Things I Learned from a Flight Attendant



I met up with my good friend Christina in New York City and showed her around the Big Apple. I have always wondered how flight attendants live their lives in almost endless motion. When I was younger, I wanted to become a flight attendant only so that I can see the world and travel to different places. I didn't have any idea back then what it takes to be a flight attendant and how hard it must be to be one. So far I have learned that the standard minimum height requirement is 1.6 meters, a college degree is also not necessarily required, only a high school diploma. Christina graciously offered me some insights and answers to some of my nagging questions about flight attendants.


How long have you been working as a flight attendant?
-- Four years this December.

What's your favorite city/country?
--Before it's Vienna, Austria. It's beautiful there and the people are friendly. Now, it's New York City! I love shopping here cause it is not expensive compared to our other destinations.

Do you always have to wear stilettos?
--When we are in the airport we wear heels up to 7 centimeters high but once we are on board the plane and the door is closed, we change into our "cabin shoes". 

What do you do when you are not flying?
--I sleep. Ha ha 

What's the best thing your passenger did for you?
--The best thing? It's not really the best thing but I feel happy when for example, before on our flight to Paris (which is really exhausting flight) a passenger told me, "You know you are so nice, for me you are the best cabin crew on board." It made me feel less tired after that. At that time there were I think three or four passengers who spoke to me and there was this passenger who gave me desserts (cookies) and he said, "Thank you so much, you're so nice."

How do flight crews go on dates?
--Some of the crew were already complaining because we don't have social life anymore, we don't even have time for our families cause we are always flying. We don't have time for dates. For example, on my day off I do my laundry and wash my uniforms. 

Do you have a boyfriend in every city?
--Me? No way! Some of our cabin crew perhaps. 

Is it really necessary to turn off your mobile phones before takeoff and landing?
--On older airplanes yes, because it interferes with the aircraft's navigational systems. On newer airplanes, I think it's okay to leave it on.

Several of our readers have also submitted their questions below:

Sandy from Tokyo, Japan: 
"Are you a member of the mile high club?"
--Simvako! In the past, they caught two crew members doing it in the restroom. They got fired after that.

"How much sleep do you get?"
--I remember one time I was already up at 9am until the following day 9am so that's 24 hours and when we got to London it was already 7pm my local time so that's a total of 34 hours straight that I was awake. Some of the crew wanted to go out so we went to the city but we didn't have a day off in London coz we were only there for 12 hours (minimum rest). We went back to the hotel to sleep for a few hours and when I awoke it was already my wake up call time. For longer flights like right now here in New York, we arrived in JFK today at around 4pm and I have a day off tomorrow Monday, and my wake up call on Tuesday is at 6:45pm and our flight to London leaves at 9pm. 

Chad from Baltimore, MD:
"Did the plane ever have to land because of something wrong?"
--Oh yes, of course. On our flight to Bangkok we took off past 11 at night and after an hour and 45 minutes the captain announced that we have to go back to the airport due to a technical problem. There was a problem with the cabin pressure. The cabin pressure helps regulate the oxygen levels inside the cabin. At that time, the oxygen level was not "acceptable" so we cannot go higher than 25,000 feet so we have to fly at a lower altitude and we maintained an altitude of 14,000 feet, we were flying around and then we landed at past 1 am. The engineer said he could fix it in an hour but the captain decided that he was going to cancel the flight because it was not safe anymore. He said, "I am just protecting the aircraft, the passengers and the crew." Our ears were already painful because of the pressure just like when the plane is descending you feel your ears hurt. If we had flown higher in the next 5 minutes, the oxygen masks will drop and it will already become an emergency. So we went home after that and we all got rested.

Celle from White Plains, NY: 
"Have you ever experienced a bad turbulence that you felt like the plane was going to crash?"
--Yes, we were on board Airbus A320 bound for Islamabad and it was really bad weather. It felt like the aircraft is going to fall. We couldn't land in Islamabad so we diverted to Lahore instead.

Rhyan from Oslo, Norway: 
"Do you still get excited about boarding planes when you fly on holidays?"
--What do you mean when you fly on holidays, you mean when I am on leave or normal holidays? Cause we don't have holidays for cabin crew. So for example on Christmas or New Year, I don't want to fly and I am not excited about it. But if I am on leave on my holiday for one month, of course I am very much excited to board the plane! I want to go home.

Kimberly from Tacloban City, Philippines:
"How do you entertain yourself during long haul flights?"
--Just chatting with the other cabin crew. Sometimes we read magazines because we are not allowed to play music or use our mobile phones. The plane have wifi access but only the passengers are allowed to use their iPads and mobile devices. Even reading magazines is supposedly not allowed but some chief cabin crew allows it because they understand that it is really boring. So the main thing we do to entertain ourselves is chit-chat. We just discuss things in general, about flying and experiences.

Todd from West Chester, PA: 
"Who is your most difficult passenger and how did you deal with it?"
--There are passengers who think they are kings and queens because they think they own the aircraft and they will treat you like you are their maid/nanny. Like for example, after food service some of the passengers would put their trays on the floor and they don't want to hand the trays back to us and to be fair on our part, we don't want to pick it up from the floor because we tell them that "We gave you this food tray properly just don't let us pick it up from the floor." That's when they will hand the trays back to us.

Bien from Cebu City, Philippines: 
"How many languages do you speak?"
--All I know are common greetings/phrases in Arabic, German, French, Thai, Japanese, Korean. Just common greetings like: Bonjour, Bonsoir, Guten tag, Guten morgen, Sawadikrap, Sabahul Khayr, etc.

"At what age do you see yourself retiring as flight crew?"
--Flying isn't forever for me coz it is not good healthwise. Maybe in 10 years. 

I've learned so much from Christina during her short stop here in New York City. I admire her hard work, dedication and she's truly an inspiration to everyone and not just to aspiring flight attendants. I also love her brightly colored uniform which radiates cheerfulness and surprisingly I found out from the woven clothing label that it was designed by the House of Balenciaga. That is so fetch!




Christina is a Super Typhoon Haiyan survivor and a cabin crew in the Middle East. On her free time, she loves to visit her boyfriend in Dubai.


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