Your uniform has been fitted. Your wings have been pinned. You have been assigned a domicile and a giant manual full of rules and the flight benefits are starting to roll in.
Welcome to your first year as a flight attendant.
It’s going to be a little rough. Be prepared for that. But there are a few things that you can do to make your first year a bit easier, and a little bit more fun. And remember, the hard stuff doesn’t last forever.
1. Accept that coffee. Standing in line for coffee at the airport the other day, I got to chatting with a Captain from American Airlines. She gave me advice for non-revving to Hawaii and always bidding for my “dream schedule,” even if I happen to be the most junior person in my base. When we got to the register, she pushed my card away and bought my coffee. When I protested, she smiled sweetly and said, “You’re a first year flight attendant. You don’t make squat.” She wasn’t being rude. She was being honest. Pilots, family and friends will find sneaky ways to pay for your coffee, buy you groceries and take you out for a beer. Don’t reject their generosity. Just accept it. You’re gonna need it.
2. Embrace Change. Your life is about to be turned upside down. You will most likely be based away from home, be living in a crashpad, missing your friends and family and significant other. But don’t be sad. Accept the weirdness that is your new life. Start a Tumblr about bizarre airport carpets or sign up for hotel reward points (oh yeah, you’ll be in hotels a lot.) Get into Skyping people back home from funny places, like an In N Out or an old library on the East Coast. This is what you signed up for. It’s definitely a roller coaster. Enjoy the ride!
3. Make work a vacation. Most flight attendants have the opportunity to pick up trips on their days off. Make your days off really count — look at available shifts not only out of your base, but out of other bases as well. Find that one long Mexico overnight, or a 36-hour jaunt in NYC. Be choosey, and think of it as vacation planning. Invite your flight attendant friends to meet up with you in your overnight cities, and then crash in your hotel room with you. Although you’ll have to work a little during your holiday, you’ll have top pick of whatever exciting overnights you want. Plus, extra money!
4. Create good habits. Maybe you came into this job as a Type A personality, with your socks organized by color and your shirts crisp and ironed a week in advance. Or maybe you came into this job like me, running around the apartment with hair standing on end, ripped pantyhose, looking for a missing badge, manual and one high heel. Well, either way, you’re going to realize that with this job, you need to get a little organized. Come up with “getting ready” rituals that allow you to count off your list of required items, find your heels, and remember to pack a good, nutritious lunch. It’s going to take a little practice and a lot of sticky notes, but you’ll get into some good patterns that wil have you out the door an hour early, so that you can grab coffee with your crew, plan your next working “vacation” and Skype your significant other from the comfort of a McDonald’s at the airport.
5. Prioritize. There will come a time, when you are at an awesome overnight in San Antonio, or Las Vegas or maybe even Williston, ND and your crew is super fun and you’re all like “meet in the lobby in 10 minutes?!” and then you realize that you promised to check in. With your mom. Your best friend. Your significant other. And the hotel phone is ringing, and your crew is waiting. What do you do?
You call home. It’s super important to keep your promises and keep those connections alive. Chances are, your phone call will end with an understanding. “It sounds like you’re having fun! Want to call me a little later?” But once in a while, you’ll just stay in, curled up in your room with the phone while you get updates about what’s really important.
Happy First Year, friends!
writer // dreamer // adventurer // flight attendant