oxygen masks
I hope you will never have to put on oxygen masks in the unlikely event of an emergency; but these “passengers” are having fun. Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

About Which of the 10 Shocking Secrets of Flight Attendants Did You Already Know?

P lease do not blame me for the “click-bait” title of this article. Rather, blame Heather Poole. She has worked for a major airline carrier for greater than 15 years and is the author of a book who wrote the original article, which I found interesting…

…or perhaps blame the editorial staff at Mental Floss for arriving at the decision to run the original article.

Better yet, blame Dan Miller. It is all his fault. If he had not written and posted this article at Points With A Crew — the title of the weblog which seems to insinuate “scoring” with flight attendants rather than about traveling with his wife and six children, but I digress as usual — I probably would not have known about it.

There. Now that I absolved myself of all blame and responsibility whatsoever, herethereforeunto, and all of those other words lawyers create by combining three or four words into one, I can move on with this article — as well as consider using my talents to apply for a marketing position at the corporate headquarters of an airline or lodging chain.

Yeah. Right.

About Which of the 10 Shocking Secrets of Flight Attendants Did You Already Know?

Well, the most “shocking” to me is the eleventh secret where the editorial staff of Mental Floss “begged Poole to reveal 10 workplace secrets“; and in return, they “promised to buy her something nice from SkyMall.”

Really? How did Heather Poole actually rate to earn such a substantial raise from her salary as an employee of a major airline carrier?!? Help me out here, Sarah Steegar!

There I go again, digressing. Can’t a guy have some fun around here?

Anyway — for your entertainment, as well as providing some information which may be of interest to you — the 10 shocking secrets of flight attendants are listed below; but the text is my commentary. If you want to read what Heather Poole originally wrote, you will need to access the original article.

1. If the Airplane Door is Open, We are Not Getting Paid.

This is true. I knew this little factoid from when I co-organized two major events for frequent fliers at Delta Air Lines several years ago — not to mention the number of flight attendants who have imparted this information to me.

The next time you see a flight attendant struggling to get everything ready prior to the doors being closed for a flight; or doing what he or she can to get passengers off of the airplane smoothly; or waiting with the passengers during a delay for either a mechanical issue to be resolved or for someone to finally arrive to operate the jet bridge, pay that flight attendant a nice compliment or word of encouragement.

Sometimes that small acknowledgement can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.

2. Landing This Gig Is TOUGH.

“Competition is fierce: When Delta announced 1,000 openings in 2010, it received over 100,000 applications”, according to Poole. “Even Harvard’s acceptance rate isn’t that low!”

I have seen and heard a lot of criticism to that remark, which implies that becoming a flight attendant is more difficult than being accepted for matriculation at Harvard University.

I am not about to immerse myself into that debate; but I still receive requests about how a person can become a flight attendant pertaining to this article about wanting to be a flight attendant — and some of what is involved to become one — which I wrote on Friday, August 22, 2014.

“The 4 percent who do get a callback interview really need to weigh the pros and cons of the job”, continued Poole. “As we like to say, flight attendants must be willing to cut their hair and go anywhere. And if you can’t survive on $18,000 a year, most new hires’ salary, don’t even think about applying.”

The same can probably be said for pilots, which is one reason why there is a nationwide shortage of pilots, which has contributed to some smaller airlines to pare routes and seek bankruptcy protection

3. We Can Be Too Tall or Too Short to Fly.

I do not know about being too tall; but my experience suggests to me that there are some flight attendants who are too short to fly — and I am not referring to height.

Fortunately, that type of short flight attendants are few and far between.

4. We Can Be Fired For Bizarre Reasons.

Could one of those bizarre reasons be referring to flight attendants who deploy an inflatable emergency evacuation slide to leave the aircraft — which is what happened earlier this week?

5. Diet Coke is Our Nemesis!

I did not know that of all the drinks served by flight attendants, Diet Coke takes the most time to pour — the fizz takes forever to settle at 35,000 feet. “In the time it takes me to pour a single cup of Diet Coke, I can serve three passengers a different beverage”, wrote Poole. “So even though giving cans to first-class passengers is a big no-no, you’ll occasionally spy 12 ounces of silver trimmed in red sitting up there.”

