The first question that we get when people find out that we are flight attendants is: “What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on one of your flights?” Whether we are at a family get together, a social gathering, or even chatting with passengers on the plane, it never fails. This is simply one of the most commonly asked questions. The fact that this is the number one thing asked says a lot about where the airline industry stands today, but that’s an entirely different conversation for another time.
Traveling is already hectic enough without people acting crazy, and yet every other day we see stories on the news about passengers going off the deep end. Whether you are an airline employee, a frequent flyer, or even someone who’s only been on a plane a few times, you’ve most likely got a story or two about a crazy passenger on a flight.
While we could probably give you a million stories ourselves, we decided to sit down with some of our fellow flight attendants, including Passenger Shaming Creator Shawn Kathleen. We had some very honest conversations and shared some laughs. Here are seven passengers that totally deserve all the shame that they can get:
I was in the back of the airplane midflight and a passenger came back to the galley with her emotional support chihuaha. She asked me if there was a private area where she could breast feed her dog. I stared at her for a moment to process what she was saying, but she clearly was not joking. I looked down at the dog, with it’s crazy overbite and it’s teeth sticking out at me, and I was repulsed. Not even knowing how to respond, I finally just said to her “Ehhh, um, the lav is right there.” She nodded as if all of this made sense and then went in to “feed” her pup. The crazy thing is, I’m quite positive she didn’t have any breast milk to give the dog.
I was doing a cabin walk-through on an evening flight that was pretty much wide open. Everyone was spread out and had their own rows. The seatbelt sign had come on and the Captain had told us it would be getting pretty bumpy so we should take our seats. As I was doing a seatbelt check, a passenger waved me down and asked to go to the restroom. I kindly informed him, “The Captain asked everyone to stay seated, including the flight attendants, because we’re about to hit a rough patch of turbulence.” He was clearly pissed off. I said “I’m sorry, but the seatbelt sign is on, and I need to take my seat.” About 30 minutes later, I went to walk through the cabin again and noticed a smell. It wreaked of feces. I get to the same row that that gentlemen was sitting in to see if he was okay, but before I could say anything, I gasped. There was literally a piece of shit on the floor next to his seat. I said, in as professional of a tone as I could muster up at this point, “Sir, what exactly is going on here?” His response? “You told me I couldn’t get up and I needed to take a dump.” Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy talking to the authorities when we landed, but you can’t just go around pooping on the floor at 35,000 feet.
Picture this: Boston to LA. We’re on a 737. About halfway through the flight, a passenger comes to the back to tell me about a man who is distracting other passengers. She tells me his seat number and goes to sit down. At this point, there are a million things running through my mind of what it could be. I’m halfway down the aisle when I hear a buzzing sound. Seriously, what is that? I approach said seat and look down to see this man using an ELECTRIC RAZOR TO SHAVE HIS FACE OVER THE TRAY TABLE! Before becoming a flight attendant, I would have assumed that shaving your face over a surface where people dine seemed like an obvious no, but apparently I would’ve been very wrong. I literally had to hide my disgust as I tapped the guy on the shoulder to tell him that he had to stop immediately because it was distracting and gross. Everyone around me cracked up and I gave the man wipes to make sure he cleaned up every last hair left on that tray table.
I was working my second trip ever and we were boarding a 757 out of MIA. We were towards the end of boarding so the gate agents were checking bags. A lady got to her seat and was beyond pissed that she had to check her bag as there was a space left in the overhead bin above her seat. She then threw a complete temper tantrum unlike anything I’d ever seen. She started screaming at the top of her lungs at me and the other flight attendants and began cussing us out and calling us liars. She caused a huge scene. The gate agent came on to help out and got in between us and the woman yelling. She said “You better apologize to the flight attendants and calm down right now.” The woman then ran away from the gate agent all the way to the back of the airplane to hide. The agent followed and said, “Are you just going to run away from me?” At that point, our lead flight attendant made the decision to kick her off the flight for her behavior. As she exited the plane, the passengers began singing together “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!” I couldn’t help but laugh.
I was a fairly new flight attendant, maybe a few months into the job, and I was working an “all-nighter” which consisted of flying from MCO to LAX and then back all in the same night. Lovely, right? I’m sure you can already guess how this story is going to go. From the beginning, boarding was a mess so I knew I was in for a rough night. Once we were airborne, after the service, I dimmed the lights and sat down in my jumpseat. We were now about 2 hours into the flight when a young girl came up to the forward aircraft door with a coat on and her carry on rolling up behind her. She said to me, “I’m ready to get out.” I laughed as I thought she was joking. It was clear from her face that she was unfortunately was not. I didn’t want her anywhere near that door so I offered to grab her bags and stow them as I explained that we had about 4 hours left in flight. I returned her to her seat and the surrounding passengers were rolling their eyes and laughing but clearly this lady was on another level. At this moment I knew, I had entered the twilight zone.
