Dear Pax: Just a FA

Dear Passenger in 5A,

Yesterday when I wouldn’t let you come to the front of the airplane because the pilots were going in and out of the cockpit you informed me I was “just a flight attendant”. I’ve had some time to reflect on that and decided to educate you on a few facts regarding this flight attendant.

First, lets’ review my training and requirements for this job. I know how to fight fires-while 35,000 feet in the air; I can perform CPR, do first aid-basic all the way up to inserting an IV; I know how to identify guns and weapons; identify bombs and then move them to a location on the aircraft that will hopefully cause the least damage should they go off; I know basic survival skills for land and water; I know how to disarm people; how to actually kill someone if need be; how to prepare an airplane for an emergency landing so that every person on there has the best chance of survival and then evacuate that aircraft-which may have hundreds of people on it-in under 60 seconds; I have been taught how to deal with people from many different cultures, people who are disgruntled, and people who are downright rude-All the while, smiling. I received excellent training in all these things and every year have to go through refresher training and learn new skills.

Second, I’d like to share with you some of the personal experiences I’ve had in the last twenty years as a flight attendant: I’ve have held the hand of a grieving mother who was flying across the country to claim her 21 year old sons dead body; I have given my personal clothes to a passenger who threw up all over themselves and had nothing else to put on; I have been poked in my arm and sides-many times-by people who can’t wait for me to finish with one person before they get their drink; I have held babies while their parent went to the bathroom; I have been yelled at for not having the exact food a person wanted-since we can’t just pull over and get it for them it must be all my fault; I have prepared an aircraft for an emergency landing and while you were arguing with me about not wanting to turn off your computer I was hoping I would be able to see my children one more time; I stood with tears in my eyes in the door off an aircraft while the remains of a US soldier were lowed in a flag draped coffin-thankful it wasn’t my child and grieving for the families who stood on the tarmac waiting for their loved ones remains; I have had the honor of flying US troops into foreign deployment areas; I missed Christmas Day with my own family so that you could get to your family; my work schedule is constantly changing and there are times I go 5-6 days without a real nights sleep; I watched the events of 9/11 in horror, heartbroken for what my colleges went thru that day, scared to go back to work but reassuring my child that I would come home-all the while knowing it could happen again; I watched a man die in front of me because the CPR we performed didn’t revive him, then tried to reverently place his body on the airplane floor for the remainder of the flight and when we landed sat with his body for over an hour until the coroner could pick it up.

Please know that I do love my job and I choose to do it. I have a college degree, am a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a human being. So the next time you look at me and think “just a flight attendant” I hope you quickly remember who is trained and willing to get you out of a crashed airplane, hopefully save you from hijackers, perform CPR on you if need be and-the easiest part of my job-give you food and drinks. Next time you need to travel perhaps you should avoid this “just a flight attendant” and take the bus.

A great flight attendant!

*Written by a fellow flight attendant*

You Know You’re A Flight Attendant When…. (Part 2)

You wake up with a mini panic attack because you don’t know where you are at and you slept past 7 am. Turns out your in your own bed at home and you are off
Sometimes you forget that you are off so when you wake up it takes you a few seconds to realize where you are and what’s going on, It usually happens when you find yourself flying a lot.

You don’t know, or care, what day of the week it is (unless you want chick fil a and you find out it’s Sunday)
As a flight attendant we can usually tell you what date it is but the day of the week usually eludes us.

When you text in airport codes to all your friends even the ground people who have no idea because MSP is way easier than typing Minneapolis
MSP is just 3 letters and Minneapolis is 11 letters. It just easier and faster to type city codes. Sometimes we forget not everyone knows what those 3 letters mean.

When you say “the other day”, you could be referring to anything between yesterday and 6 months ago.
We’re always on the go so sometimes our days just blend together.

When you have 2 of everything … one for home and one for your suitcase.
It is just easier to have 2 of everything instead of always having to look through your suitcase for it.

LAX Airport Survival Guide

Los Angeles International Airport is the 5th busiest airport in the world and the 2nd busiest airport in the United States. Here are my top 3 tips in helping you navigate LAX:Los Angeles International Airport

  1. Leave early – If you are driving to LAX be sure to leave time to sit in the traffic that is almost always present around the airport.
  2. Layout – There are 9 different terminals that make up LAX (Terminals 1 thru 8 and Tom Bradley International). Be sure to check which terminal your flight is leaving out of before you get to the airport. Most airline apps will be able to tell you which one to go to.Airline Terminal Location Map_EL18-0727 - LAX-Airline-Location-Map.ashx
  3. 2 Hour Connection Time – LAX is a fairly large airport. Some airlines operate out of more than one terminal and if you are connecting to another airline that means you may have to go through security again.

