John Hollywood writes about pop culture with a psychological twist; his articles are practical in nature with a "how-to" approach.
Note: The information provided for this article was given to Mr. Hollywood in an interview from a flight attendant who wishes to remain anonymous.
Chances are you’ve had some interaction with an FA (flight attendant) before, but unless you’re an FA or know someone who is, you probably don’t know what really goes on behind the scenes. I've been a flight attendant at a major U.S. airline for the better part of 12 years and I've seen it all. I’m going to reveal some of the secrets of being a flight attendant, some stuff that may surprise or shock you.
The truth is that the work we do may sound glamorous and exciting, and sometimes it is, but our jobs can also be exhausting and stressful. Is it worth the trade-off of traveling far and wide and meeting tons of interesting people? Some of us certainly think so, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.
1. We Work Harder Than You Do.
At many of the carriers, an average workday is between 10 and 12 hours, though it’s not uncommon for flight attendants to have 16-hour work days (which is the legal maximum). This can happen for a number of reasons, including airplane delays.
If you factor in the time it takes to commute back and forth to the base cities we fly out of, those numbers get even higher, even though they’re not considered part of our work day as per FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations.
2. We Are Stronger Than You.
Our job is very physical. We’re on our feet almost the entire time, and pushing a fully loaded beverage cart is no joke. It can weigh up to 300 pounds! Add to that the heavy lifting that we do to help passengers with their bags, and you’ve got one buff crew.
Unfortunately, many of us have back problems because of the constant bending and lifting we do, though there is a pretty steep learning curve for understanding how to take care of your body for new FA’s since you can injure yourself by lifting luggage incorrectly. This is just another reason we have little patience for passengers with oversize carry-on bags.
3. We Look Incredible for How Tired We Are.
To give you an idea of just how crazy a flight attendant’s work day can be, it is not unheard of for crews working a transoceanic flight on a Boeing 777 to be scheduled for 16 hours. This could go up to 18 hours if there are delays. While we do occasionally have time to get out of the airport or hotel complex and see some sights, that’s not always the case. So if you think we are always able to squeeze in a quick beach trip, get a golden suntan, watch a beautiful sunrise, and then get enough shut-eye to be back in time for work, think again.
And if you’re wondering why we might look a little pale, dried-up, or sickly, it’s because we are constantly trying to keep up with the sleep, natural sunlight, and hydration that we lose by being an a plane for hours every day.
Just think of how you look after one transatlantic flight with your greasy face, rumpled clothes, and ashy skin, and multiply that by a million. Now you understand what a miracle it is that we look as put together as we do.
4. Sometimes We Just Tell You What You Want to Hear.
Like, "Yes, your bags will make your connecting flight" since I work on the ramp and know exactly how bags get passed from plane to plane. NOT. Our job is to keep you happy on the flight, and we’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means smiling and nodding when we actually have no idea what the answer to your question is.
On that note, we wish our smiles were genuine all the time but sometimes we are totally faking it in the hopes that they’ll make you stop talking and start smiling back.
5. Dating Can Be Challenging.
The lifestyle of a flight attendant poses some unique challenges for long-term relationships. Much of our time is spent in transit with people we’ve never met before or only met a couple of times. This isn’t exactly conducive to building relationships.
Love can overcome everything, though! While an FA lifestyle might pose some obstacles, it’s certainly not impossible to have relationships and many people learn how to make it work (with the added bonus of being able to take trips with your loved one!)
6. Staying in Hotel Rooms Gets Old.
Sleep tends to be a hot commodity, and most of it happens in hotel rooms. Though having a standard sleep schedule is pretty much impossible, you do learn when and how to get your shut-eye.
But let’s talk about where we stay. The hotel you stay at is dependant on the airline and what the carrier and union determine (if you have a union). Airlines are always trying to save a buck so the hotels they put us in are not necessarily the Ritz (though they can be nice), and occasionally they are downright nasty. I’m talking about hotels with creepy-crawly things like roaches and even bed bugs. Usually bookings like that happen in a city where most places are full for some reason or another, or on international travel.
Life in hotels has its perks (like gyms and free breakfast), but it also has its downsides, like the monotony and . . . other hotel guests. Sometimes we get put in a room that has people partying next door to us, making it nearly impossible to sleep. Thus we can get pretty crabby, particularly during long trips.
7. We Don’t Necessarily Have More Sex Than You (but We Might).
Many people believe that flight attendants have lots of sex, that we’re always sleeping with sexy pilots, other flight attendants, and even the occasional passenger in whirlwind romances that take place in exotic cities. Though that sounds steamy, the truth is (as usual) a little more balanced. Some nights we’re so exhausted, the idea of picking anyone up sounds terrible. We look like crap after being in the air all day and we just want to be alone.