While I had hoped the flight would calm down, it only continued to get worse. We later discovered a woman was moving around the airplane sitting with different men and trying to seduce them. She even accused one of them for touching her inappropriately. Needless to say, the cops met us at the gate as those situations are taken very seriously. And as if things couldn’t get any weirder, we had a woman at the end of deplaning who simply refused to get off the plane. Based on the look in her eyes, something was definitely off. We brought the authorities back for a second time to take her and when they arrived, she claimed that I – the flight attendant – was her husband. The police looked at me and I assured them that I was not, and then off in handcuffs she went. The best part of that night? I still had to work the flight back to Orlando. Pro Tip: Don’t fly red-eyes!
I was working as a flight attendant in the back of the airplane and one of my duties was to confirm the amount of passengers on board. The flight attendant up front called back to confirm that I had the same number that was listed on the paperwork, which included an infant. As I was walking through the cabin, I didn’t notice any babies on board. We notified the gate agent and then went to double check with the passenger who supposedly had an infant with her. Her response was, “You asked us to stow everything in an overhead bin.” When I opened the compartment above her seat, I found a mound of blankets and toys and sure enough, there she was – the baby in a bin. Somehow, the mother couldn’t seem to understand why babies aren’t allowed in the overhead bin. Don’t worry, we had a nice long conversation with her about why babies and suitcases cannot be stowed the same way.
It was the last day of my trip, boarding was almost over, and all I wanted to do was go home. A man came on in a wheelchair and sat in 1D, right across from my jumpseat. He was probably in his mid-fifties, long-ish hair, seemed to be a disheveled mess as coins were falling out of his bag onto the floor. I leaned out of the airplane door and kind of mouthed to the wheelchair assist, “Is something wrong with this guy?” He shook his head no and left, but I still thought something was off. I crouched over and asked to see this passenger’s boarding pass, to try and see if I could smell alcohol or anything like that, but there was nothing. At this point, I’d done everything I could to try and find an issue with him before take-off but nothing was coming up. We secured the cabin for departure, and since I was the lead flight attendant, I made my routine call to the Captain to let him know that we were ready. I called and said “Cabin secure. We’re ready for takeoff. If anything happens, it’s the guy in 1D.”
The flight was overall pretty uneventful and it was time to start our initial descent. I was in the back of the airplane at this time. One of the flight attendants went into the bathroom and the other was cleaning up, so I decided to do a trash pick-up from the back of the plane. It was nighttime so the cabin was pretty dark by this point. As I walked into the aisle, maybe two rows deep, I looked up and saw a red light flashing at the front of the plane. I couldn’t even hear the alarm because the plane was so loud. I ran up to the forward galley and noticed the smoke alarm. I grabbed a fire extinguisher, preparing for the worst. I went up to the lav and suddenly the door flew open, this man stepped out, and the whole front right side of his head was singed. Well what do you know, it was 1D. His hair was basically smoking and you could smell it burning. I had assumed he was smoking a cigarette and something went wrong, but as it turned out, he was bent over lighting a crack pipe when his hair caught on fire. I told the Captain what was going on and we had the authorities meet the flight. As we were taxiing in, the man had the nerve to say to me, “Am I going to make my connection?” I advised him that it was best not to say any more at this point. The funny thing was, I knew the whole time that he’d be an issue, but I guess I just didn’t know how much of one he’d become. Of all the jobs I’ve had, the one job that strengthened my intuition the most was definitely being a flight attendant!
What are some of your crazy passenger stories? Drop a note in the comments or tell us on Facebook!
Special thanks to Shawn Kathleen, creator of the Official Passenger Shaming Instagram, for sitting down with Two Guys On A Plane and sharing her favorite story with us!
