In an effort to rebel from my destiny as a primary school teacher, I dramatically dropped out of Uni in the early 2000’s and applied to be a flight attendant.
Even though I loved to travel, this was still a rather strange career choice for me and came out of nowhere.
My first foray into the world of cabin crew (as we call them in the UK) was an interview with Virgin Atlantic. This experience was bananas, and more like an audition for “Britain’s Got Talent” than any job interview I have ever been on before or since.
We were put in small groups and had to write and sing unique compositions, make up choreography and randomly, create a guest list for Prince Willimas birthday party.
I didn’t get the job but I did get the next one I went for, as a flight attendant for JMC, part of the Thomas Cook group.
As discussed in my last post- Career Lessons Learned-Series– I have had a lot of different jobs over the years, but my stint as a Flight Attendant was particularly memorable.
The first stage of my new career was a training program, where we ditched in a local pool, used the emergency slides on a full-size plane, entered a smoke filled cabin wearing a smoke hood, practised a range of first aid techniques and had to memorise every piece of safety equipment aboard the plane.
It was much more intense than I had planned and gave me a new found respect for the guys and gals that are so much more than their “tart with a cart” moniker.
Once I got my wings I started work on short-haul flights from London’s Gatwick to Alicante, Ibiza, Spain, Tenerife and many more sunny climes.
I learned a few things from my time in the sky as a “Trolley Dolly” like the following:
1. Airplane Toilet Doors Can Be Opened From The Outside
So don’t even think about joining the mile high club, we can, and will, open the door on your shameful shenanigans!
2. We Have Our Own Language Onboard
Pursor= Flight attendant Supervisor
Extender- Passenger requiring a seatbelt extension
Deadhead- Crew member flying as a passenger
Supp- Supplementary crew member usually shadowing crew as part of their training.
3. Spilling Coffee On The Captain Is Not Good
During my first month in the air, it seemed like every time I touched the coffee pot something bad happened. Firstly I accidentally poured coffee in the Captains lap- bad move! Secondly, I committed the same sin on an unsuspecting sleeping passenger, prompting a very cute passenger to quip ‘well, coffee is supposed to wake you up!’
But worst of all, I dumped an entire pot of coffee down the aisle. You see our training instructs us to do this in the event of an emergency to prevent burns, but I confused the turbulence command with the emergency command and ruined the carpets, uh-oh!
4. Aeroplane Sinks Are Very Small
On my first supplementary flight (training flight) they didn’t have a seat for me, so I had to sit in the jump seat behind the Captain. It was pretty exciting to get a front view of take-off and landing with the headphones on, catching every instruction that sent us into the air, but it was also pretty nerve wracking. This became a little too much for me mid flight and I had to go to the bathroom to throw up.
Clever old me decided to chuck in the sink. The sink, with the plug hole you have to depress, that drains painfully slowly and then blocks. I spent my lunch break onboard scooping handfuls of sick from the sink to the toilet bowl- such fun!
5. Flight Attendant’s Are Sexy
I guess it’s the uniform and the fantasy of a man in every port, but I sure got an awful lot of male attention during my turn as a “flying waitress”. From men approaching me in the airport, slipping their phone numbers on my cart mid-flight, to eyes lighting up in a bar, as they asked what I did for a living- this job makes you quite popular.
I ended up ditching my role as a sky goddess (OK, that one’s not real) and returned to school to finish up my teaching degree, I just couldn’t resist the pull of the classroom, but I’ll never forget my short-lived career in the skies.
Do you know any other names for Flight Attendants?
In the next instalment of my “Career Lessons Learned Series”, I will be sharing #2 Lessons I Learned From Being A Burlesque Dancer.