A typical conversation between long-distance flight attendant friends:
“Wait, I thought you were in Texas.”
“Nope, Milwaukee to Houston and then to Monterrey, Mexico. Where are you today, Copenhagen?”
“Nope, Los Angeles!”
“Oh! Well, where will you be tomorrow?”
That is the million dollar question that none of us cabin crew actually know the answer to. Because, even if our trip sheet says that we are going to fly one leg to Chicago tomorrow, we might end up delayed, reflowed, rerouted, deadheaded or even put back on standby reserve.
You never can tell what’s going to happen in the crazy world of the flight attendant life.
Leaving Jeju Island, running across town from Gimpo Airport to Incheon Airport in Seoul, eleven hours to San Francisco, barely making it onto a flight to Seattle, immediately getting ready for a work trip to Vegas and Sacramento, grabbing a red-eye to Minneapolis, non-revving to Green Bay, Wisconsin, spending a weekend on an island with family, jumping on a flight down to Chicago for work, a long flight to Calgary, back to Chicago for an afternoon in the city, a deadhead to Milwaukee, two legs down to Monterrey and one final work flight back to Chicago.
And it’s not even over yet.
But here’s a secret: I’m sort of ready for it to be over. I’m tired. Truly, really, absolutely tired. And lonely. And missing my boyfriend and my cat. And my bed. When’s the last time I slept there, anyways? You know, in my own bed?
I want to be home.
So what do flight attendants do to keep themselves grounded?
We find what makes us truly, really, absolutely happy.
For some, happiness comes in the form of a long, adventurous trip, full of international destinations with names of cities that are hard to pronounce. For others, having the schedule flexibility to be able to pick up your kids at preschool is what makes your heart glad. Still other cabin crew members adore working with their favorite co-workers, bidding for matching schedules. Some flight attendants are happy to be based where they live, coming home to familiar faces. Similarly, some stews love the unpredictability and college-feel of crashpad life, coming home to new friends everyday.
For me, it’s all about being able to come home when I need to. I’m still figuring out how to bid. I’m still trying to find the perfect balance of long trips and locals, time off and work streaks.
Lately, I haven’t been playing by my own rules. I wore myself down. I was away from Seattle too much. I chased adventures all over the world and like an overexcited puppy, I forgot how to come home.
But May is coming to a close, and with it, I can sense a homecoming on the horizon. I feel myself ready to exhale, and to really rest. My schedule for June is quick local trips and sleeping in my own bed almost every night.
So here I am in Monterrey, Mexico, packing my bags for the last time for a little while.
And I am truly, really, absolutely happy about it.
writer // dreamer // adventurer // flight attendant