Sunday, October 9, 2011

When I was a Flight Attendant

Once upon a time I lived a life of adventure. Each week I packed my suit case and set off for 4 days. It was exciting, terrifying, and liberating. I never dreamed of being a flight attendant, it just happened. In 2003, I saw a classified for an airline that was hiring flight attendants and on a whim I decided to go to the group interview. I walked in the room with 50+ beautiful women and when it was my turn to stand in front of everyone and give a 4 minute speech I decided to just be myself, tell a silly anecdote and make everyone laugh. I was hired that day. And I had 4 weeks to prepare for new hire training in Salt Lake City.

I flew for almost 5 years and loved it. I'm not a terribly outgoing person, so being placed in a new city nearly every night was a huge challenge for me. Although much of my down time was spent with my crew, there were many occasions that I found myself on my own. I went to the movies by myself, went sightseeing by myself, went to museums and events by myself, and went to restaurants by myself. All things I wouldn't have ever done.

Here I am in a crew lounge getting ready for a flight.

I remember my first time in Canada I ventured off to find a nearby restaurant, took a few turns, looked back and was completely lost. I swear the sun sets faster there because in a matter of minutes it was completely dark. After meandering for a little while longer I stumbled upon a gorgeous brick building with a Happy Hour sign out front and decided to go in. I was seated at a little table by the window and handed a thick menu. My mouth probably dropped to the ground when I read the prices. I was so relieved to have found a place to eat that I didn't notice the white table cloth, pianist, and overdressed diners. And because I would have been mortified to get up and leave I ended up ordering chicken with asparagus and paying $80. It was delicious, but definitely a lesson learned.

When Pan Am premiered a few weeks ago I was instantly hooked. Although the show takes place in the 1960's and being a "stewardess" was glamorous and exclusive, there are still so many things that are the same and bring me back to life in an airplane. Like strict appearance guidelines (we had to always have on lipstick and have our hair pulled back), using military time, living out of a suitcase, speaking in acronyms, unpredictable turbulence, rude passengers, flirtatious passengers, chatty passengers, adjusting to delays & cancellations, and pantie hose. And the story lines are spot on...well, I'm not sure about working for the CIA, but flight attendant and pilot relationships were everywhere as were flight attendant and passenger relationships. A fellow flight attendant who I often worked with had a two-year long affair with a famous ex-football player (now NFL commentator) who she met on a flight to LAX (scandalise).

On my flights I had celebrities, congressmen, journalists (one flight into Santa Maria for the Michael Jackson verdict was filled with them - I spoke with Greta Van Susteren), and professional athletes. All very normal and many of them nervous flyer's.

I'm sure someone reading this is thinking - I hate flying, how could you be a flight attendant? You may not understand, but it's easier when you're in charge. When people are relying on you, a certain confident demeanor takes over. I had plenty of scary flights, even one that was so bad I thought we were going to crash for sure. Everyone on that flight was either crying, screaming, or throwing up. Even the seasoned commuters. But I always had a smile and we always landed safely. Thank you, Jesus!

There are hundreds of stories I could share, almost every flight had one. That's what I loved the most. It may seem like a mundane process, passengers get off and new ones get on, but no flight was the same. At the beginning of every flight when I began my announcement, a new crowd of faces peered back at me.

Some days I really miss flying, but there's no way I'd go back and leave my family for several days a week. I can't leave my kids for more than a few hours, let alone days. And can you imagine how my house would look if no one was here cleaning up 24/7? Never gonna happen. But I'm sure glad I had the opportunity when I did.

Buh-bye now.


  1. Beautiful Mrs. G!! I loved this post! You had me at "flight attendant." HA HA! What fun! What adventures. Don't know if I could have done it! First of all, if passengers were screaming and turbulence was bad, I'D be screaming right along with them. Secondly, if passengers were barfing, I'd be barfing too. UGH! I am a sympathetic barfer!!! I hate the barf. BUT...I do lot to travel and I do love adventure. This post was so interesting and well-written. THANKS for sharing!!!!

  2. "love" to travel...not "lot" to travel...sorry, editing myself.

  3. Love this post. I've always wanted to know the secret life of flight attendants - and you've left me wanting more!

  4. What a great experience!

    I had applied to do this once, but before the interview I found out I was pregnant with my son, so the baby took priority. ;)

    I really enjoyed this post!!

  5. I really like this post! Such a fun story! And yes, I would love to hear more!

  6. That is so awesome! My grandma always wanted me to be a flight attendant but it turns out I'm a horrible flier. I'm sure you have some pretty great stories!

  7. That is too cool you were an attendant.. Fun story.. love this post :)

  8. I always wondered what it'd be like to work as a flight attendant. It must've been exciting to see different places.

  9. Thanks so much for posting this! I watched a little bit of Pan Am the other night and was hooked. I've always wondered what it would be like to be a flight attendant. Once upon a time, I would have loved to do it, but I agree, now I could never leave my family for a period of time like that.