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Customer Service - LiveIamA Flight Attendant at a Major US airline AMA!

Dec 25th 2017 by FriendlySkyGuy • 14 Questions • 3138 Points

EDIT: This has been a very valuable experience. Thanks so much for your intelligent and thoughtful questions. Be sure to visit us on the website link below to SeaLegacy. You can download our Impact Report and learn more about what we do. Happy and safe holidays to everyone!

We are Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier, two biologists, photographers, and co-founders of the conservation group SeaLegacy.org. Our work has been featured in National Geographic Magazine and we’re focusing a lot these days to work on protecting the oceans. Recently, National Geographic published our footage of a starving polar bear that caught the world’s attention. We’re here to answer any and all your questions about the bear and the deeply concerning situation regarding climate change.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/yq4w9yvavw401.jpg https://twitter.com/NatGeo/status/943501579428225025

Q:

Do you get any kids flying unaccompanied? Is it a lot of work for you when you have young passengers to keep an eye on? My son flew that way a few times when he was younger and he had great experiences both times.

A:

How hard was it seeing some of the extremely hard comments on instagram/Facebook that accused you guys of being killers and just standing there? We all know nothing could be done, but seeing all of that when you’re just doing your job must have been tough.


Q:

Yeah, especially during school breaks and summertime. It’s not a lot of extra work, and I like to have fun with them if they’re cool.

Even the most jaded flight attendants perk up at UNAMs

A:

Thank you. It was difficult to read those comments. Just the way war photographers who take a beating for not rescuing a starving child or for not getting in the middle of a battle, we were being accused of not saving the bear. After the trash can, the bear swam out of sight. We were left there standing numb and saddened. We vowed to share this footage with the world to spark a global debate so it was worth all of the hurtful comments. PN


Q:

How's O'Hare this Christmas Eve?

A:

[deleted]


Q:

I heard it sucked. Planes late due to de-icing. Some inbounds were being held at their departure airports.

A:

Hi; it is impossible to tell. We asked several polar bear scientists and their response was that it could have happened in any number of ways. Maybe it got injured when large blocks of ice crash against each other; maybe it was a fight with another bear or a walrus; maybe it was a bullet, or maybe it was atrophy because of starvation. When bears get stuck on land, it is hard for them to find food. They are resilient animals who can survive for several months without food, but they cannot survive forever without hunting. We simply don't know what happened to him. CM


Q:

Do you have any “regulars” that you see flying semi often?

What was the worst customer interaction you have had to deal with?

What is one thing you would love to do before you change jobs?

A:

How hard was it to watch that happening live? The video is bad enough...


Q:

1) I'm new, so I don't fly a usual route. I've had one family thrice now though, which was cool.

2) I had to take a drunk former NFL player (looked him up after) out of my galley when he wouldn't get the hint that my coworker didn't want to sleep with him. That was rough, and I would've been screwed if he had gotten any more violent.

3) I'd love to work a military charter.

A:

Good morning! Standing there in complete shock as this poor animal struggled to even get up, was one of the hardest things I have ever witnessed. As an animal lover, watching this kind of suffering was unbearable....no pun intended - PNN


Q:

I have a close friend that would like to explore a career as a flight attendant since she enjoys traveling. Would you have any advice for her? How can she prepare to become an extraordinary candidate when it comes to interviews or just the hiring process as a whole?

A:

If this is one of the saddest things you've seen, what are some stories of your happiest times or most fascinating things you've seen while out in nature?


Q:

First, make sure that she wants the job and not the glamour. It's easy to love travel when you're in Paris or Lima or Toronto. Less so when you're in Omaha, Bozeman, McAllen.

To prepare, get as much customer service experience on her resume as possible. Bonus points for supervisor roles. Be nice and personable. Learn a new language if it's possible.

There's a great facebook group called Flight Attendant Career Connection. Some woman runs it and tries to sell things to people (skip the non-free stuff), but the group itself is a good group.

And finally, do your research. Don't apply for American if you want to be based in Houston. Or United if you want Atlanta. Or Delta if you wanted Chicago. Understand the individual carrier's tattoo, commuting, and pay policies.

if you pm me later, I can give more detail.

