Another Day in the Life

One of the most common questions I get asked is this: What does a typical day look like for you?

I found myself asking this question a lot while I was in training, and then I heard a few fellow Flight Attendants answer this question multiple times to inquisitive passengers in my first few weeks on the job. At first I thought, how annoying, this job isn’t that unpredictable. That was like, week two. And now I’m over here repeating the same things those Senior Mama’s were saying back in June.

This job is unpredictable.

Every day is different.

I couldn’t even begin to outline a typical day.

However, in a very vague, broad sense I could. I kind-of did in my last blog, and I’d like to try to answer this question in a bit more detail.

My schedule is centered around rotations. Rotations are varied amounts of days comprised of 1-4 legs between cities all over the country. Rotations vary in range from one day rotations to eight day rotations. I do my best to work two to three day rotations because they fit best with my lifestyle.

I’ll map out a standard(ish) three day  rotation to give you an idea.

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First you have to look the part…

Day 1:

-Report to the airport at 11:12. Brief with the crew for the day and head up to the aircraft. Gate G19. Sweet. I love G19.

-Check emergency equipment on plane, stow bags, introduce self to the pilots, and work on organizing those drink carts until people start to board.

-Once people start to board, help the mother with three children, no husband, four carry-ons, and an overflowing diaper bag that keeps spilling it’s contents into the aisle find her seats and get her life together.

-Finish boarding and prepare for take-off.

-Take-off and prepare beverage service. Complete beverage service as quickly and efficiently as possible. Stow carts. Hang out. Chat with the cool people who decide to practice some yoga in the galley.

-Prepare cabin for landing.

-Land.

-Deplane.

-Repeat above steps three more times.

-Layover in…Panama City! Woo! We love Panama City because we’ve been in Minneapolis during the cold snap and nobody should have to experience a -35 degree climate. It’s the tundra, people. It really is.

-Since it’s Panama City you do everything in your power to spend as much time on the beach because it’s literally right outside the hotel. And for shame if you don’t take advantage of that.

Day 2:

-Drag yourself away from the beach, and capture the serenity of sand between your toes because in a few hours you’ll need to find your way back to that place when the gate agent tells you you have five emotional support animals on board, two blind passengers, a passenger who is hard of hearing, and seventeen passengers needing wheelchairs.

-Repeat steps aforementioned in Day 1 up until the layover because tonight’s layover is….

-Kansas City.

-Stay in bed all 12 hours and order room service because it’s discounted and payday was last night. Plus you’re staying at a hotel next to the airport so it’s not like you can go out and see the sights anyways.

-Wake-up relaxed, even thought you listened to the sounds of planes landing last night. You’re used to it by now.

Day 3:

-It’s day three and they’ve relieved you of working one leg, however they’ve tagged on a penalty lap at the end. (Penalty lap: when scheduling is ever so nice to have you fly back to your base only to fly you out to a near destination and back again immediately after. I.E. MCI (Kansas City) to MSP, then MSP to  SLC to MSP.)

-You suffer through all three legs with grace and a cheerful smile, because it’s day three and tonight you’ll be sleeping in your own bed.

-After flying to Minneapolis and Salt Lake City and then back to Minneapolis, you’re released upon the final deplaning. You take the employee shuttle back to the parking lot, scrape all the ice and three feet of snow off your car and wait ten minutes for it to unfreeze, and once you get home, throw your suitcase in the corner and fall into your cozy bed.

Obviously there are a lot of variables here. Sometimes I have to report at 0420, sometimes at 1800. Sometimes I only work one leg a day, sometimes I work four. Sometimes my layovers are all short and I can’t do much around the hotel. Sometimes my layovers are so long that I get to stay in the same hotel for two nights. Sometimes I get to layover in really awesome cities, sometimes they are cities that demand you work a little harder to find it’s niche. I’ll be honest, there are definitely sometimes I don’t leave my hotel room, even on long layovers. (Like that one I just had in Madison where it was -17 degrees outside. Yeah, no.)

And then there are international rotations (like the one I have to Amsterdam coming up!) that are consistently one leg there, 24+hour layover, one leg back.

As with everything else, my job is an entire shade of gray. There is always consistency with the inconsistency.

 

Do you have an obscure job where every day is different? What does your typical day look like?

 

Seven Reasons Why Being A Flight Attendant is the Best Job Ever

Let me get started by saying this: I never wanted to be a Flight Attendant. I viewed Flight Attendant’s as ditzy women and men serving only one purpose: to give me my Diet Coke. Really. This is what I thought. And I know I’m not alone, because I see the bored look in your eyes as you watch me perform the safety demo, or even better, when you avoid eye contact with me at all costs. It’s okay. I don’t blame you.

