When you board a plane and watch the flight attendants as they work, have you have wondered what it must be like? Do you ever think “I want to be a flight attendant?”. Have you ever wished you had the behind the scenes details of what it is like from their point of view? Well if you answered yes to any of these questions or are just curious about life in the sky at all, this is for you.
Flying for the last 4 years have been a whirlwind of adventures and lessons learned. When I first started and was welcomed into the training facility where I would live for over a month to become a flight attendant, I was unsure of pretty much everything except that being flight attendant was the dream. What I didn’t know was that over that month, I would be sold a wonderful life. A life filled with adventure only to find out that working at 35,000 feet might be the hardest job around. I had dreams of glamour, travel, and fantastic stories. With those things also came people yelling at you for no reason. Delays that sometimes took days, and occasionally sketchy hotel rooms.
Being a flight attendant is nothing like you’ve imagined and everything you have imagined.
Yes, we fly for free
I fly for free, my parents fly for free, and my boyfriend flies for free (he had to prove he deserved the honor of “registered companion”). It is true what you have heard. However, we fly standby which means we only get on if there is an open seat. If you have flown anywhere in the last year you know most flights are booked completely full or overbooked. It is always a gamble but one that has gotten me to Paris, Rome, Venice, London, Costa Rica, Budapest, and Prague, as well as countless destinations all over the United States. We do have to pay taxes on any international travel. My boyfriend and I flew business class to and from London for about $300 roundtrip. Yes, it was amazing. What is not amazing is the times I have spent 8 hours or longer waiting to make a flight or having to worry I might not make it back stateside in time to be at work the next day. I have a love/hate relationship with my flight benefits.
We can’t hold a plane from you…a lesson on not using budget websites.
I can’t say this enough if you have somewhere to be, book directly through an airline website. As a flight attendant, I can not call someone to hold a plane for you because we had to take a delay or you only gave yourself 20 minutes of connection time (this is most commonly the issue, not delays). If you book directly through an airline they know what is going on with delays. They won’t allow you to book anything less than about 45 minutes to connect which is close but doable.
If you can always give yourself 2 hours. This is the golden rule, it gives you time to be comfortable even if you take a delay and means you don’t have to break a sweat running to your gate. When you book through budget websites all they are doing is finding you the cheapest flights. They don’t look at reasonable connection times between your flights. I’ve had passengers come to me screaming about how they’re going to miss their flight and I need to fix it. Only to find out that they booked their flights 5 min apart from landing to departure. Your next flight is going to be gone even if we are early. BOOK ON AN AIRLINES WEBSITE!
It is sometimes glamorous but we also work 15 hour days
I’ve seen incredible places, I have been to cities I would have never been to if I hadn’t been assigned to fly there. I also drank copious amounts of coffee. Cried to my mom. Cursed my life on numerous occasions when I was told I was going to work an extra flight or wasn’t going to actually be going home. Also when realized I had been awake for 15 or more hours working. I wish I could say this was only sometimes but more often than not, this is the standard. Being called at 2 am and working all day long to get to your hotel and sleep for 6 hours before doing it all over again. To all the passengers who get on the plane and say “you look tired” I am!
I regress that I have also spent 36 hours on every Hawaiian island and because of my job am in love with Milwaukee. I know of all places but seriously I love Milwaukee. As flight attendants, we are lucky to see all the places we may have never been to on our own. We are also lucky that airports sell coffee and RedBull. I always laugh when someone says “are you home now?” when we land because 98% of the time I am so far from home. I am not positive what timezone I am in. I also sometimes get flown to work. I’ll get a whole row to myself or get to go to a wonderful luxurious location that it just a quick flight there. 36 hours later, a quick flight back. It is sometimes glamorous but it is also sometimes exhausting.
We can be bribed…works best with kindness and chocolate
As I begin to discuss how to bribe your flight attendants, I want you to remember the previous paragraph about how tired we are. As you step on the plane I greet you with a “hello, welcome”. This is your moment to stand out from the pack. All you have to do is make eye contact and say hello. At this point, if you have done that we are going to be friends. I may not remember you exactly but I won’t make a mental note that you are a jerk. Now, if you are hoping I will remember you if you maybe need something extra from me, then this is your moment to really step up. This is when you present me with a treat in the form of something delicious. If you don’t have a treat, I will take a bribe in the form of genuine kindness. A simple act that shows me you know I am not a robot but an actual human…a conversation.
All you need to do is talk to us, kindly, of course.
It doesn’t count if you walk onboard and immediately begin complaining or yelling about things completely out of my control. We are easily impressed, mainly because we know flying sucks. When someone doesn’t seem completely miserable we make it our duty to make sure we keep that going. We always want to make flying a good experience. Having a good crowd who appreciates that we are there to keep them safe and occasionally serve them. It helps us to make sure we hold up our end of that bargain. I encourage you to stop and talk to your flight crew next time you fly. Treat them to some skittles or cookies, and watch how your flying experience improves. It is no secret that if we are kind to those around us no matter how bad a day we are having that we will receive that kindness back. I know that no matter how long or crazy my day has been, I meet every customer with a smile and hope it will be returned.
We have seen the world and are happy to share our tricks
I love seeing that a passenger is going on vacation to somewhere I have enjoyed because I want to tell them all the places I enjoyed in that city. I’m famous for seeing that someone is going to Kona, Hawaii and telling them they have to have breakfast at Lava Java, who have the best macadamia nut pancakes I have ever had (and I have eaten a lot of pancakes). I also tell everyone about the Milwaukee Public Market or my favorite coffee shops in countless cities. I will also share everything I know about traveling, or what not to do while traveling (Rome in the summer is miserable, Venice in October is perfect). Ask and the information will be yours. I will even share my packing tips for any destination. All you have to do is ask!
So you want to be a flight attendant
First, find out what airlines are hiring and see if you know anyone working there. If you do reach out to them to find out everything you can about the airline. If you don’t, reach out to me and ask me all your questions. You want a full picture of the airline and life before you start sending out applications and crossing your fingers. Next, polish up your resume. Highlight all customer service work, relationship building, and ability to adapt to tough situations. Then, don’t quit your job. The process can take over a year for some people. It took me 6 months, I know people who it took about a year to finish the process. Of course, every airline is different so don’t hold your breath but cross your fingers. As you move through the process you want to keep showing them that you can adapt to strenuous situations. That you can keep the customers happy, and live a life with many uncertainties.
Now before you accept the offer to join the ranks and get your wings make sure that you are ready to live a dramatically different life than you are used to. Make sure you are ready to use your new flight benefits for everything they are worth. Make sure you are ready for the ride of your life with zero expectations of what that life will look like.
This is just a tiny look into our lives as sky goddesses.
Feel free to chat with your next flight attendant to find out more about how it is that we love what we do and where our favorite places are. Is it everything you thought and more?
Blyss is just a 20 something girl who likes champagne and tequila, loves a good book, and a hard Pilates class, who is trying to figure out how to adult one life lesson at a time. Catch her if you can because she spends most of her time amazing adventures all over the world.