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I’m a firm believer that no one should claim permanent residency at a hostel.  It’s just not a home.  Same with a flight attendant crash pad.  It’s just not normal to only live at a crash pad.

Oh. But wait?! What in the flight attendant life is normal?  And to add to that, I have personally holed up in a pad, flight attendant style, and it happens to be my number one rez-eee-dahnccce.  Some make the strong argument that I live with my parents, but to those haters, I say, with an even stronger argument:  “NOOOOOO!!” (Include pout.  Frown.  Sad face.  I said it was strong, didn’t I?).  Last I checked, living with the rents’ is not a single girl selling point.  Best foot forward.  Always.

When I’m asked by passengers where I am based, and where I live, in a whimsical tone, I respond with, “Hawaii.”  I pause to wait for the breathy ‘oohhhs’ and ‘ahhhs’ that practically include drool.  I relish in that I’m-so-cool feeling for a moment, and then proceed to explain, that yes, I live in paradise, but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.  My apartment does happen to be on the penthouse floor.  And although a spacious one bedroom, it is just that, a one bedroom…

I have eight roommates.  Or is it ten?  Maybe eleven?  And yes, as your jaw drops, I did say, one bedroom.

Crash pad bunks

Crash pad bedroom

I’m not sure at this point how many are actually paying rent at the condo, but there are twelve bunks, stacked three high, in the small bedroom.  You never know who will be home when, at what time, and coming back from where.  The main living area, kitchen, and bathroom are connected by the lanai.  This part of the condo is large and open.  When you walk in the front door, you can get a general idea of how many roomie stews are home based on the amount of suitcases and bags that are stacked on the floor-to-ceiling shelving to the left.  The flat screen TV on the right wall usually has at least one pair of eyes glued to it.  The roomies have been known to sit, more than a few of us, on the L-shaped couch, to watch The Katy Perry Movie or View From The Top on a Friday night.

Crash pad living room

Crash pad living room

Flight Attendant Crash Pad

Lanai Lounging

Flight Attendant suitcases

Suitcase Stowage

This all sounds crazy, but in the airline world, crash pad living is actually very common, almost expected.  Probably every airline cabin crew member or pilot has lived in a crash pad at least once in their career.  Crash pads work for flight crews because not everyone is around 100 percent of the time.  For yours truly, considering the situation, and the location, I live in crash pad luxury.  The roommates are fun to hangout with, respectful, and the place is kept as tidy and clean as possible.  There are crash pad rules and guidelines that are supposed to help make the place more livable.  We fly for different airlines, have various amounts of experience behind us, and range in age.  It’s co-ed, which, I don’t mind at all.  I mean, could you really imagine twelve women, in a one bedroom, just around that happy time of the month?  God help us all.  That sounds like a terrible B-List version of ‘The Bachelor,’ on crack, with no hope of love, or riding in a helicopter.

Crash pad rules

Fridge rules Crash Pad Style

The reason that I have chosen to live in a crash pad is because, for one, call me crazy (which yes I am), but I never really wanted to live in Hawaii, and set up a life in The Islands.  Because of this and the unknown changes of the airline industry, I didn’t want to sign a lease.  The crash pad situation lets me get around this.  I also am gone so much, that it doesn’t make sense to spend $1000 a month on rent.  My monthly schedule appears with twenty-two days off sometimes, and that means, a lot of months, I only sleep at the condo eight to ten nights.  By spending less on rent, I also have more for my travel fun and play.

Skydiving In Hawaii

I need money to play.  Skydiving in Hawaii with Pacific Skydive

But the downsides are there, a lot of them.  I honestly, 100 percent, don’t feel that I have a home.  I have my heart in locations around the world;  Alaska, Oahu, Maui, Santa Cruz, Hermosa Beach, Bellingham, Europe, for different reasons, but none that are actually mine.  I don’t own a closet, and right now, that is my biggest complaint with the crash pad life.  My dresser/closet in Hawaii is large suitcase.  I have two suitcases, and that’s how I’ve been living for practically the last eight months.  This life is exhausting.  I don’t sleep well at the crash pad most nights.  I’m constantly drained, and back to being hooked on coffee.  I think that I am at the point that I should just shoot my veins with caffeine.  More efficient that way.  I cling to my overnights where the beds are comfortable, and I can sink into the luxurious feather softness of a free, four-star hotel room- no noise, no lights, and just me.

Pullitzer Hotel Amsterdam

Fancy Hotel Room

My life will be changing again in just under two months.  I’m making a move away from Hawaii, away from the crash pad life, with the goal and hope to find a space, my space, my home, and dig a few roots.  I’ll still be flying for the same airline, but it will be different.  Back to no overnights, different planes, shorter trips, less days off.  I’m making a trade  in my work life, because the way my personal life has been playing out is not sustainable.  I need to create permanency.  I just want to leave my bags unpacked, and clothes put away, and sit on my couch.

I’ll be moving to Florida, a place that I said I would never want to live.  I’m just shaking my head and thinking, ‘What an adventure this flight attendant life is.’  I swear, I don’t think I could make this stuff up.  As someone once said, truth is stranger than fiction.


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. Oh my. You know that reality show 4 years ago about the VX “Fly Girls” was the first peek for many people at the crash pad lifestyle, but your description is so sad and funny at the same time that I can’t believe you’re not busy writing Hollywood scripts in your spare moments 🙂

  2. Hey!

    I start training as a flight attendant next week, and this blog was very helpful…makes me feel more comfortable about the transition although I wish I could just be based in my home city. It sounds exhausting to live out of a suitcase

    1. Hey Breezy!
      Congrats on getting an FA job:) Way to go! Yes, it is a transition, and living out of a suitcase is exhausting, but that’s when, for your own sanity, you have to embrace the wonderful sides of the flight attendant life- the travel, random adventures, and interesting people you will meet!

      Glad you found the blog helpful! All the best to you!

  3. Hi Kara, I’m an employee for a US legacy airline in the midst of transferring to HNL. I was wondering if you had any info on a crash pad I could rent short or long term. Thank you 🙂

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