I used to do the same thing.

But then I went through seven intense weeks of training where I learned how to handle emergencies at 35,000 feet where there are no hospitals, and possibly no doctors. I learned how to evacuate an entire aircraft in 90 seconds, how to deliver a baby, what to do if smoke fills the cabin and the closest diversion is still 20 minutes away. This just scratches the surface. But as passengers, we never see that side of things (hopefully), we just see these bright and cheery (most of the time) men and women in polyester suits pouring Cokes and showing us how to fasten our seatbelts.

So, I wanted to compile a list of the many, many reasons why becoming a Flight Attendant was one of the best choices I’ve made in my life to date. I could easily list 100+ reasons, but I’ll narrow it down and sum it up to just seven.

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Reason #1 Why Being A Flight Attendant is a Kick-Ass Job: You Literally Travel Around the World on The Company’s Dime. Literally. My airline flies me across the country (with the agreement that I pour some drinks and avert any potential disasters) for free. They put me up in four-to-five star hotels. They give me a daily allowance for food. And they provide transportation to/from the airport. This is my typical work day. I generally fly between two-three flights per day, and then layover anywhere between 9.5-33 hours in any particular place. In the last seven months I’ve spent 29 hours in Montréal, 18 hours in San Antonio, 31 hours in Albany, 28 hours in Amsterdam, 25 hours in Narita, 25 hours in London, 32 hours in Charlottesville, 33 hours in Albuquerque, and on and on. And let me tell you, even 18 hours is more than enough to venture out into a city you’ve never been a get a small taste of it.

Reason #2 Why Being a Flight Attendant is a Kick-Ass Job: Whenever You Aren’t Working You Still Get to Travel for Free or Cheap. That’s right. On my off days I’m visiting friends in Spokane, or Salt Lake, or Denver. I’m visiting family in Phoenix. I’m taking a week to go to Hong Kong or Thailand. My boyfriend and I have been dredging through this temporary long-distance relationship, but it’s hardly long-distance because on my off days I can hop on a plane for a couple hours to see him, even if it’s only for 24 hours or less. And that whole Thailand trip? Yeah. Cost me $78 roundtrip. You can hate me now, I won’t blame you.

Reason #3 Why Being a Flight Attendant is a Kick-Ass Job: One Word–Flexibility. I receive a schedule every month like most hourly workers. However, unlike most hourly workers, some months I’ll have 18 days off, other months I’ll have 12 days off, but consistently I’m scheduled to work 14-16 days per month. That means I have 14-17 days off. I can drop trips, pick-up trips, or swap for any trips that fit my schedule. In the month of January I dropped all of my trips. Which, (if I wanted to be poor) I could have kept and only worked nine days out of the whole month. But I got bills to pay, yo, so I picked up a few trips with some layovers that looked fun. And if I don’t want to work them, chances are I can find somebody else who does.

Reason #4 Why Being a Flight Attendant is a Kick-Ass Job: The People. I feel it goes without saying that this point can be both a pro and a con. But let’s focus on the positive. The people I came into contact with on a daily basis are travelers. They are going from point A to point B. They’re going for business or pleasure or family. My passengers are contractors and lawyers and mothers and vagabonds. They have stories about traveling through South America, and building their way up from the bottom, and founding non-profits in China. They’re excited about where they’re going and they’re sad to be going home. Sometimes they’re having a day where everything is going wrong, and sometimes everything’s going so right that they tip me for letting them borrow my pen. They keep me on my toes and they keep my job interesting. Yes, I am thankful for my passengers. (Even the crazy ones.)

Reason #5 Why Being a Flight Attendant is a Kick-Ass Job: It’s. So. Easy. Really. It is. It involves a lot of smiling, and a lot of small talk. It involves knowing how to open a can of Coca-Cola and teeny-tiny bottles of liquor. It involves thinking on your toes and solving problems at a moment’s notice. It involves creativity and patience. And in the worst-case scenario it will involve life-saving procedures and complete savviness. But that event is so unlikely. I spend my time during take-off and landing reviewing our safety procedures, but the rest of the time I’m genuinely enjoying my job because it’s all temporary. We’re all just hanging out on a metal tube hurtling through the sky at 500mph for a couple hours and then we’ll all go our separate ways. Ain’t no thang.

