Flying Above The Stereotypes

Flying Above The Stereotypes

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 love putting 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!

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7 Airline Passengers Who Should Never Board An Airplane Again

7 Airline Passengers Who Should Never Board An Airplane Again

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:


Kevin B., Flight Attendant, @kevinburrows

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.


Rich, Co-Creator of ‘Two Guys On A Plane.’ @twoguysonaplane

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.


Bailynne M., Flight Attendant, @bmillz

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.


Lauren K., Flight Attendant, @larnkeith

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.


David F., Flight Attendant, @davyboy.y

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!


Andrew, Co-Creator of ‘Two Guys On A Plane,’@twoguysonaplane

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.


Shawn Kathleen, Creator of ‘Passenger Shaming,’ @PassengerShaming

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!

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10 Tips For Traveling With Kids

10 Tips For Traveling With Kids

As flight attendants, we encounter kids on our planes every single day. We strive to be as helpful as we can with families on board, but here are some helpful hints to get you ready before departure! With school vacations just around the corner, there’s no better time like the present to talk about traveling with your kids. While we at ‘Two Guys On A Plane’ may not have kids of our own, we have over 20 years of flying experience and have had hundreds of families on board our planes. Plus, we’re uncles to some really great kiddos, so we’d like to think that gives us a little bit of credibility on the matter. Whether you have infants or teenagers, traveling with the whole family in this day and age is anything but easy. Now, let’s get you to your destination as safely and comfortably as possible!

1. Research Your Airline!

We all claim to have a favorite airline, and there’s a reason for that! Each airline provides different levels of amenities and everyone looks for something different when they fly. Some airlines have items for purchase, some are complimentary, but one thing is for sure – you can’t always assume that an airline will be able to meet your needs – especially when it comes to your child. Whether it’s blankets or snacks, airline catering can be unpredictable at times so it’s best to come as prepared as possible. Each airline has different levels of technology, too. Be sure to download movies and bring an external charger for your devices just in case the plane doesn’t have WiFi or Power Outlets. In the age of the ultra low cost carrier, you’ll sometimes find fees for seat locations, baggage limits, and drinks on board, so don’t wait until boarding to solve any potential issues. If you have particular questions or are worried about seat assignments, ask ahead of time! You may even be able to board early with your children on the day of your flight. Check your airline’s website before you go for official policies or reach out to their social media accounts with questions!

2. Have Toys & Games on “Slow Release”

We all know kids need distractions but the key to this is to not only have a variety of activities and toys, but to strategically plan your in-flight activities. Give different items to your kids at different times and don’t overwhelm them with an abundance of toys all at once. If you slowly provide a variety of games to play, it should be easier to keep their boredom levels to a minimum. Don’t forget – toys with little to no noise are always preferred while traveling in a metal tube. If you bring an iPad, don’t forget the headphones!

3. Goodies for Your Seatmates (and Crew!)

Whether you have an infant on his or her first flight or even just a rambunctious toddler, one thing that’s taken over Pinterest lately is making goodie bags for passengers around you. You might include a note that says “Hey, this is my first flight, so I may cry for a little while. Here’s a few treats to make this ride more enjoyable!” Now, many articles out there will tell you this trend is wrong. Sure, it’s not for everybody, but don’t mistake this gesture as an apology. Parents shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or embarrassed when their children cry. Being in a confined space with screaming children can be challenging for everyone, so a small gesture can go a long way to improve everyone’s morale. If you bring an extra for your flight attendants, they’ll likely go out of their way to take even extra special care for you!

4. Prepare to Pop (Your Ears!)

As adults, we usually pack gum to chew on to pop our ears. Well if you’re worried about a choking hazard for your little one, try gummy bears or some other chewy snack instead. This may be more appealing for your child and will still get the job done. Chewing on something or sipping on a beverage usually helps to unclog the ears. If you have a baby, perhaps plan your feeding times for takeoff and landing. The swallowing will help combat the changing pressure in the cabin. If your child is older, you can always try a common trick called the Valsalva method. To try this, pinch your nose shut, close your mouth, and press out as if you’re blowing up a balloon. Plus, they may even get a good laugh out of how silly they feel while doing it.

