“Hey Cory! Where are the ice buckets?” I ask in a hurried tone. “Oh. I can get you ice,” another line guy, NOT named Cory, helpfully offers. “Ok great! Thanks!” I respond as I begin moving quickly towards the jet that will take me away for the next twenty days. I have things to do— lots of them— but somehow Cory finds a way to pause me. He interrupts my rush with an intentional; ‘Good morning!’ His greeting is so genuine and slightly unexpected that I stop my movement. His genuineness continues. “How are you?”

I smile, a bit stunned at how such a simple exchange can bring me into to the current moment so abruptly. “Good morning!” I respond with a smile. “I’m stressed per the usual.” My head tilts side-to-side, a twinkle lights my eyes and a laugh— doused in my signature bubbles— escapes my lips. The delivery method I choose achieves the desired result. Lost is the harshness and truth to what I say. Honest answers often need their edges softened; especially when you have “The Dream Job” and the dream life. 

The ‘edges’ of a flight attendant career can cut one down if not careful and are best understood by those who work in the industry or are forced to travel extensively for their jobs. Otherwise, flight attendants often hear, “Must be nice to travel for free.” “Must be nice to be paid to see the world.” “Must be nice to drop trips, choose your schedule, and have such an interesting existence.” Must. Be. Nice. 

And you know what? It is pretty fucking nice. We can agree on that. However, regardless of how wonderful and magical the career is, that doesn’t negate the challenges and sacrifices that every flight attendant makes. The fact that this career is so nice does not grant the power to minimize jet lag or the fatigue induced by red eye flights. It doesn’t change the fact that relationships become strained, and you begin to feel isolated by the very job that once made you feel so alive. The very job that you worked so hard for and the one that once changed your life for the better.

I find myself wondering when I was most happy, because even though I am landing the best trips, paid incredibly well, and enjoy what I do, my life is ‘missing.’ Full of magical moments but nothing that truly lasts. I’ve cared deeply for the same person for over a year. He said it was my job and how can two busy people date? Yeah. I know, but it was also always more than that. I want my person, but the reality is that even if he’s around somewhere— I am nowhere. Always. Nowhere long enough, but everywhere too long to build a relationship where I want to most. Not because it’s not possible, but because I have no energy left. So, I date abroad. It’s easier. I don’t have to invest energy.

For the first time in awhile, I’ve stopped hoping for his texts or wondering if he misses me, because more than anything, I miss me. Somewhere, I’ve lost myself in the busy whirlwind of this amazing, wonderful, all-consuming career. Attention is so easy, but love is elusive. Money you can earn quickly, but time you will never make more of. I am elusive; distracted by my schedule and disproportionally overwhelmed by the affects of stress. I lose weight; easily and always now. I sleep rarely. I unpack to repack. My entire life revolves around someone else’s private jet, a client’s food preferences, and making sure that the trip goes well. I don’t write this to complain or talk negatively about the job. I say all of this with complete gratitude for the success I have achieved in corporate aviation. I’m lucky, but I am also very fucking human. 

So, next time you wish you could get paid to travel for 17-25 days per month, try doing it for a straight year or more; in an incredibly uncertain and stressful environment, without enough sleep or time to prepare; handling the constant changes while pretending they don’t bother you at all. Being seen more as a fantasy than a reality by the people who pretend to want to date you. Try it, and if you last a couple years, I would love your advice on how you managed the career that “Must. Be. So. Nice.” 

Oh by the way— if you do try out this career, you will love the surprise and magic of layovers and the mesmerizing way travel gets you. Every time. Because yeah. It is so fucking nice.

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.

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