I’ve Been Working as a Flight Attendant for 7 Years and I Want to Reveal Things That Are Usually Hidden From Passengers

3 years ago

Claudia was going to become a teacher but 7 years ago she decided to change her life and left for a big city to make her dream to become a flight attendant come true. The money she had was only enough for a one-way ticket to the city, that’s why she went straight to the job interview right after she got off the train. She successfully passed the interview and medical check and started her studies the same day! And though changing a life this drastically is extremely scary, being 21 is the right time for it.

We at Bright Side read Claudia’s blog where she reveals interesting little details of flight attendants’ work and we are eager to share the professional secrets of this young flight attendant with you.

People have stopped seeing flight attendants as people who are just going through a phase. Now they rarely ask, “When are you going to find a normal job?”

A flight attendant is one of the people responsible for passenger safety — it’s not just the person who brings you tea and coffee, but also the one who will save your life if an accident occurs. Moreover, this profession requires mental stability. Just imagine what working in a confined space, where you are responsible for the safety and high-quality service for a huge crowd of people is like. Add stressful situations, red-eye flights, drastic climate and time zone changes, and hundreds of questions from passengers to this.

  • The main quality you need in this job is flexibility.
  • You should be able to multitask and solve several issues at once.
  • Smiling is a must too. No matter what is happening in your personal life, your work is not the place where you should show it.
  • You should take care of your health because drastic changes in pressure and frequent flights are no joke.
  • A flight attendant should be communicative and be able to find an approach to talk to any passenger. Moreover, they should be able to regularly work on a new team, because every flight has a different crew.
  • The most important thing is healthy sleep. Even when you come to a different country, sightseeing is not as important as sleep.

How the senior flight attendant sees a flight

I wake up at 4 AM to organize a flight at 8 AM. When all the crew members arrive, I hold a briefing, give them information and answer the crew’s questions regarding the flight, and ask them questions too. Afterward, we get on the plane. By the rules, we are supposed to be onboard one hour prior to the flight, but I like to get there earlier. As for me, it’s better to calmly sit and drink tea while waiting for passengers, than rush to the plane in high heels and make mistakes in a panic.

Then a real race starts for the senior flight attendant because all types of services come onboard: cleaning, technicians, engineers, etc. At this moment everyone needs something from the senior flight attendant. “Who is the senior?” “Check the cleaning, please!” “Put your signature here, please” “Dial the cockpit — we need to check the connection.” I have to be able to check everything in order to have a chance to fix malfunctions if any are detected. After a certain time, the captain allows us to start boarding and I call my colleagues by speakerphone, “Come to the cabin!” The girls put on forage-caps and wait at the doors. I can hear the sound of the first passengers’ steps approaching the plane.

Each flight attendant has passengers who they see more often than their colleagues.

Sometimes when I meet passengers at the door, I see HIM. We have been on the same flight many times. We have common jokes, I know which coffee he likes, and I ask whether he was able to meet the deadline for his last project. I love these flights! While these passengers are sure that they will get perfect service.

Sometimes things get even funnier. One of my regular passengers was a middle-aged man who has desperately been trying to draw my attention and get my phone number. Being fully sure that it was our last meeting, I said I would give him my phone number if we ever met each other onboard again. After several days, he appeared onboard. I was as shocked as he was because he was with his wife and kids. After this situation, he never talked to me again.

Life hacks for passengers in the airport

  • When booking seats for 2 people, choose a window and aisle seat — no one wants to sit in the middle and you may have the entire row to yourselves.
  • If you are flying in economy class, line up for check-in closer to the business class counters. There are usually no lines in them and sometimes they start to check-in the passengers from the economy class who stand nearby.
  • Normally, security check baggage belts on the left are less loaded because right-handed people instinctively put their belongings on the right.
  • If you are going by bus to board the plane, don’t rush to occupy your seat, otherwise, you’ll have to spend 20 more minutes in it and will either get cold or go crazy from the heat.
  • If you want to save money and wrap your suitcase with a plastic film, do it in the airport because security check officers might decide to check your baggage and they won’t care whether you have a plastic film on it or not.
  • Keep in mind that sometimes baggage gets lost, that’s why essential items must be stored in carry-on baggage.
  • Take a photo of your luggage. If it gets lost, you’ll have a photo on your phone to identify the loss.