5. Bring a Car Seat (If Possible!)

If your child is younger than 2 years of age, you could opt to keep him or her on your lap for the flight, according to Federal Aviation Regulations. This might sound appealing because a car seat is one more item to carry as well as an added expense, but we strongly recommend bringing the seat along for any child. Just be sure that it’s FAA approved to be used aboard an aircraft before you go. As aviation professionals, we always recommend using the seat because it provides an extra layer of safety but also additional comfort for your child. If they seem apprehensive about flying, the car seat they’re familiar with will give them a sense of security in a new environment. If you opt not to use your car seat on the plane but still pack it for your trip, bring a cover so it doesn’t get dirty or wet during while being stowed in the airplane’s cargo bins. For more information about approved child restraints and car seats, check out the FAA website.

6. Don’t Fear Your Flight Attendants!

If we have the time, we love stopping by and saying hi to your kiddos! If you need something, feel free to let your flight attendants know, just be mindful that we have other families and passengers to tend to, as well. We will always do our best to accommodate your requests as long as we are able to! With that being said, don’t be offended if a flight attendant declines to hold your child, as many airline policies simply don’t allow it. This doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other ways for us to help! Whether you need to locate a changing table, your kid is sick, or if you need a trash bag to place dirty diapers in – ask! We’re happy to help and know that traveling is stressful, especially when you have the whole family in tow.

7. Keep Them Comfortable But Keep Them Safe!

Nothing is more stressful than being overwhelmed in a new environment, so try bringing small reminders of home. Pack their favorite cuddly toy or nap blanket and this could help your child settle in and relax a little better. If your flight attendants can do anything to make your experience more comfortable for everyone, don’t hesitate to ask, but remember – flight attendants are safety professionals, not parents. We want your child to be as comfortable as possible, but there are also many rules when it comes to air travel. As silly as some rules may seem, each one was created to keep you safe! It’s ultimately your job as parents to be sure that both you and your children are aware of the rules, know how to follow them, and listen to safety instructions. If you are confident and prepared, your child will likely follow suit and have a better experience!

8. Pack Snacks & Empty Bottles!

We know baggage limits are minimal, but make sure you leave room for nourishment! Whether it’s a long flight or an unexpected delay in the airport, you’ll be grateful to have extra snacks on hand. Plus, this will save you money at the airport and onboard the plane. You can even pack empty water bottles, too. While you can’t bring liquids over 3oz through TSA, you can always fill up empty water bottles once you’re through security. Most airports now have water bottle filling stations so you can load up before you board the plane. If you’re packing breast milk for your baby, don’t worry – TSA allows you to bring larger quantities. For more information about liquid restrictions and approved exceptions, check out TSA’s website for all the details.

9. Practice “Flying” in Your Car!

Prepare your children for the journey before you go. Kids often respond well if they feel as though something exciting is happening. If they have a “special job” to do, that works even better! Have them sit in the car and pretend like you’re getting on a plane. Explain to them a few basic safety rules about stowing bags and making sure your seatbelt is fastened. This might make adjusting to air travel a little easier and keep them well-behaved, too. If they hear it from you first, they’ll be fully prepared on what to do and be experienced travelers in no time!

10. Stay Calm!

We all know that babies cry, kids yell, and things can go wrong unexpectedly. This is normal, so don’t let any cranky adults around you make it worse! If your child acts up in any way on the plane, don’t feel bad about it and do your best not to stress out. Kids are intuitive so if you’re feeling anxious, they’ll feel it, too. If they’re crying, let them cry it out as chances are that’s going to help them feel better anyway. As long as you’re prepared, flying with your child should be a breeze. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight!

Now, all you have to do is pack your bags!

By now you should feel well-prepared to fly and ready for your next destination. If you have a suggestion of your own for parents traveling with kids that we didn’t mention, feel free to leave your favorite tips in the comments section. We might feature you in our next round of tips for parents!

Special thanks to our experienced traveler Mom friends, Kira and Leah, for sharing some pearls of wisdom with us for this article!

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