So you want to be a flight attendant?

68 thoughts on “So you want to be a flight attendant?”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing! I love reading about other people’s day jobs. I loved the post you did on your site (obviously) about this and I am grateful you shared even more of the story here. I don’t know how you can bag your lunch on the road in those foreign cities. That IS frugal commitment. I’d like to think I’d be that strong – but I’m mot so sure 🙂

    1. Haha – yes, it takes some time getting used to bagging lunch on the road but I have it down to a great science now. I also only carry a backpack and my food bag for a 3 day trip – you would laugh at the amount of comments I get from pilots and other flight attendants, “Is that all you have?”. Everyone thinks I am on a turn (one flight there and one back home in the same day). In fact, I have had to open my bag and unpack it in similar form as a circus act to show them everything I can fit in it! Hmmm…perhaps I need to do a follow up post on how to pack light for a trip! 😉

  2. Thanks Miss Mazuma for providing the entertaining view into the world of flight attendants.

    You are on a good thing there with the flexibility and perks, semi-retired with all the benefits! Well played indeed.

    It is funny how certain jobs as perceived as being super interesting or glamourous. I worked my way through high school at one hour photo place, and for years afterwards potential employers used to give me job interviews more out of voyeuristic curiosity about who/what people take photos of, than on the strength of my resume!

    1. Yes – the semi retired perk is the best benefit of all! I often don’t know what day it is because I work strange schedules that vary from week to week but who needs to know the day when there is no such thing as a weekend??

      As for your photo developing job – I can see why people would be so curious!! You can’t say you didn’t see some doozies come through. I call for an immediate post about this job and “what people do in their spare time” – which you would know, of course, having developed the results of said spare time! 🙂

  3. Hi Miss Mazuma! Great guest post and I look forward to following your blog. Definitely sounds like an interesting gig with some nice perks. What’s not to like about that flexibility, the great travel and overnight stays, employer provided healthcare that so many retirees fret about, and solid income to boot!

    The story of you holding the baby while the mother runs to the restroom…I’ve been there myself actually (as the dad…). The flight attendant was so happy and excited to hold the little guy. To be honest, it felt a little weird at first, but it was such a nice gesture!

    1. Hey Green Swan – thanks! The healthcare is for sure the ultimate when it comes to FI for me. I love my perks but when I think about the future this is the one thing that always throws of my calculations. I am happy to have the benefit of working as few hours as I want and keeping the healthcare – provided the company doesn’t change this loophole I may be 80 by the time I officially retire!!

      Oh, and I have held a few Dads babies as well. I am sure it comes as a shock to anyone when a stranger comes up and offers to hold your baby! With this in mind I should probably stop telling parents how cute their kids are and offering to take the baby home…hmmm – note to self, stop terrifying the passengers!!

  4. Very unique perspective. Do you have a post on how you became a stewardess? I’m always curious how people end up where they do. I give a lot of props to you for bringing your own food. Do you have access to transportation at all when you land? I would think it’d be easier to get food from grocery stores in each locale, but perhaps moving around is not always an option?

    1. Hey FTF – I don’t think I wrote about my entry into the circus yet…but all these questions are making me think I need to have a part 2 to this post! There was so much to cover but I didn’t want to send Steve a 8000 word post!! 😉 Stay tuned!!

      To answer your question about transportation – it really varies from city to city. I am REALLY good at taking public transportation. With short overnights I usually stay within walking distance to my hotel – sometimes I go to a local grocery but time doesn’t always allow. Many of the smaller cities the stores close early and open too late if we only have 12 hours rest. The longer overnights I can take a train or bus downtown – I never uber or take a taxi…it’s too expensive and I prefer to travel like a local. In those cases, I try to eat one meal out just to have something hot or different from what I carry onboard. Those long overnights seem to be getting few and far between these past few years. Either way, I plan ahead and usually it all works out. Thanks for your questions and keep em coming!!

