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15 Things Only Flight Attendants Would Understand

15 Things Only Flight Attendants Would Understand

If you thought that being a flight attendant was easy or even glamorous, think again. According to one source, it is one of the worst jobs out there because of the high stress levels, miserable pay and poor job prospects. Some airlines have been called the slave ships of the air! The minimum salary is $24,000 and maximum might reach $73,000 for senior staff. There may be some good perks such as hotel and car rental discounts and some free travel. But the everyday grind of dealing with difficult and demanding passengers makes you wonder why you chose this particular job. Here are 15 things that only you will understand.

1. You hate the rowdy, drunk passengers

Of course most passengers are polite and fairly well behaved. The problem is that there are always those who step out of line and are downright unruly and difficult. Passengers who expose their smelly feet and drunken passengers are the worst. They all get a mention on the Passenger Shaming page on Facebook which now has over 333,000 likes! Watch the video here just in case you think all this has been exaggerated. Not exactly pleasant working conditions for the poor flight attendant (FA).

2. You have a difficult social life

Another challenge you face is that because of your crazy schedule, you are the one who has to reach out and organize your social life when you are actually on the ground. There is no point in waiting around for friends to call you because they never understand or even try to memorize your schedule which is continually changing anyway.

3. You have a really complicated timetable

Getting up for an early flight could actually mean 1am in the morning! You may have to do long haul flights which inevitably means upsetting your body clock and you have problems with jet lag. You may be on the infamous ‘red eye’ flights and that also means disturbed sleep patterns.

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4. You have to handle the scared passengers

It has been estimated that up to 30% of plane passengers are on the nervous flyers spectrum. A much smaller number will actually have aviophobia and you think that they should be given a refund and told to go by train or ship! But, of course, you are empathic and skilful in dealing with these special cases.

5. You are in the front line if hijackers strike

You have had to go through all that training and you know exactly what to do. This is scary if a terrorist manages to get on board and create havoc. The pilots are okay because they will always remain locked in the cockpit, no matter what happens. You are in the front line and you are responsible for any decisions you take. Nevertheless, you are glad you did that training because you feel more confident.

6. You are the scapegoat

You are the one who gets it when anything goes wrong. It could be flight delays, bad weather, pricing, seat allocation, leg room, tray tables, reclining seats, and the food. Passengers tend to think that you have decided all these things. You are only trying to make their stay on board a pleasant one so you get really angry when they blame you for everything.

7. You did not walk into this job

Yes, passengers think that you just walked into the job and there was not that much competition. You would like to tell them that when Delta advertised 1,000 openings some years back, there were 100,000 applicants! Looks like getting into Harvard is easier than this. You also had to invest time and money in learning another language because that can really increase your chances.

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8. You really had to train hard after you got the job

Passengers who think that the FA is just a glorified server or salesperson is totally wrong. You are responsible for their safety and well-being. That means you had to go through rigorous training as regards emergencies, safety, evacuation and first aid. You wonder how many of them would actually know what a defibrillator is and how it might work to actually save their life.

9. You wish they knew your schedule

I bet that many passengers do not realize the cruel scheduling that you have to put up with. Just imagine a 2 hour working day followed by one of twelve hours. You get to work five days in a row and do a world trip while doing that. Doing six cities in 48 hours is not so unusual. Everybody thinks the job is great as you can stay in luxury hotels and surf on the beach. At the start when you are on reserve status, you cannot even enjoy your 10-15 days leave as you have to be on call and that means you might have to leave at just a few hours’ notice. Many people do not know that reserve status can last a few years in some cases.

10. You get passengers’ germs as a bonus

Dealing with all these people in a small space with recycled air means that flight attendants get exposed to all sorts of viruses, germs and bacteria. Not surprising that the rate of minor illness such as colds and flu in our group is pretty high. There are sick-day policies so you can take sick leave but sometimes you just cannot afford that. If you call in sick at the last minute, you are going to get reduced pay. That makes you feel even worse! But there are other health risks and FAs are more likely to suffer from bronchitis, skin cancer, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety than the general population.

11. You never get to work with the same colleagues

Imagine walking into your office and working with a different set of colleagues every day! This is what most flight attendant have to get used to. One small advantage is that you will never meet that obnoxious colleague again! But you never get to work again with really nice co-worker and that is a shame.

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12. You risk back injuries

When you have to help a passenger to lift an overstuffed carry-on into the overhead bin, you risk putting your back out and you might even have to take time off. Not to mention all the walking you have to do up and down the aisle pushing the heavy beverage cart. You do the cabin every fifteen minutes and that all adds up.

13. You may risk a FAA fine

It may seem unbelievable but if the flight attendant breaks a rule by giving someone a glass of water after the safety demo, they risk a fine of up to $1,100 if a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) inspector happens to be on board. You often wonder why the FAA does not leave you in peace. You rightly feel that they should charge much heftier fines for those air-rage passengers who disrupt flights and make life hell for everybody on board.