Romantic comedies make dating look alarmingly magical. A few perfect dates in and it’s time to get married, but that’s not realistic, is it? We know what you’re thinking, aren’t these ‘Two Guys’ married? Well, yes, we are – but we owe it all to being happily single! Every time people say to us “I wish I had what you two have” – we both smile. We smile because of all the experiences you could have in life, it’s completely okay to put romantic relationships on the back burner. First and foremost, it’s so important to be in a committed relationship with yourself, because chances are there’s a better version of you that you’re working towards. Spend time with that human and love them unconditionally before allowing someone else to be a part of your life. As cliché as it may be, RuPaul said it best: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Put you first, and then you’ll suddenly find space to allow someone else into your little world. Then, conveniently, that person will somehow find themselves drawn to you… trust us. It’s a whole universe thing. You’ll see.
My husband and I are each other’s person through and through, but we also know how crucial it is to just be true to yourself and still maintain your own identity, especially when in a relationship. Long before we knew each other, we both spent many years of our lives losing ourselves while being involved in toxic relationships. When we first met, neither one of us wanted anything to do with commitment, oddly enough, and yet that’s when it came to us in the absolute best way. It was so unintentional and carefree that it was honest, and it was blunt. By the time we both caught on to the fact that we had feelings for each other, they were much deeper than either of us realized. Sure, we were dating, but neither of us had any expectations or put any pressure on ourselves. The beginning of our relationship was organic because neither of us were trying too hard or worrying about messing things up. We were both putting in the same level of energy, and it’s because neither of us were “looking” that we got exactly what we were looking for.
So now back to you, how does that translate? It’s actually pretty easy. Sit down, figure out what you want for yourself, and go live your best life! Be afraid of absolutely nothing – except maybe spiders. That’s a valid fear. Burn your house down and move. Otherwise, take risks, travel to new places, and try new things. The worst thing that could happen is you realize that you simply don’t like whatever it is you’ve tried doing. You’ll be much happier with yourself for doing it anyway before you find yourself trapped in a relationship having no idea who you are at the core. Don’t let age get in the way of this journey, either. Don’t say you’re either too old or too young for something, because it’s simply not true. Don’t compare yourself to people around you and what they have, because their journey is exactly that – their journey.
Sometimes, the best travel companion is you! Go see places by yourself. And don’t tell yourself you can’t afford it, either. Pack a backpack, some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and go stay in a hostel for a couple of nights somewhere. If you want to make it work, you will. This isn’t the time for excuses. You don’t have to go to Indonesia for three months alone, start smaller than that. Go to dinner or a movie, spend time dating yourself first, and getting to know who you are. Take a little road trip or weekend getaway, or even just a day to pamper yourself. You don’t necessarily have to “Eat. Pray. Love.” it – just hang out with you because you’re awesome! You’ll be surprised by how much there is to learn about yourself.
Now, we’re not advocating for the single life forever, but just learn to be independent, so when you find your person, you can continue that journey along and be authentically you. If your person is out of town, go out and have fun! If they’re not okay with you living your life to the fullest, you’re with the wrong person and you need to run anyway! Maybe you don’t want to go out without them, that’s okay, too. You’re not looking for someone who completes you, you’re looking for someone who complements you. Your significant other should be someone who adds value to your life. That’s right, we’re Marie Kondo-ing it. Does this person spark joy? No? Get rid of them. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
So as we enter coupling season, do yourselves a favor – catch flights, not feelings! Don’t go chasing someone simply to have a relationship because you’ll end up annoyed or heartbroken, or both. Take the adventure you’ve always dreamt about. You’ll get to a point where you are finally happy with yourself and where you are in life. You’ll be grateful for what you have and yet at the same time, grateful for what you don’t have. And sometimes, when you least expect it, someone will walk into your life and add value to your journey. You never know where your life will take you. Say hi to your seat mate on your next flight, they could be the one! Or, they could be a weirdo. Feel it out. Trust your gut. But sometimes you get lucky.
… and other frequently asked flight attendant questions!
Bartenders, musicians, teachers, astronauts, and flight attendants… what’s one thing we all have in common? No one seems to have any idea what we actually do! If you spent the day following a flight attendant around at work, you’d quickly learn why we feel it is one of the most misunderstood gigs in the world. People are constantly asking questions about things that have become second nature to us, so forgive us when we get a little sassy with our responses. We compiled several questions that are most commonly asked by passengers on board the aircraft. We’re here to clear the air!
What is your regular route?
This isn’t a thing. We are not assigned a specific route like the movie “View From The Top” might have you believe. Thanks, Gwyneth. While some flight attendants do prefer to fly the same routes over and over, others prefer variety and will fly a mixture of different types of trips and routes. Plus, seniority plays a huge role. When you first start flying, you barely get a say in where you go and when you go. It’s not until later in our careers that we can even hold specific routes. It certainly keeps the job interesting!
