On being a Flight Attendant

“Not all that glitters is gold”… or “Things you say goodbye to, once you get your wings!”

Although I do love my job and the freedom it gives me, there are some downsides to it. Here are a few things to consider before deciding to give up your 9-5 job for the glamorous life of an “Angel of the Skies”

Your Sleep Schedule. 

Do you have a regular sleep schedule? Kiss that goodbye!

As a flight attendant you have the most irregular sleep pattern. Early morning wake up calls, all nighters, standby patterns whereby you have to be ready to go WITHIN THE HOUR at all times of the day, combined with different time zones and jet lag… you’ll be happy if you know what year it is by the end of the day/night!

Luckily I have the priceless ability to nap anywhere and anytime I can. My friends are used to the picture of me falling asleep on their couch.

Most of us are coffee junkies, even though I personally prefer green tea 🙂

Weekends and Holidays.

You like going out on the weekends with your friends? Well….weekends off are hard to come by in this job. At least in the beginning, when your seniority is low. So are free holidays like Christmas, Easter or New Years. The good thing: you are not alone! You’ll find the bond amongst crew members is strong. To me, it almost feels like family. You go out and party with your coworkers in an exciting new city or celebrate Christmas together  at your common destination.

I’m telling you, its quite interesting to celebrate Christmas somewhere in India in 36C heat!

Friends.

Remember, you will be living a very different lifestyle than your friends, once you join the ‘Crew Life’. It’s a constant coming and going, often you are going when your friends are free: on the weekends. That can be hard on a friendship and you will see pretty quickly who is patient and understanding and willing to put up with your schedule. But true friends stick around. I’m grateful for mine. I lost a few, gained some, specially amongst other flight attendants who share the pain.

Your Immune System.

My doctor always says that nurses, kindergarten teachers and flight attendants have the best immune systems. But in order to get to that point, you have to strengthen it first. And that happens by getting sick. And you will get sick. A LOT! Especially the first year of flying when your body gets first exposed to germs from all over the world, brought in by passengers, picked up in different countries. Through the air conditioning in planes and hotel rooms, when your immune system is already trying to fight the lesser oxygen, the lack of sleep and climate changes. The good thing is:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

I don’t get sick much anymore. But I have to listen to my body carefully. At the first sign of the sniffles, I amp myself up with Vitamin C, Zinc and anything that boosts your system. Upon request, I’ll gladly give you my list of Mel’s little helpers. No reason to be the hero. If you do catch the flu – STAY HOME! Thats what standbys are for.

Your petit frame.

When you first get fitted for your pretty new uniform, the tailor is gonna tell you to go up half a size because you will gain weight. Sounds stupid? That’s what I thought. But it’s true. Your pants are going to get a little snug . One of the reasons is the constant bloating from pressure changes, along with the salty food and snacks on board.

Then the irregular eating schedule and constant snacking ( you rarely have time to actually sit down for a meal on board ) doesn’t help. But after a while ( or latest 2 sizes up later :p ) you will find your own routine on how to balance a healthy life. For me its bringing my own healthy snacks on board and hitting the hotel gyms or walking on foot everywhere as much as I can.