A:

Great question. Our original posts were well received and then yes, everyone, including National Geographic altered or embellished our story which started the backlash from other media outlets. Many journalistic organizations do not allow us to proofread before they post. We have to trust their integrity and unfortunately, things get misconstrued. That started the backlash. As a biologist, I am very careful in how I word my captions. PN


Q:

Have you ever caught anyone having sex in the plane bathroom? If so, how did you deal with the situation?

Was there ever a moment where you felt like you were certainly going to be in a crash?

A:

Have you read the commentary from the local Inuit bear watchers? They have a very different narrative than the articles I have read.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-monday-edition-1.4442887/viral-video-of-emaciated-polar-bear-may-not-be-what-it-seems-nunavut-bear-monitor-says-1.4442892


Q:

Have you ever caught anyone having sex in the plane bathroom? If so, how did you deal with the situation?

Not yet. If they're being quiet and discreet, I'd probably let them finish on a longer flight. We're supposed to stop them, though.

Was there ever a moment where you felt like you were certainly going to be in a crash?

Yeah, I've prepped for an emergency landing twice. It's not fun, but we just fall back to our training and by the time it's over, it's like you were on autopilot and didn't really have time to freak out. Both landings ended up going okay.

A:

I have read it. You can read my comments about it in a previous response. CM


Q:

Can you tell me what would typically happen if someone gets caught having sex? Is it usually a charge right off the bat?

A:

How did you get into biology and then ultimately wildlife photography?


Q:

Typically? No. If you get caught, you're told to stop. If you do, and you weren't going at in in your seat in front of everyone, most FAs would drop it then (we hate paperwork like everyone else)

If you cause a scene, then we'll have to write it up and tell the flight deck, and then things are out of our hands.

A:

I have always loved wildlife so I went to University and got a degree and became a biologist in the Northwest Territories. Then, I realized I could bridge the gap between good science and a global audience by becoming a photographer for a magazine like Nat Geo. Now we run a non-profit called SeaLegacy. Visit sealegacy.org to learn more about our campaigns. There is a time for unbiased journalism and there is time for strategic photographic global campaigns. Ironically, I was just given an Honorary Doctorate from UVIC from the work we are doing with our cameras. PN


Q:

My aunt has been a flight attendant since the 80's. She only flies a dedicated route from somewhere in the US to Incheon international in Korea. And she only works first class.

How long do you have to be a FA before you can get on a cushy deal like that?

Also, I used to gamble in a city abroad near a big airport and I met a lot of pilots. The ones that stuck out in my mind are a china air pilot who said he only makes about 22k/ year and a British air co-pilot who said he gets laid in every city he flies into.

Were they being truthful?

A:

My question is a little too generic: How do the wildlife photographers ensure their safety while being around an unknown ecosystem?

I would like to thank you guys for highlighting the intensity of this issue.


Q:

How long do you have to be a FA before you can get on a cushy deal like that?

Depends on the airline, the route, and which geographical base.

At my airline and base, to hold any position on that trip is at least 20 years. To hold business class (we're phasing out first), I'd say 25-30+. The Purser (FA in charge, has to have special training for it) for the NRT flights has been one of six people for as long as I've been here. I think the most junior has 28 years in.

We bid for our lines (schedules) every month, so as people take vacation, retire, or take a leave, the numbers can always change.

china air pilot who said he only makes about 22k/ year and a British air co-pilot who said he gets laid in every city he flies into.

China Air guy was probably new, and likely not lying. They aren't paid much when they start from my understanding. BA guy might've been gloating a bit, but if your standards are low enough, it's certainly possible.

A:

Good question. We research our subject widely and proceed with caution. Animals are constantly communicating their level of comfort and fear and if you pay attention and remain respectful, it generally creates less tension. As a photographer, if you allow animals to dictate the encounter and if you move slowly, animals tend to relax and if you are lucky, they allow you into their world. CM


Q:

Low pay is why I didn't become a pilot. In my area you started at around 45k after spending at least 250k to get your education. I heard that most in the left seat got their wings in the military, so no overhead.

A:

How many obese healthy polar bears did you see on the trip? Was this the only sick and dying bear to be seen? Why is a warming trend in the climate concerning when things seem to be as good as ever for polar bears? I heard that sea ice should be thin so seals can get through the ice.


