Ever since I was a little kid my dream was to travel the world as a flight attendant. It’s a job that provides the possibility to travel frequently and meet new people from all over the world. When the opportunity arose, applying for this job was the only right thing to do. So I took the plunge and made a 180 degree life change. After a long and exciting selection process, a ‘new way of life’ was born. Different than you may think, the life of a flight attendant is not only about adventure, glamour, luxury or a romance with the captain. There are plenty of misconceptions and a lot of things you might not know. It’s time to bring you back to reality!
1. You need to be fit and ready
Passenger safety is the most important role for a flight attendant. Rule number one is to be fit to work, so no alcohol is allowed 10 hours prior to our duty. We have to go trough 4 weeks of training and a re-qualification every year. The exams are extremely stressful and concerns flight safety, self-defense and first aid. Floating trough the aisle serving coffee and tea is much further down the list of the responsibilities of a flight attendant.
2. We are not all dating a pilot
A typical day starts with packing my suitcase, applying basic make-up, putting my hair up and wearing my clean and shiny blue uniform with pride. There’s only one thing to add: a brilliant smile! When scheduled on early flights I meet my colleagues at the airport around 6am. On standard European flights the crew consist of a captain, first officer and two flight attendants. Once I’ve met my colleagues for the day it’s time to head to the briefing room to prepare and discuss the flights for the next few days. It’s always magical to experience how four strangers become such a strong and reliable team within a few minutes after getting to know each other. I really appreciate the colleagues I have to work with but let’s get one thing out in the open, I have never dated a pilot. To be honest.. Since the day I started working as a flight attendant, I’ve never witnessed any love bloom between any of the crew. Of course this is an illusion and I’m pretty sure there will be colleagues who secretly hook up during a layover. It’s really not all that different from other jobs.
3. Being a flight attendant can be far from glamorous
A lot of passengers think flight attendants are responsible for everything om board. They do have a point. Unfortunately lifting hand luggage in the overhead bin is not part of our job. We are not all cross fit athletes. When passengers assume that their trolley is way to heavy to lift, they call the flight attendant to stow it. I’ll give them a friendly smile and i’m begging them to stop traveling with carry-on bags they can’t handle. I quietly whisper: “If you can’t sling it, don’t bring it.” The average duration of a flight is less then one hour. Within this time we have to offer a full service to a maximum of one-hundred passengers. There is not much time left for chatting in the galley or hanging out in the cockpit. The job is far from glamorous and the workload can be very high some days. As a flight attendant you’re working your ‘but off’ whilst being patient, putting effort in your work and providing a smile from ear to ear.
4. Layovers are often short
After three or four flights we arrive on our final destination for that day, somewhere in Europe. We quickly grab our suitcases and catch the taxi to bring us to our temporary ‘home’ for the night. The hotels are brilliant and often located close to the city and equipped with a gym and sauna. We receive a daily allowance to spend on food and other sundries. The company is doing their best to create the optimum conditions. Most layovers are short, and you barely have time to spend the money. After a 10-hour shift most of the crew will decide to go for a nap or chill out at the hotel. If there’s some energy and time left, we’ll go on a local excursion, have a few drinks in town or visiting some other places of interest. Luckily I am an high-energy person! I like wandering on my own and visit places I haven’t seen before. Hiking trough the beautiful nature of Norway was one of my best experiences. The moments I’m making unforgettable memories it is hard to believe this is actually part of the job. The wake-up call at 4am quickly brings me back to reality as a new day of work is ahead with an early flight back to Amsterdam!
5. The life of a flight attendant can be very lonely
The life of a flight attendant is not only about glitter and glamour. It’s way more then that. The long shifts, delays and difficulties on board with demanding passengers can be a real challenge. Beside this it is not easy to organize your social life when you’re abroad 4 nights in a row. The life of a flight attendant can be very lonely. You basically live out of a suitcase, miss your best friends birthday, skip your favorite festival and spend less quality time with your family.
Let me end this story by saying that I do love my job and I am very proud to live the ‘dream’ of a flight attendant! Especially when you realize only a few of those who applied actually got hired. The lovely colleagues, friendly passengers and the wonderful destinations are the reason this job is given me so much energy. Since I started as a flight attendant I experienced the amazing continent we live in. Instead of watching television or doing the laundry at home, I spend my spare time having diner outdoors and enjoying the facilities and luxury of a 5 star hotel. If you focus on the load of experiences you get trough this way of life, it’s a real privilege to be a flight attendant!
Dit blog verscheen op de website van WANDER-LUST.