When you are tired as all hell and look like death warmed over, sex really isn’t something you want. We're just not feeling horny. The only thing we want to "hook up" with is a shower. In fact, there’s a term for FA’s who tend to keep to themselves during layovers. They’re called slam-clickers, or “slam-and-click” flight attendants, for the sound a hotel door makes as it’s shut and locked.
Then again, on other nights, you go out with your crew or maybe your passengers or whoever you met on Tinder and have a hell of a night (and yes, it could be in an exotic location). It’s impossible to make a hard and fast rule about this one since there are so many different kinds of people who are flight attendants. Suffice it to say that you can find people on both extremes and at different points in the middle. Sometimes people even swap extremes!
8. And We Definitely Don’t Have Sex on the Airplane.
Would you have sex in your office? With all your other co-workers there? Locked in with no escape? Within inches of people who could hear you? Not only is it pretty unappealing, but this would be a serious offense that could cost us our jobs.
9. If We’re Strapped In, You Should Be Strapped In.
If your flight takes off and the captain informs the flight attendants to “Please remain seated” until further notice, chances are that you’re in for a hell of a ride. Get ready for turbulence!
That chime you hear a few minutes after you take off indicates to FAs that the aircraft has reached 10,000 feet, which is typically when we get out of our jump-seats and start getting the service carts ready. If the captain ever tells us to remain seated however, we know it’s going to get ugly.
The same holds true if the captain tells us to suspend beverage service. The rough translation of that is, “Tighten your seatbelts!”
10. We Get Scared Too.
When you look at us with fear in your eyes because it’s getting bumpy, you should know that we are freaking out inside too. We just hide it from you with a nice, broad smile.
11. We Are More Pissed Off Than You Are About Delays.
The ugly truth is that we don’t paid until the door to the aircraft is shut by the gate agent. We are only paid for trips, which start from the moment we pull back from the gate and end when the trip is completed. The clock for a trip does not start until that aircraft door shuts which means we continue to go unpaid as you’re lazily walking through the jetbridge or dragging a huge-ass rollaboard behind you that’s guaranteed to not fit into the overhead bins though it is guaranteed to make us late. This is also why you hear many of us telling you to sit down over the PA so we can get the flight underway.
That said, we do get an expense allowance for some trips called a per diem that pays $1.00 or $2.00 an hour from the second we check into the airport to the time we come back to our domicile (home base). Trust me, though, it does not add up to much. So let me speak for my fellow FAs (and all airline passengers everywhere): Please, get yourself onto the plane, put your bags away, and sit down so we can shut the door.
12. We’re Not Drunk on the Plane But . . . Sometimes We Just “Edge the Line” with Alcohol.
Flight crews, which include the pilot, the co-pilot, and the FA, sometimes go out together during long layovers and sometimes drinking is involved but here’s the thing: The FAA has an 8-hour requirement of "no alcohol" for pilots before a scheduled flight. Most airlines have their own rules requiring 12 hours of abstinence before a flight and FAs are under the same rules as pilots at most carriers, which means no drinking 12 hours prior to the flight.
So what can sometimes happen is that a flight crew will go out and have a few cocktails, during an international trip for example, the evening before a scheduled flight leaves the next afternoon, so technically they are within the limit but are juuuuuuuust edging the line on the 12-hour rule.
I am not saying that any of the flight crew are drunk when you are on your plane. Flight crews are subject to random alcohol and drug testing by the government and by the airline. These tests for alcohol can happen at any time and are demanded on the spot, usually through a breathalyzer or urine sample. The flight crews know this and are mindful of when they can and cannot consume alcohol to be in compliance.
13. We Are All (Pretty Much) Broke. The Flight Attendant Life Pays in Life Experiences, Not $$.
I know we look professional in our uniforms, but the unfortunate truth is that most of us are not rolling in the dough. In fact, after pay and benefit cuts at some of the major carriers, some FAs even qualify for food stamps. This might seem unbelievable, but it’s true. FAs have even been fired for revealing this.
A lot of us live with other airline employees (five, ten, or even fifteen other people!) out of a base city to cut down on housing costs. To make a few more dollars, we try to pick up "extra trips" if the carrier can dole them out. However, it's all based on seniority so newer flight attendants have more competition. Healthy lifestyle stuff like eating right and working out also have their own challenges: FAs have to make a real commitment to making time for these things, or else they would never happen. Luckily, most hotels have a gym and sometimes that’s all there’s time for: eat, workout, sleep.
Other FAs cut down on costs by making food for four days at home and bringing it with them on trips (you know how ridiculously expensive airport food is), or snagging extra bananas and muffins at breakfast at the hotel.