Q:

There’s less and less coming from the military but yeah, they have a huge advantage over civilian trained.

Most of the new right seaters I know now went through the regional gauntlet and have loans they’re paying off.

A:

We spent quite a bit of time in the Arctic and we saw bears in various states. Without a doubt, where there is healthy sea ice, bears tend to thrive. Bears stuck on land tend to do less well. We saw fat, healthy bears but we also saw skinny bears and a couple of dead bears. Bears are survivors. They are amazingly resistant to harsh conditions but they cannot go on forever without food. If they fail to build their fat reserves when the sea ice is healthy, they are likely to suffer when they have to fast. A couple of bad hunting seasons can be disastrous, especially for pregnant females or females with cubs. -CM


Q:

At my last duty station I forecasted wx for a squadron where most pilots left active duty and went reserves, got hired on by a major airline, then dropped active reserve orders on the airline. They would go on finishing their career in the Air Force all while building tenure at the airline. So they would retire AF then go back to whichever airline with 20+ years tenure. This is possible through the soldiers/sailor's relief act, a company doesn't have to pay a salary but can not fire a member who has been activated. This practice never sat right with me...at least in this circumstance.

A:

Hey I'm glad you give us an opportunity to interact with you!

I'm trying to reflect on what makes people react in different cultures.

To your knowledge, what subjects engage western people most?

I'm not going to beat around the bush: it's obvious a lot of people feel more empathy towards a dog being beaten to death or maybe a polar bear starving than watching millions of people suffering, even if the causes are similar (war, unsustainable consumption etc)

In your experience, are polar bears the best way to make people talk about environmental change/damage in the west? You're in a much better position to know!


Q:

Yeah, it's kinda scummy. If they froze the seniority where they were that'd be one thing, but I don't think they do. So now someone who's actually been flying for the airline for 19 years gets bumped down in the seniority list by someone who hasn't actually flown with us for awhile.

Those guys are usually pretty easy to pick out, and everyone gives them a wide berth.

A:

Hi. I actually find that it is easier to create an emotional connection with the stories of people. In general, however, building empathy requires that we put ourselves "in the shoes" of another being and we tend to care about the fate of fellow humans because we understand suffering on the same human scale. Charismatic wildlife, like polar bears, generally get a better reaction than insects or non-fuzzy critters. Our job is to create that type of empathy for entire ecosystems that support not just wildlife, but the welfare of humans as well. Tough job! Thanks for your questions. CM


Q:

Is there a “good” way to make your ears pop on ascent/descent? Pressure sometimes drives me crazy

A:

Oh perfect! Thanks very much.


Q:

Look up scuba diving equalization techniques. One of those is probably your best bet.

A:

Thanks for correcting....Overtron it is! CM


Q:

I'm about to take my almost two year old on a six hour flight for the guitar time. What are some things parents in my position do that totally piss off the crew ? And what isn't always done but makes your lives easier??

Edit: yes, I mean "first time" not guitar time. Sleep deprivation is no joke people. Use birth control ;)

A:

Thank you both for doing this AMA.

How has the attention from that video impacted your activation efforts, for better and worse?


Q:

I assume you mean first time, not guitar time.

Do:

  • Be completely self sufficient.
  • Remember that babies have a hard time adjusting to the pressurization and can't clear their ears like adults. Get them something to chew on before takeoff and landing, that generally helps.
  • Ask for help if you need it. take your time. board early if the airline lets you, and deplane later than others.

Don't:

  • Ask us for milk (you dont want ours, trust me), cooling (I don't have fridges), or heating (I'm not putting your bottles in our ovens).
  • Expect us to have entertainment for a baby for six hours.

Honestly, most FAs are fine with babies. The other passengers might raise more of a stink than we ever would.

A:

Thank you for the question. The global attention this video received has only inspired us to do even more and work harder. We took the conversation beyond our usual circles of influence and the powerful impact of visual storytelling was reinforced for us. The attention underscored the how important the climate change conversation is. We put ourselves in a vulnerable position and we will continue to so. I would say our activation efforts have changed for the better - PN


Q:

I heard stories about water on air plane. I only get coffee when I'm flying. Should I get pepsi or something next time? Honestly, what is the water quality on the plane? Thanks.

