Things People Ask Me
Is this your route?
Nope. I'm a reserve, meaning I'm on call to be used to work a flight 20 days a month. Scheduling can call and assign me a trip when they want/need. It could be to San Diego and back in one day, or to Amsterdam. Or 9 different cities over 4 days. So, no, this isn't my route. I may never have one! It's all part of the drama.
Where are you based?
IAD! Dulles, not Dallas. Virginia. DC. Not Texas. :)
Do you have to pay for your hotels?
Nooooo, sir. The airline takes care of that.
How long is your layover?
Anywhere between 9-24 hours, usually. The shortest layover I've had was 8h 45mns, in London (I. KNOW. I know.) The longest stay I've had was 31 hours in San Antonio, TX once. It was awesome!
How many flights do you work a day/week?
The way our schedules work, kind of like how I explained above abut being on reserve, means that it totally depends on the trip. If I'm working a 4-day domestic trip, it could be as many as 12 flights in that span! The busiest 4-day I've worked had 9 flights in it, and it was exhausting. A 3-day international, for example, is usually just one flight there, layover, and one flight back. One and done, baby. We can legally work up to 6 days at a time before we have to have a day off. But we might not fly all of those 6 days, depending on the time of year and other factors, so it's not like we're *ALWAYS* in the air.
How do you stay awake?
Coffee. Chocolate. Walking the aisles to keep moving. Red-eyes are hard! They're usually easier flights to work because people sleep, but we have to be alive/awake/alert/enthusiastic the whole time. I'll chat with the guys up front (the pilots) while they're on their breaks. And then I'll drink more coffee.
Have you had to drag anybody off?
Can I have a Diet Coke?
*two minutes later*
Here's your Diet Coke!
Diet Coke is an annoyingly fizzy drink to pour at FL350. It takes about twenty to thirty seconds to settle down to pour enough in the cup, but those twenty to thirty seconds feels like an eternity to the thirsty passenger and the poor flight attendant. Water is better for you, anyway. ;)
How did you get into this?
I was volunteering with a nonprofit in Ecuador before this and was trying to decide what I was going to do next. I had never once considered being a flight attendant and didn't even think of the job as an option until it seriously just "came to me" one day. So I did some Googling, came across the blog The Flight Attendant Life, and I was convinced that was what I wanted to do!
What is training like?
Definitely *not* "Barbie Boot Camp." By any means. The training was 6.5 weeks long; the days were long, we had a ton of material to study and learn, and were tested constantly. Training covers the safety and security aspects of air travel. Then we had the last few days on the service portion of the job, which is why new flight attendants are so eager to start flying but are initially clueless on how to do things like setting up a galley, making mixed drinks, etc. That part we learn on the job.
How long do you think you'll do this?
It's funny that this career carries this fleeting, "I think I'll do that for a while" connotation. There are people who become flight attendants just to travel, fill some time in before they find a "real job" or something else to do, but there are those who make careers out of it too! I definitely didn't become a flight attendant just for the heck of it, or with the intention of leaving after a certain period of time. I'm not sure how long I'll "do this," but it's funny to hear many senior flight attendants say how they only thought they'd fly for a couple of years, and 30 years later, here they are. So, we'll see! What other job has parallel flexibility and travel benefits? Not your average 9-5.
What's been your favorite place to fly to?
I've had so many awesome layovers! I've really enjoyed San Diego, CA; San Antonio, TX; Eugene, OR; Dublin, Ireland; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and Atlanta, GA. Important to note is it's not really where you travel, it's who you travel with. I've flown with some AWESOME crew members and had a total blast in the most random places and on the "worst trips" layover-wise.
Do you get to fly with the same people?
Yes and no. It's so much fun with I get to fly with friends or classmates from training! Most of the time, you have a new crew every trip. It's really fun bonding with a crew over a 3 or 4 day, because you spend so much time with them. It's really a bummer when you fly with someone awesome and they're on a different trip pairing than you, so you might only have them for one leg of the trip, and may never fly with them again. Alternatively, if ever it happens that you fly with someone you just don't mesh with, you may never fly with them again!
Do you ever hang with the pilots?
Only when we let them out of their cave to go to the bathroom. Lol. The pilots have their own trip pairings (flight schedules) and don't stay at the same hotels the flight attendants do. (At last with my airline they don't. Unless the entire crew has a long layover, then everyone stays at the downtown hotel location together.)
On my first San Antonio layover, I was the first class galley position, and that flight attendant has a different pairing than the rest of the crew, for whatever reason. I had a long layover while the rest of the crew worked a different flight elsewhere. So, I was at the long layover hotel with the pilots! These guys were hilarious. Both around my dad's age, retired military as many are, and we went down to the hotel bar and had a few beers. The Captain told the First Officer and me all these stories about his best friend's pet kangaroo, which he had rescued from TSA 15 years ago when someone had tried to smuggle it in from Australia. He had pictures and videos and everything. I forget his name, but apparently, the 'roo likes to come up to his back screen door knock, and he'll leave vanilla cookies out for him to snack on. Can't make this stuff up.
What's the weirdest thing someone's said to you?
This shouldn't be funny, but it totally is. I was working up in First Class, and had noticed this good-looking guy sitting in 3E. Sadly, he went right to sleep, so there was no interacting with him. This was on a red-eye transcon flight (a cross-country flight), in the middle of the night, so I was busy trying to stay awake, and he comes up to the galley where the lav is. he looks at me, goes "FYI, I'm close to throwing up." And I, not expecting an announcement like that, LAUGHED and said, "I'm sorry?" And the poor guy holds his finger up to signal "one second," goes into the lav, comes out a few minutes later and goes "We're all good now." Poor guy. I gave him a trash bag and a Ginger Ale. Hope he felt better.
Are you scared of crashing?
Flying is statistically the safest way to travel. That being said, things do happen, and that's why the flight attendant job exists- to have people willing and able to evacuate a plane if necessary. I am cognizant of the fact that it could happen. That's what we go to training for. So, yeah, it's a scary thought, but no, I'm not scared we're going to crash. The pilots are trained and so are we, and the rest is outside of our control.
Are you scared of turbulence?
I used to be! I seriously used to have flight anxiety! I'd be up there, saying 85,000 Hail Marys every time we hit the smallest bump. Lol. Turbulence is just hitting air pockets. It can be very bad and can cause injuries and make a mess in the cabin, but that's what SEATBELTS ARE FOR, PEOPLE. The seatbelt sign is there and is illuminated (or not) for a reason. Imagine turbulence like driving in a car along a gravel road or road with potholes. No big deal. We're not going down because of turbulence. But we will *sit down* when there is turbulence because that's for everybody's safety. To quote one of my little cousins, "it's not scary, it's fun!"
What questions do you have about being a flight attendant, life in aviation or constant traveling? Ask me!