Reports of the San Francisco plane crash made it sound as if the cabin crew simply scuttled off the plane along with the passengers. This is insultingly ignorant of their vital role in getting passengers off the plane and saving lives.
It's not generally realised that cabin crew have very intensive training on how to handle emergency situations of every possible kind, including fires, crash landings, hijacking, medical crises, disruptive passengers and childbirth.
The one thing the crew did not do was scuttle off the plane like frightened mice. They stayed right there and did all the things they were trained to do to rescue the passengers.
Despite the possibility the plane might have caught fire or blown up, they did what was needed. They deflated an escape slide with trapped passengers under it, slashed seat belts open, guided people through the smoke, put out small fires, and calmed the panic-stricken.
Only when they had done everything possible to evacuate the passengers safely did they leave the stricken plane themselves - thankfully without it exploding around them.
Many of them did their work in the regulation pencil skirts and high heels, having trained in their flight clothing and having worked out how not to be hampered by it.
It's still widely assumed that cabin crew are just glorified food-servers, doling out the skimpy airline fare and then having a nap or devouring the latest Patricia Cornwell. Their exhaustive training on handling emergencies and in-flight glitches in general is still overlooked - mainly because you only see it in action if your own plane is in trouble.
It's a professional skill-set we should all properly appreciate. After all, guiding terrified passengers out of a smoke-filled plane while mincing along in a pencil skirt is not a feat we could all manage. Unsung heroes indeed.
Here are two articles about the cabin crew's training at Jezebel and NBC
PS: A new report says the pilots delayed evacuation for 90 seconds