Welcome to the Diary of a Flight Attendant blog! Here you’ll get a glimpse into what the flight attendant life is really like, including the most bizarre things both passengers, cabin crew and Pilots do! You’ll also find a collection of genuinely funny, strange and downright shocking stories as well as some useful information if you are thinking to become cabin crew.
DIARY OF A FLIGHT ATTENDANT BLOG
What do you love most about flying?
Apart from getting to visit some incredible destinations, I love the dynamics within the cabin crew team! Of course there are some miserable flight attendants, but the majority are incredibly funny, positive and upbeat people who want to make the flight has fun as possible! They just have such a good energy about them! The flights go so quickly when you’re having a laugh and getting on so well with people you didn’t even know a few hours ago! Often you’ll have such a fun time out on the layover with a couple of the crew, and you’ll leave with some good friends by the end of the flight! I met so many lovely friends through flights – people that were culturally and socially so different to me but we just got on so well!
I also love how within the flying community cabin crew have lots of universal jokes between us, whether they be about the crew, pilots or the passengers!
What are your usual destinations?
I don’t have a regular ‘route’ – every month is different! One month I travelled to all 6 continents – that was amazing! Another month I had mostly turnarounds! All airlines vary, but most flight attendants won’t have regular routes that they fly on – they just get rostered on flights. Cabin crew will bid for the flights they want to get, but they won’t always be lucky enough to get them! Sometimes your roster for the month can be amazing, sometimes it can be awful.
I tend to request different destinations each month so I never get bored in the same destination! I love requesting Europe and the USA in the summer and Asia and Australia in the winter.
Where are some of the most annoying things passengers do on flights?
Ooh, I have a whole blog post dedicated to this question! For me the most annoying thing is when passengers bring far too many bags onboard and then expect you to put their bags up, or moan when there is no space in the overhead stowage for their bags! But there’s a lot of annoying things passengers can do on flights – click here to find out what they are!
Do you think Flight Attendants deserve the reputation they have?
Many people think being a Flight attendant is an unskilled job and we are just trolley dollies. That we just learn for 6 weeks of training how to pour a coke. In reality we are so much more. We are firefighters, we are midwives, doctors, counsellors. We learn how to survive in extreme conditions (from the desert to Polar places) if our plane crashes there, how to survive on a raft in the middle of the ocean for days and how to tackle hijackers and terrorists. Most importantly we are there to get you safely to your destination, and will risk our lives to ensure everyone gets out of the plane if we need to do an emergency evacuation. Please don’t think we are just a waitress in the sky – we are so much more than that.
Many people think that flight attendants are air-heads, that we have no direction in life, live in the moment and focus too much on appearances and partying. There are crew like this of course, but on the other hand many Flight Attendants are also studying for Degrees, Masters, working on projects such as vlogs or blogs etc like myself, or even opening up businesses on the side. Several of my cabin crew friends are even training to become pilots! All whilst working full-time as cabin crew, it is very challenging and commendable.
I love to see crew pursuing their hobbies and dreams and other ventures on the side. Being a Flight Attendant is very demanding and tiring on the body, so it takes a lot of motivation to do these extra kinds of things as well.
How is the Flight Attendant salary?
Flight Attendants get a good salary, although it varies from one month to the next. Unlike regular jobs, we don’t get a fixed salary. We get a very basic salary, and then we get paid for the amount of hours we fly. If we do a lot of short flights we won’t get as much money compared to a long layover, as you get a layover allowance when you are outside your base. It also depends where your layover is as to how much your layover allowance will be: the pay we get in Europe for example, is higher than what we get in Asia. If we are sick or have a lot of leave one month, our salary the next month will be greatly reduced as we won’t have been flying.
Do Flight Attendants get to fly for free?
This depends on the airline – some offer free flights to their staff, some offer a greatly reduced price. Either way though, you will be travelling on standby which means you will only get on the flight if there is a spare empty seat! If the flight is full you can’t get on, so travelling on standby requires you to be flexible! I have had to completely change my holiday plans at the airport as I couldn’t get to the destination so ended up spontaneously going somewhere else last minute as it was the only flight with any spare seats! Standby travel can be very stressful as you often don’t know until the last minute whether you can get on the flight (so you have to run to the gate so you don’t miss the flight!), so this certainly makes up for the cost savings!
How did you become a Flight Attendant?
Honestly, being a Flight Attendant was never something I had even considered doing when I was younger! The idea only came to me when I was 27 and was living in Italy. This gave me a taste of full time travel and living abroad and I really enjoyed it! The salaries in Italy are fairly low – a lot lower than what I used to earn in London, so I wanted to find another job abroad where I could still travel a lot, and where I got paid a good salary. I literally typed into Google “jobs where you can travel” and flight attendant jobs came up, and that was it!