Is this a full flight?
We’ll let you know as soon as we’re airborne! All jokes aside, we may have this information but we might not disclose it to passengers right away. There could always be last minute changes due to cancellations, overbooking, or even weight and balance requirements for our airplane. If you are looking to move to a different seat, we’ll do our best to let you know if that is a possibility, just keep in mind that every airline has different policies and procedures about changing seats so it may not be an option!
What’s your schedule like?
Chaotic and confusing to the untrained eye! Very few flight attendants like to stick to a Monday-Friday type of work week so it’s easier to think of our schedules by month, since that is how we bid. No two weeks or weekends look alike for us! The average flight attendant has probably somewhere between 12-20 days off a month. Some people fly one day trips so that they’re home every night while others are gone anywhere from 2-6 or more days in a row. Again, it’s all about variety and every flight attendant you meet will likely have a very different schedule!
What’s your favorite place you’ve been?
It’s a tie between Greece… and my bed! To be honest, we spend so many days on the road sometimes all we really want to do is go home! With that being said, we are fortunate to see some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. It can be nearly impossible to choose just one!
Do you have to pay for your own hotels and transportation?
Of course not! We get this question a lot but as with anyone that travels for business, the company coordinates and covers all of our transportation and lodging expenses. Would you be a flight attendant if you had to pay for your own hotel? No, thanks!
What are we flying over?
I have absolutely no idea. Rarely do flight attendants have the answer to this question. We’re either busy tending to passengers or simply don’t know enough about the flight plan to provide that information. If you’re nice, though, and the pilots don’t seem too busy – we might just be able to go find out for you!
Can you get me, like, free flights or something?
The short answer? No.
The long answer? Still no. Just kidding, kind of. It’s no secret that flight attendants have what is called “buddy passes.” These buddy passes are non-revenue standby tickets that are sometimes (but not always) cheaper than a regular confirmed fare. Each airline employee is only allowed to give out a specific number of passes, depending on the company. Your priority for standby on a buddy pass is pretty low and flights are so full nowadays that these are almost never worth it. You’re probably better off buying a confirmed ticket. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the risk of not getting on at all. You may be thinking to yourself, “Hmm… my sister’s college roommate’s cousin is a flight attendant. I should hit her up on Facebook for a buddy pass.” Well, don’t. We can assure you that trying this will most likely not end well for you.
Can you turn that noise down?
If you’re referring to the engines or the air whirling around our aircraft at 500mph… we’re going to stop you right there. Airplanes can be quite noisy! There isn’t much we can do about that without putting our safety in jeopardy, so we recommend packing earplugs or some noise-cancelling headphones!
Do you all live together in a house?
Not exactly. This isn’t the Real World. And if it was, it would probably never air because flight attendants are a thousand times crazier than the people on that show. What you might be thinking of, however, is a little something called a crashpad. Airlines only operate crew bases in specific cities based on their route network. If you don’t live in one of those cities, some flight attendants and pilots choose to “commute” to work via airplane. While this may sound absurd to a non-airline person, it’s quite common! Some flight attendants and pilots even commute from other countries! Imagine flying from Paris to New York any time you had to go to work? It’s totally casual. Since getting a place of your own in your base can be expensive and unnecessary, flight attendants and pilots opt to stay in a house together with other crew members to crash for a few nights a month before they go to work. It can be a little hectic, but it’s far more cost-effective. Crashpads aren’t specific to the airline industry, either – think travel nurses or corporate housing! Anyone who works in a city other than the one they call home typically has some sort of alternate housing set up.
Can you call ahead to my connecting flight and tell them I’m coming?
They don’t trust us with cash, you think they trust us with a satellite phone? In all seriousness, flight attendants don’t have that kind of power, but they already know you’re coming, trust us! With technology these days, the folks working your connecting flight have all of your information and know you’re on your way! The silver lining is that if you miss your flight, they will automatically rebook you on the next available flight! Life is a journey. Enjoy it.
What is the craziest thing a passenger has ever done?
