Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Flight Attendant Chronicles: Part 4

Finally, after almost 2 months... here are the answers to your questions about my job as a flight attendant. Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy! Great questions!!

How many flights do you cover in one day?

It depends on the day. Sometimes we only do 2 or 3 flights, sometimes we do 4 or 5 flights per day. The most they can schedule us to do is 6… that’s a lot- I try to avoid those trips!

Have you had to deal with any unruly passengers?

Luckily, no! Nothing like the man who just exposed himself and disrobed on a Southwest flight last week!

Do they lose your luggage? Or do you keep yours with you?

We have to keep ours with us when working because we never know when we could be rerouted or have a cancelled flight. I’ve also been lucky enough to have never had my luggage lost while traveling for fun either!

Do you get to pick what flights or routes you want to work?

We bid for our monthly schedules, but bidding is awarded by seniority so we don’t always get exactly what we want right away. We also have very liberal trading privileges, so if you’re unhappy with your trip or schedule, it’s possible to trade things around most of the time. I’ve been flying for 10 years and prefer to work Thursday, Friday, Saturday trips for our family situation. Those are fairly “junior” days, so I usually get one of my first choices of trips each month.

Do you get lots of free tickets? (if so you should use them for a giveaway!)

I get unlimited free tickets for me, Rick and the kids, and my mom and dad. I have the opportunity to earn up to 4 tickets a quarter by working a certain amount of hours- which I haven’t been able to do yet! J I suppose I need to work more… that would be a pretty amazing giveaway, though!

Have you ever seen anyone have an allergic reaction?

I had an allergic reaction once, but not to peanuts. We were advised to give Benadryl, which the purchased in the LA airport (we hadn’t left the gate yet).

Do you have an epi pen and benadryl on the plane in case they do?

I don’t know if we have an epi pen or not… suppose I should review my manual!

Do the stories about all the germs and other "stuff" in hotel rooms bother you?

No, I’m thankful they are out there so I can be aware and protect myself better! J I was totally shocked when I read about how gross the remote controls were, but it makes sense!

Do you wear support hose?

No support hose for me! We don’t even wear dresses or skirts, our uniforms are khaki pants/shorts and navy blue shorts/pants. If we had to wear skirts, I’d probably wear them though!

Are you a member of the mile high club?


Have you witnessed someone else's induction into the mile high club?

Thank goodness… NO.

Any celebrity sightings?

Yep… I had Ben Stiller on a flight, Carlos Santana and his band (got his autograph), Elliot Gould (place Ross and Monica’s dad on Friends, from the MASH movie, and used to be married to Barbara Streisand- also had their son with him), Vivica A. Fox, Gov. Gray Davis (I think I spelled that right) when he was still Govenor of California, one of the Bush twins, Barbara, while her dad was still in office, a few sports stars that I didn’t know but other people pointed them out, an actor named Jesse Borrego (who was playing a character on 24 at the time- one of my favorite shows! Got my picture taken with him.), hmm… I can’t think of any more right now.

What are some tips for a first time flyer?

Try not to be nervous, it’s actually extremely safe! Bring something to read or a DVD player/computer and your own movies to stay entertained (especially if you’re flying Southwest because we don’t have any onboard entertainment), and plan on buying food in the airport to bring onboard for long flights because you’ll only get small snacks or nothing at all. Don’t be afraid to ask for the whole can! J

Tips for flying with kids?

Make sure you have some appropriate snacks for your child’s age and stuff to entertain them! I would even suggest a few “new” things, like books, coloring books, or a movie- they seem to bore easily of things! Avoid stickers… I don’t like it when parents allow their kids to put stickers all over the plane- how tacky! And watch the coloring all over the plane, too. Also, be courteous of the passengers around you- especially right in front of you. Seat kicking and playing with the tray (putting it up and down a lot or really rough) can be really annoying to the person whose seat it is attached to! Try and be relaxed while traveling because the stressed out parents tend to have crankier kids- they smell fear, you know! Hmm… take lots of pictures and don’t be afraid to ask to have their picture taken in the cockpit (while on the ground, of course) or have the flight attendant take family photos for you. And pray they sleep… just kidding!

