Want to Be a Flight Attendant? You Might Want to Think Twice…

T here is something alluring about responding “Oh, I will be traveling to Paris tonight” after being asked if you are available tonight; and the envious look on the face of the other person might be further emphasized upon realizing that you are actually getting paid to do so, as it is your job…

…so it is no wonder or surprise that after I posted the article titled Want to Be a Flight Attendant? Read This First…, I received numerous requests on how to become a flight attendant — despite my warning that you better know what you are getting yourself into: “…it is not just about working long hours, nights, weekends and holidays, commuting, and being junior — nor is it just about how your home life will be difficult and your personal life will suffer.” You must enjoy interacting with people as a representative of the airline for which you work — and you must do just about anything for the job.

Then again — although I participated in a course offered by Delta Air Lines known as Road Warrior Training several times — I have never been a flight attendant.

Want to Be a Flight Attendant? You Might Want to Think Twice…

“It’s heartbreaking when what you love becomes who you hate.”

Kara Mulder is a flight attendant and has been one since 2009; and she expressed her emotions openly in an article titled Tears on the Jumpseat.

Here is the opening paragraph — also playing the role of excerpt — from that article:

Amidst the darkness, I sat silently, feeling the forward momentum of the aircraft propel the jet down the runway and on a trajectory to cross The Atlantic. Somewhere between 2.5 yrs, a leave for fatigue, hundreds of long-haul flights, a couple of situations of sexual harassment, wonderful colleagues, amazing friendships, a few pounds gained, incredible experiences, I was losing hope. Or I already had lost it. Amidst the darkness — with a crew member on the jumpseats to my right and left — tears slid softly down my California suntanned cheeks. With each drop of salty liquid, I begged the universe to take me anywhere but here. I begged the universe to help me escape this company and this place. I begged the universe to make all of this stop. The destinations no longer seemed appealing. It could be Stockholm or Stockton, California for all I cared. I just wanted to go home. I just wanted a home. I just wanted a life. I just wanted everything that I couldn’t make this life give me.

After seven years in a profession which unexpectedly became her career, Mulder has since been expressing her thoughts in rethinking a job in which thousands of others eagerly await the next opening. Other articles she has written help to fill in the void which led to those tears on the jumpseat — such as this poignant article where she wished that she was not leaving after spending the day with the man who kissed her goodbye after an “incredibly fun week” in total.

Summary

The old saying of be careful what you wish for, it might come true — or some variation thereof — comes to mind here. Despite my passion for travel, I have never had a desire to become a flight attendant…

…and although I have traveled on business trips, they are typically not much fun — in fact, they can be more annoying, stressful and aggravating — unless there is at least one day of free time to enjoy the destination at which I am staying.

I never envied people who traveled on business to such places as Hawai’i and the Caribbean. Who wants to spend all day indoors watching presentations on boring topics when the sun and surf beckon outside? You might as well assign a starving person to write articles in a weblog pertaining to food.

To have a job where you wake up in the morning exclaiming that you cannot believe you are getting paid to do it is a rarity — but not an impossibility. I have always believed that a person should absolutely enjoy what he or she does for a living where a day off is considered cruel and unusual punishment — but knowing what are your limitations and dislikes is quite important, as doing what you enjoy doing for a living may not exactly be utopia when peppered with things you disdain: a boss who micro-manages; having to perform tasks such as accounting or sales if you are not into that sort of thing; or having to do repetitive work which grows old rather quickly.

Traveling to places on your own terms is typically the best way to do it. Being told to travel to a place which you despise or have no interest visiting at the behest of a superior in a corporation can be more than bad enough by itself; but to do so while performing some of the seemingly menial tasks expected of a flight attendant can potentially drive someone bonkers.

If you are thinking about becoming a flight attendant, think long and hard — and do exhaustive research. Ask yourself the tough questions: can you handle an emergency situation professionally? Are you willing to deal with the results of the unexpected reverse peristalsis of a queasy passenger? Do you long to serve customers with what they want; and deal with complaints when they are unhappy for whatever reason? Are you willing to endure the long and difficult application process; and if selected, the weeks of intense training?

For additional information, The Flight Attendant Life — the weblog for which Kara Mulder writes — has an extensive resource area pertaining to just about everything you need to know in order to embark on a career as a flight attendant.

Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

7 thoughts on “Want to Be a Flight Attendant? You Might Want to Think Twice…”

  1. Left Handed Passenger says:

    What compels you to say “weblog” in this day and age?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Hey, man — like it is part of the scene, you know, Left Handed Passenger? I get this stuff out 23 skidoo using my manual typewriter and rubbing the carbon paper copy against the monitor with a burnisher so it prints properly on the Internet.

      This newfangled technology is the bee’s knees, man!

  2. Ramsey says:

    I always tell people that I had the best job in the world for 27 years….it was never work to me, just a place to go have fun with the pax (and if your lucky have sex with them), ………but the job has changed, it is not as physically challenging now (this would take me quite a while to explain how much of “the work” part has been eliminated). let me list a few for any skeptics out there.

    1. The closed overhead bin, we did not have that when I started, you would get soaked with sweat just trying to manhandle and cram everyone’s luggage under the seat and in insufficient closets.

    2. A simple item, crew luggage with wheels. Rollerboard bags did not start till the 80’s, you carried one crew bag in one hand and a shoulder bag in the other . Lugging your luggage everywhere by hand sucked. Now I know why my neck used to always hurt.

    3. Accepting every currency in Europe on 1 flight. Good for my math skills, but selling headsets for the movie on a trip over the pond took forever. Good thing we were able to pocket a lot of it, TWA never made us accountable for Headsets or Liquors sales inventory ( only in-flight Duty Free Sales)….I remember an International Flight Service Manager ( Lead F/A on 747 ) who came to work with a brand new luxury sports car that had the vanity licence plate ‘HEADSETS’ on it.

    4. The in aisle beverage cart. The modern day F/A gets a good to go loaded drink cart at each station. This did not exist yet, so once we leveled off,we had to take a rolling collapsible card out and set it up with every drink request possibility. Use it and then break it down and put it away.

    5. Y Meal Service was far more involved/ at times up to choice of 5 in coach. Oy Vey what a pain in the ass it was when you ran out of choices. Nowadays people are delighted just to get a bag of free pretzels. Back then they would get indignant if they did not get their first choice.

    I could go on for hours…….. say hey to The North Korean Klock Lady for me. I think she is joining Boarding Area with her wonderful blog any day now.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Well, I learned some new things, Ramsey.

      Thank you for imparting that information.

      Wow…a choice of up to 5 meals. I will bet that led to analysis paralysis for some passengers…

  3. Denise says:

    I know you stated that you never had a desire to be a F/A. However, I can’t help thinking you would of made an awesome stew. After 36 years I think a lot has changed and some aspects have stayed the same. To me, the most that has changed is the interaction with the flight deck ( formerly known as the cockpit ). We used to get a long as a team. They’ve gotten big salaries and big heads. I still love my job, but I wouldn’t encourage my family to start a career with the airlines. My children are a teacher and a physical therapist respectfully. It’s funny though, the other night I was at a gathering and a girl around 21 told me it’s her dream to be a F/A. I immediately told her how to apply and encouraged her to apply with all the carriers that are hiring. If it’s your dream, then it’s your destiny……just like mine!!!! Safe travels to all!!!

    1. ramsey says:

      Denise he biggest change with the cockpit I noticed over the years was the decline of professionalism. When I started the pilots were soon to be retiring WWII vets. It was like working with John Waynes, they were impressive. They were replaced as you know with Korean War Veteran Pilots, also professional. competent and impressive. They retired only to be replaced by the Vietnam War trained pilots, great too, but since many more were Navy trained (aircraft carriers) the landings seemed harder (as in hard landing). By the time AA gave all of us at TWA the boot, they were hiring pilots who worked at bike shops and went to Sal’s School of Flyin’ not so professional, goofy at times….the only time in my career whereI worried about the competency of the flight deck crew.

  4. ramsey says:

    Also the pilots are locked up in there in the cockpit hermetically sealed like solid white tuna in the can. The days of going up there for an hour or two, during the movie, to shoot the shat and get away from the passengers is a thing of the past. I remember a hot new hire chick (F/A) going up there during the service and the pilot let her fly and tip the wings during cruise. We all felt it, and she bragged about it afterwards. I was so pissed and would of reported the pilot, but it would of been denied by those involved and I would of been blacklisted as persona non grata.

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