Every flight attendant has their own story for this one so keep asking, but until you see a flight attendant in person next, we’ll go ahead and share ours:
Rich: I was doing a cabin walk-through on a late flight that was pretty much wide open, everyone was spread out and had their own rows. It was quite nice. The seatbelt sign had come on and the Captain had told us it would be getting pretty bumpy so to go ahead and sit down. A passenger waved me down while I was walking through and asked to go to the restroom. I kindly informed him, “The Captain asked everyone to stay seated, including the flight attendants, because we’re about to hit a rough patch of turbulence.” He didn’t seem happy, but I kept walking. About 20 minutes later, I went to walk through again and noticed a smell. It wreaked of feces. I get to the same row that gentlemen was in and asked if he was okay, but before he could respond, I gasped. There was literally a piece of shit on the floor next to his seat. I said, in as professional of a tone as I could muster up at this point, “Sir, what exactly is going on here?” His response? “You told me I couldn’t get up and I needed to take a dump. So here we are.” Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy talking to the authorities when we landed, but you can’t just go around pooping in public.
Andrew: I was working as a flight attendant in the back of the airplane and one of my duties was to confirm the amount of passengers on board. The flight attendant up front called back to confirm that I had the same number that was listed on the paperwork, which included an infant. As I was walking through the cabin, I didn’t notice any babies on board. We notified the gate agent and then went to double check with the passenger who supposedly had an infant with her. Her response was, “You asked us to stow everything in an overhead bin.” When I opened the compartment above her seat, I found a mound of blankets and toys and sure enough, there she was – the baby in a bin. Somehow, the mother couldn’t seem to understand why babies aren’t allowed in the overhead bin. Don’t worry though, we had a nice long conversation with her about why babies and suitcases cannot be stowed in the same way.
Do you turn around and go right back or do you get to stay a while?
Depends on the type of trip and the type of flight. If we’re flying from Philadelphia to Athens, do you really think we “Turn around and come right back?” Of course we stay there! It’s usually only for a day or so, but we can’t really work back-to-back 10ish hour flights without a nap! Our layovers vary anywhere between 10 hours and a few days! It just depends on the airline’s operational need and how far we’re traveling. Now, if we’re flying from New York to Washington, DC, sure – go ahead and ask how many flights we’ve done today. It’s probably a lot!
Have you ever joined the mile-high club?
Uh, as flight attendants, we’ve seen the way those lavatories are cleaned so it’s not even something we’d consider honestly. Also, do you go around and ask people if they have sex at work, or is it just crew? This doesn’t occur nearly as much as you think it does and it is far too romanticized in the movies. Spare yourself the hassle and embarrassment and save it for the hotel!
What is a reserve?
Like many other industries, airline’s have employees on-call. While each airline operates their scheduling systems differently, they all have what is called reserve flight attendants. Reserve schedules can be confusing, but it’s more straightforward than you might think. Reserve flight attendants know which days of the month they are working and which days they are not. The catch is that they don’t know where they might be traveling to or if they’ll be traveling at all. If someone calls in sick, their car breaks down, or the airline adds a new flight last minute for some reason, crew scheduling will call in a reserve to work the flight. If the company has no need for the reserve, then they continue to remain on call at home. Typically reserves have a limited amount of time to get to the airport in order to help keep the flight running as close to on time as possible. Whether the reserve works or not, they still get paid a guaranteed number of hours. Every airline’s reserve system operates differently. A lot of this applies for pilots, too!
Why were you late for work?
We weren’t! Delays happen often in the airline industry. It’s just the nature of the game. Despite what announcement you may or may not have heard, the crew was likely not “late” and if they were, it typically was out of their control. Chances are, someone called out sick or didn’t make it to work last minute because of something like a broken-down car, and a flight attendant has to be called in quickly. That flight attendant is called a reserve and is usually sitting either somewhere in the airport or within a couple hours driving distance. Or, we could be working multiple flights in a day – one right after the other – and we started off with a delay for some reason now causing the rest of the day to be off schedule. Another scenario could be that the day prior to a crew’s flight was so delayed that they needed extra rest. Our rest is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and there are requirements set for flight attendants and pilots. We need to be as alert as possible in order to operate on board the aircraft in case of an emergency. They’ll get there as soon as they can, but none of this is their fault, so at least be nice to them! They’re really just saving the day!
Do you get to travel a lot?
Believe it or not, we’ve answered this question more times than we care to count. Yes, of course we travel a lot, and no, we don’t think you fly more than we do!
Do you think you’ll ever get a real job?
Not sure what you’re implying here, but being a flight attendant IS a real job! We get to see the world for little to no money. On occasion, we get to fly in First Class without actually having to pay for it. We can take up to three weeks a month off without having a scheduled vacation or losing any pay. We have some of the most amazing coworkers that make feel like family. Many flight attendants have master’s degrees or doctorate degrees, run their own companies, practice law, work as nurses full-time, and so much more! People from all walks of life take to the sky everyday because they have a passion for aviation. It’s the greatest career in the world and is very much a “real job.” Now, if by getting a “real job” you mean being chained to a desk for forty hours a week… we’ll pass!