How to save money when buying tickets

  • Check prices on several ticket selling platforms because the difference in price might be significant. The extended search is a worthy function — it can help you see all available tickets from a certain city and choose where to go. Indicate the whole country instead of a certain city and tick the “Add nearby airports” option. You will manage to find the cheapest available option by doing this.
  • Choose flexible dates. Check for all flight options for the nearest dates (± 3 days).
  • Watch the price reduction. They keep changing constantly — not every month but every hour.
  • The cheapest way to buy tickets is one year prior to the planned trip, 2-3 months prior to the flight (if you are flying by a low-coster), several days prior to the flight (if you are flying on a charter flight or on a flight with a big air company in low-season);
  • Buy burning tours to get cheap tickets. The full travel pack is sometimes cheaper than tickets. Not only will you get a direct flight, but also a transfer and a prepaid hotel as a bonus.
  • Use incognito mode while searching for tickets — it will make the system think that you are a new visitor to the site and they will try to sell you tickets at a cheaper price to get you “hooked.”
  • Make sure you collect bonuses (or miles). For that, you need to get a bonus card first and then freely spend miles on buying new tickets or on buying goods onboard.

The specifics of a flight attendant’s life

  • You have no idea what weekday it is. Friday doesn’t seem as magical.
  • Instead of saying “Hello” on the phone, you say your name.
  • When filling in any documents, you always add your Personnel Number.
  • You have suitcases of various sizes for business trips. You don’t remember where you bought them — they are simply standing in a line on your balcony.
  • You have 4,587,327 alarms set for any time of the day on your phone.
  • Your wallet is full of coins but you can’t leave tips in a cafe because they are coins from different countries.
  • Even when you fly as a passenger, you instinctively shut all the overhead compartments. People around look puzzled at you and only the flight attendants understand that you are one of them.
  • When guests leave your home, you say to everyone, “All the best. Goodbye!”
  • 100% messages from your cell operator are greetings about arriving in a new country.
  • When you get a phone call from the control room, you start to think, in a panic, that you have mixed up the date of the flight.
  • You find yourself perplexed quite often about what and how to wear clothes in everyday life because your entire wardrobe is thought out for you at work.
  • Personal life is not about romance and flowers. It’s all your time apart from flights, sleeping, and moments when you are ironing your uniform.

How to build a relationship if you are a flight attendant

  • Let’s start with the fact that seeing each other will take place only when the person responsible for planning your schedule will let you have a day off. And if the flight attendant has had many flights before this day, it won’t be a day off but a sleeping day.
  • So you decided to give flowers to a flight attendant? Perhaps she will have a business trip and come back only when the flowers fade. Pot flowers are also not a good option — keep in mind she is oftentimes away from home.
  • It’s useless to plan dates because she only knows her schedule 2-3 days in advance.
  • It’s likely that you’ll celebrate significant dates, like Valentine’s Day and other milestones, by Skype.
  • She might come home as a usual office worker at 6 pm or at 4 am. She might not show up at all. The good thing is that she will not snow you under with her texts because she has no cell reception at work.
  • Your social circle will consist of flight attendants and partially of their boyfriends who work as pilots. At the same time, she will want to communicate with “ground” people and talk about anything except aviation.
  • If she sincerely loves her profession, you can “get her on the ground” only if she is on maternity leave.
  • Finally, here is the nicest bonus: if you decide to marry a flight attendant, you’ll get big discounts on air tickets. The main thing is to get married for love, not for the discount, to be able to enjoy those discounts together.

In fact, we have more free time than the average person. We work 80 hours a month, while an office worker works twice as much. But unfortunately, this doesn’t mean we can spend the rest of the time the way we want. After a night flight, for example, the next day won’t be full. Sometimes your boyfriend invites you on a date 3 days in advance and one day prior to it, you find out you have a flight the next day. This happens quite often.