I applied first time not really expecting much. Then I got invited to an Assessment Day, and from then I knew that I wanted to become a cabin crew. I prepared for the Assessment Day very well, passed the interview and was doing my training less than 2 months later! Click here to read more about the assessment day.
What are your tips for people applying to become a Flight Attendant?
Think about which airline you want to work for first. Would you like to work in your home country or relocate abroad like I did? (Click here to read about my experiences living in The Middle East). Would you like to fly mostly short haul (turnarounds) or long haul (layovers)? There is no perfect airline for everybody – you just need to find the one most suited to what you want lifestyle wise. After you have decided this, you need to make sure your CV really stands out – otherwise you won’t even get shortlisted for an assessment day! Click here for help on how to write the perfect Cabin Crew CV!
It is really important you are honest in your CV! The airline will do background checks! Once you have an assessment date, do as much research as you can about the airline – have they got any new routes opening up or new aircraft ordered for example?
You don’t need to go to an aviation school before, but you do need to be able to confidently say why you want to work for that airline in particular as well as know some of the destinations they fly to. Also make sure to dress appropriately and with neat hair and makeup girls (click here to view some popular cabin crew hairstyles).
What would you say to someone who didn’t pass the cabin crew interview?
I know it’s much easier said than done, but if you don’t get accepted first time please don’t take it personally. Sometimes the airlines have a particular criteria they need to fill. For example the may be opening a route to Japan and are specifically looking for Japanese language speakers. Or sometimes they only have the budget for a very few amount of spaces they can fill, and so even though many applicants were really good and deserved to get through, they can only pick some of them.
As you don’t need prior training to become cabin crew, and it is seen as a great job by so many, the cabin crew process can be very competitive. So much of the cabin crew application process has to do with timing. Some airlines don’t hire for years, whereas some hire more frequently. Some airlines do a big recruitment drive at once, some only hire a few people each time. So many people apply to become cabin crew and they say only around 2% of applicants go on to successfully land the job, so don’t feel disheartened if you don’t get it straight away. Reflect on what went well and what didn’t and try again when the airline recruits again.
What are some of the funniest things passengers have said onboard?
‘I am allergic to halal’. That was definitely a first!
‘Where is the toilet for the US passport holders?’ Honey we don’t even have a separate toilet for staff, not to mind for each different nationality!
When asking the passenger if he would like chicken or vegetarian meal: ’I am a vegetable, my wife is a chicken’. So cute!
What are some of the most shocking things that have happened to cabin crew on flights?
Once we had one crew who last minute had been swapped to work on our flight. During boarding she ran into the galley and burst into tears. We asked her what was wrong – it turned out her boyfriend of 2 years had just got onto the plane as a passenger with his wife and 3 children. He had no idea she had working on the flight, and she had no idea that he had been living a double life and was infact married!! Poor girl.
Another time we were all in the galley chatting after the meal service. The subject of conversation turned to boys (naturally it always does at some point during the flight). Two girls were comparing their boyfriends – how amazing they were, what gifts they had bought them. Suddenly it dawned on them that it was infact the same guy!! The two girls both had the same boyfriend! What a hell of a coincidence. A full-on girl fight started there and then in the galley and let’s just say it got very messy!
Do Cabin Crew ever fall asleep on their jumpseat?
Of course we never want to admit that we’ve done it, but I challenge you to find a cabin crew who hasn’t fallen asleep on their jumpseat at some point during their flying career. Heck, I’ve even fallen asleep on it during takeoff when a flight was ridiculously delayed!
One crew I know was in such a deep sleep on his jumpseat that when the plane landed it must have confused him and made him jump so much that he started shouting ‘brace, brace!’. The landing had obviously startled him so much and given him so much adrenaline that he must have thought the plane was about to crash! Needless to say, that didn’t go down too well at his Manager’s office the next morning.
No crew will intentionally fall asleep on their jumpseat during landing as it is a safety breach and crew have even been fired for this. You need to be alert to disarm your door after landing, or incase there is an emergency, as most airplane accidents happen during landing.
Do Cabin Crew often phone sick for flights?
Whilst I never had the guts to pull a sickie, lots of cabin crew are masters at faking an illness when there is a horrible flight they do not want to do! A popular one is to fake that they have conjunctivitis. They will do this by rubbing broken up crackers into their eyes! Yep. Ouch. They do this right before they report for duty/see the doctor, so their eyes become red and weep a little. Bingo. Sick leave granted instantly. *Do not try this at home, even though you are tempted next time you are sick!*
If there are any other things you would like to know about in the Diary of a Flight Attendant, just drop me a message below!
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!