    1. It IS so much fun!! I started when I was 23 and it was a huge eye opener. I never thought of being a flight attendant or even what any of the lifestyle entailed. Sitting on a jump seat with someone for a few hours you pretty much learn their entire life story…and way more about their lives you would EVER want to know!! Now I am quite comfortable in a room with strangers and starting a conversation with just about anyone. I also am plenty comfortable on my own – eating out, going to movies, exploring cities – I don’t think twice about it! Of course, when you get a “good” crew we do all those things together and have a blast! If I had to do it all over again I am completely confident I would be right where I am now. I can’t imagine my life any other way. 🙂
      Miss Mazuma recently posted…I’m Officially Famous For Being In Debt

  5. The travel perks would be great, but I can’t imagine dealing with people on a plane. There’s something about travel that makes people’s inner a-hole side come out. God bless you for doing it! I always feel bad for flight attendants when having to deal with crabby passengers.

    Your quote about passengers repeatedly passing gas made me laugh. My wife and I traveled a few weeks ago, and the girl we sat next to on the plane repeatedly farted for half the trip. It was worse than the dog farts we endure at home, and those can get bad! My wife also said she hadn’t brushed her teeth that morning and was sporting some pretty nasty breath. What is wrong with people?!

    1. Yes – people on the plane are a definite downside! Haha – when I am dealing with a particularly nasty person I just smile and make sure to talk loud and clear so everyone around that person knows who the asshole really is…oh, and also because I know people are filming us on their phones ALL THE TIME waiting for something to happen. Sometimes other passengers will speak up on my behalf or come back and talk to me privately to say what a jerk that person was to me. This job is a true microscope to the sociology of our culture…everyone loves an underdog and I play it well. But the truth is, I have the ability to kick your ass off the plane – do you really want to mess with that? I’ve only had to do it a couple of times but every time it was justified and applauded by other passengers. You’ve got me thinking – I think I need a cape to wear to work this week. 😉

  6. Hey Cuz!! Congrats on a huge Guest Post, and great job telling the world what the life of a flight attendant is all about. It never ceases to amaze me when passengers “unload” on a flight attendant for things entirely out of your control. I’m always intentionally “nice” to the flight attendants, you’re all just doing a job, the same as us who are using your “tube of air” to get someplace for work. I enjoyed reading about life in the air, and encourage all to check out your blog (hey, it made my “Best Blogs In The Universe” list, so it HAS to be good, right!?).

    1. Cuz!! As always, thanks for the support. People have a way of getting nutty, we like to say “they checked their brains with their luggage”. I don’t take any of it personally. anymore. Some girls come to the back in near tears and I have to explain that we have no idea who this person is off the plane. Maybe a bad day or maybe a bad person, but regardless we just smile and resist the urge to roll our eyes until we walk away. The back galley is where it all comes out! 😉

      I appreciate you being nice to the girls (and guys!) – a little kindness always goes a long way. Oh, and thanks for the shout out on your “Best Blogs in the Universe”!! I’m not sure I am living up to my full potential in recent weeks (still sick!) but I aim to fulfill the ranks in that title in weeks to come! 🙂

  7. I love this post. It’s so easy to look at this career and think it’s so glamorous, but I couldn’t do it for a long time. Not only because I have to take Dramamine when I fly sometimes, but because I’m such a creature of habit and routine. I really like consistent schedules! There may be lots of perks, but the last flight I was on, someone thought he was having a heart attack. It was hard enough for me to stay calm as a passenger. I could never imagine being the flight attendant in that situation. Sure, crazy awful things happen in my classroom (and in classrooms around the country), but we’re not in a metal tube flying through the air! I have tons of respect for Miss Mazuma and all the wonderful people who take such good care of us when we travel.

    1. The consistent schedule is definitely the one thing that would make this job easier – but it is of no fault of the airline. They give us a set schedule for the month and then I go messing about and changing it constantly! I always think I would be healthier if I had a set schedule. Like, eat at this time, work out at this time, write at this time…then I am home for a week straight and all I manage to do is binge watch shows on Netflix! I think I just have 2 speeds – Go Go Go and Slow Slow Slow. 😉 Balance is definitely not something I have accomplished in the day to day routine but I have accomplished it in my overall life. Time between Friends, family, work, and travel – all pretty balanced. I just have to get better about the day to day.