Do’s & Don’ts Of Being a Perfect Passenger

Here are some tips to be a perfect passenger on this flight attendant’s flight:

DO use your words – I am not a mind reader. Please use your words if you need something from your flight attendant.
DO use the bathroom before boarding the plane – The airplane lavatories are not the biggest or cleanest bathrooms. I recommend using the bathroom before you board the plane to help expedite the boarding process.
DO bring your own headphones – The passengers three rows back don’t want to listen to your music or movie. So please bring your own headphones so you can enjoy your music and movie to yourself.
DO bring your own water for medication – Yes you cannot bring liquids more than three ounces through the TSA security check point but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a bottle of water or bring an empty bottle with you and fill it up. You know when you need to take your medication so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you need to take it.
DO understand you are NOT the only passenger onboard – If you want to be the only passenger on board take a private jet. If you are flying commercial you are not the only passenger
DO know what you want for the drink service – The drink service is not complicated. Having your order ready makes it easier for the crew to accommodate everyone’s order during the flight.

DON’T touch the flight attendants – You are not at a petting zoo so please do not touch the flight attendants. There are better ways to get our attention than invading our personal space.
DON’T get up at the first “ding” – The first “ding” you hear is mainly an indication of the altitude from the cocktail to the flight crew. The first “ding” does not mean it’s safe to get up and use the lavatory or getting things out of the overhead bin. Once the seatbelt sign goes off that means you can get up.
DON’T have a bad attitude – As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. So please be kind to your crew and fellow passengers.
DON’T do yoga in the galley – The galley is the work area for your flight attendants. You wouldn’t want someone to come into your work space and start stretching while you’re trying to work right?
DON’T make the flight attendant’s job harder than it needs to be – This means removing your headphones when the flight attendants are trying to talk to you. It also means keeping the aisles clear so they are not tripping over your belongings.

You Know You’re A Flight Attendant When…. (Part 1)

You have every other currency except for usd (United States Dollar)
As a flight attendant we travel a lot for both work and pleasure. I always have different currencies in my wallet and a few times have tried to pay for things with something other than usd.

When you eat standing up no matter where you are
We’re use to eating while standing. We often find ourselves trying to eat while we can between our services since we don’t have a designated break during most flights. I find myself standing in my kitchen eating my lunch when I have a dining table with chairs just a few feet away.

When you drop something when cooking and kick it under the fridge/stove
It has become a little habit to kick things we drop under the carts in the back galley. I’ve noticed if I fly a lot then I will have that habit at home. It’s usually when I know I need to take a little break/vacation.

Trying to stomp the “brake” on a grocery cart
Our beverage carts have brakes on them to keep both crew and our passengers safe. Sometimes we are stuck in the habit of trying to put the brakes on even when we are doing activities like grocery shopping. A grocery cart and beverage cart sometimes feels like the same thing.

When you wake up in your own bed, in your own house, and you can’t remember where you are
As flight attendants we live out of hotels. Even on our days off we sometimes can’t remember where we are, even if it’s our own home. It usually takes a few seconds to realize where we are.

Colorado Springs, Colorado: Garden of the Gods

If you are ever in the Colorado Springs area I highly recommend checking out the Garden of the Gods! I was referred to this National Park by a variety of passengers on one of my flights. If multiple people are telling me to check it out, I figured it had to be worth my time. Oh, it did not disappoint.

What’s not to love about a free park? The rock formations are just beautiful. Certain places can be a bit crowded but it’s still worth it. You can either drive through the park or hike through it. I recommend hiking through. Be sure to pack some water and snacks but if you forget you can pick some up at the trading post. During the summer it can get hot so staying hydrated is very important and there are no water fountains throughout the park. I would definitely recommend checking it out and I’ll be back again the next time I’m in the area.

This Flight Attendant’s Top 5 Passenger Pet Peeves

Everyone has their pet peeves. These are my top 5 passenger pet peeves do on my flights.

  1. Not using your words – I cannot read your mind. If you need something from your flight attendant please use your words. Verbally telling me what you want will highly increase your chances of me being able to help you out. Also please do not poke your flight attendants. Using your words is a much better way of getting your flight attendant’s attention.
  2. No manners – PLEASE and THANK YOU go a long way. You would be surprised how many people say please or thank you on a single flight (I can usually count them on a single hand).
  3. Not allowing enough time for connections – I am not the person who books your flights so please do not get upset with me when you don’t have enough time between flights. I am also not mother nature or an airplane mechanic so I am not the one causing delays.
  4. No common courtesy – You are not the only passenger on the plane (unless it’s a private jet). We do not have all day to wait for you to notice us in the aisle during service and then wait for you to remove your headphones so you can hear us.
  5. Misdirected frustration – We know delays can be frustrating but as flight attendants we do not control the weather and are not airline mechanics. We cannot make the rain stop and cannot fix the aircraft if something is broken.