When all is said and done, the people that need to read these answers the most may never see them, and keep asking these questions, but we’re doing our part to spread the word about this weird, quirky, fun world that we call being a flight attendant! So do us a favor, and go share this article and tell all of your infrequent flyer friends what they need to know! Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to remind the frequent flyers, either.
Kelly Kincaid creates and produces original artwork, please share her work and support her business as a patron on Patreon! Every little bit helps her to continue creating the cartoons that make us all laugh so much each and every day!
Each year on the 11th of September, we are met with a well-known phrase everywhere we go. ‘Never Forget.’ Stand in an airport security line or board a flight any other day, and somehow it all seems to be forgotten. I was working a flight recently from Philadelphia to Seattle. About halfway through the trip, a passenger marched up to the forward galley to use the restroom. She immediately began pulling at the door handle, but someone had been using the lavatory at that time. I informed her the restroom was unavailable and kindly asked that she step back until the lavatory became available. She immediately questioned me, while standing just a few feet away from the flight deck door. “Why can’t I stand here?” I responded, “For security purposes, I ask that you please move back. We just can’t have too many people up here at one time.” She immediately became angry with me. “I’m a paying customer and I should be able to do what I want. Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?” she barked at me. My mind immediately went to 9/11. My situation in that moment was undoubtedly different than the ones faced by flight attendants like Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney, but I asked myself – is it really that easy to forget? Do people not think about 9/11 because it has simply slipped their minds or is it easier to block it out rather than imagine the unthinkable?
It doesn’t matter how many years pass, September 11, 2001 is a day that will sit heavy in each of our hearts forever, but especially heavy in the hearts of flight attendants. Whether you realize it or not, your flight attendants are thinking about 9/11 far more frequently than you would imagine. Flight attendants remember the tragic events of that day quite often not just because it hits close to home, but because part of our job is to make sure that it never happens again.
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, a flight attendant named Halle Cameron woke up to a confusing phone call from crew scheduling. They asked why she was late to work for American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles. As it turns out, there was a mix-up since she had called in sick the night before. She hung up the phone and the airline scrambled to replace her. Crew scheduling then called 24-year-old reserve flight attendant Jean Rogers, who was sitting standby at Boston Logan International to work the flight. Jean rushed off to the gate while Halle shrugged off her interaction with crew scheduling. Later that morning, Halle stood in front of her television and learned that the very flight she was originally scheduled to work had been hijacked and crashed. Her heart dropped and so did she. Halle knew Jean. That could’ve been her. Somehow, a higher power in the universe had other plans for Halle. Since that day, the guilt caused by something out of her control has mostly faded but the memories are as clear as ever. People continue to call her “lucky” but the only thing that makes her feel lucky is the comfort in knowing that her friends and family didn’t have to grieve over her. Twelve years after 9/11, Halle returned to flying but this time with US Airways, which coincidentally merged with American Airlines. If you ask her how the job compares to what it was before 9/11, she says it’s different to say the least. While flight attendants were once issued white service gloves, they now are equipped with handcuffs during training. Even with everything Halle has been through, she still feels that being a flight attendant is the best job she’s ever had. There’s truly no family like a flight attendant family.
We don’t remember these stories because we want to live in the past, we remember them to honor the lives of those that we lost and to remind ourselves to remain vigilant when it comes to safety. Flight attendants are aviation’s first responders. The accounts of flight attendants like Betty Ong, Amy Sweeney, and Jean Rogers are not simply stories, but reminders of the critical role that flight attendants play. The flight crews of American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93 each performed their duties to the best of their abilities and took risks. These men and women are unsung heroes and as flight crewmembers, we honor their memories every day when we take to the skies.
Immediately following the attacks of 9/11, the world was completely transformed. A lot of these changes didn’t happen slowly over time as one might think but they happened almost instantly. Planes were grounded. Airport procedures were reformed. Security was completely changed not just in airports but in schools, office buildings, post offices. Everywhere you went, the world felt different. There was a sense of trust that had previously existed in the world that was now completely gone. People don’t often realize the wide-reaching effects of 9/11. Everyone from the pilot of a commercial airplane down to the administrative assistant who works in an off-site warehouse for UPS had to completely change their way of living. The reality was harsh, but everyone knew that change was inevitable.