14. You have to keep your emotions under control

You can spot a difficult passenger the moment they step on board. This is the one who will have problems with their carry-on luggage, the seat will not recline because it is on the exit row and of course s/he will not be able to order a snack because they are sold out! You have to make sure that you are not threatening them by your body language, you have to shut up and just listen, you cannot let emotions take over and you have to stick to the facts. You feel great though when you have managed a really difficult passenger well.

15. You hate screaming babies and unruly kids

You know the scene only too well. A passenger rings the call bell because there is a toddler who is kicking their seat. Yes, it is really irritating when a passenger’s seat gets kicked. But when you have to act as a temporary parent, it is very risky. Being the disciplinarian sometimes backfires and the parents get angry. As for screaming babies, the changes in pressurization are causing their ears to hurt, so they cry. But try telling that to the nearby passengers! All you can do is to make sure that the parents have everything they need to calm the baby.

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The next time you work as a FA, pat yourself on the back that you are doing a great job and that very few passengers really know what it is like. You just hope that 95% of them know how to act like a gentleman or a lady.

Featured photo credit: WI: Midwest Airlines flight attendants candlelight vigil July 8, 2008, Milwaukee/ Bernard Pollack via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

How to Find Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Purpose

How to Find Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Purpose

I wrote a few articles about starting a business based on something you love doing and are passionate about. I received several responses from people saying they weren’t sure how to go about figuring out what they were most passionate about or how to find their true purpose. So I’m dedicating this article to these issues — how to find your entrepreneurial passion and purpose.

When I work with a new client, the first thing we talk about is lifestyle design. I ask each client, “What do you want your life to look like?” If you designed a business without answering this question, you could create a nice, profitable business that is completely incompatible with your goals in life. You’d be making money, but you’d probably be miserable.

When you’re looking for your life purpose, lifestyle design isn’t a crucial component. However, since we’re talking about entrepreneurial purpose, lifestyle design is indeed crucial to building a business that you’ll enjoy and truly be passionate about.

For example, say you want to spend more time at home with your family. Would you be happy with a business that kept you in an office or out of town much of the time? On the flip side, if you wanted to travel and see the world, how well could you accomplish that goal if your business required your presence, day in and day out, to survive? So start by getting some clarity on your personal goals and spend some time working on designing your life.

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At this point, you may need a little prodding, and you may want to hire a coach or mentor to work with you through this process. Many people are very used to the idea that there is a particular way a life “should” be. There are certain milestones most people tend to live by, and if you don’t meet those markers when or in the manner you’re “supposed” to meet them, that can cause some anxiety.

Here’s how to find your passion and purpose:

Give Yourself Permission to Dream a Little

Remember that this is your life and you can live it however you choose. Call it meditation or fantasy, but let your imagination run here. And answer this question:

“If you had no fears or financial limitations, what would your ideal life, one in which you could be totally content and happy, look like?”

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Once you’ve figured out your lifestyle design, it’s time to do a little more soul-searching to figure out what you’re truly passionate about. This is a time to really look within and look back.

Specifically, look back over your life history. When were you the happiest? What did you enjoy doing the most? Remember that what you’re looking for doesn’t necessarily have to be an entire job, but can actually be aspects of your past jobs or hobbies that you’ve really enjoyed.

Think About a Larger Life Purpose

Many successful entrepreneurs have earned their place in history by setting out to make a difference in the world. Is there a specific issue or cause that is important to you or that you’re particularly passionate about?

For some, this process of discovery may come easily. You may go through these questions and thought experiments and find the answers quickly. For others, it may be more difficult. In some cases, you may suffer from a generalized lack of passion and purpose in your life.

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Sometimes, this can come from having suppressed passion in your life for too long. Sometimes, it can come from eating poorly and lack of exercise. But occasionally, it may have something to do with your internal chemistry or programming. If the latter applies to you, it may be useful for you to seek help in the form of a coach, mentor, or counselor.

In other cases, not knowing your true purpose may be a matter of having not discovered it yet: you may not have found anything that makes your heart beat faster. If this is the case, now is the time to explore!

The Internet is a fantastic tool for learning and exploration. Search hobbies and careers and learn as much as you can about any topic that triggers your interest, then follow up at the library on the things that really intrigue you. Again, remember that this is your life and only you can give yourself permission to explore all that the world has available to you.

How Do You Know When You’ve Found Your True Entrepreneurial Purpose?

I can only tell you how I knew when I had discovered my own — it didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks. Rather, it settled over me, bringing a deep sense of peace and commitment. It felt like I had arrived home and knew exactly what to do and how to proceed.

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Everything flowed easily from that point forward. That’s not to say that I found success immediately after that moment. But rather, the path ahead of me was clear, so I knew what to do.

Decisions were easier and came faster to me. And success has come on MY terms, according to my own definitions of what success means to me in my own lifestyle design.

Dig deep, look within, and seek whatever help you need. Once you find that purpose and passion, your life — not just your entrepreneurial life, but your entire life — will never be the same.

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Featured photo credit: Garrhet Sampson via unsplash.com

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