But if you trust each other, it doesn’t matter how many business trips you have or that you are absent from home several evenings in a row — it’s possible to build a relationship with this kind of job too. We have many couples with kids and they live a happy married life. Yes, sometimes it’s difficult to plan something, but everything is discussable.

Tempting business class

Oftentimes, passengers try to cheat the system and change their seats for a business class seat during the flight. But flight attendants see everything. It’s prohibited to increase the service class onboard, this can only happen at the check-in counter. And still, people try to do it. Sometimes they buy 3 business class tickets and 1 economy class ticket; they say a kid can’t sit there alone and ask us to let them sit in business class all together.

Here are the top phrases from these passengers:

  • “Have you no mercy?”
  • “It’s vacant anyway!”
  • “I am not asking you to feed me, I just want to sit here!”
  • “My neighbor is sneezing and snoring.”
  • “There is not enough space for my leg.”

There are 1,000 and 1 excuses for why “I can’t stay in economy class.” When they can’t get what they want, they start to actively offer us money. Sometimes all this is done so they can sit in a comfortable chair for a while and take a photo, other times so they can spend the entire flight in business class.

A flight attendant might be restricted from getting onboard

  • So you come to the airport to catch a flight and forget one tiny document. It’s so tiny and so unnecessary in your opinion. Will they let you onboard without it? No!
  • Here is another situation: you are asked questions about rescue procedures during the briefing. You can hardly answer one, even harder — the second question and can’t say a word about rules for the use of rescue equipment. This employee can literally kill passengers and that’s why they are not allowed on the flight either.
  • Or you decided to become creative and you came up with an idea to get a bright yellow manicure on your nails. Moreover, you added 5 golden rings and put on fishnet tights. Though no one will argue with your taste, you won’t be allowed on board. Other flight attendants are there to replace you.

How I “cheated” a passenger for €280

At that point, I’d been working as a flight attendant for only one month. I went to business class to offer guests the chance to purchase onboard goods. There were a man and a woman sitting in neighboring seats. She placed an order and I went to get it for her. When I came back, the woman was not there. It was ok because the man she was flying with was in his seat. “€280, please,” I say. He gives me €300, I give him the goods and try to find the change. Suddenly the woman comes back, looks at us surprised, and asks, “Why is he paying for my order?” Me, “Aren’t you together?” She replies, “I don’t know this man.”

My world turned upside down during this pause. “Ok, your bill is €280,” I said after I got the order from her “husband.” Of course, we gave back all the money to the man. But the comicality of the situation still impresses me. The man obediently paid and took the bag with cosmetics not even looking at what was there. Then he returned it obediently and continued to watch the movie without showing any sign of being surprised.

How we spend business trips?

It doesn’t matter whether I am in New York or in some small town, it doesn’t matter whether I am going to stay there for a day or for a week — each trip is unique. It’s an incredible opportunity to see the world with your own eyes. But now I understand that if I am feeling bad, I won’t make myself go outside and will simply stay in the room despite a strong wish to go for a walk. However, in the first year of work I wanted to see everything. No sleep for 2 days? It’s ok — I am ready to walk 10 miles on foot in a new city.

Here are the answers to the most frequent questions about business trips:

  • All accommodation and meals are paid for by the company.
  • We stay in various hotels: from the ones which we want to leave as soon as possible, to the ones with perfect conditions that we don’t want to leave, even to go sightseeing.
  • Most often we either sleep or walk — everything depends on our mood. However, we pay for all of the extra excursions and entertainment by ourselves. When I just started to work, I wanted to try everything so I could spend more money on the trip than I earned for it.

It was worth going from Irkutsk to Lake Baikal and covering 45 miles to see that endless turquoise ice. I would probably never have visited some of such places without having this job. If I get a chance to go to the seaside for at least one day, I go there and really soak everything in. Your environment changes so often that everything looks nice to you — gloomy Moscow or sunny Spain — I look at everything with delight.

Would you like to connect your life with aviation?

Preview photo credit claudy.fly / Instagram


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