10 Things I’ll Never Miss About Being a Flight Attendant

Things I’ll Never Miss About Being a Flight Attendant

I used to be a flight attendant for American Airlines and even though I sometimes miss the jet-set lifestyle I used to have, there are some things I don’t miss about flying.

Now, when I miss flying, I just look at this list of 10 things I’ll never miss about being a flight attendant and go back to my predictable, routine life as a doctoral student in Germany. (I really went from one extreme to another, didn’t I…)

10. Really early mornings

I am not a morning person. Now that I can make my own schedule I tend to arrive at the office at noon.

As a flight attendant, I was often required to arrive at the airport at 4 am for a 5 am departure. That meant I was getting up at 2 am or earlier!

To make matters worse, airports are eerily deserted that early in the morning. And most of the time Starbucks doesn’t open until 5, so I wouldn’t even be able to get decent coffee before I had to be on the plane.

9. Eating airport food

airport restaurant

Airport food is expensive, and the options are limited even at the bigger airports.

Even though flight attendants usually get a discount at airport restaurants, I would still regularly pay $20 for a smoothie and half a sandwich just to avoid getting fast food.

There is one major exception to this. La Carreta in Miami airport. I dream about that food.

8. Being away from home on holidays

My birthday happens to fall on Christmas Day, so it double-sucked to have to work on Christmas.

Being far away from your family on special holidays, or really any special occasion, can make being a flight attendant feel really lonely.

I guess I was just practicing for living abroad. But even though I don’t really get to see my family on holidays now either, it’s one thing to spend it at home but alone and another thing entirely to spend it alone in a hotel room.

7. Rude passengers

I used to write poems about rude passengers. It was my way to let off steam so I could still be pleasant and friendly to everyone else.

I certainly won’t miss people snapping in my face to get my attention or yelling at me for things I can’t control. I won’t miss people threatening physical violence simply for asking them to put their seat up and I won’t miss the passengers who looked down on me because I was “just” a flight attendant.

6. Living out of a suitcase

flight attendant suitcase

Honestly living out of a suitcase didn’t seem so bad at the time, but now that I’m no longer a flight attendant I realize how annoying it was.

You either had to constantly take toiletries out and re-pack them. Or you had to buy two of everything so you wouldn’t forget anything. (That’s the route I opted for).

But it’s also a pain to have to re-pack every morning on layovers. I still have nightmares about not being able to pack my bag fast enough and missing the crew van to the airport.

5. Going to recurrent training

Cabin Mock up (Photo credit: Derin Allard on Visualhunt.com)

At my airline we had to do recurrent training every year and it never got less stressful.

For some reason it was always stressful getting to recurrent, even though I was booked on a deadhead I always managed to get delayed or miss a connection to headquarters.

Once I was there it was a mixture of a fast-paced barrage of drill tests and really long boring refresher courses on how to use a fire extinguisher. Followed by a rush to get back to the airport in time to catch a deadhead flight back home.

I never had a good time at recurrent.

4. Unpaid Delays

Getting stuck on an airplane for hours without pay is really infuriating, especially if passengers are also onboard.

Unpaid delays on an empty plane are boring but unpaid delays with passengers are exhausting because you get stuck dealing with peoples’ steadily worsening moods.

Add extremely hot or cold weather into the mix and there were times I was really considering popping the exit slide and yelling “F-this! I’m out!” on my way down the slide.

3. Susans

Susans are what junior flight attendants call senior mamas who have a bad attitude, especially towards younger flight attendants.

Since I worked as a German interpreter, I was often working the most senior flight in base, even though I was a newbie. This set me up for plenty of encounters with Susans.

You can identify a Susan by their standard greeting, “How’d you get this flight.”

What made things a bit worse for me, specifically, was the fact that my airline added a “speaker” position and took away a regular one, meaning lots of more senior flight attendants though I was stealing their position. So they were extra hostile towards me.

2. Airport standby

I love airports but sitting airport standby shifts were always a bit of a pain.

Basically you show up at the airport and sit there for 4-6 hours waiting to see if you are needed. Standbys are used to fill in last-minute vacancies caused by a flight attendant getting sick half-way through a trip, or by a whole crew getting delayed.

More often than not though, standbys are used to “pre-board” a flight which means we get onto the airplane, set everything up, get all the passengers settle and then trade places with the crew that is actually supposed to work the flight. Since boarding is always the most stressful part of being a flight attendant (in my opinion), you can see why it’s not fun to do this several times a day and not end up going anywhere.

1. Jetlag

Being tired all the time is the main thing I won’t miss about being a flight attendant.

Jetlag really takes a toll on your physical and mental health if you aren’t careful, and I struggled to manage it at times. I’d come home from a trip and sleep my way through my days off which left me feeling even more disconnected from my family and friends, because I’d have to leave on another trip by the time I recovered.

It’s a beautiful thing to have an actual sleep schedule and that is not something I really want to give up now that I have it.

Final Thoughts

Being a flight attendant is a lot of fun, but it can also be really hard and exhausting. I don’t miss that part of the job, even though I do miss the adventure and the excitement that comes with it.

I think I’ll stay on the ground for now, thank you.

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