Reason #6 Why Being a Flight Attendant is a Kick-Ass Job: You Don’t Take Work Home With You. When I’m released I’m released. I’m not thinking about what I have to get done before I go back to work. I’m not thinking about how I don’t want to see this person or that person tomorrow (mostly because I rarely fly with the same people twice). I’m doing nothing on my time off, except enjoying my time off. It allows me to pursue some of my other interests like writing and skiing and sleeping-in.😉

Reason #7 Why Being a Flight Attendant is a Kick-Ass Job: Everyday Is Different. I know to some people this sounds like a death sentence, and I get it. I have friends who adhere to routine as if it were their lifeline. Hats off to you, you help balance the world with people like me who need consistent inconsistency. With my job I’m never getting up at the same time everyday, which means I also don’t get off work at the same time everyday. I’m never working with the same people. I’m not ever even in the same place. One night I’m on the West Coast, the next I’m in Canada. It’s literally a constant, ever-changing adventure, and I wouldn’t dare change it because it gives me the world.

So there you go. Seven reasons why being a Flight Attendant is a kick-ass job. Have I convinced you? I hope so, because once you’re hired I get to move up on the seniority list😉

Until next time-

 

 

Returning to my Small Town Roots

It has come to my attention over the last few months that I am not, in fact, a city girl. I’ve spent most of my life thinking that I don’t belong in these small towns I keep finding myself in, and that everything will change and opportunities will arise and my life as I know it will change once I move to New York or Chicago or Boston. However, the more I travel with this job the more I realize: I’m a small town girl at heart, and I always will be.

This fact hit me hardest when I visited Bozeman, Montana. I looked forward to this rotation the whole month of July because I missed the mountains that Minnesota so obviously lacks, and once I landed I felt the relief and sense of home-ness you only get when displaced in a place reminiscent of where you came from.

The shuttle drivers at the Best Western are kind enough to take you anywhere within city limits, and the women at the front desk suggested I visit Pete’s Hill for some fresh air and a good view of the city. Pete’s Hill has a wide gravel path that winds up to a plateau and then stretches on for a few miles. Along the way are a few benches to sit and take in the view and inhales that fresh northwestern air.

If you take the pathway straight on down off the top of the hill you can walk right onto main street which boasts quintessential local businesses, coffee shops, retail options, and my personal favorite, bookstores. I found a tea shop that sells Kombucha on tap! I ordered a glass, sat down outside, and read my book for a while. I love when I can enjoy these quiet local moments in towns that aren’t mine.

While in Bozeman I was fortunate enough to visit a long lost friend from college who just returned from a two year teaching stint in Chile. The way he talked about his experience made me start thinking about my next big adventure after this flight attendant life runs it’s course. Needless to say, I didn’t want to board the plane the next day. I could have stayed in this quaint little town for a long time.

Next stop: Seattle!

Remember!

Margaritas and the Alamo: 18 Hours in San Antonio

I got lucky enough to land an 18 hour layover in San Antonio, Texas, home of the Alamo and the beautiful riverwalk! Fortunately with our contract, we have to be in a downtown hotel when our layovers are longer than 15:59, which meant I got to walk out the back of our hotel straight onto the riverwalk–the crowning jewel of this small southern Texas town.

River taxi

River taxi

After relaxing a bit at the hotel, my crew member and I decided to walk down the river walk and through downtown until we eventually made it to the Alamo. Let me tell you, Texas in July is a force to be reckoned with. The heat and humidity alone tempted me to turn right back around into my air-conditioned hotel room. However, only a few minutes into our walk we found a cute restaurant on the river called Agave bar, and to our delight it was happy hour! We sat in the shade and drank $3.00 margaritas and marveled at how perfectly wonderful it is to be a flight attendant.

After a few margaritas and a nice conversation with the waiter (who is working to save money so he can move to Mexico and teach English to kids–hooray mankind!), we meandered down the river a little farther until we started seeing signs for the Alamo. I had very little background knowledge of the Alamo, but while we were there a man gave a brief 20 minute recap of all that happened on the ground we stood on. It always gets me what people are willing to fight for. The battle of the Alamo had men fighting for impossible odds, and even knowing that they decided to pursue a battle. Circumstances like that always make me question what things I would be willing to sacrifice my life for. To be steadfast in a belief to death’s end fascinates me. IMG_1861

Once we finished remembering the Alamo we went back down to the riverwalk and got Tex-Mex at a local restaurant where we were serenaded by a mariachi band! It was a perfect way to end a Texas day.

Next stop: Bozeman!

Some Monday Motivation

I heard a quote the other day by Robin Sharma: “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” It got me thinking about how so many of us have done the same thing day in and day out. We set the alarm at the same time, we make the same breakfast, we go to the same coffee shop where we order the same cup of coffee, we sit in the same cubicle, or at the same desk, or in the same building, and we do the same thing every. single. day.

We live for the weekends, for vacations, for days off, for sick days. We keep waiting and waiting for life to happen, when it’s literally right in front of us begging us to come out and see the beauty of nature, and to taste raindrops on our tongues, and to speak with strangers. It’s calling us to leave the TV and postpone our Netflix binge-watching date, and to smell the flowers and run the marathon and climb the mountains.