I also wanted to know about the validity of the mile high club.

I have heard stories of crazy stuff, but never had it on my own flights.

Has anyone ever had to be detained after their flight?

Not on my flights… I’ve been pretty drama free, luckily. But, it does is happen occasionally.

Is it OK to ask for the entire can of sprite?

Yes! I prefer when someone asks right away, when I’m taking the drink order. It saves time later when I bring out the cup, instead of having to make two trips. But, I know some people are a little shy or unsure about asking- I say, ask away! J

Are there any straight male attendants?

YES! I don’t know ratios or anything, but we have quite a few working at Southwest.

Will you hold a blog contest where buddy passes will be the prize?

I would love to do that… I have to earn some first, then we’ll talk more about this! ;)

Where was the best place you flew to?

Hmm… I have a list of favorites, but it’s hard to pick the BEST. I’ll have to think about this one…

Have you ever flown with the rapping attendant?

No, but it would be so fun!! His YouTube video is awesome! I used to do a funny emergency PA and sing occasionally, but not anymore. I’ve become boring in my old age! ;)

Do you ever wish that your uniform would revert to hot pants and go-go boots?

YES! I think that would be so fun, even if it was just for a month or something, as an anniversary special! But, not all flight attendants would be able to pull off the look- probably me included! Women were hired for looks and had to weigh-in back then… not so much anymore. And it’s just not a great look for men!

What was the worst passenger you ever had?

I think the worst passengers are not necessarily the most obnoxious or in-your-face ones, but the ones who look down on you as the “help” or something. I find it amazing how dismissive people can be or not even look at me to say, “No, thank you.” for a drink or something. Just rude!

Heidi said:

I flew for the first time in 99' It was from Seattle to Orange County. They gave us a nice little box lunch half way through the flight. Who do I need to talk to to make that happen again? Cuz, no I don't want any damn peanuts! I want a sandwich like last time! Don't tell me about rising costs, I want my sandwich!....That just goes through my mind. :)

We’ve never served “food” like sandwiches on Southwest, so I don’t know what it’s like to have meals and then pull them for cost issues. We actually give some pretty decent “snack” foods other than peanuts on our flights, which is better than most airlines now days.

What is this mile high club that people are mentioning?

The “mile high club” refers to the disgusting people who think it’s “cool” to do some pretty gross things in THE SINGLE MOST DISGUSTING place on the planet- airplane bathrooms!

What are some of the most outrageous things that passengers have done?

I can’t think of any interesting stories… but I find it so entertaining how childish most adults can be when it comes to their “toys”, i.e. cell phones, computers, iPods, Blackberry. Hiding them or playing on them when we’ve asked them to turn them off is pretty annoying… sometimes I feel like I should take them away like I do at home when my toddlers won’t play nice!

Do you ever get nervous in extreme turbulence?

YES!! And lately, since I’ve had kids and been off for months at a time, I am pretty scared during most landings too. It’s crazy! I know it’s safe, but my heart races a little when we land and I always sit in my “brace position”. And I don’t mess around with turbulence either… I’ve had friends who’ve hit the ceiling in clear air turbulence (smooth air, then WHAM!, ceiling) or been injured trying to get those last drinks out. Sorry to say, but a free Coke isn’t worth that much to me!

When pilots talk to the cabin, why do they always sound so monotone?

I don't know, it’s so weird. I think it may be a part of their training! ;)

How fast is a plane going when it lifts off the runway? What is peak flying speed?

I’m not sure about take-off exactly, but most of the time our cruising speed is about 500mph ground speed. Pretty fast.

Do guy passengers hit on the stewardesses a lot?

Not a whole lot, but it does happen. I know many people who have dated (or even married) passengers.

Do you have to go back and serve people who were asleep when you came through with the food tray?

At Southwest, we walk through with a drink order pad and take orders, then bring the drinks out on a tray. We don’t have a cart or anything. So, if someone is sleeping, we usually walk through the cabin enough to catch the sleepers when they wake up and bring them a drink if they want one. This happens way more often on longer flights.

