Bingo, I thought as the question casually rolled off the lead pilot’s tongue. “So, are you looking for a full-time job?” Whether I wanted a full-time position with more security and benefits or not, these were magic words. At least they liked me enough, and in an industry as fickle and unforgiving as private aviation, sometimes all that you want is ‘just enough.’ Enough for one more call back. Enough for consistent flights. Enough so that you know you will pay your bills the next month.
Just as casually, I responded with an answer that didn’t answer the inquiry at all, but hopefully left the door open for more work on this plane. Corporate flight attendant life has a lot of similarities to dating. You are searching for the ideal match. You always want to make the best impression, and you often agonize when you don’t get a call back. Most importantly, you always hope for that unicorn fit of a partnership.
Being (or becoming) a flight attendant is like finding your soulmate. When I interviewed and worked in commercial aviation, I remember that Alaska Airlines did an impressive job with communicating the importance of “fit” and job satisfaction in their interview process. The company emphasized the two-sided nature of being happy in a career as a flight attendant. You need to pick the company as much as they pick you. Not every company will match what you are looking for. Not every company will be what you need in your life. If Delta, United, Southwest, Skywest, JetBlue, Norwegian, or any of the millions of airlines (or even private jet operators out there) didn’t want you now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t want you one day. Besides, there are “always more fish in the sea…” or as we should say in aviation, “There are always more planes in the sky.”
When I applied for my first airline, I didn’t know which airlines people thought were the best or which ones I should consider. It’s an ironic miracle that I ended up where I did. Although we only did day trips and no overnights and many made fun of the airline for being a bit budget and low-class, it was the perfect place for the lifestyle that I needed at the time. It was that airline that gave me the opportunity to live in Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Florida and travel the entire world in my free time. The airline that most would pass up was the airline that truly changed my life.
Just like my dating experiences, there have also been many airlines that have rejected me. The most frustrating part is that I still have no idea why, but I’m just thankful that the companies (and men) did. Every time I step onto a Southwest flight, I say a quick prayer of gratitude that the company didn’t want me. I’m in a better place, making a better income, have a better state of health, and challenged to grow more than I ever have been challenged. Trust me, corporate aviation isn’t always this dream or better than commercial. It’s actually fucking hard and anxiety producing, but it definitely has it’s magic.
There are times in your life when you think you know the best path for yourself. I’ve thought this in dating and flying. I interviewed with one private jet operator twice when I was first getting into the industry. I thought that they were such a good match for my personality and style. It was a boutique operator with a very nice lead flight attendant. I liked the company, but unfortunately they passed on hiring me. I was bummed, but took the next opportunity with a company that I didn’t think would fit my style. What I didn’t understand as well at the time was that, private aviation is all about who you know and because not was the largest private jet operator on the West Coast where I got my start, I have been able to leverage the connections I’ve made and go anywhere. I fell into a place that I didn’t think I would thrive, but has turned into such a blessing. What I ultimately mean is this— Give things, people, relationships, companies, and opportunities a chance. You never know how they will change your life and who you may really “fall in love with.”
I don’t jump at the chance for a full-time position. There are moments when I would like one, but it has to be a fit. I like my lifestyle and my freedom and won’t give that up just so that I can feel a sense of financial security or job security. You have fought too hard, worked too long, and dreamed too big to take the first person or career that’s swiped across your path. I think that with my experience in private aviation and in dating. It was too hard to get here to settle for a job I don’t want. Yes— there are literally no jobs in this career field. Yes— there are a TON of doushbags out there. I understand that life is lonely and sometimes you are desperate for both a job and for love. I’ve so been there, but the truth is that the universe answers in the most unexpected ways for a soulmate job and a soulmate love.
And often, it comes from the place and the person you least expect.
Be open. Be hopeful.
And hold out for that puzzle piece soulmate fit.
Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.