A:

Hey guys.. thanks for bringing this powerful footage to light to showcase the issues climate change is having on the north.

My question is a little different, but I was just curious as to what kind of camera gear you used to capture this footage? Thanks.


Q:

Coffee (and tea) comes from the potable water tanks. There's nothing wrong with the tanks, but like I told someone else:

those tanks are filled at many airports by many different people, and cleaning them is hard. And when you’re on three or four planes in a day, it increases our exposure that much more, so we don’t [drink from them]

I generally won't drink the coffee unless I really need it. And if I have time, I'll make my own using the bottled stuff.

I stick to the bottled, boxed, or canned stuff. It's up to you what you prefer.

A:

The video was shot on a RED 8K. The stills were shot on a Sony A-9. Long lenses were the Canon 600mm. PN


Q:

I'm a child of a former pilot. How reliable is family, non-revenue flying these days? Back in the day, routes weren't flying 95-100% and we could easily jump on board with dad and spend Christmas with him on a layover in Vegas. I imagine it's much harder now.

A:

Cristina, as you responded to media on the controversy surrounding the footage you suggested Inuit were denying climate change and are doing so to protect their sport hunts of the polar bear. Can you provide more insight ? Are Inuit really making a lot of money?


Q:

As companies work to increase their efficiency, it gets much harder.peak Travel days are hard, as are peak hours.

Having said that, I’ve only ever been left twice, out of easily 50+ non rev flights. We have better tools now to plan ahead and see loads in real time.

A:

Thanks for this question; What people don't know is that as a mix-raced Mexican, with indigenous heritage, and as someone who has worked my entire life to protect and promote the rights of indigenous people, that accusation is truly hurtful. The accusation was made after I pointed out that 600 bears are killed every year for subsistence and for trophy. I think their response was made to protect their right to hunt, which, trust me, I don't question. Let's ask ourselves this question: If polar bears were indeed being affected by climate change, would that change the number of bears that are allowed to be hunted? Would the government allow fewer hunting tags? I don't know but I think that is where I stepped on some toes. In my mind, the Inuit are as much victims of climate change as the bears and they deserve a right to hunt and support themselves. Denying that climate change is having an effect on polar bears, however, when 99% of scientists are telling us the entire ecosystem is being affected, is something we cannot ignore. I hope the Inuit will forgive my comment and accept my apology. My intention was never to hurt their livelihoods. I am absolutely not against subsistence hunting and I am certainly not an enemy of the Inuit but I am 100% for conserving an intact Arctic and for polar bears. CM


Q:

Is retaining FA employees/career an issue? I fly international about quarterly and by in large, United FAs are older (guessing average 50s) and grumpier(often feel like it's a 11 hr trip to the DMV). I once had an FA in her 80s that couldn't close the overhead storage so had to ask a passenger to help her. On other airlines average age I'm guessing around 30s and way more friendlier.

A:

What were your thoughts when you left the area where the polar bear was struggling? I personally would have felt dreadful, like i could have done something, despite there really being nothing I could do. I understand you couldn't legally help the poor thing, but being that close, experiencing its struggle, then leaving it must have been hard.

And thank you for doing this. It's truly an eye-opening bit of footage.


Q:

No, not really. At our airline, 5 years in is still considered to be fairly junior. At some bases, the reserve cutoff (meaning you get ta set schedule instead of being on call) is more than 10 years of seniority. That's usually the junior-most 20% or so. Furthermore, when we hire, we get flooded with applications. It's not hard to find excellent candidates.

But if the tired, negative, old, and worn down FAs don't decide to leave, there's nothing we can do to push them out. Our union is amazing, and they do a great job fighting for us. Sometimes too good of a job. Don't get me wrong, there's some amazing senior mamas and papas (our term of endearment for them) out there, from whom I've learned a ton and have a great deal of respect for. But there's some old hags folks who just have to go. If you can't close bins (assuming it's not a height thing, some of those are deceptively tall), I question how well you can open a 737 door in an emergency.

The other thing is also that in this profession, seniority is everything. The reason you see the older folks on the longhaul international is because that's what they want, and since they've been here the longest, that's what they get to work. The short, less productive, trips are worked by a newer staff.

