Trips are defining, determining where the flight attendant will fly, who the flight attendant is with or with not, and how long the flight attendant will be away.  Trips are often why many become flight attendants, and trips are often why many give it up.  Trips are often given, then taken- without reason, choice, or warning.  A flight attendant learns to take his or her schedule lightly, treating it as the man that never commits.  Enjoy the looks.  Enjoy the moments, but don’t be attached.  Yes.  Do not become attached to your flight attendant schedule, unless you have a trip on a holiday.  You can then be 99.9 percent sure that those work days will stay.

Stay- Trips are what makes staying possible.  And impossible.  Every other week, you will probably find me in Copenhagen.  Every other week, you might catch me in New York.  Every other week, a London pick-up stares back at me in military time.  I love knowing that I get to go, and that I always get to go back.  In many ways, I love the trips at my airline.  The plane is nice to work on, my colleagues are incredibly fun and nice to work with, and I practically live in Europe, which to anyone who knows me knows that this is a dream come true.

Tallinn Estonia Cabin Crew
That time I went to Estonia

I just returned two days ago to my base after an 8 day trip.  As far as good trips go, this last pairing had to have been one of my favorites since I began flying at this airline over 6 months ago.  I had enough days to rest at each destination, so I wasn’t sick and exhausted from jet lag the entire week.  I was able to meet up with my friends that live abroad.  One of my summer camp girlfriends from 10 years old rode the coach a few hours to meet me in London.  We spent the day admiring all of the Christmas decorations that were making their appearances on the streets and in the windows of London’s shops.  We enjoyed a morning of coffee and scones at The Victoria & Albert Museum, an afternoon of tea and macaroons at Laduree, and a spectacular view of the entire city, watching as daylight waned to night time lights.  There was something up with London that day.  Hilary said she didn’t know when I questioned it, but London seemed to love me.  And any girl likes a little love every once in awhile.

Coffee & Scones Victoria and Albert Museum Cafe

Tea & Macaroons at Laduree

London View From Aqua Shard

These experiences, and others like the ones that I just mentioned are all possible because my airline forces me to go away.  I’ve climbed a mountain in Bergen, got way too tipsy over too many glasses of wine in Napa Valley, and stayed back at my Los Angeles home, all because I had to go.  Then, there is the side when these trips make my life impossible.  When the trips infringe on my freedom.  When the trips suffocate my relationships.  When the trips control my life.  This is hard for me.  This is hard for anyone, especially those with families.  Most of my trips are long, on the short end being 6 days, on the extreme being 20 days.  On average, I and my colleagues are often given two trips per month, usually 8 to 10 days each.  Most airlines in the states don’t fly more than four day trips, but this also is not a rule as flight crews employed by American companies can drop, swap, trade, add, juggle, and jostle schedules to work stand-ups, turns, two days, six-days, long rest, minimum rest…

I know, it’s complicated.  Isn’t it always?

I can’t answer when I will be back.  I can’t know for how long, or where, or if you can count on me, because truthfully, you probably can’t.  Maybe that’s why this life is a lonely one.  I have no control, absolutely no decision making power over what my trips are, who I am working with, where I am going, how long I will be gone, how many hours of rest I get…It is what it is.  It’s like a version of The Hunger Games; a fucked up lottery system that one can’t avoid if living in this world, and where luck is a much needed commodity.  It’s entertaining though, right?

Cabin Crew International
The hat is entertaining

At least we have that.  Once you are in this life, it makes sense.  It makes sense even when it doesn’t.  Why we, flight attendants and cabin crew put up with the negatives of this lifestyle makes sense when you experience the reality shattering positives.  It’s an addictive lifestyle.  It’s an over-the-top, outwardly glamorous, surprising and intoxicating existence.  It really is a trip…

Kyoto temple

About the Author

Hello, I’m K. J. Watts, but my friends call me Kara. I fell into the sky and have worked as International cabin crew, on private jets as a corporate flight attendant, and earned an FAA Private Pilot Certificate. Over a decade ago, I started this blog, which developed into a love for writing and a debut memoir based on Flight Attendant Life. A California native, I now live in Sydney, Australia, where I enjoy spending time with my husband, writing, and surfing.

  1. Hi! I currently fly for American. Dying to know what airline you work for and pick your brain a bit if you don’t mind. Thanks,


  2. Beautifully written. As a flight attendant myself, I understand the negative connotation the word “trip” carries, possibly stemming from crew scheduling leaving messages on my phone “Hi H, We Have A Trip For You”. Trips are work, but travel is pleasure. A trip involves inadequate compensation and can be isolating and frustrating. But travel is interactive, involving, and eye opening. They are such separate, distinct entities. I hate trips, but I love travel.

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