Before my great-grandmother passed away, she bragged about me being a flight attendant to anyone who would listen. Back in the day, flight attendants were idolized. They were young, beautiful, had cute little uniforms with matching hats and traveled all around the world. Not saying that this is completely false, but people don’t really get to see what our life is like outside of the glam. So let me tell you.
I’m a flight attendant for a major airline based in San Francisco. I’ve been flying for a little over two years now. I absolutely love what I do, but just like any other job, being a flight attendant definitely has its ups and downs. But thankfully, the pros outweigh the cons, so I’ll start with those first.
I always get asked the same question, “What is a flight attendant’s schedule normally like?” Our schedule is anything but normal. There are 2 types of flight attendants, a reserve flight attendant (on call 24 hrs) and a line holder (you always know your schedule). I am a line holder. I was hired during a time where the company went on a massive hiring spree. I was only on reserve for one month. Because of all of the hiring, I had a ton of new hires hired under me, so my seniority increased and I’ve been a line holder ever since. As a line holder, I receive a packet every month that has all of the routes that we fly. I shop around and bid for trips I like and I receive a line based on my seniority. So example, let’s say I see a line that has long Hawaii layovers. I can put in a bid for it, but if someone senior to me wants it, they are more likely to get it. I love the flexibility I have with my schedule. I can trade trips with another flight attendant, advertise trips I don’t want, and pick up trips that I like. I can move my days around and have up to 2 weeks off if I need to. It’s pretty awesome and damn near unheard of for new hire flight attendants. So I don’t take any of it for granted at all.
Obviously traveling is the best perk of this job and having flexibility with my schedule allows me to do a lot of traveling on my days off. Some of my favorite destinations so far are:
I’ve also been to London, Scotland, Germany, Australia, Portugal, Rome and a ton of domestic destinations. I try to go somewhere new every other month.
I use my layovers as opportunities to explore new places. We can have anywhere between 17-72 hours depending on the destination. I’ve had a 48 hour layover in Paris, 42 hours in Vegas, and a 24 hour layover on Bourbon Street. Depending on the crew, we usually meet up for dinner/drinks/clubs etc. Last weekend I had a Maui layover. My mom didn’t have any weekend plans so I flew her out and we had girl time in Maui. It was perfect. Layovers are the perfect way to explore a new city, relax and get to know your crew..and it’s all free. Can’t beat that.
Permanent jet lag is a real thing.
I wake up tired and barely have enough energy to carry me through the day. One time I got in from a trip at 9am and slept until 7pm…but I was so delusional, I read the clock as 7AM and jumped out of bed and started getting dressed for work lol. I’ve also had days where I had to check in at the airport at 4am (east coast time). My body stays on west coast time, so just imagine. Then we have to greet everyone with a smile, be pleasant, and pretend like we don’t want to fall out on the floor and cry from exhaustion. It’s definitely a struggle.
Eating healthy and working out definitely helps with my energy level so I do it as much as I can, but some times (most times) when I’m tired I just want to lay in bed at home or on a layover, order pizza and wine, and watch Scandal. With the lack of sleep and not having constant access to a kitchen to cook healthy meals, its very easy to gain weight with this job.
This job can be very lonely. I’m away from home for up to 4 days at a time. FaceTime is my main source of communication with my family back in LA, but it’s not the same as seeing them, hugging them. It’s also very rare that we have holidays off. I missed Christmas my first year and I cried…But I was in Honolulu, so I cried on the beach lol. You win some, you lose some.
Oh god, where do I even start? I don’t tell guys what I do for work unless they ask. Then when I do, I usually get, “You have a man in every city?” “How do you have time to date?” “You’re probably never home.” Or my favorite, “Can I get a buddy pass?” I’ve even had someone ask me, “How do we build intimacy if you’re never here?”
Basically my job has been used as an excuse to not put in real effort. But a lot of people can’t handle our lifestyle, and I totally get it. Being in a relationship with this career isn’t impossible (most of my coworkers are married with kids). However, it takes a lot of trust, patience, and flexibility to deal with this job and our schedule. As far as meeting people and always being on the go, a lot of my coworkers use dating apps, because it’s just easier. Meeting people hasn’t been a problem for me. I just haven’t found anyone who supports what I do. I’m currently single, and I’m not settling for anyone who sees my job as a hindrance, or someone who makes me feel like I have to choose between them or my job. I actually look forward to being with someone I can travel around the world with, until then I’m keeping myself busy, meeting new people every day, and simultaneously checking dream destinations off of my bucket list .
This job isn’t for everybody. When people reach out to me about the job I am VERY honest. The job itself is easy, but the lifestyle is not. It can really take a physical and mental toll on you every now and then. If you’re thinking about applying, do your research. Reach out to someone who is in the industry if you can and ask for their insight. Don’t just apply because you want to travel. Can you handle the lifestyle? You have to really love what you do to wake up at 2 am and travel to the other side of the country and back. Honestly, us flight attendants are a little crazy, but hey. I love my job, and a bad day here is better than all of my bad days I had at previous jobs. If you’re looking for a change from the 9-5 life and you’ve considered being a flight attendant just go for it! You might like it. A lot of airlines are currently hiring, so good luck to those applying and I hope to see you in the air one day.
Thanks for reading.
You can connect with her on Instagram at @_m.noel_