Ask An Ace: Stewardess Edition
I am beyond delighted to kick off HelloGiggles’ new “Ask A…” series, so let’s do this!
“What are pilots like (when they are working)? Do they live up to the reputations of sleeping around with flight attendants? I just started dating one and I’m freaking out he hooks up when he’s gone. Ugh, thanks!”
As someone that flew often as a passenger, I must admit that prior to becoming a flight attendant, I had a few preconceived ideas about pilots myself. Back in the day I saw a terrifying Lifetime Original movie about a pilot’s wife that was forever ingrained into my naive little head. Her husband was a pilot leading a very secretive (quadruple?) life, including having multiple wives and children strewn about the entire country.
Once I started flying around in a metal tube for a living, I was happy to discover that this could not be any further from the truth. You can exhale now! Yes, some flight attendants and pilots do hook up just like they would at any other job; however, in my opinion, “sleeping around” and cheating is not any more prevalent in aviation than it is in other professions.
“Are you okay with the term ‘stewardess’?”
Absolutely! I find it fun to embrace the glamorous history that the term invokes. In fact, my website, Rants of a Sassy Stew, is an homage to it. Unfortunately not all feel the same, so it’s probably best to err on the side of not pissing off the person you have to depend on for the next few hours, and go ahead and use the term “flight attendant” the next time you fly. I think the main issue with it (for some) is that we are now made up of both men and women and are also categorized as “safety professionals” and “first responders”. For me, using the term stewardess is not meant as an insult to anyone, nor does it discount what we do these days.
“Do flight attendants fly the same routes?”
For the most part, no, we do not. As a newer flight attendant or one who has been flying fewer than 10 years, you are probably “on call” to take any trips that become available at the last minute. This can be awesome if the person who caught a nasty case of strep was scheduled to fly to Rome, but it can also be horrible if you are assigned a trip to New England in January. It’s a total crap shoot.
The flight attendants that are lucky enough to have seniority (we call them “senior mamas”) typically choose all of the fab trips with amazing overnights and do so every month. At many major airlines, it can take up to 20 years to reach this point.
“Do you know where we are when we are up in the air?”
Unless we are flying over a major city such as New York, nope. Maybe Kansas?
“What is a typical day in the life of a flight attendant like? Can you tell me one thing I wouldn’t know about your job?”
I suspect that our workday is a lot longer than most passengers realize. Mine typically averages between 12-14 hours; however, we can legally work up to 16 in the case of bad weather or other delays. During one day, we can have anywhere between four to six different flights.
We don’t necessarily get an official “break” to eat, so if we have a few minutes between slinging soda and tending to medical emergencies at 35,000 feet, you will likely find us hiding behind a curtain to take a few bites from a soggy $10 airport turkey sandwich.
The Federal Aviation Administration regulates our workdays and rest periods, so at some point during the day, we have the potential of turning into pumpkins. If this happens, you will be given a fresh new crew to fly you to your destination.
The biggest secret about working as a flight attendant is probably that we do not get paid until the aircraft door is closed. When you see us walking through the airport, sitting for hours waiting for a delayed plane, assisting passengers during the hectic boarding process, etc., there is no money being earned other than our (less than $2/hour) per diem. We want to be airborne and get to your destination just as much as you do!
The second biggest secret that no one asked me about? We absolutely hate that we have to repeatedly ask adults to turn off their portable electronic devices. It. Is. Exhausting. Please do a stewardess a solid on your next flight and play nice. They have probably already asked 150 other people that day to do the same.