A:

It did feel dreadful....watching him swim away and knowing he was suffering was one of the worst experiences of our lives. Watching the effects of climate change on Arctic wildlife is like watching a tsunami in slow motion. It is difficult to elicit an emotional connection to a data point on a graph. What we wanted was for this bear's suffering not to be in vain. We don't know why he was starving but we do know that as the Arctic continues to warm (twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth) many more bears, and other Arctic wildlife that depends on sea ice, like walrus and seals, will also suffer. That is what we are trying to prevent. CM


Q:

Have you ever seen someone downgraded to coach or bumped off the flight entirely to seat someone the airline deems to be a VIP?

A:

Doesn’t happen with VIPs. I have a way to look up the VIPs flying with us, they’re almost always in first days before the flight.

Sometimes though, flights are oversold. That gets tricky and props to the GAs who deal with that.

Can also happen for security reasons. Can’t say more about that though.


Q:

Which kinds of airline passengers are the most annoying to you?

A:

The ones who are so wrapped up in their own world they forget that they're traveling with 200 other human beings, and are being attended to by other humans.

Quick story: I had a medical situation on my flight. As I'm attending to it, as a second, more serious situation happens.

I leave the first passenger with one crew member and go to help the other two in the back by grabbing supplies (I thought we were gonna have to use the AED). I heard a call bell go off, but it didn't look important (no one was slumped down or layed out in the aisle like the other two) so I kept going. As I finish up the situation, the call bell rings twice. I run over, and this woman has the nerve to go off on me and yell that I haven't attended to her this whooollee time (we must've been in the air for 45 minutes out of a 3 hour flight) and she "needs a god damned diet coke." No care for the two people on the floor, or the flight attendants and EMTs that happened to bo onboard. No, no, this woman needed her Diet Cola.


Q:

I'm a firefighter/EMT and was once on a flight where they made an announcement asking for anyone with medical training to assist in the rear of the cabin. A passenger had become unresponsive and had some pretty serious medical issues going on. Myself, a nurse, and 2 FA's were working together in a cramped space to help this person while a 3rd FA was relaying information (not sure if they were talking to the deck or ground).

Thankfully we were already on initial approach so didn't have to divert but it was clear we would be met on the tarmac by rescue as we didn't have time to taxi to the gate. As we're doing our best for this individual a woman approaches and loudly says "um you need to move, I can't get to my bag, it's in that overhead." I'm sure one of the FA's was about to politely tell her to go away but another passenger got to her first with a very loud "Hey bitch this guy might be dying I'm sure your bag can wait. Sit the fuck down."

In the midst of a very serious situation, I couldn't help but notice that all three FA's had that smile that says "I could never keep my job and say that, but I'm glad someone else did."

Cheers to you for doing a job where some people treat you like a servant who's beneath them.

A:

The third FA was probably talking to the flight deck and medlink (a sat phone medical service we use for emergencies to help)

I couldn't help but notice that all three FA's had that smile that says "I could never keep my job and say that, but I'm glad someone else did."

Heh. I have that smile more often than I should. Love the passengers who say something like that, and more often than not, they find themselves with a free drink because of it.

And thanks to you for helping. I loathe thinking about the day where I have a medical with no help.


Q:

Hope your holiday ends up goin as well as possible!

My question is: What should I do about safely traveling with my guitar...in cabin... occasionally on a crowded flight? Hahah, oh boy. Because I frequently fly from BOS to DCA.

I can’t deal with the idea of checking it because I’ve had a guitar broken doing that. My favorite acoustic is very expensive and most videos on YouTube kind of give the answer of “hope for the best”

Thanks for your time :)

A:

Get on the plane as early as possible. Get in as early of a group as possible, depending on the airline, you might have to sign up for a credit card or pay for early access. If you ask nicely, we have closets that we sometimes have room in.

If you're flying BOS-DCA on a little barbie (regional) jet, hope and pray, my friend.


Q:

What are your thoughts on that doctor that got thrown off the plane?

A:

I'll come back to this later but the short and dirty answer is that there were errors made that lead up to the event. Though I think only one or two people involved actually worked for mainline, and not the express carrier who was operating the flight.

