Welcome aboard y’all! This is my new blog, The Blunt Flight Attendant. I have been told I am an honest and blunt person a few times. Ok, maybe more than a few. Thankfully, flying on the east coast, blunt and southern comes out sweet. Hopefully. I think?
I wanted to start my first post to explain more about being a flight attendant. I’ll tell you all about the lifestyle, and aviation terms you have probably never heard!
I work for a regional airline. This means that we fly domestically and to Canada and Mexico. Truthfully, being based in New York City I have never flown to Mexico or Canada. Crazy right? I have never been to Canada. It is like an hour flight from New York.
We fly to Wisconsin, Minnesota, South and North Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, and Michigan a lot. I know, this sounds boring. However, I actually like seeing places I would have never gone to. Cities like Milwaukee, WI and Traverse City, Michigan surprised me. I realized that they are amazing places, and I’m glad I get to see them.
My company contracts out for huge airlines. Let’s call them “The Big 4.” These airlines that fly internationally, are mainline carriers. My goal is to work for mainline. I would like to fly international and domestic flights. Fingers crossed!
There are articles about how getting a job with “The Big 4” is harder than getting into Harvard. Blasphemy, right? No. Let me put that into perspective. There is an average of 150,000 people who apply to each airline every time there are applications open. They hire 500-1200. So, y’all pray for me. Cross your fingers, toes, and if you can cross anything else, do that too. 😉
Ok, now y’all get the difference between mainline and regional, right!? Ok!
Let’s talk about my schedule. Flight attendant schedules are crazy. Period! Nonetheless, the flexibility once you have seniority is amazing.
When you are a junior flight attendant, or new to a company, you start on reserve. Reserve is essentially being on call. The airline has reserves for when someone calls out sick or weather grounds a crew in another city. And sometimes if a commuting flight attendant doesn’t make their commute. Reserves are there so that the flights always get out on time. However, delays from weather and mechanical issues are things that we cannot control.
On reserve, we have a two hour call out period. This means that when we are called we have two hours to get to the airport. Reserve can be good or bad. Sometimes you don’t work a lot on reserve and sit around waiting to get called. The company guarantees a certain amount of pay, even though you may not be used at all. Sounds great?! Getting paid to not work! However, new flight attendants make like no money. I always have to remind myself of the benefits. They are awesome, but the lack of money prevents me from using them like I want to. Flight attendant life is so glamorous. 🙂
If I didn’t love this job, I wouldn’t do it. I would have quit already, like many people do. It’s not an easy job.
Thankfully, now I have a line, which is a different schedule. It is way better, but I work way too much. When you have a line as a flight attendant you know your schedule. I know where I will be every day in March. I can tell you I will be in Boston on the 5th and Birmingham on the 15th. I can pick up trips and drop trips. Last month I had a week off, because I just scheduled it that way. I must say my schedule is pretty awesome now. But don’t let me fool you. I am still a junior flight attendant. I did not get any of the actual days I requested off.
Now that I’m talking about schedules, I will explain some common questions. As flight attendants, we do not have regular routes. I am based out of LaGuardia airport in New York. My company has regular flights and overnights in certain places from LaGuardia. However,my schedule changes monthly. I can also pick up trips from our other bases because I have a line.
We have different types of trips. Locals, which is a trip where you work one day starting in your base and ending in your base. We also call some of these turns. It’s a flight where you just turn around and go back where you came from. A two day means you work two days of flights and stay 1 night overnight out of base. Three day is 2 nights out of base and 3 days of flying. A 4 day is obviously 3 nights away from base and 4 days of flying.
We typically work 2-4 flights per day depending on how long the flights are and how long the duty day is. Duty day means how many actual hours we are working. Not just the flight time. We don’t get paid for boarding and deplaning. And we do not get paid for delays.
Some flights may be a deadhead flight. Especially when we have 4 legs. A deadhead is a flight where a crew member not working the flight is flying in a passenger seat to be repositioned to work another flight. This is considered work and we are normally in uniform. A leg, is one flight of the working day. So today I could say, I’m working three legs. Flying Chicago to LaGuardia, LaGuardia to Chicago, and Chicago to LaGuardia. Each flight is one leg.
When we stay in a city we have a “layover” or “overnight.” A short scheduled overnight is around 12 hours. A long overnight would be 19-20 hours. A really long overnight is 30 hours and typically two nights in the same city and hotel.
We can have shorter overnights when we have delays for different reasons. However we have FAA mandated minimum rest times. So, thankfully they have to let us have some sleep.
I mentioned commuting earlier. A lot of flight crew commute. I have coworkers who are based in NYC and live in California. A lot of people will use a crash pad to stay in for just a few days a month. A crash pad is basically a house full of flight crew who commute. It is meant for people who commute to stay in before or after trips. When crew members commute they fly on standby. So, if they were to miss the commute, reserves would be used.
Now let’s talk about delays. If you have ever been rude to any crew about a delay, I want you to feel bad now. NOW. Just kidding, I just want you to understand that..
WE DO NOT GET PAID FOR DELAYS. We don’t get paid unless we are flying. Pilots and Flight Attendants don’t get paid fully unless that door is closed and that break has been released. We may get per diem, but that is nothing. So, I hate delays way more than you, because then I have to deal with almost 100 irritated people. 🙂 So please be nice.
I hope that this cleared up some questions that everyone has about being a flight attendant. Leave comments below if you have any questions! I love what I do and I hope to share more stories soon.