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Lifestyle of a Flight Attendant

Lifestyle of a Flight Attendant

Flying with a cold?

Flying with a cold?

Here we go again. I am sitting in Johannesburg, South Africa with a cold and my flight leaves in a few hours. Aaaargh…. what now?

Well, shit happens. Flying when sick sucks! Being trapped with hundreds of people in a tiny meal tube, with less oxygen and dry air, is bad enough when you are healthy. But most of us have endured this at one time or another. Complaining doesn’t help. I need to suck it up and get home.

When you are sick and still in the comfort of your home, but have a scheduled flight coming up, you should always ask yourself “Should I even fly?”

A cold is often underestimated. Even when you feel physically up for enduring the length of the flight, you might get more than what you bargained for. The longer the flight, the worse the outcome. Even if you are on over-the-counter medications that make you feel O-kay at home, it’s a whole different story once you are in a plane. The cabin pressure drops after takeoff. When you have a viral infection or just allergies, your membranes are inflamed and swollen. That means your ears aren’t able to equalize, which could result in blocked ears, shooting pain and in extreme cases a ruptured eardrum. Crazy, huh? Once of the reasons flight attendants are totally eligible to call in sick when they have a little cold.

I don’t feel too bad right now, but I know that can change instantly. So I know the drill. I always carry a small First-Aid-Kit around in my suitcase with little helpers in case I get knocked down.

An hour before takeoff I take a decongestant like “Sudafed” (over the counter in every drugstore in the US). It helps to reduce the swelling and my ears to equalize, along with nose spray. Chewing gum or excessive yawning during the climb of the plane helps too (even thought its not very ladylike, I know).

STAY HYDRATED! I cannot stress it enough! I drink lots of water and tea! As important as it is anytime while flying, it’s especially crucial when sick. As mentioned in my blog “How does flying affect your body?” : When dry, the mucus becomes too thick to be moved by the cilia (little hairs) in your nose,  that normally push it along. The infectious bodies hang around and you get (even more) sick. The moisture will help prevent nasal secretions from drying, becoming uncomfortable and clogging up the Eustachian tube. So, keep it flowing guys!

I usually bring my own glass bottle with a little siphon on top and stuff it with cut ginger and lemon slices and just fill it with hot water. The steam soothes my upset mucus membranes and the ginger and lemon has an antibiotic effect.

While on board, be so kind and mind your neighbors and bring a hand sanitizer. Try to spread your germs as little as possible, would you? In Asia people wear medical disposable face masks when sick. They don’t do it not to get sick by others, but in order to not spread their own germs. Polite, huh? 🙂 You can buy them online through e.g. Amazon.

Once you get to your destination, take a hot shower or a nice hot bath and keep using the decongestants. You will feel a lot better, believe me.

 

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Lifestyle of a Flight Attendant

On being a Flight Attendant

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.

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