But anyways, we didn't drag him off. That was a chicago aviation department officer. I'm opposed to excessive violence in all forms.

Our CEO got himself in trouble by speaking too soon without all the facts, though some of us appreciated that he backed up the staff initially (in the past, management has been quick to thrown people under the bus).

Ultimately, I worry about what it opened the door to -- people are ruder on the plane, and much more confrontational for stupid things.


Q:

How often do you or your peers hook up on trips?

A:

Depends on the crew.

The older crew, not often, sometimes internationally. Some of them have been doing this 20+ years, so I guess at some point the novelty wears off.

The younger ones... speaking from experience, on an international widebody crew (staffed with 8+ FAs) with a junior crew, there's usually at least one person hooking up on a layover, be it with another crew member, local, or (rarely) a passenger. Domestically, it happens, but not as often.

As the only straight guy sometimes, it's nice, but hard to toe the line and not come across as a sleezeball. There's 25,000 of us, but in this job, your reputation precedes you anywhere you go. I know of at least two guys who aren't told of plans on layovers because of their reputation.


Q:

Ah the Ited airline.

Tell me, how does the airline balance the meals, and how well does it work? As SLF I always feel guilty when I get the same meal as other members of my family.

A:

Domestic First, meals are provisioned based on the route and time of day (we submit feedback when one entree is or isn't popular). We take orders left to right, front to back. Usually everyone gets their first choice (of 2) but we're supposed to make sure the top tier status always does, even if they're in 5F.

International gets more interesting, with the same basic rules in the front cabins, but more choices. In coach, it's first come first serve of two or three, unless you've requested a special (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc) meal ahead of time. There's always someone who wanted pasta/chicken but didn't get it. Unfortunately, at 38,000 feet, there's not a ton I can do.


Q:

Not sure if you're still taking new questions, but since you're with *ited, I wanted to ask some questions about the mysterious global services tier:

1) I've been on *ited flights before where I've upgraded to 1st with miles, and saw a couple of global service people (they boarded with the GS group) sitting in premium economy. Aren't GS people automatically upgraded prior to miles upgrades? I thought it was the ultra-ultra-ultra service tier.

2) What exactly are the global services entry criteria? I know it's invite-only, but would love to know exactly how much these people are flying.

3) Is there any VIP tier "above" global services? Like, if for some reason a AAA celeb or famous athlete has to fly commercial and they're on your flight, do they have a giant flashing red circle around their names in your system?

4) I primarily fly into and out of IAH, and United just reconfigured the terminal C entrance so that there's now a huge (and well-guarded) Global Services checkin area behind smoked glass. In your opinion, is there any chance they'd let a usually-Silver-sometimes-Gold plebe like me into the GS area to look around if I asked, or would that just result in me being tossed out onto the streets as if I'd tried to invade a high-class country club?

Also, I learned from this AMA that I can (and probably sometimes should) give small gifts to the cabin crew. Never thought of doing that, but it sounds like an awesome idea. Thanks!

A:

1) No, they're at the top of the CPU list, but if you used miles, you're above the CPU list I believe.

2) There's a wonderful thread on flyertalk dedicated to this

3) Chairman's Circle. Never actually seen one, though. Actually, I've never seen any company personnel talk about it. Only online, so it may not even be a real thing.

4) You can certainly ask. If they're not busy, they might be willing to give a tour. The key is being nice, and them not being busy, though. I've gotten one in ORD, so it's certainly possible


Q:

Why is it that most M FA'S are gay/bi? Haven't heard that and find it interesting. Is this only males or females as well?

What's the scariest moment you've experienced and/or heard of?

Any special flying tips you're able to tell us that could save money, get better treatment, etc...?

A:

Why is it that most M FA'S are gay/bi? Haven't heard that and find it interesting. Is this only males or females as well?

I have no idea. It’s a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy I think. Even the females tend to at least experiment.

What's the scariest moment you've experienced and/or heard of?

Lost 1 engine. The second started smoking heavily. 45 minutes from an airport. Not a fun time.

Heard of? 9/11. I know people who were flying that morning.

Any special flying tips you're able to tell us that could save money, get better treatment, etc...?