Do’s & Don’ts Of Being A Good Seatmate

DO give the middle seat the arm rest – If you’re in the window seat you get the window view and something to lean on if you want to sleep. If you’re in the aisle seat you can stretch your legs in the aisle and get up whenever you want to. If you’re stuck in the middle seat you don’t really get anything so the least you can have are the arm rests.
DO be polite when needing to use the bathroom – Please politely ask those next to you to move when you need to get up out of your seat.
DO stay in your own seat area – Most people only pay for one seat so that means you get one seat. Don’t man spread into your seatmate’s seat or invade their personal space.

DON’T bother them if them seem busy – If your seat mate is doing work, watching a movie, or listening to music please don’t start a full conversation with them.
DON’T eat smelly food – This is a courtesy or only to your seat mates but the entire plane.

ATL Airport Survival Guide

The Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport is the busiest airport in the world and here are 3 tips to help you travel through Atlanta with hopefully least amount of stress.

  1. ATL12 Hour Connection Time – I would recommend at least 2 hours between flights if you are just passing through Atlanta. This is a very big airport and you never know what might happen to delay your inbound flight. If you are returning from an international flight remember you need to claim any checked luggage and recheck them before continuing on to your connecting flight.
  2. Know the layout – The layout of the airport is in an easy layout. There are 7 terminals and they go in order of T, A, B, C, D, E, and F. F is the international terminal and there are check-in counters with security check points at  both the T and F terminals. To get to another terminal you can take the Plane Train or walk. It is about a 5 min walk between terminals and there are moving sidewalks.
  3. Avoid long TSA security lines – The security lines can be a little outrageous at times so be sure to give yourself enough time. TSA PreCheck can be a time saver. It also doesn’t hurt to ask a security agent which checkpoint has the shortest wait time.

The A-Z of Flight Attendants

Here is my A-Z of being a flight attendant:

A: Aircraft – Our natural habitat. If we’re not in an airport or hotel we are on an aircraft.
B: Bag – What we live out of. It could be a rollerboard, lunch box, tote, overnighter or purse but it’s what we keep all of our belongings in while we travel.
C: Crew – The people we are stuck with during work. They are our coworkers and can sometimes feel like family (both good and bad).
D: Deadhead – It is a flight where the crew is just getting from point A to point B so they can work another flight.
E: Evacuate – One of the most feared words to a flight attendant. You hope to go your whole flight career without having to evacuate a plane but if we do, we can do it in 90 seconds or less.
F: Frequent Flier – The passengers who can be
G: Gate Agent – The ladies and gentlemen who are at the gate door scanning your tickets and are the people who you actually want to speak to when you want to switch seats.
H: Hotel – Our home away from home when we are working. Flight attendants live out of hotels.
I: Ice – There is such a thing as good ice and bad ice to a flight attendant. Good ice is when it is easily scoopable. Bad ice is when it is a huge chunk and should be considered an ice burg.
J: Jetway Miracle – When a passenger needs a wheelchair for boarding but is healed and no longer needs one when they deplane.
K: KCM – KCM stands for Known Crew Member. It is the special security line we get to use as crew members so we can make it to work our flights on time.
L: Layover – The time we get to spend in a city between our duty periods. Not to be confused with a “sit” which is time spent at the airport between flights.
M: Money – We travel to different countries so we usually have different currencies laying around our homes.
N: No – The one word we always want to use but can’t.


Obligatory overhead bin photo

O: Overhead Bin – This is where you store those larger carry-ons.
P: Pilots – The guys and gals who fly the plane. They are part of our working crew.
Q: Quiet – It’s nice to get some peace and quiet on our layovers and days off because there is so much noise we deal with on the plane.
R: Reroute – One of the most hated words in a flight attendant’s vocabulary. It is when Scheduling decides to send you somewhere else instead of your intended destination.
S: Scheduling – The department we both love and hate because they determine our fate. They decide when and where we are going.
T: Turn – A turn is when you fly from one city to another, TURN around and come right back to your starting city.
U: Uniform – Flight Attendants and Pilots are a few of the many jobs that wear uniforms.
V: Vacation – Sometimes work feels like a vacation and sometime we need a vacation to keep us sane from the crazy schedules and passengers.
W: Weather -Contrary to popular belief, it is something we cannot control. It effects when planes take off, the smoothness of the ride, and when planes can land.
X: X-ray – This is what is used to scan bags to help keep us safe.
Y: Yum – Yum! The great food we get to experience on our layovers.
Z: Zzzs – We love our sleep! Especially since we have to adjust to sleeping at different times of the day depending on our schedule.