The lifestyle can be wearing, and I don't know how some of the older flight attendants hired in the 70's can still do this. The average seniority at some of the major airlines is 15+ years. Take a look at us when you are flying. A lot of us are overweight, botoxed out, and have faces caked with makeup to hide the bags under our eyes. Count yourself lucky if you get served coffee by some young, hot thing! That's what many of us used to be.
14. We Work in a Petri Dish. Sickness Happens.
We travel for a living and are exposed to hundreds of people from around the world each day. The truth is that we often get sick but continue to work because we have to – not because we want to.
Some of us simply can’t afford to take time off. Airlines also have very strict attendance rules, though they do have sick day policies and FA’s are encouraged to use them. That said, if we are late for a flight check-in or call in sick at the last minute, airlines have little compassion and we can get docked pay.
Many FAs have found themselves in deep trouble because they thought they could call in sick a few times during the year, only to find out there were major consequences like getting written up or fired. It all depends on the airline of course and what the union has worked out.
However, if you have a head cold of some kind, you definitely don't go to work. Colds and altitude don't mix and you can seriously damage your ears!
15. We Might Not Want to Eat What You’re Eating . . .
An aircraft galley (where the FA’s hang out) is an extremely hectic place that, depending on the aircraft, is often cramped. This doesn't happen often, but once in a blue moon we do drop food on the galley floor, like a bread roll, and then brush it off and serve it to you.
Many of the airlines have cut back so much on service that what little food we have to offer (if any) must be served carefully. There are usually no “extras” to go around on a lot of trips. When we drop food on the galley floor due to turbulence, we can't replace it.
No flight attendant will come out and admit this but it does happen (though some FA’s never see it because it’s fairly rare). We would rather feel guilty about serving you something we dropped instead of having you write a letter to the airline, complaining that you were not fed. Those letters go into our file and can cost us our job.
16. We Have Nicknames for Everything, Including Those Blue, Pink, and Yellow Lights
Have you ever wondered what those blue, pink, and yellow lights mean inside of the cabin, towards the front of the plane? You know, the ones you see from your seat when you look down the aisle? Whenever you hear a chime, usually one of the lights becomes illuminated, which is an indication that the FA needs to see what's up.
Here’s the inside scoop on what they mean and how we remember them:
- Blue = A passenger needs us. It’s the color we want your face to turn cause we're tired of you hitting the call button.
- Amber = The lavatory light that goes off if you hit the call button while you’re peeing. It’s easy to remember because it’s the color of urine.
- Pink: Another FA or the Captain is calling us on the in-flight phone.
Some flight attendants call the blue light the "Passenger Bother Light.” I won't tell you what we call the amber light but it starts with a P . . .
On some aircraft, there is a also green light. This could mean a number of things. It could mean that we can’t enter the cockpit because we haven’t reached a certain altitude or it could also be a signal to the FAs that we are approaching a gate. Again, it depends on the carrier and aircraft type.
17. Airplanes Are So Nasty Dirty, We Can't Believe You Just Took Off Your Shoes and Touched the Floor With Your Bare Feet.
Airplanes, though they might seem sterile, are not operating rooms. If you look around next time you’re on one, you’ll notice how dirty it is. Planes are supposed to be cleaned on a regular basis but since they they are frequently rotated around the system, deep cleaning does not happen as much as it needs to. FA’s usually do a quick cleaning during a fast turn-around but often there is little time to do it well.
Some of the planes that we work on and you fly might even have roaches or bed bugs, though this is rare. Always make sure your carry-on bags are zipped up and closed, otherwise you may be helping a creepy crawly hitch a ride to your hotel or home.
You should also know that the water we pour from the pitcher or coffee pot may taste okay, but that does not mean it is clean. Water is housed in a special tank on each aircraft which is supposed to be disinfected on a regular basis by maintenance. Again, however, many airlines outsource this kind of work to companies that are less than reputable, so the tanks are not disinfected as much as they should be.
If you ask for tea or coffee, chances are the water came from the tank of the plane. Many FA’s consider it to be gross, and if we do . . . then you probably should too. If you ask for a cup of water, always insist that it is poured from a bottle.
18. We Fart on You.
Like I mentioned, the galley is a cramped space. It would simply be impolite for us to fart on each other back there, so we engage in a process called “crop-dusting,” whereby we walk down the aisle and fart as we do so. Take note that the terrible smell you’re experiencing might very well be the person sitting next to you, but it could also be the FA.