Does it bug you that everybody unfastens their seat belt before the plane makes a full stop at the gate?

For some reason, yes it really does. It’s such a simple thing to comply to, but so many people just don’t think it’s one of the rules that is important enough to follow. I sometimes secretly hope that we’ll jerk to a stop and someone will realize why the FAA requires it in the first place. Mean, right? I think that about the seatbelt sign, too.

Are you sincere when you tell the passengers at the end of the flight that you appreciate them flying with you today?

Heck yeah!! Our passengers are the only reason I get a paycheck and I am so thankful for every single person who flies us! Sounds corny, I’m sure, but it’s true. So many airlines are struggling and I’m so proud to work for an airline who has persevered through this tough time.

Do passengers sitting in the same row ever disagree about whether to have the window shutter up or down?

Not often at all. But, sometimes the sun is blinding the person across the row or something and I’ll ask them to shut it on behalf of the person who is seeing spots. But, most people are pretty good about that.

Do passengers ever complain about the person in front reclining his seat too far back?

Yes, but there is nothing we can do about it… they all recline back the same distance, so I just suggest that the person also recline their seat and then the distance will be even again.

What is your favorite destination?

Some of my favorite overnights include: San Diego, Spokane, Indianapolis, San Jose, and Reno. I’m planning a Flight Attendant Chronicles about my favorite overnights, so I’ll save the details for that post.

Do you prefer short or long flights?

It depends, I guess. I like flights that are about 1 hour 15 mins- 1 hour 30 mins or one or two really long flights in a day. We get paid while away from the gate only, so pay-wise, longer flights are more efficient, but sometimes I like a few shorter flights to feel busy the whole time.

Do you work with the same crew all the time?

I rarely fly with the same people, actually. I always thought it was weird when I was new- people would run into someone they knew and it had been like 3-5 years since the last time they ran into each other. Now, that seems so normal. I could fly with someone and never see them again or not for many years. And sometimes you can end up flying with several different people throughout one 3-day trip. Usually, when I step on a plane to start a trip, I’ve never met the people I’m working with before! You get used to working with all walks of life and learn to tolerate some pretty crazy people, too!

Do the pilots ever let you take the controls of the plane for fun? Do they ever invite little kids to do so, like in Airplane?

I actually got to bring the plane down to about 5,000 ft one time, during a ferry flight (no passengers), but that was pre-9/11. I don’t go up to the “flight deck” as they call it now, very often anymore because of all of the safety precautions on the flight deck door. Kids are invited up all the time to visit the pilots- just not in-flight, like on Airplane!

Thank you all so much for the questions! Any more, don't hesitate to ask! :)


Alaskiana said...

WOW no wonder that post took so long! LOVE IT all!

Do you remember when my Sunday School teacher in Atlanta made you sing your christmas version of the flight attendant safety instructions?

Charm said...

Awesome post! Thanks so much. I've only flown once and thats when i was in elementary school. Jared keeps saying he wants to go to NY/NJ to visit family and I'm scared!!!

Reading your "chronicles" puts me at ease a bit. It would be funny tho if you were our attendant if we ever go.

Lisa said...

Thanks so much. I can't believe you never/hardly work with the same attendants twice - I wonder how many each airline employs?

A Christmas version of the instructions!? THIS I would love to see! You should put it on YouTube!

Diane Wicks said...


This was great! I read them out loud to Jim and we regret to inform you that we ARE members of the mile high club...........just kidding!!! Off to Branson tomorrow with Mother. Robyn's house is looking great. Good luck with the 14 miles on Sunday. I'm so proud of you. Love, Mom

David said...

what a great post! everything we ever wanted to know about flying. thanks for the info!
so basically what you're saying is, most guy flight attendants are gay lol

Brianna said...

I love this post! I fly occasionally so it's interesting to get a peek behind the scenes - thanks.

Heidi D said...

I have NO idea how I missed this post. I was looking forward to this one more that the Disneyland one. :))

I have to say, my questions were some of the best.

Maybe you can cut off some of your khaki pants into hot pants.