Flight attendants, cabin crew, air hostesses, stewardesses, trolley dollies, galley hags…whatever you call us, we tend to be seen as these glamorous group of people who live the most amazing life. And trust me, most of the time, that’s true. I have to say, I have the best job in the world; I get to travel across the pond to spend a day exploring to my heart’s content. I go out with my coworkers for dinner and drinks while getting paid. I get to meet tons of people of all walks of life and spend up to eight hours with them. Usually, they are so nice and can give me things to do (if they’re locals); sometimes, though, they are a whiny bunch and don’t understand that there’s certain things I just cannot do for them.
- I cannot work on the Wi-Fi while we are in flight. If it stops working, I have no control over it coming back on. Read a book or talk to your neighbor.
- The food and drinks are not free. The website specifically says that. That’s why your ticket is cheap.
- Dammit, stop leaving the bathroom door open!
- No, I cannot get your bag out of cargo. You were specifically told not to leave your medication in there.
- Sorry, I only speak English and French.
- It’s not my fault we only accept credit cards, I cannot take your cash.
The worst part for me though is when we have transit stops. Due to regulations, we have to stay at our destinations for at least 24 hours before we can work another flight, mainly due to the fact that we’re crossing so many time zones. When we leave the US, the flights always leave at night and land the next morning, local time. Then, sometimes, we will have to immediately catch a taxi for two hours before we can check into the hotel and catch some sleep.
It’s frustrating sitting in a car with six other people (the rest of the crew and the driver), sometimes literally a six-seater with our luggage squashed behind us, no one able to find a comfortable position to sit, it’s like when passengers can’t get comfortable in the middle seat. Except their seats recline.
It came to me wanting to rip my hair out last week when we had a ton of cancelled flights. Originally, I was supposed to fly to Shannon and then taxi to Cork. Then the Shannon flight got cancelled so I was put on the flight to Cork the next day and had a taxi to Shannon. Then I woke up that morning to an email saying that flight got cancelled. So I was flying to Belfast and taxiing to Shannon. But I was deadheading.
Deadheading (v.): a term used in the airline industry meaning an employee is scheduled to fly a flight as a passenger, usually to work another flight later.
So I had a 7 hour flight and then a 4 hour taxi ride. Only to work for 7 hours the next day. But wait, there’s more! That flight brought me to New York, not Providence. So then I was scheduled for a 3 hour taxi to bring me back to Rhode Island. We are convinced that crew scheduling out in Ireland just looked at a map of the US and picked two cities that seemed close together without realizing that they really aren’t.
Coming up at the end of the month, I have another deadhead (this time from Belfast) to New York and again a taxi back home. Hopefully I can get that changed so I can catch a flight back to Providence instead. It’s just easier and has better transit options than having to wait more time for someone to come and pick me up.
Crew scheduling, as everyone will say, seems to be out to get us at times. They’ll forget to change our schedules when we ask, vacation time is never a given until the day it starts, and standby becomes a waiting game that will be the death of us all. Currently, they have me staying in New York for two days, which is nice because that means I can go into the city for the weekend, but my next check-in is at Shannon airport in Ireland. I’m not sure how they expect me to get there. Obviously, some calls have to be made.
It’s a wonderful job and allows me to do what I’ve always wanted, which is to travel. But it’s still a job where you have to put up with the corporate bullshit. I am away from my boyfriend for days on end, even not seeing him when I’m home because our schedules don’t match up. The nights can be lonely because you are not used to the time zone or the bed and it’s hard to settle down. Delayed flights become so commonplace; I’ve already said my flight has been cancelled twice, I’ve also been delayed over three hours during a training day, got stuck on the tarmac for almost two, and am just waiting for winter to come when I know delays will be an almost daily occurrence due to the fact that I live in New England. Have you ever seen this video? Imagine that on your two-hour commute.
However, if this is the worst I can complain about, I am doing quite well. There are nurses and cops and firefighters and other first responders that are up for days right now due to all the disaster relief they must do. Texans, Floridians, Puerto Ricans are all going to be struggling for a long time to get back to their jobs. Some people aren’t going to be able to see their family members after the hurricanes or Las Vegas. As cabin crew, I feel like we should not only remember that we are bringing people on vacation and to have a good time, but also to remember that we will be bringing people out for funerals or relief efforts and to always remember how lucky we are to be able to travel for work.