19. We Talk about You and Have Code Names for You.
Anything interesting that happens on the plane is instantly discussed in the galley. If you’re rude to us, you can be sure that all the other FA’s are going to know about it. There’s also some code words we might use to describe you, like Bob, which stands for boyfriend on board. This is when a certain flight attendant takes to a certain man and makes sure that he’s doing fine throughout the flight. You might hear FA’s ask how Bob is doing, just checking in to make sure the relationship is going smoothly.
20. We Can Save Your Life.
Even though you don't need a college degree to be a flight attendant, we're highly trained to worry about your safety so you don't have to and you can (and do!) trust us with your life. Just remember that before you bitch us out about missing your connecting flight in Dallas.
21. This Job Is Better Than Your Job.
Many flight attendants do this work because it is in our blood. We've said we would quit a thousand times, only to show up at the next check-in for our pre-flight debrief. It’s because all those things that you think are great about being a flight attendant, like getting to travel and meet lots of interesting people, really are great.
Our job gives us the chance to have adventures and take chances, which is something many careers don’t provide. Plus, the friendships we make with other employees last a lifetime.
If you are thinking of being a flight attendant, great! I hope this article was helpful for you. Feel free to share it with anyone who’s thinking about being a flight attendant. If you’re a passenger, I hope this information was helpful for you too! Now you know a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes and in the galley.
And finally (especially) if you are one of those pushy frequent fliers who thinks you are God because of the special "status" you’ve attained with all the miles you've flown, keep what you read here in mind. The last thing we need is to put up with your arrogance or your carrying on about how you didn't get upgraded. I know we’re smiling, but we really don’t feel sorry for you.
See you on the next flight!
- Brace! Brace! Brace! Emergency Landing Positions
Brace for emergency landing! Learn about what it is REALLY like to be in an emergency landing situation where the pilot instructs you to BRACE! BRACE! BRACE!
© 2013 John Hollywood
viryabo on May 27, 2019:
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you sooo much for letting us know.
Sue on May 21, 2019:
Funny how you brag about wiping off food after its dropped on the galley floor and serving it to customers and then telling us how dirty the airplane is.
Oliver Vicente on May 14, 2019:
#8 is pretty much obvious. and there is an airplane code on NUMBER 8. i know the secret.
Oliver Vicente on May 14, 2019:
I know the sex secrets of an FA. and its code.
Angel on July 08, 2018:
Ew. I am never eating on a plane again!
RLR on January 07, 2018:
I don't respect this person at all. If she wants a real job, with purpose, then she should be using her information to make changes and much needed improvements. There is no excuse for filthy airplanes, unsanitary water, a lack of food to the point of throwing away dropped food so as not to be reported for not being able to provide a passenger a roll?! Are you serious?? Airline companies make massive amounts of money!! There's no excuse for any of this, except for greed and uncaring. The flight attendants should be well paid, anyone who offers medical services while on-board should be compensated, as well as excellent air quality, food, drinks and service! My ten cents worth!
thp on December 26, 2017:
when a FA rubs her hips/ass against your arm every time she walks by, is that fa flirting? i enjoyed it, thank you ms. booty aerofloot
Tarose on December 06, 2017:
Thank you for letting me know more facts about experiences that you had,so I can think more about it before I really want it.Thank you,Thank you!
Harold Marriot on September 11, 2017:
Perfect example of how flight attendants believe they have to put up with the most of any job that deals with patrons. "We work harder than you." I worked 16 years in the amusement park industry while I worked my way through flight school and eventually becoming a pilot. 16 hour shift? Outdo my 98 hour shift and I'll be a little impressed. "We are stronger than you." You push a 300-lb cart. Let me know when you push a push a 2,100 pound Ferris wheel, help lift (not push) a 300-lb guest every 15 mins and maybe...... maybe...... I might start to take your bragging seriously. "We look good for how tired we are." Please. Again 16 hours in a shaded A/C jet? Try doing that in the sun and maintain your poise that ride operators have to, then listen to the complaints of FAs that you just laugh at.
Look, the truth is, amusement park ride operators laugh at the rookie ramblings of flight attendants. Many of us, myself included, sometimes wish FAs had it as hard as I did as a ride operator. You think it's rough dealing with a few hundred guests per trip that lasts an hour, maybe several? I've known FAs who have done 15 trips in three days. Assuming every one of those planes held 700 passengers, that 9,500 patrons. Do that many in an hour an and a half all while dealing with needy parents, people who think they own the park and poopie diapers. The truth is 16 year olds, heck, 14 year olds who work amusement parks put up with more stupidity in a single hour than FAs will in three days. And as for pay, you don't even compare to the minimum wage, sometimes less, that these people put up with. I'm sorry. The only thing you do more than me is complain. Farting on people, seriously? Have some pride in your work. If a ride operator can do it, so can you. I am so sick of FAs who think they're the only ones who deal with stupidity and have the most difficult job in the world. The truth, you don't even compare to a lot of jobs that are out there. You just have the biggest mouths and most resentful egos.
