After months and months filled with traveling to four different cities for interviews (three of which granted stinging but not defeating rejections), researching company materials, watching vlogs, reading blogs and articles, practicing questions in front of the mirror, spending obscene amounts of money on interview attire, and finally, an intensive monthlong training program, I officially did it. I became a flight attendant.
It’s still more than a little surreal. I’ve thought seriously about this profession off and on since I was about 16. I can still vividly remember my high school career counselor’s response to my saying I wanted to pursue the flight attendant life.
“Why would you ever want to do that? That’s new. I’ve never met anybody who wanted to do that before.”
I GET TO PICK UP DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRASH ALL OVER THE WORLD, LADY! IMAGINE THE DIVERSITY! THE POSSIBILITIES! I LOVE TRASH! TRASH! AND THAT LAVATORY SMELL … IT’S SIMPLY DIVINE! MMM!!!
And, if we’re really getting into it, I suppose there’s also the ability to help people feel safe when they fly, the opportunity to see cities you probably never would have otherwise, meet hundreds of new people on a daily basis, work with constantly changing crews (yes, that means no getting stuck with that bitch whose desk is next to yours in the office), stay in nice hotels and have fun on your layovers. And, I suppose, there’s the free travel benefits for yourself and your loved ones. But why would anyone ever want that? 😉 (It’s the diverse trash, I’m telling you.)
After high school, though, I pursued a degree in journalism, which I will never, ever regret. It will always be an interest of mine and I’ll always maintain respect for those who have careers in it.
But this idea of being a flight attendant kept resurfacing through college and the work I got into afterward — so much so that I spent hours reading flight attendant blogs and memoirs. I couldn’t help but feel like something was pulling me toward this career change, and I felt like I couldn’t have asked for a better time in my life to give it a go.
In July 2016, I applied at every airline I could find an opening for.
Then came the process. The research, the always graceful one-way video interviews, the highly competitive face-to-face group interviews, the rejections, the learning and growing, getting advice from current flight attendants … and the waiting. And the waiting. And the waiting. And the waiting.
And the waiting.
And the waiting.
Finally, out of all the crazy shit I’ve done in my life, I took a leap of faith and put in my notice at my last job, knowing only that I was going to move into an apartment in Chicago with my boyfriend and figure the rest of my life out (hopefully very quickly).
I had my last day at my previous job on a Friday. I packed up and moved what was left of my things to Chicago that Sunday. Before the crack of dawn the next morning, I hopped a flight to Fort Lauderdale, attended a group interview and got the conditional job offer for a Chicago-based flight attendant position with a major U.S. airline.
As insane as it is, sometimes things do simply work themselves out.
Then it was time to prepare myself for what would be by far the most intense month of my life. The only way I feel I can accurately describe flight attendant training is this: It’s basically the equivalent of getting a two-year degree in about a month (some airlines have training for up to seven or eight weeks — mine was just shy of four).
You learn the ins and outs of every aircraft the airline operates, the function of each piece of emergency equipment, firefighting, CPR and first aid, the details of your daily safety duties, evacuation procedures and so much more. Contrary to popular belief, we do not learn how to serve drinks and snacks. In fact, we didn’t even touch a beverage cart until we were out on the job.
But alas, I did it. The written tests, the oral exams, the evacuation drills, the ditching exercise, the comprehensive final. Did it all. And along with 23 amazing classmates, I finally got my wings.
After graduation, I passed my Operational Experience (OE), which is a flight attendant’s final qualifying exam before he or she can legally fly for the company.
My first two trips brought me to layovers in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I feel like I’ve lucked out with the most amazing crews — everyone has been so unbelievably kind and welcoming to me. The passengers have also been stellar.
On the very first leg of my first trip, a woman apparently overheard that it was my first day. About halfway through the flight, she pressed her call button to summon me.
“This guy next to me says we’re going to Vegas. We’re on our way to Florida, right?” she asked.
I clarified to her that we were indeed headed to Vegas.
“Oh my God, how did I get on the wrong flight!? I’m going to cry,” she said.
I told her I was so sorry for the confusion and that when we arrived in Vegas, an airline employee would gladly help her reroute.
A few minutes later, I was in the galley talking with another flight attendant, telling her about this poor lady. My co-worker cracked up laughing. The woman had pranked me! And man, she was a good actress! When she was leaving the plane, the prankster passenger congratulated me on a job well done and wished me luck in my new career, as did many other people on the flight. As sappy as it is, I felt so happy I could have cried.
There was also this dude who, as I was collecting trash, said this:
“Wow, I’ve seen you in this aisle 32 times. You must be great at picking up at home.”
I told him to make sure he tells my boyfriend, who I’m sure enjoys the delightful irony of that comment.
I spent that night in Vegas and explored all morning the following day. I would definitely like to go back for a weekend getaway and see some shows.
I had one day off after this trip and stayed up late at night, knowing that my reserve (on call) time wasn’t until 2 p.m.- midnight the following day. But lo and behold, I got a call at 4 a.m. Being new and excited, I answered it (and I can’t express how happy I am that I did). I got sent on a four-day trip with three layovers in Myrtle Beach, which my co-workers said is one my airline’s best layover destinations.
I had a blast exploring and hanging out with the crew in the warm weather.
And then something happened that if you know me, you would say is totally my luck.
We had some pretty bad turbulence going up to Newark, New Jersey. I was sitting in the back of the plane where you can feel it the most. You know where this is going, don’t you?
I was fortunate in a lot of ways. I was facing away from the passengers; I hadn’t eaten much for breakfast; and my brilliant co-worker, Ulises, is very attentive.
I started getting queasy, but I’m sitting there in my jumpseat all like, OH HELL NO! NOT THIS TIME! NOPE! NOT HAPPENING! I started taking deep breaths and swallowing a lot, but then, as you can imagine, came the point of no return. Luckily, Ulises noticed and handed me a trash bag.
It was the most dignified, professional vomit I’ve ever had.
The crew was so nice about it. The captain told me it was some of the worst turbulence he’s been through in about four years and that my stomach will get used to it through instances a lot less intense than that was. Phew!
But let me tell you one thing: I would vomit every damn day of my life if I had to in order to do this job.
I’m so thankful for where I’ve gotten in life and for each and every soul who has been there for me along the way. I still can’t believe how truly fortunate I am.
And with that, I’ll thank you for stopping by to check out what little ole me has been up to these days. There will be a lot more where this came from, so feel free to pop in again!
Until next time,
Peace, love & fairy dust,