Flight attendants aren’t trained solely for the purpose of serving drinks and snacks, but we are also trained to protect passengers and ourselves from any potential threat whether that be mechanical issues, fires, decompressions, or even terrorist attacks. What remains unseen to the regular passenger’s eye is that while a flight attendant is on duty, nearly everything we say or do is safety-related. We are trained to be alert and maintain a healthy level of suspicion regarding everything that occurs on the aircraft. We look for potential in every passenger not because we want to assume the worst, but because safety and security is of the utmost importance. Whether you get up to pull something out of your suitcase, take a trip or two to the lavatory, or even readjust in your seat, chances are one of the flight attendants is watching to make sure the behavior is as innocent as it seems. On 9/11, the events that occurred in those attacks happened so quickly that there is simply no such thing as being too prepared.
The next time you board an airplane, you may find yourself upset about the lack of legroom or inoperative Wifi. Your flight attendants likely have so much more on their minds, especially if you’re flying on September 11th, all while trying to address your concerns and provide you with a safe and comfortable flying experience. Even if we weren’t working crewmembers on 9/11, each of us still feels the effects from that fateful day as we honor our fellow crewmembers that were lost. 25 flight attendants, 8 pilots, 3 customer service agents, and countless other souls not in the aviation industry were lost that day. All across the nation, members of the aviation community were supporting each other all while caring for stranded and scared passengers. The aftermath of 9/11 was harsh, unforgiving, but important. The next time TSA asks you to remove your shoes or a flight attendant requests that you to return to your seat, remember the important role of aviation safety professionals today and every day.
While the events of 9/11 may slip your mind from time to time, one thing is for certain – your flight attendants will never forget.
A very special thank you to our friend and fellow flight attendant, Halle Cameron, for recounting her experiences from 9/11 and allowing us to tell her story.
It’s Monday morning and you are about to roll out of bed. What’s the first thing that you do? Well, you snuggle with your dog and fall back asleep for another hour. Later that day, you go to brunch, maybe go for a hike followed by dinner with friends, and then stay up late Netflix binging Parks & Rec because you don’t leave for Rome until late the next day. Why? Because you’re a flight attendant and Mondays don’t suck anymore!
One of the best things about being a flight attendant is the flexibility. You can essentially work as much or as little as you want, even choosing the days of the week that you would prefer to work, all while maintaining a full-time job. While there can certainly be downsides and difficulties to the job, there are also some amazing perks and even more that come with seniority! Some would say it is the best job in the world, and some would say it was not for them, but it all comes down to who you are as a person and what kind of career you want for yourself.
With that being said, it’s not always easy to become a flight attendant. Statistically speaking, becoming a flight attendant is often more difficult than getting accepted into Harvard University. Don’t believe me? When over 100,000 people apply for fewer than 1,000 jobs, you’ll quickly realize that not everyone can walk in the door and receive an offer. Don’t let that scare you, though, because you may have just what it takes! Plus, we’re here to help! Between the two of us here at ‘Two Guys On A Plane,’ we’ve been both hired (and rejected!) over the years by several different airlines. We know first-hand how stressful the process can be, so we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to help you land your dream job!
BEFORE YOU APPLY
Ask yourself a few questions, such as why you are applying and what you hope to get out of this career. These are answers you’re going to want to have not only for your sake but for your interviewer when it comes time to meet with them. This will also help you identify what type of airline you want to work for. Each airline will provide you with very different employment experiences just as each airline will be looking for something different in you as a candidate. Whether you plan to go for a regional airline or a mainline carrier, make sure to research the company you’re applying for first because they’ll expect you to know about their brand. Next, make sure you’re fully prepared to begin the process. You don’t need a college degree (although it’s preferred), you don’t need airline experience as they’ll train you, but you should have top-notch customer service skills.
When airlines open up the online application, they usually don’t keep it open for long so have everything ready to go. Additionally, the length of the application process can vary from a couple of weeks to a few months, so you’ll want to be prepared for each step of the way just in case. Gather the required items that you’ll need such as a passport, resume, cover letter, ten years of work history, references, etc. You’ll also want to start putting together your best looks for the next steps in the process!
You’ve done all of your prep work and you know what you want, so now it’s time to go and get it! If you’re part of one of the flight attendant career social media groups, you’ll probably already be aware of who is hiring. If not, each airline has some sort of “Careers” section online, so visit the websites of airlines you’re interested in to see if they have the flight attendant position posted. If the airline(s) you’d like to apply for appear to be hiring, we recommend that you go for it as soon as possible! As we mentioned earlier, these job postings don’t last for long since the volume of applicants they receive is typically quite high. You won’t want to miss your window of opportunity!