I did not realize how helpful my ordering orange juice is to flight attendants — although I do order that occasional cola, lemon and lime soda or ginger ale whenever I have a meal aboard an airplane…

6. If You Try to Sneak a Dead Body Onto a Plane, We Will Notice.

“You may have heard the story of a Miami passenger who tried to board a flight with his dead mother inside a garment bag. Why would someone do such a thing? Because it’s expensive to transport human bodies! Prices vary by destination, but delivering a body on a flight can cost up to $5,000. Commercial carriers transport bodies across the country every day, and because the funeral directors who arrange these flights are offered air miles for their loyalty, they’re not always concerned about finding the lowest fare.”

Hmm…does that behavior seem similar to those passengers who pass off their pets as emotional support animals — also to avoid fees to transport their pets in the cargo hold of the airplane?

Thankfully, Poole has never had someone sneak a deceased passenger on board — but her roommate did; and she imparts the short story in the original article.

Here is a little tidbit: “No one officially dies in-flight unless there’s a doctor on board to make the pronouncement. On these very rare occasions, the crew will do everything possible to manage the situation with sensitivity and respect. Unfortunately, most flights are full, so it’s not always possible to move an “incapacitated” passenger to an empty row of seats. Singapore Airlines is the most prepared. Its planes feature a “corpse cupboard,” a compartment for storing a dead body if the situation arises.”

Fortunately, I also have never seen someone sneak a deceased passenger aboard an airplane — at least, to my knowledge, anyway — nor have I ever experienced the death of a fellow passenger during a flight on which I was a passenger.

7. We’ll Also Notice If You Try to Join the Mile High Club.

I have no comment on this; but you could “join the mile high club” in other ways.

For example, you can purchase this special bed

…and there are also charter flights on small aircraft equipped with a bed where you are encouraged to “join the mile high club” — such as Love Cloud in Las Vegas, as one example — if, of course, you pay the airfare and are able to complete the deed within a limited amount of time…

8. We’re the First Line of Defense Against Human Trafficking.

In the original article, Poole related a couple of stories about how she has worked with police to combat human trafficking — and it is good to know that flight attendants are engaged in helping to mitigate this practice in any way possible.

I cannot recall any flights on which I was a passenger where I witnessed anything resembling human trafficking; but then again, what do I know?

9. Seniority Means Shorter Skirts.

Am I the only person who thought that this was backwards: the more senior the female flight attendant, the longer the length of the skirt should be?

In all seriousness, along with other examples — such as “the hierarchy in our crashpad, an apartment shared by as many as 20 flight attendants”; the “difference between top or lower bunk, what floor your bed is on, and just how far away your room is from noisy areas such as doors or stairwells” — seniority can determine the length of the skirts of flight attendants. “We can’t hem them above a certain length until we’re off probation. Afterward, it’s OK to shorten the hem and show a little leg. Some of the friskier pilots take advantage of the long hems; they know that new hires tend to be more flattered by their advances than senior flight attendants. (One senior flight attendant I know intentionally left her skirt long just to keep these guys interested!)”

10. You’ve Never Experienced Extreme Turbulence.

“More than 2 million people fly in the United States each day, and yet since 1980, only three people have died as a direct result of turbulence. Of those fatalities, two passengers weren’t wearing their safety belts.”  That is a rather interesting statistic.

“Interestingly, on some airlines, a flight attendant’s injuries in flight can’t be officially classified as an on-duty injury unless it happens during what’s known as ‘extreme turbulence’ — where the captain loses control of the plane or the craft sustains structural damage. In both of those cases, the aircraft must be grounded and inspected. Because no one wants to ground a plane, captains are very hesitant to hand out the “extreme turbulence” label.”

While not extreme turbulence, one FlyerTalk member imparted a first-hand account of severe turbulence; and in that same article, I wrote about how I know someone — who is a veteran member of both InsideFlyer and FlyerTalk — who enjoys turbulence because it rocks him to sleep during a flight.


I already knew many of the “10 shocking secrets of flight attendants”; but there was some information about which I did not know…

…but was there any information about which you did not already know?

Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

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