      As for the emergencies, those scare me – a lot. I have had quite a few medicals over the years (on the plane and off) and every time it happens it is like your first time on the inside but your outside remains much more calm. What really gets me is that despite the fact we make announcements to ask for medical help or to explain we are discontinuing service due to a medical emergency, there is always one Bozo in the plane that will ring his/her call light for a cocktail. In fairness, they may not be aware of all 3 flight attendants and other medical personnel surrounding one person 2 rows up or perhaps they missed the constant running back and forth with emergency equipment and the flustered faces of the passengers around them, but to that person I say the same thing, “as soon as we are finished saving this ladies life I will be happy to grab that cocktail.” 😉
      Miss Mazuma recently posted…I’m Officially Famous For Being In Debt

  8. That sounds like a very flexible job with some cool benefits (travel), but I don’t know if I could deal with all the people. In my experience, when people travel, they act like complete jerks… or get completely stressed out when things don’t go smoothly.

    Every since I’ve been FIREd, I want to interact with jerky people less. Why waste my remaining time with bozo’s?

    1. Haha – I just mentioned one of those bozos in the comment above! Yes, people are jerky and when things don’t go right it gets 100% worse! We often have people flying to catch a cruise with the plane landing a few hours before the cruise takes off. Unfortunately, you can’t plan ahead for weather, mechanicals, medical emergency diversions, psycho related diversions (Fort Lauderdale?), and the million other things that can go wrong. Best to plan ahead and go early. Us crews have a saying when something goes wrong, “Who made pans?” because as soon as someone makes plans the whole trip goes to shit. We get jacked around just like you guys and as much as I feel your pain, we all need to realize that this isn’t (usually) life and death. Just a twist or turn to the overall picture. Once you’re on my plane and the doors are shut, we are all in this together until they reopen. It’s an unspoken agreement that we need to remain civil…or I’ll bring out the hand cuffs!!

  9. That is so cool. When I was younger (like in my 20s), I thought being a flight attendant would be a cool gig…. but then I ended up in grad school for a career change instead. I had no idea that the job was so flexible – you have got a great situation!

    1. Thanks, Mrs SSC! It’s a great situation and not too late for you!! 😉 We have many people who use our job as an encore career. Once the kids are on their own and they come on over to the crazy life and many say the same things as you, they always wanted to be a flight attendant. I think the oldest person in my graduating class was 62! I can’t think of a better way to enjoy retirement than with flight benefits and awesome medical. Oh, and for you, all you can drink coffee! 😉
      Miss Mazuma recently posted…I’m Officially Famous For Being In Debt

    1. Haha – I wish!! Some of that includes time and half from working smart. I think when I first started working I was at $14.61 an hour – after 6 months it went to $16! Granted that was 15 years ago… 😉

  10. Neato! I’m more of an introverted home body myself, so this sounds like the worst job in the world to me, hahaha. 🙂 But hey, if you want to get paid to travel the world, being a flight attendant sounds totally rad. 🙂

    1. Surprisingly, I would consider myself more introverted than most people but this job has definitely done a lot to push me out of my comfort zone. Now I can play both sides. If the party is rocking I can sit back and relax. If it’s boring I will push myself to be the entertainment until someone else takes over! But I do love the job and I feel I am at my best when I am pushing my boundaries – no way to hide on the plane! 😉

  11. Nice post Miss Mazuma! Those are some fantastic perks you have there. Is this standard in the industry or does your airline go above and beyond?

    A good flight attendant is worth his/her weight in gold, especially on longer flights, and especially when flying with a baby or a small child. I’ve had a flight attendant move us up to the economy plus section of a trans atlantic flight because the seats happened to be unoccupied and we were traveling with an 8 month old. Such a nice thing to do – and we didn’t even ask for it.

    1. Mot of the perks are pretty standard like being able to fly on other airlines but the best part, the super flexibility of no minimum hours, is specific to my company. Without that perk I probably wouldn’t be working there still!

      While we don’t have different classes on our plane (It’s all first class ;)), we do have extra seats once in awhile. Since there are no seat assignments, it is always a bit of a rush to get the good seats and then the center seats fill in. In the case of a full flight, when I see a family with a lap baby (under 2 years old) I tell them to save the center seat for the baby. If we need it, that is the last seat to be filled. I try to help as much as possible and I love to see other airlines are doing the same!

