“I Hate Being A Flight Attendant:” An Open Letter When We Judge Those Who Don’t Love Cabin Crew Life

Last night, during the hours of 1am and 3am, when jet lag consistently claims all hopes of sleep, I began searching for flight attendant videos on YouTube. This led me to discovering an uber talented blogger and vlogger’s channel— a girl who once worked for Emirates. A girl who decided it wasn’t for her and quit. “Hmmm….” I thought. “That’s interesting.” She left what is considered a top, if not the top airline to work for. My curiosity led me to watch her video; a video I ultimately ended up liking a lot. I liked it so much that I decided to re-share.

And then people began judging. Of course, everyone has an opinion, some of which were judgements directed to the fact that she couldn’t handle the 24hr layovers, the pay, and that she simply couldn’t “hack it.”

To, that I will say, “Who the hell wants to live a hacked life anyway?” We (flight attendants and pilots) are not an elitist group that are somehow invincible, stronger, better, and a higher class, because we can “hack” this industry. Give me a break. In all honesty, do you ever think of the flip-side that flight attendants give up? In all honesty, sometimes I wonder if I’m too stupid to realize that I am ruining my own life by staying here too long. In all honestly, I really don’t think I— a girl who actually likes this industry— can hack it. Flight attendant life is not for everyone, but maybe it’s not for everyone because the others have figured out a better way.

What would you say if I told you that if this blog was not mine— if I sold this blog tomorrow, I would quit flying? Because I probably would. Would you tell me that I wasn’t strong enough or that I was making a bad decision?  Would you judge me for being weak or stupid. There have been so many moments when I sure as hell have wanted to quit. If you are a flight attendant, don’t tell me you have never been in that place. I often wonder what I am missing out on because I’ve become so accustomed to putting up with the low pay, continuous tired, constant immune infections, bad skin, and crumbling relationships. Sometimes I think I am too scared to leave, because as crazy as this life is, this crazy is my normal. This crazy is my standard. This crazy is my comfortable. 

Kara mulder

I’ve wanted to quit a lot recently, but do you know why I stay? There are reasons to why I stay. Good ones. There are so many reasons why I love this job and this lifestyle. But why I stay now; the one reason that sticks out above all the rest. The reason that trumps good layovers, foreign countries and working with the best people.  The one reason why I took an international flight attendant job with bad pay and no benefits is the reason that I am flying right now— this blog. Weird right?

It’s come to the point that, I don’t fly to fly. I don’t fly to travel. I’m flying, because I don’t know if anything can be better than the best days of this. And the best days somewhere else don’t seem to match the worst days in flight attendant life. I am currently struggling through sticking this through, refusing to walk away from what I have spent years creating, nurturing, growing, building: This blog. I’m pretty sure I would be done with flying soon if it wasn’t for baby blog, but I just can’t go yet. For the girl that always goes, I have found something to hold me in place. I cannot walk away from this community of people that tell me, “Thank you for writing. You are living my dream. You’ve said what I don’t know how to say. I don’t feel so alone.”

Maybe I fly for you as much as I fly for myself and to that, I owe you the biggest THANK YOU in the whole wide world. I’ve said it before that I can’t even keep up with myself. Flying is too much for me, but I stay, because you don’t always leave when it’s simply “too much.” You look past that “too much,” and you stay because your goals, hopes, and aspirations drive you and carry you beyond the shit of today.

Flywithmeghan flight attendant delta

Contrary to what Disney taught us, real life dreams are not fairytales. Life doesn’t go all right all of the time and often, dreams require that you wade through a lot of shit. If you ask me if I’m living my dream, I would answer yes. I am. I never ever thought that I would have the opportunity to fly international, for a European airline, and spend more time in the foreign countries that I love than in the States. I didn’t think it was possible, and then it happened for me.

If I had known everything that would have came along with this dream, I might have said, “Woah— I don’t think I can handle it.” Mysteries and surprises are better than knowing it all. Flight Attendant Life is incredible and mine is incredible. I feel blessed, grateful, amazed and overwhelmed by all of the goodness that God has brought into my life.

Kara Mulder

But this dream is harder than I ever imagined it would be. But, just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. This up-in-the-air lifestyle is not for everyone. I don’t even know if it’s for me all of the time, but I’m passionately and curiously exploring what sets my soul on fire. That is the only way to live. That could mean that I quit and try something else. That’s part of the adventure.

I just began reading a book called, “Talk Like TED,” and in that book it says, “The only way to have a great career is to do what you love, so if you don’t love something, don’t do it.” I believe this to be true. If you once loved flight attendant life and don’t anymore, check out other alternatives. You could just be in a season of frustration, or you could be closing a chapter. If you thought you would like it and you don’t, give yourself an objective evaluation of the current situation. The first year is pretty awful (most of the time) no matter what airline you work for simply because you have to experience so many changes. Ultimately, this lifestyle isn’t a competition to see who can “hack it” and who can’t. It’s about living. I want us to get the point about surviving a life and living a life. This isn’t about being flight attendants only, but it’s about this:

It’s about finding what you love and stepping away from that which you don’t.

It’s about getting in touch with who you are and what you enjoy.

It’s not about living to manage a job or “handle it,” but about thriving within whatever it is that you do, be, and become.

Try making me a mathematician or an engineer. I would never be able to “hack that.”I can barely hack this fly life thing. Let’s just stop judging each others’ choices and instead support one another. Let’s celebrate bravery, courage, honesty, and authenticity. Please. I would really appreciate that in any kind of life, not just this flight attendant one. 

Kara Mulder travel blog boracay

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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Emma says January 21, 2016

Thank you for this post! This is one of the few industries a where judgement is passed when you make a career change. If a teacher becomes a nurse, because they are just burned out on teaching, people get that. But with flying, its so coveted, people have a hard time understanding that it’s just a job, not a golden ticket to a fabulous life. I recently stopped flying after just 1&1/2 years. I’m a commuter and found out that my husband and I are expecting another child. I just cannot imagine doing this job with an infant. Everyday I wonder if I made the right choice. I do not miss driving over icy roads to try to catch an oversold flight on standby. But I miss the freedom, the flying even, and my awesome crews. Never beat yourself up for quiting a job, its just a job, not something that defines you. I realize it’s probably pretty complicated with your blog, but it’s your life and make the choices you feel are best for you. Do I hope to find another job I enjoy and love, of course, will I go back to flying? Maybe. I hope so. But dreams are fickle and sometimes dreams are just that, and not careers. Good luck! And thanks again for another insightful article,

Jay Gonzalez says January 22, 2016

You’re amazing Kara! Thank you for all that you do, you’re my hero.

J M H says April 14, 2016

Thank you. As a 16 year FA. You helped me.

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