We’ve all said it. We’ve all had those trips where it’s just one frustrating situation after another and a good cocktail sounds like the perfect cure. As crew members, we deal with the unexpected all day long: unruly passengers, weather delays, maintenance issues, medical emergencies, and the list goes on. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good drink to unwind at the end of a long and unpredictable day. Plus, happy hour is a great way to share stories and create much-needed camaraderie amongst crew members on a trip. After all, we’re miles away from our loved ones and we often become each other’s family while we’re on the road. In the lonely world of aviation, we crave those connections. For many crew members, those connections often include alcohol.
But at what point is it too much? When does it stop being a fun casual outing and become a problem? We always find ourselves making excuses for it: “How often am I in Rome? I have to drink wine while I’m here.” “Great, I’m in the middle-of-nowhere, USA – there’s nothing to do here except drink!” It’s so easy to let social drinking develop into a habit that could become potentially dangerous. Where do we draw the line?
Why it’s a problem:
We fly with different crew members every time we go to work – which can be a blessing and a curse. If we get drunk and messy around our crew, we can pass it off as a one-time situation by saying something like “Oh my god! I never get like that.” and move on. Being a flight crew member creates the rare opportunity for anonymity at work. Chances are, no one will think twice about our behavior on one trip. Then, the next time we act like that with a new crew, we can say the same thing and repeat the process without anyone ever really catching on. It’s so easy to become an alcoholic in the aviation industry, but everyone seems to be too afraid to talk about it – or worse, too comfortable doing it.
What we can do:
Stop peer pressuring people to drink. We find ourselves saying things to each other like “Oh, you’re no fun!” if someone on our crew says they want to enjoy a quiet layover. While saying something like this may seem insignificant in the moment, it can be extremely toxic. Not only have we tried to pressure someone into doing something that they don’t want to do, but we’ve also made them feel ostracized from the rest of the crew. Instead, we could say, “This place also has great food and live music, too, we can grab dinner or coffee instead.” If they don’t want to join, don’t keep harping on it! Not everyone wants to spend their layovers getting drunk or even being social at all. Sometimes people need that time alone to recharge. We have to get better at respecting each other’s boundaries and being the support system that we all so desperately need while we’re away from our friends and family.
As aviation professionals, safety is our top priority, so we have strict rules and regulations regarding the use of drugs and alcohol, but so often we push our limits. We’re not trying to point fingers, place blame, or make anyone feel bad about their choices. Rather than shaming each other for what we do with our free time, we need to be sensitive to the fact that everyone is on a different journey. We’re not perfect and we all make mistakes from time to time, but we have to be more open and honest about how we live our lives on the road.
Whether or not you’ve felt yourself going too far on a layover in the past or you’re someone who doesn’t ever drink on trips, we have to normalize these discussions and work harder to take care of each other. You can’t have healthy habits without healthy conversations.
The bottom line:
We’re not saying you can’t have fun on layovers – by all means, live it up! Having fun with crew members is sometimes the best part about this job, but layovers don’t have to be all about drinking. Be open to breaking old habits and trying new things.
So, what is the solution? That’s up to you.
Rent a car and go for a drive, go hiking, find a museum or art gallery, do some shopping, and the list of non-alcoholic activities goes on! If you decide that you want to drink on your layovers, that’s cool, too! Here are a few suggestions we’ve discovered over the years that have helped us balance a fun and healthy lifestyle, both while traveling and at home:
Choose a drink limit for yourself and stick to it. Or look at your layovers and decide in advance that you’re only going to drink on a particular layover or two that month. This is obviously easier said than done, but you’ll thank yourself the next day when you’re well rested rather than hungover on the plane.
Don’t drink alone.
This may seem like an obvious one, but one or two glasses of wine alone in your hotel room can sometimes lead to more and more, with no one around to question what you’re doing. If you’re going to drink, make sure you’re doing it in a safe social setting rather than using alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Choose a dry week.
This one has worked especially well for us and something that we came up with during COVID19. Rather than doing a dry January like most people, we choose a dry week every month. It’s a good way to question our habits on the regular and keep ourselves in check. It also allows us to focus on alternative ways to socialize with friends that don’t involve drinking.
Find an alternative.
While drinking on a layover can be fun for some, there are so many alternative activities that you can enjoy. Try something new and find out what gets you excited for your layovers. As crew members, we get to see places around the globe that our friends at home only dream about. Create memories that you’ll want to remember, not ones that you can’t remember. Do your research and make the most of it!
Reduce your drinking.
There are plenty of crew members out there that rarely drink and some that don’t drink at all. Reach out to them for words of encouragement and support. We have to normalize that drinking is a personal choice and it’s not for everyone. Be supportive of your fellow crew members, regardless of what their relationship with alcohol is. Everyone is on their own journey and has their own unique relationship with alcohol.