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on May 31, 2017:
We all have a right to our thoughts.
Kenneth on May 28, 2017:
This sounds more like overall resentment against passengers followed by complaints about terrible working conditions than sincere and confidential information. Now, I do understand that many passengers lack manners and can be annoying. However, they are also stressed out from waiting in long lines, dealing with bossy airport personnel, seeing total strangers rummaging their personal items in front of other strangers and _to top it off_ paying for expensive service! So they deserve nice treatment and more than just peanuts, watery coffee, unconfortable seats, paying for drinks, and dealing with whiny attendants. Attendsnts should blame the airlines that make billions at the expense of passengers and overworked personnel, rather than blaming it on the customers that keep their job secure! Perhaps, some flight attendants should find another line of work!
cynthia lee on January 08, 2017:
Big or small wages actually relative . We can say you lucky have high salary for a job that doesn't need college degree requirement. But at the same time, we also can say you get small salary for a job that has high risk and related with lifestyle (which you need maintain your appearance well and it need cost). So if you still being a FA, just enjoy your work. And if one day you loose your job, don't be too dissapoint, there is no job is better than other job. Your job is not better than mine. And so do I, my job is not better than yours.
restRantMgr on August 24, 2016:
: ) Just take it with a grain of salt, peeps! Truth always offends all parties, from different perspectives. Those 'shocked' by farts & the bread-roll on the floor, crack me up! 20 yrs work in NYC restaurants, I've seen a lot worse. In my view, in today's world, the flight people are like a Swiss Army Knife, all-in-one, nurse/psychiatrist/fire fighter/police officer/server/janitor/psychologist/priest/midwife/psychologist/natural born leaders/humorists....... every single one of them. Thank you everyOne! Cheers! RM
GreenMind Guides from USA on November 15, 2015:
This is outstanding inside information -- I really appreciate the point of view! You are a really good writer, too. Hubpages could use more writers like you!
Sharon on October 22, 2015:
What is it with the endless, we've got it so much harder than everyone else and we hate you flight attendant articles? I get it, you're job sucks, but you're too unknown to move on to something better. This one wasn't really all that bad compared to a lot of the drivel out there. As a rule I don't read them anymore, but every once in awhile, I glance over one to see if anything has changed. It never does. If you believe the articles and hostile blogs etc...., you would be afraid to travel on any plane with flight attendants who apparently hate their passengers, do disgusting things to their food, and are all just looking for an excuse to vent their rage on anyone in sight while they feverishly snap passenger shaming photos. Why don't I ever end up with these lunatics on my flights? Enough already, you're giving your profession an even worse reputation than it already has.
YoLex on October 15, 2015:
Awesome! I just started my new job as a FA and all of this is true and more.
YasR on May 30, 2015:
Great article. It just changed my perception towards FA. Your company is blessed to have a person like you.
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on May 27, 2015:
Being an FA is a demanding job. We all need to give them some space and ample gratitude for making our flight better. After all, they are there to keep us comfy and safe. But we must never forget that they are human beings who feel tired as well.
Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on May 27, 2015:
Good grief ! Mr. H. - I had no idea it is like that for a FA. I do not fly very often, but have always had good experience and courteous FAs on board.
I had to laugh quite often at your way of explaining the life of a FA - you really have a great style of writing. Sorry to have checked "Funny", for I understand the difficulty of your job, but you really do pute great and clear expression in your writing. I enjoyed this article very much and have a better understanding and appreciation of what your job involves. Kudos to all FAs.
Voted Up and across and H+
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 27, 2015:
Life for a FA is tough and I hope things improve for them. An eye opener and a great hub.
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on April 15, 2015:
Neha Sharma from United States on April 14, 2015:
Wow i always thought flight attendants had a glamorous life style. I am surprised to know they get paid very little and have little benefits.
ktnptl from Atlanta, GA on April 11, 2015:
Thanks for your comment Bill, I am not sure about the age restriction to fly an aero plane.
bill krauter on April 11, 2015:
I understand... and I'm glad you've brought this to peoples attention... I know a few flight attendants and things can be tough at times... but I'd love to do it for the travel alone as a part timer... now if someone would be willing to hire me as a 63 year old in shape man... I know I can do this!!! I don't get any responses on my applications... is this age discrimination?
Jane on March 30, 2015:
Someone said... "who do you know that only works 8 days a month and clears 70k"
I for one never knew any flight attendant (even myself) clearing 70k even with over 80 hours a month (in almost a year as FA), I don't know where you work but please tell us so we all can apply there... you're the richest flight attendant in the history of flight attendants.