  12. My ex-husband was an airline pilot and we used to talk about how the flight attendants are the most important people on the flight in case of emergency. By the colors on the wing, it looks like Southwest. My pilot friends all wanted to work there. I hear it is a great place to work. They were featured in the book “The No Asshole Rule”. 🙂

    After you formally ‘retire’, can you work part time and still get the flight benefits? Or do you plan to do something completely different in retirement?

    Also, I’m still waiting for you to write about your 6 country walk. 🙂

    1. Great place to work and your husband is correct, without us you all are screwed! Just kidding…kinda. 🙂

      After we retire we keep our flight benefits on ours and other airlines with a lower priority than working flight attendants. Either way, if a seat is ope, we are on! Considering travel is a huge part of my life and will continue to be, I can’t imagine a better perk to have come retirement. Oh, and if I am married, my husband (and kids should I have them) would have the same travel benefits. I’ve considered working at a hotel once I “retire” just to get benefits there as well – can you imagine? Flight and hotel benefits???

      PS – I will definitely write the 6 country walk post soon! And the Camino De Santiago. Travel posts on the agenda!

    1. Newbies start around 20 something now. I don’t know the whole pay scale but they definitely have potential…especially if they are working more than me. I work a minimum (self induced) 100 trips a month (averaged 111 in 2016). A lot of people work an average of 120-140 and some work 150 plus! I did that in my first few years and realized I would burn out fast if I continued – a lot of Flight Attendants drop out at the 5 year mark. I just flew with a 24 year FA who works 160 a month…she is making BANK!!!

    1. Cool…So you know all the ins and outs! It is hard to explain the lifestyle to those on the outside but it sure makes for some interesting conversations! My Aunt is a FA for AA and my step mom worked for Northwest. It’s all in the family! 🙂

  13. Loved reading about your career and the beautiful person I love!! I’m very proud of the woman you’ve become and know exactly how the 92 year old passenger saw you, not the outside but your beautiful soul.

    1. Hello, mother (said like Jerry to Newman). I have shared this with those on the forum but for the rest of you…my mom finds me EVERYWHERE…even on someone else’s blog! 😉 This is her spit smoothing my hair down in front of my friends! So embarrassing…

      Thanks for dropping in, Mom. Love you!

  14. Thanks for sharing, Ms. Mazuma! The two years off with vacation pay and health insurance is awesome, that’s a really amazing perk!

    I travel a lot for work (once a week) and I enjoy talking to the flight attendants and sometimes bringing a box of chocolates for the crew.

    Maybe we’ll cross paths one day, in the air or on ground! Or maybe we already have.

    1. Ahhhh – so you are the awesome person bringing us chocolate! There is nothing better than when someone does something out of the kindness of their heart. When I travel I do the same because I know how much we appreciate it so, on behalf of Flight Attendants everywhere – THANK YOU!!!

  15. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us Miss Mazuma. Flight attendant is definitely one of those jobs that very few people think about. A few questions since you’re already here:

    What’s the job security like given all the upheaval in the airline industry?

    Is it a career that’s still hiring, or is it slowing down?

    What’s the turnover like in that field? Is it something that people start off in and then leave to go into other fields, or do you see people sticking around for an entire career.

    If people do leave the field, what sort of careers do they go into?

    I know, a lot of questions, but seriously, it’s a super interesting career path that 99% of the population knows nothing about, so I’m really curious! If you’re ever doing a layover in the Twin Cities, let me know!

    1. Let’s see…

      Job security is good – IF you can get the job. It is very hard to get a job at a major airline and especially hard to get hired at mine. I happened to luck into this particular company based on the suggestion (and then referral) of another employee. I interviewed at American as well but I think I was a bit too “young” for what they were looking for…thank goodness!

      I can’t speak for the other companies (with all the mergers it’s hard to see who is left standing!), but SWA is getting ready to hire by the boat load this year. Our market is opening up to South America and flirting with the idea of Hawaii which will bring much more growth and a possible airline acquisition in the future…my thoughts not theirs.

