Confession: I have never had a negative experience with a flight attendant. They have only ever been friendly and positive under all circumstances (around me). So what is a flight attendant? We often only see them as they brings us drinks and snacks or if we need something from them. So are they highly trained practitioners skilled in the art of high-speed travel or are they wait staff at 35,000 feet? I tend towards the former. There is definitely an air of mystery around what a flight attendant does and thinks (to me anyways). Well, in an attempt to pull back the galley curtain as it were, I talked to a retired attendant and asked some questions including the burning one on all of our minds…what do you REALLY think of us travelers?
1 What was your worst passenger experience?
I can’t tolerate drunks, worse yet an entire sports team of young, drunk, badly behaved males (you know who you are!).
2. What was your favourite route?
I used to love long hauls, especially the overseas ones to London or Italy.
3. What was your favourite airport?
I really liked Schipol (Amsterdam), it was so clean, bright, pretty and open.
4. What was the best thing about the job?
The best? Everything! I loved my flight crew colleagues, the travel, the different cultures and food, layovers for exploring, shopping, the good hotels (because believe me, they are not all good!) and yes, many of the passengers.
5. What was the worst thing about the job?
The absolute worst thing is the bathrooms! You wouldn’t believe the smell in the cabin sometimes after a long haul flight! Blankets were a hassle but most airlines don’t have them anymore and really bad turbulence was a headache both for us and the passengers.
6. What was the hardest part?
There is a lot of training involved and it is very competitive. I believe you may have to be bilingual now even. Years ago I was trained in the AED device, fire fighting, first aid, giving oxygen and a smoke hood mask. You go through a lot of training and have to have very high marks, even before flights there were safety briefings where you would have to answer questions.
6. What things do you miss most?
I miss almost everything! I especially miss the perks, like travel passes to fly home to see my family.
7. What was your best single experience?
That’s a tough one. I don’t think I could pick just one. I preferred international flying as opposed to domestic (although that was still fun). Each experience was so unique and individual. I did love flying first class and still do it as often as I can, pending finances. I guess I most loved traveling somewhere new.
8. What tips would you give passengers?
Lots! Be mindful of the rules and regulations for both the airline and air in general. Pack your meds with you. Have the proper ID required. Board when you are asked. If you need help ask but if you need the light, push the light button not the attendant button! Bring your own headsets and electronics. When the seatbelt is on, stay seated!