First, be nice. Most of us start the day happy, but somewhere along the line, someone tests us.

If you bring us stuff, we tend to notice ;) I’ll be honest, not everyone gives free stuff in return, but I’ll at least buy you a drink if you bring chocolates or a card or something — as do most of my coworkers.

I have no idea how to save money anymore but google flights was my go to when I did have to pay.


Q:

Huh... i had never considered bringing something for my FAs. Assuming i dont look like a crazy, would you trust something edible that i give you? I might have to try this on my flight back on tuesday! Let me know what you think would be the beet treat for them :) thanks!

A:

I'll eat stuff if it's wrapped. Personally, I won't eat home made stuff (sorry!)

Chocolates are popular. If you're somewhere with a local delicacy, that's always nice too. Hell, even a box of donut holes is appreciated. It's hard to go wrong with snacks and candy. Just make sure it'll keep without refrigeration, cause you probably aren't our only flight that day.

Edit: and THANK YOU for thinking of us!


Q:

Quick question, what types of flight benefits do you guys get?

A:

I fly for free domestically (taxes only), and have heavily reduced rates overseas. I get 1 friend or spouse that flies at my level, at my cost. My parents have benefits as well. My kids (if I had them) would have benefits.

And then there's buddy passes for friends, which I try to never use.


Q:

I recently witnessed something quite horrific in an airport in London. We were all waiting in line at the boarding gate and someone on the staff approached us to say that there’s too many bags to go in the overhead cabins and she’ll have to take some and put them in with the checked in luggage. Some passengers were happy to give their bags but a lady explained that she had some fragile and somewhat valuable things in there and she’d prefer to keep it with her. I won’t go into the details of what happened next but it ended with the bag being snatched from her hands and the lady crying and threatening to sue. So my question is have you ever seen something similar happening and do airlines really have that kind of power? Because to me, it seemed more like abuse and I was fuming.

A:

I'd want to hear the details, to be honest.

If there's really no room in the overheads, then there's no room. Either you go with your bags underneath, or you stay in town and watch the plane leave without you.

But a bag should never be snatched from someone's hands, and no, we don't have that power in the US or the EU.


Q:

Can someone actually go underneath with the bags? Probably freezing ass cold but I'm betting there is some extra leg room.

A:

Legally? no.

Practically? Probably. It's pressurized the same as the cabin, but unless there's live animals onboard, it's going to be much, much colder.


Q:

Do you ever drink pickle juice straight from the jar?

A:

You ever drink baileys from a shoe?


Q:

Hey SkyGuy, thanks for the AmA.

I recently got hired by a flight agency and had a major concern coming into the force. Over ten years ago I had of a mental breakdown and I have two cuts on my left arm. They aren't huge but they're definitely noticeable if you really looked at it. I can cover it up partially with makeup but, again, it's only partially, and I know that can only be a temporary fix.

I was wondering how the medical evaluation for you was and if they really check your arms for scars like these. I was also wondering how it would be like in the long term; would I have to use makeup forever? What would happen if another coworker saw them and asked about them? Is this a fire-able offense? If they will be a problem, what are some tips for me that would help remedy this situation?

A:

I don't work for a corporate flight agency, so I don't know their policies.

But for us, scars generally aren't an issue, unless they're prominent. If they are, or you're personally uncomfortable with it, we have a long sleeve option for males and females that would be plenty fine.

In terms of covering it up, I hear mixed reviews on dermablend, and your airline may allow bandaids.

In any case, I hope you're okay now.


Q:

What's for dinner?

A:

Tonight? Auntie Anne’s. Maybe a sandwich if I go home unused.


Q:

Unused? Don't get sent out on a flight?

A:

I was on airport standby. We sit around the airport for 4 hours to quickly respond and get on a trip if someone gets sick, or can't make it in, or a crew gets stuck somewhere else.

Unused meant I sat my 4 hours and I got to go home at the end of it.


Q:
  1. When you first became a FA, what were things that disappointed you about the job?

  2. Have you seen any of your female colleagues (FA's) being picked up by passengers and actually hooking up?

A:

1) I don't know that I was disappointed with anything -- I'd done my research and I knew most of the downsides going into the job. The biggest thing I wasn't expecting is the lifestyle change. You start and end every trip at your home base, but that doesn't mean you start and end every day at that base. A three day trip might take you through 8 cities, and you may wake up and go to sleep at different cities each of those days. I've woken up and not known what city, state, or even country I'm in.

