Isn’t everyday a vacation as a flight attendant?! MOST DEFINITELY NOT!
Take this past week for example…our job relies heavily on the weather that is unpredictable and uncontrollable. Reading it here that probably makes sense, but out in the real world people lose all common sense and when the weather goes downhill everyone needs a face to yell at, because let’s be honest, yelling at the sky for doing what it is doing would make you seem crazy, and you are definitely not crazy…right? With over 700 flights canceled this weekend due to weather, you can imagine there were a lot of angry passengers in the airport and I could not even begin to count the number of insults, jabs, and all-around rudeness dished out towards the employees who have literally no control over the situation and are just trying to make things run smoothly again. We get it, you are mad, we are mad too, but let me explain to you from a flight attendant’s side what we are dealing with during these delays.
As I said before, we have no control over the weather. It is what it is and in this industry it just happens. For customers, this might happen once or twice to them over the course of many years, but for flight attendants, things like this happen almost monthly and when it does its almost always just as bad as the last time. So contrary to popular belief, I’ll let you in on a few little secrets as to why your flight attendants aren’t conspiring against you and using witchcraft to destroy the weather all around the world.
1.WE AREN’T GETTING PAID!!!
Just think about this for a second when you want to say to us “well this is your job”. No, no this is not our job. Our job is to attendant flights, and when flights aren’t actually happening, we are not actually getting paid. Yes, we do get our guarantee pay for flights we are supposed to take, but when the flights aren’t going anywhere and we have to hang around the airport in the crossfire of all the angry passengers, we aren’t making money. A 14 hour day for us might only result in 5 hours of pay! Find me a person who enjoys having to go to work and get yelled at for an endless amount of hours, multiple days in a row, only to make a tiny fraction of the time they actually spent there, and I will show you the craziest person on Earth. NOBODY ENJOYS THIS!
2. WE DON’T GET SLEEP!!!
Legally, our layovers can be 8.5 hours long, and our duty days can be 15 hours long. When you break down that 8.5 hours with the time it takes to deplane, get out of the airport, drive to our hotel, check-in to our rooms, eat (if we are lucky enough to allow time for it and if something is actually even open nearby at 1am), get ready for bed, sleep, and then wake up just to get ready again and head back to the airport, we really only get about 4 hours of sleep! Now imagine doing this multiple days back to back. Nobody can survive like this for very long.
3. WE DON’T HAVE CONTACT WITH OUR EMPLOYER!!!
When the operation is going poorly and flights get canceled, we end up in cities that we weren’t expected to be in for the night. What does this mean? This means that we have no hotel rooms, no transportation, and our only option is to call and wait in a queue until we get ahold of someone to fix the situation. With 23,000 flight attendants, our hold times are often 3+ hours long and after the wait, we are met with some very unfriendly “co-workers” who have came up with the worst solution ever, but you take it because you have no choice. Best part? Those 3 hours on the phone just got taken out of the 8.5 hour minimum layover that you were so graciously given.
4. WE CAN’T MAKE PLANS!!!
No matter how much we try to make a life for ourselves, we really can never rely on our schedules to go as planned. Have a friend in your layover city you want to grab lunch with? Think again, reroute city is headed your way. Have a child you need to be home for when your significant other has to attend their own job? Oops, sounds like a personal problem because you have just been chosen to fly into your off day against your will since you are stranded just like the passengers when flights get canceled! Trying to make it to a date that you’ve rescheduled 4 times already? Sorry, we are just going to give you a 6 hour delay…they won’t mind you being a little late? Right? This job is completely unpredictable, but we try our best to have a life with it, so I promise you!!! I promise your flight attendants are just as unhappy as you when stuff like this happens.
5. WE ARE ON THE VERGE OF A MENTAL BREAKDOWN!!!
For real, this is something that I just realized this weekend after talking with my sister. I told her that I had anxiety about going to work and she was confused. Like why should I have anxiety about working? After not sleeping, not eating properly, being yelled at endlessly while you are trying to do your best for these people, and knowing your day is not going to go as planned, I am pretty sure you would be a little stressed and have some anxiety about going to work too.
People tell me all the time about how this is their dream job and how I am so lucky that I get to travel the world. I know I am fortunate, and I LOVE to travel, but this job is not for the weak! It is much harder on your body and mind than most people think, so for our sanity, we deserve to get chunks of time off each month! I can’t tell you the last time that I didn’t have at least 4 days off (or more) in a row during the month. Even if I don’t decide to go on an actual vacation during this time, I will be enjoying a well deserved staycation because I need to recoup before entering the battlefield once again! So next time that you think the flight attendant life is one of luxury and an easy way to travel the world, think again. This job is draining and we vacation frequently just to keep our heads above the water of insanity! With 3 more days to go before my next stretch of days off, wish me luck!!!