USA) - See all my reviews
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Ever wonder what the job of a flight attendant consists of when you are being hurtled through space in that metal cylinder? It isn't just coffee, tea or me. Elliott Hester has written a wacky, fun, never dull book on the challanges of dealing with the public at 30,000 feet.
Everything that could go wrong does wrong on an airliner. Only when it goes awry up there it is ten times worse. He tells of Big Bertha, the flight attendant from hell, who makes macho pilots quake in their boots. The San Juan flight where two men get in a fight over a Panama hat, passengers who try to sneak into first class, the passengers from hell. The list goes on.
Hester writes with great humor and a very entertaining style. This book is one that everyone who gets on an airplane should read. The next time you see a flight attendant serving dinner or taking care of the passengers you will have a new appreciation of them.
My hat is off to the men and women who work the friendly skies
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk about low job satisifaction, January 5, 2002
By 
Doug Wade (San Leandro, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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I've been reading Elliot Hester articles in the San Francisco Chronicle for a while and I was looking forward to his book coming out. Unfortunately it was delayed due to the recent events, but it was worth the wait. It's filled with really funny incidents from Elliot's 16 years as a flight attendant. I really wish I had this book for the holidays, it would have made dealing with the current realities of flying - as frustrating as flying can be now, it doesn't compare to the stories in this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Side, January 21, 2002
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"plattypus" (Paradise Valley, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
Everyone has their flying horror stories: lost baggage, missed connections, annoying seat companions. Now imagine your life if those incident happened two or three times a day, and you had to deal with the victims of them.
Most of us -- including me, admittedly -- don't usually treat flight attendants with the respect that they deserve, considering the amount of (cough) crud that they have to deal with every day. Reading this will certainly give you a deeper appreciation of a job which seems to be a combination of policeman, janitor, lawyer, and bouncer . . . all while attempting to keep a straight face and gentle disposition.
The stories relater by Hester are all quite hilarious, and uplifting in the sense that, at least only a few of them have happened to you. Hester is a good storyteller, but he goes a bit overboard at times. He will sometimes push a little too hard for humour, and ends up creating absurd simlies and metaphors. Other than that, this is a book certainly worth the time it takes to read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Hilarious, Entertaining & Honest, August 31, 2003
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Hester is witty, insightful, writes with razor wit and a great gift of phrase. His prose blends the sense of absurd of Bill Bryson's travel books with the delivery of a Dave Barry. Besides a tremendous amount of entertainment (I literally laughed out loud), this is more than a collection of you-won't-believe-what-happened-to-us-next baddabings: Hester's anecdotes have a warm, sometimes poignant humanity to them,with an empathy for what the experience of being locked in a metallic tube with strangers at 600 mph all night can reveal about the human condition. Anyone who's ever considered an airline career should read Hester, who is telling the truth about the unique flight-attendant lifstyle and the rarified subculture it creates, done with warmth, irony, honesty and wit. I would also recommend Around The World In A Bad Mood by Renee Foss, another seasoned-flight-attendant memoir in a lighter vein.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Funny, Funny, April 12, 2002
By A Customer
This book is pure entertainment value! The stories are laugh out loud funny and it's light read. The many vignettes are broken up into short chapters so this book can be read at one's leisure. As a Flight Attendant I, too, have witnessed many of the antics described so cleverly in this book. It's a great book for laughs; however, I do not recommend reading this as a guide to deciding whether or not the Flight Attendant career is for you. In almost every situation, Mr. Hester describes jetting off to some exotic locale, staying in 4 star hotels, crew lounges at the hotels which host wild parties, etc. This kind of lifestyle is only applicable (and attainable) to one out of every hundred (possible thousand!) flight attendants (and it is definitely not applicable to new Flight Attendants!). But his experience does make for some great stories!
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Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet
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