Truth is the pay is not good, period.
I chose to do it for the experience but in a few months I'm out for the same reasons mentioned above, don't expect to make a full-time career, part-time maybe, and if you can live with some pennies, ok.
James Packard from Columbia, Missouri on February 13, 2015:
Thanks for sharing. It's good to get some perspective on the hectic life of FAs. That said, there are certainly plenty of flight attendants who love their job!
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on February 05, 2015:
SS from Colombo on February 04, 2015:
great article! next time im g0nna be more kind to these flight attendants!
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on January 25, 2015:
Glad you liked!!
Lee John from Preston on January 23, 2015:
Thanks for the great hub! I voted safety this surely is the most important factor in flighting lol :) My sister was a flight Attendant and i showed her this hub and she agreed fully with every single point! It is hard work doing that job and hats off to them!
Amine from Doha, Qatar on December 04, 2014:
really nice points you highlighted man, good article
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on November 29, 2014:
I love your perspective Aesta! Yep, they have it rough for sure. I'm sure this time of year is particularly brutal!!
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on November 29, 2014:
Thanks, CV! I appreciate you stopping by!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 28, 2014:
Misterhollywood, thanks for sharing this. I am taking a flight tonight from Hanoi to Frankfurt. This time, I will be more helpful. Sometimes, though, after flying for 16 hours, it's hard to be pleasant. I suppose, it's true for them, too. Even if I fly often, many of these are new to me. I thought that FAs have so many privileges. Now, I feel bad for them especially those who have to maintain washrooms.
Disillusioned from Kerala, India on November 28, 2014:
Insider information is spicy! You have written in a neat and interesting style of flow. Now I understand why many flight attendants are staid, unpleasant and border on unfriendliness.
Sighs on November 27, 2014:
I work in corporate for a major airline and receive flight benefits-which means standby. When I fly as an employee I still do get cranky old flight attendants. I feel sorry for the younger FA who are starting at the bottom. I do hear older- near retirement FA's speaking about down about younger/ new employees and also they complain that new airline employees shouldn't get flight privileges until a certain amount of seniority so that the older workers can make their stand by flights. It becomes annoying to always hear the old hags thinking they own the skies and the airline just because they worked 20+ yrs.
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on October 25, 2014:
Thanks for sharing. You make some great points!
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on October 25, 2014:
Thanks, Jean! I feel sorry for the FAs too with all the crap they have to deal with!
anonymus on October 25, 2014:
Ok...i have been flying for two three months for a.midddle eastern airline. This is a very insightful article but i can disagree with some parts of it. For example, the call bell, i guess when u become a FA everything just gets to you i nflight. Because if a passenger presses for a.call bell for a glad of water..u frown..if they come to the galley to fetch it u still get a problem with that.
Anyway, i think to survive in this job, you have yo take good care of yourself. Things to do with staying over eight hours in a pressurised cabin with hundreds of people is a big no. But you just learn how to survive and live with it if it's a life you have chosen. I carry a disinfectant, in airline am working for, crew are responsible to look out for toilets and believe me it wo t get as messy cos we check them every 8 minutes. The only annoying and disturbing thing to me about the toilet is why some passengers go in this small place and have a shower, come on guys. You ain't the only person on this flight. This is just common sense anyway, its not common to everyone.
Anyway, you cannot exhaust everything with this job, but for me i love most the money, and if am flying with nice crew, i can deal with all.these passenger issues.
And this company sounds very awful, ok maybe the article is quite old....but where i work is not as bad. The company caters for my apartment and bills except.food. So.its not so hard to live away from home....
Jean Bakula from New Jersey on October 23, 2014:
I suspected as much, because many airports are filthy too. I always bring bottled water as far as I can, I have to check to see if I can bring it on the plane for my upcoming trip. I carry a bag that's washable, and usually just check a medium sized suitcase.
The planes are so small it seems impossible for the attendants to push the beverage cart down the aisle, and when they do, nobody can get down the aisle. I practically bathe in antibacterial liquid if I have to use the bathroom, and try to bring my own snacks in my large, washable purse.
I can't stand passengers who try to stuff large suitcases in the overhead rack, but I guess the rules on that have changed too by now. They hold everyone up.
I feel sorry for attendants, I had a cousin who did the job, and it really aged her. Plus she had to stop because she began having trouble with her inner ear, from the altitudes.
Alberto Varela on September 22, 2014:
I don't mind if they are fat or old as long as they are nice.
However, when you see the Singapore Airlines flight attendants walk by on they're way to the plane you would give anything not to be flying United
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on September 17, 2014:
Thanks so much stopping by and I'm glad you posted!