      Turnover is hard for me to say. I know there is burnout at the 5 year range. But due to our flexibility, it is easy just to give away your trips and not work at all. In that regard, I know a lot of ladies that stay home to take care of their babies and don’t come back. In an industry comprised with a female majority work force, I would say the baby factor is a huge one…especially because it means not coming home at night. You need a STRONG support system on the ground to raise kids and keep this job. Many do it but I have no idea how! I don’t even like to leave my dog for 2 days!! That being said, our company is 45 years old and we still have some of the original gals still working. They are multi millionaires but still love coming to work.

      As for what they do when they leave, I imagine many are mothers (speaking from experience of what my friends have left to do). But we also have many who are working here and going to school full time. I have seen FA’s studying to become doctors, lawyers, vets, and teachers. I also work with paramedics and fire fighters who use this job to supplement the others as well as teachers who just fly in the summers. We also have a ton of military personnel. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – you just never know who you are sitting next to on the jumpseat.

      If you have any other questions feel free to keep em coming! 🙂 I’m feeling a follow up post coming on…

      Oh – and I will definitely hit you up when I am there. We stay across from Mall of America and I am always looking for something to do besides shopping!

  16. That’s awesome that your mom cyber stalks you and comments wherever you post. I think if my mom figured out my online persona my reply would definitely come off as Seinfeld/Newman sounding, but being serious. It’s awesome you have a great relationship with her. 🙂

    It’s cool finding out more about the FA lifestyle. I had an interview scheduled for an FA for United in Atlanta back in the day, but I chickened out on the way there. I think it was more of a day long deal rather than 1 on 1 but still, I couldn’t go through with it.

    Those perks seem pretty great, and like you pointed out to Mrs. SSC, maybe it could be a good part time post-tirement gig. Especially depending on how healthcare goes. Now to find a town that fits our lifestyle near a Southwest hub. Haha! Maybe if she goes part time, I’ll just reap the benefits and cover the homestead.

    I’d second that a part 2 post is due on how your career “took off”, or even “Flight Attendant: The Prequel” on how you “landed” this career. Ahhh, dad jokes. 🙂
    Mr. SSC recently posted…2016 Spending: Where did it all go?

    1. Oh, yes, mom finds me everywhere! I didn’t help by allowing her to be on my Find Friends but when you have a gig that takes you away as often as me (or when I travel to other countries alone) it makes her feel better to know where I am. Oh mother… 😉

      So funny that you and the Mrs. both considered careers as flight attendants! I used to tell all my single male friends to interview – no where else will you have such a great girl to guy ratio for the dating pool! 😉 Hey – and don’t you worry about finding a nearby town – many FA’s commute via airplane! We have a ton of commuters in low cost living areas like St. Louis, Kansas City, and Nashville.,.well, relatively low cost to Chicago. We also have a base in a favorite state for retirees, Florida! If I were to switch bases I think I would aim towards Denver or Oakland but for now Chicago is home sweet home.

      Love the Dad jokes…you crack me up! 🙂

    1. Ha! Nobody said I look good doing it! 😉

      I am by far the worst passenger. I can’t sit still on a plane and no matter how long the flight is I can’t sleep! I admire those who can sit down, buckle up, and sleep the entire flight. Jerks! 😉

  17. This post brings back so many memories from my FA days…good and bad. I hear ya on the food front…it was so expensive!!! I knew a CA who would pack an electric wok to cook food in the hotel room. I also remember the 5 seconds of panic waking up in a dark hotel room and not remembering what city I was in. Those were the days! I also learned how to pack very well….I can pack for a week in my purse. I hate carrying any more than that

    1. A fellow fly girl (or boy?)! Yes – forgetting where you are is a occupational hazard…as is never knowing what day it is, never remembering your room number, and always planning food stops 3 cities in advance! Sounds like the CA was smart! It’s gotten so bad with cooking food in the rooms that many hotels have given us our own crew room to not stink up the hotel rooms. 😜 I pack way too light to carry all that crap but I love the creativity! Do you miss it??

      1. Sometimes…except on bad weather days or computer meltdown days. I still work in aviation just a different aspect of it.

  18. So interesting – thanks for sharing! “The endless stream of little boys that want to take a picture in the cockpit” … that’s my family when we fly. My 7 & 6 year old boys think that’s the greatest!

    Next time you’re in Seattle with time to kill give me a shout out!

