Cabin crew, flight attendant, air hostess – whatever you call them, it was not a job I had ever imagined myself doing. Unlike many who spend their whole lives dreaming of working in the skies, I had always had other plans for my life. So many, in fact, that I almost had a new career plan for each day of the year.
Doctor, Skydive Instructor and Radio DJ topped the wish-list at various points in my life. Chef, Paramedic and Graphic designer had made it onto the ‘been there, done that’ pile. Flight attendant was one of the few job titles that had never really caught my eye.
Truth be told, I was a little lost. I wanted out of the small-ish town I had spent most of my life living in and I felt a passion for travel. Other than that I had absolutely no clue, or any savings to leave with. That was, of course, until I saw the job listing. Within 6 months of applying, I had my wings and was a fully-fledged international flight attendant.
Suddenly the world opened up to me, I was living in a bigger city and spending my life traveling. A normal Saturday night for me might be spent going out for dinner in Sydney followed by a lazy Sunday afternoon poolside in Fiji. Getting paid to travel and stay in hotels is, in my experience, one of the most awesome experiences there is. What did I learn from my time working in this amazing, fascinating, crazy industry? Loads. Here’s some of my notes from the sky.
1. Don’t eat the crew meals. Number one rule! It’s hard enough to eat properly when your always on the road, but crew meals are designed to have added salt and sugar. (Check out this article from the BBC on why food tastes bad at altitude, and how catering companies add extra salt and flavouring to make up for it)
2. Diet coke = the most time consuming, foamy, mess of a drink to pour up in the skies, and to top it all off – it tastes funny up there too.
3. Always carry plastic bags. Having to stash your wet bikini (that you ran out of time to hang out to dry) in your suitcase on the second day of a 5 day trip does not to nice things to your clean clothes. Or, for that matter, the overall atmosphere of your suitcase. Same deal with anything that gets muddy.
4. Sleep is completely underrated by most people. Catch up on it whenever you can.
5. Invest in the most comfortable shoes money can buy. When the shin splints and numb toes catch up with you you’ll regret not upgrading the shoes, trust me.
6. Keep hydrated. The cabin is a really low humidity place to spend a lot of time, so chugging down the waters is always a priority.
7. There will always be passengers who are unhappy about something, don’t let it get to you.
8. Even when it feels like everything is going wrong, there will always be one person (passenger or crew) who thinks your doing just great – make it your mission to find that person.
9. Keep the essentials in your cabin bag (underwear, phone charger, wallet), it’s only a matter of time until somebody looses your check-in for the night.
10. Smile. Always. Not because you have to – do it because it’ll make you feel better, I promise. (read this article on smiling)
11. Keep a gratitude diary. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how amazing this job actually is! (also, daily gratitude = amazing thing to get in the habit of)
12. Take the time to learn a new language. You don’t need to be fluent, just being able to communicate a few words is enough to turn an awkward flight of non-english speakers into something fun & that you learn from. (They really appreciate the effort, too)
13. Keep earplugs and eye masks with you, they always come in handy.
14. Learn more about posture. I’ve strained myself from incorrect lifting and sitting twisted in the back galley with my legs crossed far too many times.
15. Pack snacks. Things like nuts, seeds, crackers and tinned tuna seem to make it through most quarantines un-confiscated.
16. Don’t give buddy passes to people unless it’s an emergency or they understand standby very well. It can get very stressful!
17. Speaking of staff travel, try not to book yourself on a busy flight home the night before your next duty with no backup plan. Generally ends in an expensive disaster.
18. One word: Sunscreen
19. Passengers will never, ever learn to remain seated until the seatbelt light comes off. It’s an unfortunate, universal truth.
20. Toiletries with screw on lids are a great investment (there’s only so many times a person can forgive an exploded shampoo bottle amongst their things)
21. Keep hydration interesting and carry a selection of herbal tea bags with you. Fruit flavoured ones added to a bottle of cold water make a delicious alternative to plain water.
22. Protein powder/meal replacement sachets can be a great breakfast, especially at 3am when you know you SHOULD eat, but your stomach has different feelings on the matter.
23. Don’t become bitter, and never forget to see passengers as people – no matter how obnoxious they become.
24. Never, ever forget what an amazing, interesting & fun job you have!