Snakesmum on September 17, 2014:
Bottled water for me whenever I travel! Always felt for the F.A.'s on long trips, as they don't get a chance to stop. It's not a job I'd like to do, especially after reading this article.
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on September 16, 2014:
Thanks, Colin! I am glad you liked and appreciate the personal story as well!
Colin323 on September 16, 2014:
One of the best Hub articles I have read: informative, honest, and, despite all the problems, manages to still convey a sense of commitment to the task. Before I retired, I often took long distance flights from the UK and it was obvious how hard working the cabin crew were; they never stopped and looked zonked out on arrival. I know now why. Is there a flight attendants Trade Union? But I suspect the competition for jobs these days renders it pretty ineffective these days?
Buddy on September 07, 2014:
Dbpone, you don't know what it's like. Most of us are too old to get new jobs so we are stuck. You sound like some supervisor.
dbone on September 07, 2014:
All of you know about all these instances before, you apply for employment. Why do you continue? Their must be something that you are receiving that you do not want anyone to know about.
really? on June 12, 2014:
When I'm on a plane, I hold my breath till I'm on the ground again. I'm that nervous. I give kudos to ayone who does that for pay men. I wouldn't. Some thigs said in this article might be perculiar to a particular airline but most of them are probably common to all especially the fear part. South African, u ain't scared sometimes?
south African on June 09, 2014:
This person clearly didn't like being a flights attendant or maybe she was flying for a poor airline...we stay in the 5 star hotels u get around $700 allowance for the international flights that is excluding your salary, we live in the best places we drive beautiful cars, we get to shop in NYC, London etc...that is the best job ever im sorry your airline was poor my dear!!
Dave on May 30, 2014:
to be honest all US carriers are terrible. Customer service = Zero. Avoid
pete on March 29, 2014:
Million miler flying with my wife Honolulu to Puerto Rico: Got downgraded on the LA to Atlanta portion because airline employees were upgraded by friends. Saw it, heard it, and knew that making a scene would not help so didn't. We were given good seats, free food, cocktails, and great service so it wasn't bad. It was just "WRONG"!!
Adam on January 21, 2014:
Flight attendants - who would screw one anyway? Look at one next time you are on a plane. Old hags!!
blown away on January 15, 2014:
Let's just treat others the way we would like to be treated.
peter medupe on January 10, 2014:
I will definitely treat them differently from now on I am touched.
Thanks for the good information you are brave indeed.
Good luck you will need it!
Montagraph from United States on January 07, 2014:
The article of dropped food, absolutely "Floored" me :) I am pretty sure that happens at diners as well.
gajanis from Pakistan on January 03, 2014:
I really liked this autobiography written by you which has opened up many truths behind some myths. Thank for sharing.
dragonflycolor on January 03, 2014:
I don't like people being mean to me, so I'm not going to be mean to them, especially when they didn't start anything to antagonize me on purpose, and especially when they handle my food. Flight attendants don't get enough respect. Great hub.
azzane khalid on January 03, 2014:
thank you for this information is very useful
Joe Poniatowskis from Mid-Michigan on January 03, 2014:
Very informative. I feel for them.
By O'Reilly on January 02, 2014:
I wish they would let passengers who checked their baggage off the plane first!
Nice Hub. Informative.
Nicole on January 02, 2014:
I am glad Mister Hollywood posted this. I don't think he is posting anything negative. I've done this job for over 20 years and it is about time somebody made people aware of the realities of the job. It's not all fun and games. The stereotypes we hear about flight attendants are a joke, like the sex "coffee, tea or me" crap. At least this article talks about real things.
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on January 02, 2014:
Hello Misterhollywood, Thank you for this insightful commentary on the job that so many flight attendants tirelessly do every day. As a former FA, I can tell you've seen a lot on the job and been through a lot. Still, it is a job many dream about doing despite the obvious pitfalls. I loved my time with the airlines and hold many fond memories of favorite passengers and destinations all these many years later.
smiles on January 02, 2014:
Let me elaborate on the time off and money..I CHOOSE to only work 8 days a month because I have small children and a husband that I'd rather be with but most of my favorite flight attendant friends work a little more (say 12-16 days off) and if they r at the top of the pay scale (anyone over 12-15 yrs seniority is usually at the top of scale) have cleared well over 115000. Its NOT as bad as this whiner. And NO im not management or supervisor. Just a worker bee that's HAPPY to have a job that is great most of the time and lets me have a huge amount of time home with the kiddos. (But I have had to pick up a Food item off the floor, NOT for fear of being fired but being yelled at by a passenger) all the rest in the article is nasty. About the lights...they can be a little much as there are one of us for each 50 of you, but dang, calling it a bother light? This person needs to go into a line of work that doesn't deal with humans...
smiles on January 02, 2014:
Wow, while some of these comments have a ring of truth, this flight attendant sounds very bitter and unhappy.I've been Flying now for over 22 years and this one sounds like someone I would never like to fly with. The truth is, is that we make very good money (who do you know that only works 8 days a month and clears 70k) for the amount of time we r there. Its tough in the early part of our career, but why we stay is for the benefit of knowing that time off, benefits, and pay increase with time. Im embarrassed to be clumped in with this person.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 01, 2014:
All I can say is "Thank you for sharing." Sincerely.
