Flight Attendant

Flight Attendant

Jordan

Toronto, ON

Female, 28

Space Waitress, Trolley Dolly, Stewardess...everyone has their own term for us. We are the baby-sitters, life-savers, servers, cleaners and all-around problem solvers for any and every in-flight issue. Sometimes we get a bad rep for being apathetic and miserable despite having what looks like a glamorous job, so here's a peek into the gritty details beneath the shiny surface to explain why the job - though incredible in lots of ways - is more than just snappy uniforms and matching luggage.

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Last Answer on August 26, 2013

Best Rated

Do pilots and flight attendants hang out when staying in a destination city?

Asked by 800number over 5 years ago

Though I do come across those pilots who think they're above hanging out with the cabin crew, they are thankfully few and far between. Often captains are first to suggest meeting up for drinks and many even go the extra mile and buy the first round or a few appetizers. Of course there will always be some FAs and pilots who, after a long day of flying, just want to hole up in their hotel room and savor the solitude, and consequently they get a reputation for being "slam-clickers" (that's the unmistakeable sound of a hotel door shutting and locking). As for pilots and flight attendants getting a little too cozy on layovers? Well, I will neither confirm nor deny that it happens, but what happens in a layover city, doesn't stay in a layover city, because nothing passes the time in the air like gossiping and, as one FA from another airline told me, "if I don't hear a rumour before 9am I start one".

If you were made Queen of Air Travel for 24 hours, what changes would you implement?

Asked by 2ndhand over 5 years ago

I would ensure that all crew members were paid for the time spent doing security checks on the aircraft (we're not) and going through customs (we're not) and boarding guests onto the plane (you guessed it, we're not). I would also make it illegal to clip or paint your finger/toenails while on an aircraft, or even remove your footwear for that matter. (it's a public place, do you really want to?) And if I could magically make every TV on every plane always work the way it should, I would do that too, because if you're happy, I'm happy.

What kinds of passengers annoy you the most?

Asked by doodadoo over 5 years ago

You'd be surprised how many people seem to pack their manners in their checked luggage. When I ask you if you would like a drink, try taking off your headphones instead of yelling, "HUH?" and making me repeat myself several times. Say "please" and "thank you" - parents will remind their children to do this and then forget to do it themselves - and please! I don't have Garbage Can written across my forehead, so stop thrusting your dirty napkins in my face as I pass through the aisle, often with my hands full. But what really gets under my skin is people who stand in the galley and stare at me eating my lunch while saying, "Gee, not much room in here, is there?". Yes, it's a small space, there's no privacy, and the best way to annoy your flight attendant is to loiter in their personal bubble while they try to catch a breather between services. Imagine it as your cubicle and someone's sitting on your computer. And here's a secret - if too many people are in our space, we can ask our buddies in the flight deck to flick on the get-back-in-your-seat sign. Ah, power!

What's the best part about being a flight attendant?

Asked by flamberoyale6 over 5 years ago

The glamour is what attracts people to the job, but it's the lifestyle that people stay for. It doesn't take long to grow weary of sleeping in hotel rooms, living out of a suitcase, and asking people to turn off their ipads. But what other full time job gives you half the month off and several weeks paid vacation with which to enjoy your travel benefits? (though you'll probably have to work Christmas, bah humbug!) Not all flight attendant gigs are as good as mine, but i work for an airline that doesn't have seniority so it's a very sweet deal - lots of opportunities to fly when I want and where I want. Not only that, but there's endless variety; the flights I work change according to what I request for the month and what's in season, I work with a different crew each 'pairing' (shift), the faces on the plane are always new, and c'mon, being paid to lie on a beach in Barbados once in awhile? I'll take it, thanks!

I assume that some reasonably famous people actually fly on commercial airliners from time to time. If you have had occasion to encounter one of them on one of your flights, did you:

1. Act nonchalant, showing no flicker of recognition on your face?
2. Go to great lengths to provide exceptional service?
3. Ask the passenger if anyone ever told him/her (s)he looks just like the person you know him/her to be?
4. Request his/her autograph (but quietly so that there is no stampede by other passengers, offering their autograph to you or seeking the famous person's autograph)?
5. Let the captain know (s)he has a famous passenger on board?

Asked by Famous person over 5 years ago

Yes, we do get celebrities once in a while which I find quite surprising considering the airline I work for doesn't offer business or first class, so the A-list are crammed right in with us plebeians. I've had TV personalities, Olympic athletes, musicians and movie stars on my flights. What did they all have in common? I didn't recognize a single one! I'm terrible - every time it was one of my co-workers or another guest who pointed the celebrity out to me, I suppose it's because I just don't expect to see them in real life? So, I am excellent at numero uno: acting nonchalant. Only I'm not acting.

Once the cat's out of the bag and I'm aware of just who is on the plane I try to act casual and give them their space, even though I'm totally star-struck. There's usually at least one flight attendant on board who will jump at the chance to give them free drinks and the best seat in the house, I'm just not that bold. And definitely we tell the pilots! They're always interested to hear stuff like that - life can get pretty dull in the flight deck. I've even had them call Operations just to confirm the identity of certain guests who bear uncanny resemblances to celebs. It keeps us entertained! I will say though that I totally understand why a lot of famous people use private jets. I once had an actress on my flight who was unlucky enough to be recognized in the boarding lounge and subsequently spent the whole flight fending off clueless children sent up by their parents to get autographs, and had about fifty cell phone cameras document her trip to the onboard lavatory. She was gracious about it but it was enough to make me cringe. I guess that's the price of fame!

Hope you don't mind me saying so, but you're a really fantastic writer. Have you ever thought of writing a book about your experiences up in the air?

Asked by Linda over 5 years ago

How could I mind? You just made my day! I'm really glad you enjoy reading my little anecdotes because I enjoy writing about them. I've only been working as a flight attendant for a few years now so I don't know that I have enough to fill a book but maybe someday I will! I'll have to ask our resident LiteraryScout for advice... ;)

How much training is required to be a flight attendant?

Asked by greenery over 5 years ago

Surprise, surprise, turns out I didn't need that totally practical four-year degree in cinema studies to become a flight attendant. Actually everything you need to know they teach you. So apart from some handy customer service skills picked up while waiting tables, and a bit of high school French in my back pocket, I was starting from scratch. Training periods vary from airline to airline, but for me it lasted a solid month during which I lived and breathed all things airplane. I relocated to another city for it and spent 9 hours a day, 7 days a week training on the company campus, and enjoyed all my other waking hours studying. I underwent fire-fighting 101, first-aid training, and even got to inflate one of those life-vests you'll find underneath your airplane seat. But most of the training is devoted to learning about the emergency equipment carried on each aircraft (how to use it, where to stow it, and how to make sure it’s in proper condition) as well as practicing shouted commands to deal with emergency situations (fires, unruly passengers, and evacuations). A flight attendant needs strong vocal chords! We had several exams throughout training and many drills within the month. We got one chance at a re-write and if we failed we were out of a job. Every flight attendant, or FA as we call ourselves, must return to the campus for a few days each year to get re-certified. It's like a very stressful forced migration. In any training setting we only spend about 5% of our time focusing on the customer's experience so remember that next time you're on the receiving end of some crummy airline service - we're qualified based on our ability to save your life, not our bedside manner.