We weren’t made to live the same day 31,000 times.

We were made for an extraordinary adventure.
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A Few Things Salt Lake

I had a trip with a 21 hour layover in Salt Lake, but I spent most of the time catching up with an old friend. Some things to note in Salt Lake:

  • The enormity of the Tabernacle and it’s prominent position in Salt Lake City.IMG_1781
  • The “Beerhive,” a local pub with SO MUCH GOOD BEER ON TAP. filename-berhv-jpg-thumbnail0
  • The fountains at City Creek shopping center that were designed by the same guy (Steve Winn) who designed the fountains at the Bellagio. IMG_1807

I’ll post more once I have more time in Salt Lake, but I don’t have a lot on it for now!

Next stop: San Antonio, Texas!

London, My Love

I staggered my sleep schedule so I’d be my most awake upon landing in London. This meant going to bed at midnight, waking up at 5:30am, accomplishing chores and errands for a few hours, returning to bed around noon, and finally sleeping until 5:30pm. I reported to the airport at 8:35pm for a flight scheduled to depart Minneapolis at 10:05pm and arrive in London at 12:30pm the next day. This is the complication of my job: defeating jet lag and circumnavigating my life around redeye flights!

With the added crew rest of about two hours, I felt ready to go once we arrived in London Heathrow airport. It took about two hours to get from the airport to our hotel, which wasn’t bad considering our ride wove through the streets of surrounding London and I was able to view some of the architecture and quintessential English cabs.

I set out with only a map into the streets of London and started walking with the intention of making it to Westminster Abbey. After a few minutes of walking I came across a church in Brompton. I walked in to the beautiful, ornate Roman Catholic church that was built hundreds of years ago. Running alongside the center of the chapel were altars erected for different saints and popes. The altars were lined with flowers and faded bronze cherubs. On the ground were mosaics that shone despite their age. The artwork reached to the ceiling with depictions of Christ on the cross and angels in heaven. Marble pillars reached from the floor to the ceiling and Latin wove its way up and around the chapel’s dome. IMG_1708

This is my best recommendation for travelling on a budget in Europe: visit all the churches. Every. Single. One. If you see a church, walk in. If they’re in session, still go in. If there’s an organ playing DEFINITELY GO IN. It’s like visiting a free art gallery, and a free museum, and a free concert all in one. What the church invested during the 15th and 16th centuries to build these churches is astonishing and well worth your time. IMG_1709

After my brief foray into the Brompton church, I turned down the street hoping to run into a landmark of any sort. Soon enough I found a sign with arrows pointing towards Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, the Royal Mews, and a handful of other London attractions. I decided to head towards Buckingham Palace, and watched as solo tourists took selfies and groups took turns posing with the guards and London locals rode by on their bicycles.

It was easy to navigate my way from Buckingham palace to the houses of parliament and Westminster Abbey. I walked through a park by a pond and watched people allow pigeons to land on their shoulders for a photo opportunity. I soon fell into the bustle of tourists and street vendors and knew I was close to the houses and Big Ben. Sure enough, after rounding a corner I found myself between the London Eye and that massive clock. I weighed my options between boarding the London Eye or revisiting Westminster Abbey, but it was a cloudy day, and I thought it best to revisit the place that really started my European adventure last winter. IMG_1721

Although the line looks dreadfully long, it only takes about ten minutes. I recommend picking up the audio guide once inside the Abbey because it goes into significant detail about the tombs and different vestibules in the church. It’s tempting to rush through, especially if you’re time in London is short, but it’s so worth it to hear all the history behind the church and the coronation chair and the funeral that King Henry VII threw for his wife Elizabeth of York. They also offer a few options throughout the audio tour and when you get to the option for the organ playing, press it. Sit in one of the chairs next to poet’s corner and take in the stained glass windows and the marble pillars and the woodwork and every little detail that Westminster has to offer. You won’t regret it. IMG_1733

After leaving the Abbey and walking through some of London’s Burroughs, I ended at Stanhope Arms, a great little pub about a block from my hotel. I ordered a Guinness (Guinness, my other love), and a hearty plate of fish and chips. I took in the sounds of an English pub, the liveliness of after-work chatter, then returned to my room full and happy. IMG_1753

I had a few hours in the morning before we were scheduled to leave for the airport so I walked up to Hyde park and saw Kensington Palace and Round Pond and enjoyed the tranquility of walking through a quiet London neighborhood.

It really is incredible all you can see in less than 22 hours. Keep adventuring, my friends, and take hold of every opportunity offered.

Next stop: Salt Lake City!