Janet on January 01, 2014:
Mr. Hollywood, you should interview someone that likes their job or someone that loved flying!!!
Gus on December 30, 2013:
The last part of this story with the picture of the two old and nasty stewardesses is what we see on the planes. They should fire you if you let yourself go like that.
tomd on December 29, 2013:
The gospel truth..
been there done that on December 29, 2013:
Don't ice either in your drink. It's most likely contaminated as is the potable water in the lavs.
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on December 26, 2013:
Thanks Crisp. I am not sure if things are different at each airline. appreciate your perspective. Love your hubs!
- Mister Hollywood
John Hollywood (author) from Hollywood, CA on December 26, 2013:
You bet Janis - glad you liked!
Fiona on December 25, 2013:
CrispSp, what you shared here is misleading. Not ALL aircraft have cameras, particularly the old ones like the M8Os and older 737s. And not ALL airlines use cameras.
Your remark about the job being more of a lifestyle than career is offensive. It is a career and we should be proud of that. Do you work for free? Lastly, not everyone gets the benefits you claim to get. Maybe at Virgin or some Other carrier. You sound like a company supervisor.
Janis from California on December 25, 2013:
I am totally in shock! Thanks for coming forth with the truth.
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on December 25, 2013:
Not sure what airline does Mr/Ms Anonymous work for but doesn't sound like he/she's happy with it. Based on my experience, we're trained on food handling and so, we NEVER serve dropped food in our airline and we only serve bottled water on board. We also have crew meals and sometimes would even have extra passengers meal that we throw off at the end of every flight. Our aircraft(s) are equipped with cameras, so movements on board and specially at the galley are recorded. Passengers may not be aware of the camera but we (crews) sure do.
We're also entitled for sick leave and yes, we get paid. However, absenteeism can become a bad habit and it is only fair for any company to call for some disciplinary actions when and if it is needed. We also have subsidized GYM membership and wellness benefits, i.e. therapeutic massage and the likes including chiropractor, etc.
Generally, FA's stay with their job for many years because they love what they're doing and to become a FA for most, is not really a career but more of a lifestyle.
True, there are things that FA's cannot disclose to the public; simply because we are binded by legal contracts (plus security matters) and we agreed to that when we got hired and signed the agreement. Those things, however, have got nothing to do with the passengers.
Hezekiah from Japan on December 25, 2013:
Sounds bad regarding the pay situation, I'm sure it depends on the company e.g. I can't imagine staff from Emirates struggling, or do they?
Eric on December 24, 2013:
The shit is totally true, sorry to say. I've been a FA with AA for 15 years now and I make about the same as when I started. I've also dropped passenger's food on the galley floor and had no choice but to brush it off and service it. Happens a lot in first class. We used to get crew meals but they have cut back on those so we do eat off the leftovers.
Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on December 24, 2013:
Thanks for posting - sorry wages are so poor. The rich keep getting richer and the poor...
Josh Rose from Massachussetts on December 24, 2013:
Wow... Good thing I very rarely get on a plane!
Gayle on December 24, 2013:
Umm yeah- his shit is totally true. I've been flying for only 2 years now and my wages are at federal poverty levels. You exposed a lot here!
Sheryl M on December 23, 2013:
Mister Hollywood I am so glad you posted this! I recently from the old Continental and can pretty much tell people that everything here is essentially true. The food stamp stuff is totally true for the younger FAs. Some people might not believe this but I've actually seen some JFK crews rummage through left over food from first class and eat it behind the galley curtain. And yes. I've been on flights where the pilot knew something needed to be serviced but flew anyway.
I applaud you for posting this!
Stephanie from Texas on December 23, 2013:
Ha! I loved this. Great hub, helpful and very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
leakeem from Earth on December 23, 2013:
Nice article. Very informative and entertaining. I never knew there are FA secrets and these are great to know. Thumbs up!
srsddn from Dehra Dun, India on December 23, 2013:
misterhollywood, By and large I have not faced any problem except delays. The problem at serial no. 2 is quite common specially during cloudy weather. But I find many regular travellers get adjusted to it. Serving dropped food is rather disturbing. Thanks for sharing. Wish you merry Christmas. Vote up.