Life of a cabin crew – pros and cons
As taking a flight has a lot to do with traveling itself, I dare to include this post on my blog. Yes, I had worked as a cabin crew for 2 years before I started travel blogging (February 2009 to March 2011.)
For those who cannot connect this with anything, you could have called me a stewardess/flight attendant back in days. When many people hear this word, they all think automatically that I had such a great life, traveling all over the world with a lot of money, free time and no problems.
But to be honest, just those who have ever worked as cabin crew or those whose close friends or family members have, know that the truth lies far away from this preconceived notion. The only true thing from the above, is quite loads of free time (when you get lucky as I did as it all depends on the airport, number of operating flights and number of cabin crew.)
Logically, it all depends on which airline you work for and in which country as many rules differ.
Obviously, working as a cabin crew has some positives.
I’ve always loved being above the clouds. It’s like a different world. And the best sunrise and sunset I have ever seen was, and always will be from up there in the sky.
The good thing about my cabin crew job was that I got to know airports, all the rules and restrictions so I know exactly what I can do and bring with me and what better not. It is a very useful information when traveling nowadays.
Life of a cabin crew was also a great motivation to me when by any chance for a second I did not feel like going to a new place. And it gave me the possibility to dig deeper into the culture and habits of different nationalities, because believe me or not, you can learn a lot from just watching passengers onboard.
I also made friends at many airports. Seeing people travel all the time when I still worked as a cabin crew made me travel more on my days off as well.
You can even make loads of friends when lucky.
There are some ”new friends” who happened to be on one of my flights and we have stayed in touch quite often as friends. Job of cabin crew even makes you learn some useful phrases in more languages, which is always helpful and you do not have to force yourself to study at home. It just gets into your head somehow after hearing it couple of times.
Plus, wearing a uniform helps people not to judge you by your appearance as we all look almost the same, which is good in a way, I think.
Then knowing other cabin crew members means you can meet up with some of them when you travel and as well it can help you to know even more people just because you are both cabin crew or you know someone and they know him, too.
The world is so small sometimes, yet I still get surprised.
But everything is complex, so to understand it all better, I would like to point out some of the disadvantages of life as a cabin crew because not many people know about them and they think it is a paradise:
- NO, many airlines do not offer free tickets to their employers (only flight crew can fly for free), but we do have some kind of discounts. But from my own experience I can say, many times you can get a cheaper ticket when flying as a normal passenger, especially when on promotion a lot ahead of time (in case you know the flight date early enough.)
- Many European airlines fly back to the base on the same day, so we do not have the chance to fly somewhere, stay over there and get to know the place (unfortunately this is the case of the airline which I worked for, too.) Talking of no longhaul flights, but just those within the same continent.
- The salary is not what other people might imagine. It is much less! It’s not what it used to be years ago.
- Many airlines offer the contract only for 6 months; at the time when I worked there it was e.g. in Spain.
- Our skin and hair get dry from the air conditioning onboard, you need to take more care of it and moisturize it often.
- Our nails get broken very quickly, they are weak.
- Cabin crew need to drink more water because of the same reason, even our throat gets drier, like the skin. And it is very easy to get dehydrated while flying.
- We have to wear high heels even if we hate them (I so do), and it can be quite a leg workout when walking through the cabin, mostly during climbing and descending as it’s like going up the mountain in high heels (who would do that voluntarily??)
- Any sickness and illness get worse when onboard, starting with running nose, sore throat or just a simple headache… after a couple hours flying it’s 5 times more serious.
- You come more in contact with bacteria as sick people travel as well so there is a higher chance for you to get infected, even when talking about simple flu.
- People used to ask me why I had so many bruises on my legs. Well, the answer is easy. Get ready to get plenty of them on your thighs and hips as passengers do put their feet and elbows into the aisle exactly when you pass through. (Is this supposed to be just a coincidence?)
- It can be dangerous, i.e. turbulence. We are trained and used to it after some time but still the airplane can move a lot unexpectedly very quickly and you are just not able to handle it, or you get down or hit the ceiling. Not nice! I fell down once, hit myself and the halon fell down on me, then I had a 10 cm bruise on my left thigh for almost 3 weeks. But there are cabin crew who broke legs, arms or got concussion of the brain after turbulence. The more we fly, the bigger the chance to get hurt.
- Cabin crew job can be mentally difficult. The main opinion people have about flight attendants is that it is just waiters onboard a plane and we are all stupid. I especially don’t get persons making fun of safety demonstration as I bet 70 % of them would have no idea what to do in case of an emergency because they had not paid any attention to it on any of the hundred flights they took. But they do have to laugh each time they see the demo anyway. But back to being stupid cabin crew, honestly, we are being questioned about the safety and first aid every day before we start our duty, plus in case of any emergency, which is mostly the first aid one, we need to be ready for anything and react straight away. Besides, passengers can make you tired. It is always the worst job to work with people, you know that. Sometimes they are not willing to help and understand you at all. They can make your working day a nightmare. So if any of you are reading this and you travel by plane, PLEASE try to comprehend the situation from crew point of view as well and and do not be one of the disruptive passengers. Because if a cabin crew tells you something, she says it not because she made it up or just for fun, but because it is a rule and we all have to follow it.
- Can be hard physically, too. Depends on many things but sometimes you have to lift up a lot of bags which destroys your back, walk through the cabin up and down unlimited times, carry stuff etc.
- Not good for your health – wake up and go to sleep at different time is never good, plus think of the time zones. We do not eat regularly and different weather at the airports where we fly to does not help our health either as often temperature changes make us ill. And the ears get blocked all the time. It is the worst pain ever if you have sinus infection. And noise of the airplanes can be annoying, too.
- Many days of our ‘free’ time are so called home standbys so we have to wait on phone for hours in case we got called off and would need to go to work. Literally, I used to even take a shower and go to toilet with my mobile phone, otherwise I would get in trouble. Not pleasant at all. It came to such a point that then on my days off I hated to hear my phone ringing and would use only phone vibration. If I do not hear (feel) my phone, please forgive me!
- Can get boring to repeat the same stuff over and over every day. I had days when I felt like a parrot ”Bye, thank you, have a nice day, bye bye, cheers, goodbye, see you, bye, thanks…”
Like I said, everything has both advantages and disadvantages and of course life of a cabin crew is not any exception.
I wrote this article because I really want people to see both sides of this job – cabin crew pros and cons. Hope I gave you a more complex idea now about how it is to be a stewardess and that next time when you take a flight, you will become one of those passengers we all love 😀
After life of a cabin crew for 2 years, I just could not do it any more. Since March 2011 I have been professionaly travel blogging only, mostly on this blog.