I’m now in my fourth month of hardcore flight attending, so I figured I’d compose a little list here of some of the top lessons my new career has taught me. I’m juuuuust about off my probationary period, which is basically in place so the airline can ensure I am not a complete idiot — pleased to report that I am cruising right along! Also happy to report that this is the first job in my adult life I’ve had for a few months without beginning to question every decision I’ve ever made, the meaning of life and getting that general feeling of the entire world and everything in it crashing down around you and bursting into the flames … so cheers to that!
Without further ado, here goes the list! Hope you enjoy.
1). More than anything, this job is a lifestyle.
And thankfully one that’s the perfect fit for me! I still honestly question how I got so lucky. It truly feels like I get paid to get on a plane, hang out with cool people, joke around with passengers, see new cities and just engage in general shenanigans! Of course anything can happen at any given moment and that’s when your training kicks in, but how incredibly amazing this life is. I get more time off in greater quantities at a time, somehow actually make more money than I did in the direct field I obtained a degree in, and have amazing benefits I can extend to my loved ones. It doesn’t get much better than that. There’s no taking work home with you, no monotonous routine, no seeing the same people every day — and in my humble opinion, just less bullshit in general. It’s different in all the best ways. When you’re not busy on the plane, you can socialize, read, do a crossword puzzle — whatever trips your trigger. On your off time (since work doesn’t come with you), you can pursue other interests, side gigs or just plane (haha) relax. There’s seriously no other job like it.
2). Always be ready to embrace the crazy.
I’m a reserve flight attendant for my airline, which means I’m scheduled for two things: days on call and days off. My airline breaks reserve periods up into three time slots. Since I’m nocturnal and will forever be a huge fan of sleeping in, I opt for the 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift. When Crew Scheduling calls, they have to give you two hours to report to the airport for whatever your assignment may be. Sometimes it’s a day trip where you end up back at your home base, sometimes you’ll be gone for a few days and sometimes you literally have to sit pretty at the airport and wait five hours in case they need you (ready reserve).
On reserve, life is like a box of chocolates. Sometimes you get to work one flight and have a nice long day to explore your layover city, and sometimes you get what happened to me just this week. I reported to O’Hare to deadhead (travel as a passenger but get paid as if working) on another airline to Detroit in order to work a flight to Oakland, California. WELL, that flight got delayed, so I arrived in Detroit with not a heck of a lot of time to get to where I needed to be. It turns out Detroit’s airport is an obstacle course, so I had to speed walk/run like a madwoman, take a train, wait for a shuttle, take said shuttle and go through crew security again to finally arrive breathless at the gate, where the flight I was working of course got delayed. All this was so I could work that flight to Oakland, have enough time for a quick sleep and deadhead back to Chicago. Then of course that flight also get delayed and then diverted to Minneapolis, but such is life! Still the best job in the world.
THEN you have instances like last night. You know how I said my reserve period ends at midnight? I got a call at 11:47 p.m. to show up for ready reserve at the airport at 4:15 a.m. Yes, 4:15. Box of chocolates, indeed. But I can’t complain! I had myself some McDonald’s, caught up with some good people, slept the day away today — and now I’m off for five days to go up to Wisconsin and visit my family. I’ll take crazy any day.
3). This life helps more than it harms a relationship.
When I first started as a flight attendant and even during the early stages of researching this career path, people warned me that it would strain my relationship. I honestly wasn’t too concerned about it in the first place because we’re both independent, non-jealous, generally chill people. What I didn’t expect, though, was that this lifestyle could actually help a relationship. You know when you go away without your partner to visit family, for a work trip, etc. and you get that extra kick of excitement to see them again when you return? Imagine having that several times a month! Being gone for a few days at a time when you work makes you cherish even more the time you have with that person. You each get your alone time (which is important for everyone, in a relationship or not) and you have extra incentive to make your time together count. A win-win in my book!
4). Always be prepared.
You know how I mentioned that I’m nearly off probation? One of the stipulations of probation is that you’re not allowed to serve as lead flight attendant … UNLESS you’re the most senior member of the crew you’re working with, which of course also happened this week! Being lead or “flight attendant A” comes with more duties and responsibility, but I actually felt way more at ease doing it than I would have expected. Another milestone checked off the list! And now I won’t be intimidated in a few months when I’m thrown into the position more often.
5). I love people.
I always knew this and it was one of the major factors that pushed me to pursue this career, but I’m amazed at how often the kindness of strangers makes me sit back in awe. The passengers on that flight I worked to Oakland knew it was me who delayed them that night. But instead of making snide comments, many asked if I was OK. My first flight as lead was also delayed, but instead of complaining and making a scene, many people expressed to me how happy they were to be on that plane. Of course I’ve had not-so-nice encounters, but you always, always have to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when they’re traveling and packed into a metal tube with a couple hundred other people (many of whom probably smell not exactly like roses) to go, who knows, maybe to a funeral, to say their last goodbyes to a loved one, or something else that would make them less than friendly in their interaction with me. I will never stop appreciating the opportunity this job gives me to go above and beyond the typical hellos and goodbyes so many people associate with service jobs to try to make someone’s day even just a little bit better. It’s those tiny moments that count in the long run anyway.
Until next time —
Peace, love & fairy dust,