    1. Haha – Last week I had a little boy come on and tell me his dad is a pilot. The grandma leaned in to whisper that he had been sent overseas and the boy hadn’t seen his daddy in a few months. I told him to go up in the cockpit so I could take a picture then asked the grandma for the boys email address. I sent the pic to the Dad who emailed me back a few hours later with such gratitude it made me tear up. Kids love it…But even the old guys do it. A few months back we had an old guy poke his head in and mention how things sure had changed since the war. Apparently he was a Bombardier in WWII. I asked if he would like to go in the cockpit to take a picture and boy did his eyes light up! 🙂 Again, you just never know who you’re sitting next to on a plane!

      Thanks for the offer – I’ll definitely let you know when I’m in town next!! 🙂

        1. I know, right! The most gratification I get at work is when my SMS & email opt out rates don’t spike whenever we message customers :/

  19. My bff was a flight attendant for most of her 20s. I was extremely fortunate to get one of those buddy passes from her when we flew from Toronto, Ontario to London, England! (It cost me more to get to Toronto and I was already in Ontario.) I would have been sooooo lost if she wasn’t such an experienced traveller. It was my first international flight, and boy it can be confusing navigating airports and all the paperwork needed.

    1. So true, Amanda! The perks of being friends with someone with good benefits! I have no problem getting myself from point A to point B but throw a buddy in with me and I get so anxious – kudos to your friend for keeping her sh*t together. I flew with my mom to Spain with a stop over in Paris and it was nerve wrecking for me! I worried about all the things that could go wrong with connections while she blissfully ate her croissant. Haha – the joys of nonrev travel!! 🙂

  20. I have almost that exact same photo of the Cliffs of Moher except my feet are out of the picture. Beautiful place. Enjoyed hearing about your job and the flexibility and travel you get to experience.

    1. Isn’t Ireland beautiful?? Cliffs of Moher was not on our original list of places to visit but I made sure we were able to sneak a few hours. Spectacular!! I’m so thankful for a job that allows me the time to see places like this with my own two eyes. 😊

      1. Ireland was our absolute favorite vacation. Did you see drive the Ring of Kerry then. There was another spot called “The Most Spectacular Cliffs of Kerry” or something like that. We were the only people there. I think it was even more stunning then the Cliffs of Moher.

  21. I have several friends who are flight attendants so I’ve gotten the low down over the years, but after meeting you in person I got even more of the low down (you know what I’m talking about) about being a flight attendant. 🙂 Glad you enjoy it so much and don’t have to work a ton of days to get a nice paycheck too!

  22. My goodness – it seems like you made a terrific choice to go into this line of work~ I’m not big on travel and I tend to fall ill after a couple long flights (would love your travel tips on staying healthy).
    I hope more young people consider flexible careers like a flight attendant since it seems like so many young people want to travel, make good money, and enjoy dealing with people.

    1. Terrific indeed!! I think getting sick on long flights is pretty standard these days. I am somewhat immune having been working on the germ tube for many years, but long flights still get me a bit stuffy. I take a lot of vitamin C and always drink a TON of water when flying. That in itself will rid most ailments. Drinking on a plane is a terrible idea…flying hungover is even worse! Wear layers to stay warm or cool…I am always cold so I always carry a scarf and a blanket. 🙂

      I agree – I wish I saw more youngans coming through the interview process these days. I think there is still a stiga that goes along with the job…like parents would prefer their kids to go to college instead of fly the friendly skies. But without this job I wouldn’t have been half as adventurous and independent as I turned out. Great job with a great future!

    1. Hey Colin! Glad I could answer some questions for ya! We get tons of questions all the time in regards to the lifestyle and compensation. Feel free to reach out if I missed anything! 😉

  23. I’ve always dreamed about being a flight attendant before going to university. I think the only thing that stopped me was the possibility of motion sickness and being able to do my job lol!

    Sounds like a fantastic career! Thanks for the insight 😀

    1. Hi Jaymee! I worried about those things too but I figured if I could get the job then I would figure the rest out. I don’t often get motion sickness but if it happens when working it can be an awful feeling!! I eat a lot of pretzels in those moments…typical Italian – I can solve all problems with food! 😉

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