I put on some music, brewed myself a cup of coffee, and started a load of laundry. It was a typical morning off from my flight attendant life. All I wanted to do was relax and lounge around the house. As I ran downstairs to fold the laundry, my phone buzzed with a new e-mail. I knew today would be the day I got the news, but I was still hoping things would somehow be different. There it was: Furloughed. In just a matter of weeks, I would be unemployed. I sat down on the steps, home alone that day, and cried. I don’t know how long I sat on the stairs but in that moment, it felt like forever. The job that I had been doing for seven years was saying goodbye to me, at least temporarily. I knew it was coming and I know it won’t last forever, but when I saw it in writing, I was crushed.
When I first started flying, my life was a mess. My job was emotionally draining, I couldn’t afford to pay rent, I was on food stamps, and I was in a dead-end relationship. There was literally nowhere to go but up. One night, after a really big glass of wine (or two), I applied on a whim to become a flight attendant and just a few weeks later, I got the job. Becoming a flight attendant didn’t just change my life, it saved my life.
The flight attendant job is a dream. It’s fun. It’s flexible. We get to see the world and visit friends in faraway places whenever we like. For some flight attendants, this is the job they got after high school, or dropped out of college for. For others, this was only a steppingstone or a chance to see the world. Whatever the reason for becoming a flight attendant may be, the thought of now going back into the so-called “real world” seems daunting for many. As challenging as it can be to adjust to the flight attendant lifestyle, it’s even harder to imagine leaving it.
Recently, I was flying with one of my best friends. The Captain announced that we were starting our descent into Boston. Our crew had just one more flight to go and then we would be home after a very long trip. As the plane flew down through the clouds, it quickly became dark and our plane leveled out again. We were in a holding pattern as a storm rolled through Logan International Airport. The Captain made an announcement to the entire plane, “Well folks, air traffic is holding us here until the weather clears up in Boston. We’ll get you there… eventually.” We all cringed as we heard his words echo through the cabin. That’s the funny thing about being a flight attendant. We are well-prepared for anything to happen and yet we are still somehow surprised and even annoyed when it does. When you become a flight attendant or pilot, you tell the company you’re interviewing with that you’re flexible and adapt to change quickly. As the years go by, you deal with delays, diversions, and sometimes missing important life moments, all because of a flight gone wrong. That’s just the nature of the industry, but we still do it anyway because we love what we do.
At the end of that trip, we did make it home eventually. We may have diverted to another airport along the way, but ultimately, we made it to our destination safely. For those of you around the world hanging up your wings for a few months, a few years, or possibly even forever, look at this as just another diversion. Rather than let it bring you down, think of it as a chance for new opportunities. You’ll always be a flight attendant at heart, so do what any flight attendant does best: face the situation head on, follow your instincts, and dream big. We will be back in the skies before you know it, or something great could be waiting just around the corner.
Special thank you to Taylor Tippett for allowing us to use her photos. Now more than ever, we appreciate the words of wisdom and encouragement! Check out her Instagram accounts for more inspiration: @taylortippett@wordsfromthewindowseat
The cabin is pressurized. The air is dry and stagnant. There’s very little space to breathe let alone get comfortable for a moment. You’re likely working alongside people you barely know, or you might even be working alone depending on the type of aircraft you find yourself on. At the end of this incredibly long day, you may end up in a slightly run-down airport hotel with just enough time to catch a few hours of sleep. But, on the other hand, you may end up in a luxurious hotel with a comfy bed (or two), endless hot water that you aren’t footing the bill for, and maybe even a beautiful beach nearby in some exotic destination. This is the life of a flight attendant. People often see crew members and say, “I’ve always wanted to do that. It seems so exciting.” Well, it definitely has its ups and downs, but is it lonely? Hardly. Whether it’s a new coworker or passengers on the plane, we meet hundreds and hundreds of new people each and every day. While most people you encounter are strangers and continue on being strangers, some of the people you meet become friends, or in our case, husbands.
There have been a lot of articles circulating the internet lately about the lonely life of an airline crew member. Stories include being away from your family during the holidays, missing important events for loved ones, and struggling to maintain normal everyday relationships. While these articles contain a lot of truth, many flight attendants consider some of these “difficult” aspects to be some of the best parts of the job. Whether you had a long and busy day of flying, you have a lot going on at home, or even a spouse and kids to juggle, that down time on a layover by yourself can be an invaluable opportunity to recharge. Most people think it would be impossible to have kids and fly for a living. While that may be true, we certainly know a lot of incredible moms and dads that make it work. It can be be challenging, but I think any parents out there could agree that a night in a comfy hotel room away from a hectic household would be much-appreciated.
Imagine this scenario for a moment. You just finished an incredibly long day (or night) of flying. You walk into a nice hotel room and it smells fresh. The sheets are crisp, the towels are white and fluffy, and the balcony off your room overlooks the Eiffel Tower. You can relax, take a hot shower, explore the area, or do absolutely nothing and it doesn’t matter one bit. Sometimes we all need that downtime to refresh and rejuvenate. Escapism may not be the healthiest way to live your life, but we all crave a good getaway from time to time. Being a flight attendant allows you to do that guilt-free all while getting paid. This is, by far, one of the greatest perks of the job and definitely not a disadvantage for all of us.
As for anyone in a relationship or attempting to be in one, trust me when I say I know how it feels. You’re probably rolling your eyes while reading this because we are a happily married couple, but both of us previously struggled with relationships. If you’re dating, trying to build something meaningful when you’re constantly on the go can prove to be challenging, but far more worth it than doing so in a conventional way. In our case, we met while leading completely different lives and living hundreds of miles apart. Because of that, we had to put extra effort into seeing each other. Somehow, with a little bit of fate and a lot of hard work, we both knew that the other person was someone we wanted to spend more time with which made things a whole lot easier to work out in the long run. If you have to spend hours on a plane, drive countless miles, or spend all of your free time attempting to see someone – and actually enjoy doing it – then they might just be worth your while. The caveat, of course, is that you have to make sure the effort is reciprocated by the other person. Nobody wants to be caught up in an unrequited love situation. We’ve all been there.
For those of you already in a relationship, issues of trust and communication come to mind immediately since you most likely spend a great deal of time apart. If you and your significant other are the kind of people that can talk about anything and everything, and trust that the other is on their best behavior while on the road, then you’re golden. Plus, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. You might just enjoy missing your significant other a little bit every now and then. The constant struggle of dating and relationships may seem to be a disadvantage of the flight attendant lifestyle, but if anything, it proves to you that what you’re doing is worth it and you have indeed found the right person. This same idea can be applied to your family and friends. Ultimately, the people that matter most will understand that you love what you do and they’ll work around it. If you’re lucky, they’ll go the extra mile to show you how important you are to them. Whether it’s driving to the airport in the middle of the night to see you or even moving a holiday around to accommodate your schedule, you’ll quickly learn who’s in it for the long haul.
Many people think of flight attendants as overworked and lonely, while others see vintage glamour and an exciting lifestyle. As with most things, being a flight attendant is what you make of it. Every job has its advantages and disadvantages. While some may let the loneliness of the fly life affect them, others thrive off of these little moments to appreciate what they have and all that life has to offer. Not every layover may be glamorous or exciting, but a little down time in the crazy lives that we have built for ourselves is often just what the doctor ordered.