DISCLAIMER: We are not mental health professionals and the information provided here is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you believe you or another individual is suffering a mental health crisis or other medical emergency, contact your doctor, seek medical attention immediately in an emergency room, reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or call 911.
We miss traveling, don’t you? Whether you’re a flight attendant like us or someone who lives for the joys (and woes) of air travel, you probably miss exploring the world pre-pandemic. While some folks are out flying, many of us are still stuck at home dreaming of our next big trip.
Like you, we’ve had a lot of free time over the last year so we caught up on some of our favorite movies and TV shows and compiled a list of 15 titles that you should watch if you miss being on an airplane. We have to warn you, though, some of these titles won’t exactly make you excited to get on a plane again – but – they’re fantastic nonetheless and aviation-themed, so we had to include them! Let’s just hope that none of our flights are ever quite as eventful as the ones listed below.
Grab some popcorn, avoid your responsibilities, and start binge-watching.
RED EYE (2005) Starring:Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy Rating: 6.4/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: This is not your typical Wes Craven film, but Red Eye is a fun and clever thriller that keeps you entertained. Plus, the cast is great! We feel like Rachel McAdams can do no wrong.
FLIGHTPLAN (2005) Starring:Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard Rating: 6.3/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: Jodie Foster is fantastic in this psychological thriller about a woman who loses her daughter on a long flight. The plot is a little far-fetched, but the action makes it a fun watch!
SULLY (2016) Starring:Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney Rating: 7.4/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: This is a fantastic movie about “The Miracle on the Hudson,” one of the most incredible incidents in aviation history. Tom Hanks does a stellar job portraying Sully. Our one and only issue with this film is that we wish the flight attendants had been portrayed a bit more realistically. We know the movie is titled Sully, but someone had to help get those people out.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002) Starring:Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken Rating: 8.1 Stars on iMDB Our Take: It’s everything we love about life in aviation – minus the whole crime thing, of course! This film is full of fun, adventure, and a little bit of drama. Plus, it includes homage to Pan Am, and who doesn’t love reminiscing about the golden age of air travel?
UP IN THE AIR (2009) Starring:George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick Rating: 7.4/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: This story focuses more on the downsides of constantly being on the go, and yet still somehow gives us that warm fuzzy feeling about things like airport security. Weird, right? Our favorite George Clooney quote from the movie sums it up: “All the things you probably hate about traveling – the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi – are warm reminders that I’m home.”
THE TERMINAL (2004) Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones Rating: 7.4/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: If you’ve ever sat reserve at the airport, then this movie will probably give you a little bit of PTSD more than anything else. This film made us feel grateful for the fact that we don’t actually live at the airport – despite the fact that we feel like we do. Also, should Tom Hanks be in every aviation-themed movie? Let’s discuss.
NON-STOP (2014) Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery Rating: 6.9/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: As you’re most likely already aware, hijackings are pretty unlikely at 35,000 feet – but they’re still possible! While the everyday traveler may not enjoy a movie like this as much as a flight attendant will, movies like this remind us why we spend so much time on safety and security during flight attendant training. It’s why flight attendants have to stay vigilant on every flight – even the seemingly boring ones. Plus, we love seeing Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong’o as flight attendants!
NEERJA (2016) Starring: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku Rating: 7.7/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: If you are a flight attendant and have not seen this, stop what you’re doing right now and go watch it. Neerja Bhanot is a true hero and this powerful movie does a fantastic job of telling her story. Whether you’re in the aviation industry or not, this is a must-see film.
7500 (2019) Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Rating: 6.3/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: We’ll start by saying that this movie is heavy. The film happens in real-time and it is intense. To be honest, we couldn’t wait for this film to end but also could not stop watching. Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers an incredible performance.
Binge-Worthy TV Shows
PAN AM (2011-2012) Starring: Christina Ricci, Margot Robbie Rating: 7.10/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: This extremely underrated show has an all-star cast and is full of excitement and drama. With all that being said, it was the nostalgia of it all that sucked us into the show. Doesn’t everyone want white linen tablecloths in First Class and a week-long Europe trip?
THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (2020) Starring:Kaley Cuoco, Michiel Huisman, Zosia Mamet Rating: 7.1/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: Many of our fellow flight attendant friends don’t seem to like the show because they felt Cassie was a hot mess… to which we say: you know you’ve flown with this person! Maybe the people we fly with aren’t quite as disastrous as Cassie, but they definitely bring their fair share of issues to the galley. This is a fun whodunnit comedy/drama and we can’t wait for Season 2!
BRIDESMAIDS (2011) Starring: Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy Rating: 6.8/10 Stars on iMDB Our Take: Ok, so this isn’t exactly an aviation-themed movie by any means, but it is an overall hilarious (albeit awkward) comedy that happens to include one of the funniest airplane scenes of all time. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should watch it just for that scene alone. This all-star cast really leaves an impression. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
Tell us your favorites!