When filling out your application, be as detailed and honest as possible. You will likely have to fill out a series of personality questions, too. Answer them genuinely rather than trying to fit into a mold. If there are scenario questions, take a moment and think about what you would actually do rather than what you think they want from you. The airline isn’t trying to trick you, they are trying to get to know you. Since they receive so many applicants, you want to make sure you stand out. Highlight your personality as well as your customer service skills and background. They want to see that you’re not only professional but have just the right personality to handle the varied experiences flight attendants encounter each day. Whether you’re serving drinks, assisting in a medical situation, or evacuating an airplane, your leadership skills and flexibility will be required for all of it – trust us!
THE VIDEO INTERVIEW
This can be a major source of anxiety for people but don’t let it scare you! Go over some basic interview questions ahead of time so you don’t end up staring blankly at the computer screen. Some common questions include: “Why do you want this job?” “What would make you a good flight attendant?” “Tell us about a time when you helped someone.” “Tell us about a time when you messed up and what you learned.” “What are three words your friends would use to describe you?” When you sit down to record your interview, dress as professionally as you would for a face-to-face interview. You may not necessarily need a tuxedo or ball gown but displaying a professional look will tell the recruiters that you take this process seriously. While you don’t need to dress up like a flight attendant, a simple suit will go a long way, so the recruiters can envision you proudly sporting the airline’s uniform.
Be extra careful during this step of the process as a lot of candidates are automatically written off early in their video because of a few key mistakes. Make sure the camera is steady and the quality is clear, adjust the lighting in the room so it is bright but not so much that they can’t see you, and clean up the background behind you so it doesn’t look messy or unprofessional. Additionally, display your face and torso straight on for the camera so the interviewer can see you as if you were sitting across from them at a table. Be clear and detailed with your answers and always look directly into the camera. Lower the brightness on your screen so that you’re not tempted to look down at your face while you speak. Avoid these faux pas before you sit down for the actual interview and you’ll be on your way! Remember – if you feel and look professional, then you will project that through the screen and they’ll want to see you in person!
This is your time to shine! At this point, your confidence should be building as you were chosen out of thousands to come in for an in-person interview. Before you arrive, read all of the information that they send you word-for-word so that you do not miss a single step or forget a required item such as your passport. Preparedness, attention to detail, and the ability to follow directions will be a major deciding factor in whether or not you get hired!
If you haven’t been to a face-to-face before, it is typically a process that takes place over the course of several hours. The interview will typically include various group activities, information sessions, meet and greets, group interviews, and a one-on-one with an individual recruiter. Again, each airline has their own personality so an airline like Delta is going to try to sell you on their brand with bells and whistles while Southwest really just wants to get down to business and know if you will perform the job according to their standards. No two interviews will be the same! Our best piece of advice? Be cognizant of your behavior from the moment you set foot on the property because there will be many recruiters keeping an eye out on each of the candidates throughout the day. Be confident but not arrogant. Be talkative but not overbearing. Be prepared but not rehearsed. Be excited but maintain composure. Be a leader but show you can listen and be part of a team. Most importantly? Be authentically you. You’ve got this!
A lot of candidates ask if they will receive an offer on-the-spot at the interview or if they’ll hear from the airline after the fact. From our experience, you typically would receive a conditional job offer (CJO) at the end of your Face-to-Face interview but there have certainly been a few exceptions where people have heard good news after the fact. If you don’t get the job, typically they’ll send a “Thanks, But No Thanks” (TBNT) a few weeks later rather than tell you that day. They like delivering bad news just about as much as you like receiving it!
Whether or not you get the job this time around, don’t be discouraged! Each and every recruiter that reviews your application, video, and in-person interview is looking for something different! It’s important not to be too harsh on yourself because sometimes they see things in you that someone else may not have and vice versa. A friend of ours applied for Delta Air Lines seven times and finally got hired while others have gotten the job on their first try. You simply never know what they are looking for specifically, so it’s always worth going back for another try or with a different airline if you want it bad enough!
Special thanks to our flight attendant friends for letting us feature their fabulous on-the-fly photos! Check them out on Instagram by clicking on their photos in this article!
We wish you the best of luck with the flight attendant interview process and hope to share a jumpseat with you someday! If you have any tips for aspiring flight attendants, leave them in the comments!