If we skipped any aviation-themed shows or movies that you absolutely love, let us know in the comments below!
Everything You Need To Travel in 2021: A Flight Attendant’s Guide to Gift Giving!
Whether you’re shopping for someone who works in the airline industry or simply someone in your life who loves to travel, look no further! We are flight attendants so we travel for business and pleasure and we’ve got all of your travel needs covered in our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide! We may not have been able to travel much this year, but we are looking ahead to a year full of travel in 2021. Here’s everything you’ll want to get for a loved one – or for yourself!
Did we leave anything off the list? Tell us what’s on your wish list in the comments!
1. Hot Logic Mini
Never go without a hot meal again! This is great for in your car, in the airport, or in your hotel room!
Did we leave anything off the list? Tell us what’s on your wish list in the comments!
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While this year has been difficult for all of us, many flight attendants have lost their jobs due to the impact that COVID19 has had on the airline industry. Many grounded crew members have taken this extra time to use their talents and create or grow their own businesses! As we approach the holiday season, let’s do what we can to support small businesses, especially ones owned by our fellow flight attendants around the world. We’ve compiled some of our favorites below, but feel free to tell us about your own flight attendant-owned businesses in the comments!
A special thank you to all of the businesses that took the time to comment on our post on social media asking about flight attendant-owned businesses back in September. We love seeing how creative our fellow flight attendants are – both on and off the plane! If you’re a flight attendant that owns your own business and we didn’t mention it here, tell us all about it in the comments below!
I was recently interviewed by someone who asked, “Why are so many male flight attendants gay?” While I understand the significance of stereotypes, they’re often more harmful than they are helpful, so I felt that the question warranted a thoughtful response. The short answer is, being a flight attendant is the best job out there and gay men are obviously the most intelligent people on the planet. I’m mostly kidding, but all jokes aside, the job lends to a lifestyle that is both fun and glamorous. (Most days, anyway!) Flight attendants get to travel all over the world and get paid for it, jet off to different countries at the drop of a hat, and avoid those awkward holiday dinner conversations with family by blaming our absence on work. What’s not to love?
For gay men, being a flight attendant is all about identity – or rather, anonymity in this case. Imagine a flight that you’ve been on. Do you remember your flight attendant’s name? Rarely. Do you know anything about this person other than they seem to have fun at work? Nope. But you will always remember how your flight attendant made you feel. As crew members, we loveputting on a show for the public, entertaining our guests, and then going on with our lives at the end of the day. We love to perform, and the airplane provides a perfect stage to express ourselves. We can transform into a character we might not otherwise get to play and sometimes our uniform even becomes a costume that can make us feel safe and protected. We are allowed to be unapologetically true to who we are with no threat of pushback from potentially unaccepting friends or family. Everybody adores a fun-loving flight attendant because it makes traveling more fun. But while often times even the most conservative person loves a sassy gay flight attendant, it’s still not necessarily the person they want their child bringing home to dinner. In the aviation world we are accepted for whatever bold personality we want to adopt. On the airplane, we are free to be whoever we want to be.
The flight attendant lifestyle has remained so appealing for gay men over the years because like gay men, flight attendants come from all walks of life and face similar issues of self-identity. Through all of the diverse cultures we get to experience every day at work, we realize a new piece of ourselves in each one, learning more and more about who we want to become. Rather than learning new ways to hide from our truth, we uncover new aspects of ourselves that we never knew were there before. Individually we may be quite different from one another, but we all have so much in common at our core. There’s an unspoken bond and mutual respect among flight attendants much like members of the LGBTQ+ community. That respect translates well into the flight attendant life because crew members around the world are united by the wings that each of us wear proudly when we fly. We have experienced a lot of the same situations and understand each other as a result. Each trip we fly with new crew members and are required to communicate effectively with them without ever having met before. We have to be able to form strong connections with sheer strangers. This allows us to create a space where everyone feels free to open up… sometimes maybe even too much! At the end of the day, flight attendants around the globe look out for each other, just as members of the gay community often do, too.
With the flight attendant lifestyle, the possibilities are endless. The job is flexible, relatively low-stress, and allows us to see places and meet people that we would’ve otherwise never imagined possible. Being a flight attendant allows a level of freedom to be exactly who you want to be, which often times we don’t get the privilege of doing while growing up gay. Whether you fly with your best friends or perfect strangers, you can open up and embrace your truth. So when someone asks why gay men become flight attendants, it’s because you can be anybody you want to be, but most importantly, you can just be yourself.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
And now, some wisdom from Nicole Byer:
You’re right, Nicole. We are too much for this world. We belong in the sky!