2) In person, once. But she approached him. Every time I've seen a guy try, he fails. I've seen model-esque guys be shot down by girls who I didn't think were all that attractive. This guy was objectively a 7/10, but hilarious. She's one of the most attractive people I've flown with. He and I were shooting the shit in the galley on a longhaul while the other passengers slept. She came up and he kept cracking jokes. She offered as much information as she was comfortable with, and he never asked for anything. Last time I saw her, she was flying back to that city on her days off to see him again.

Basically what I'm saying is: if you want to hook up with an FA as a passenger: don't try to hook up with an FA as a passenger.


Q:

As an older gay guy who's had his share of hookups with M FAs over the decades, I'm curious:

What percentage of <30/M FAs would you guess are not gay? It seems to me the great majority today aren't.

Or maybe my gaydar is going bad faster than my hearing or vision? =)

A:

Your gaydar is fading, I think. The vast majority of new hire young males are at least “bi” if not full on gay.

Straight males are definitely the exception, even today. I’ve been (playfully) interrogated before about me being straight by my crews.


Q:

Straight male flight attendant here too. Took about a year to convince co-workers I'm not gay. I asked if I came off as gay or gave out that vibe and they all said no, it's just unusual for guys to be straight in this field.

A:

Yeah, it's not easy to convince someone you're straight. Even a girl I was hooking up with asked if I was straight.

It is weird for guys to be completely straight in this field.


Q:

is it true that cabin crews use tap water to obtain hot water and they use it for tea and coffee?

A:

Yep. If you didn’t see it come out of a bottle, it could’ve been from the portable water tanks.

Tea and coffee always come from those tanks.

Some of us drink it, some don’t.


Q:

I'm absolutely terrified of flying. I take medication for anxiety attacks before the plane, and attempt to let flight attendants know about it, but honestly have no idea how to handle it. I hate feeling like I'm taking too much of their time, or concerning other people around me. How would you like someone to tell you? And are there any tips for flying for someone who is scared?

A:

Absolutely tell us! We'll check on you during the flight. Most of us have friends or family that are nervous fliers too, we understand.

As to how/when, If it's a long flight and you have a chance to get up and walk to a galley, come find us and chit chat for a bit once the service is done. If it's not a super long flight and you can't really get up, try to catch one of us standing during boarding or during the service.

Don't worry about the other people around you, that's my job.

Tips, unfortunately, I don't have any flying specific ones, sorry! General anxiety ones I've picked up though include making sure your diet is balanced (and you're not changing it too much before a flight), avoid caffeine, sugars, and alcohol. Find a good breathing app for your phone and dod breathing exercises. Learn to properly meditate. Personally, I like tight clothing when I'm anxious (I like hugs, and tight clothing is close enough sometimes) but if you get claustrophobic, wear loose clothing.


Q:

how do you get over the fear that the plane can crash at any time?

A:

You almost don’t. 5 weeks of training are dedicated to emergency procedures. We just hope to never have to use that training. But if something happens, I have a worse chance of surviving than you do. It’s why we’re so cranky about seemingly benign things (laptops away, tray tables up, things unplugged, etc) sometimes.

If the job was all serving cokes and meals, they’d’ve replaced us with vending machines years ago.


Q:

I saw a TV show about a simulator for cabin emergencies. They send cabin crew in to the sim and present them with emergency scenarios. Anyway the funny bit for me is that in the control booth there is a button to press in case of a real emergency, like if the simulator catches fire while simulating a fire.

A:

Funny, the simulator is where we do our initial training and annual re-qualification And that one also has the emergency button hahaha


Q:

I got to see the results of the training you guys go through when the plane I was on almost landed at Heathrow.

Impressed with how well the crew handled getting everyone off. Keep up the good work.

A:

Thanks!


Q:

Good pay? If so, whats the best way to get hired? Experience, education, etc

A:

In contrast to /u/NarcissusNoir, I don't hold a line (so I'm on call). My anniversary is late in the year, so I was on the first year payscale for most of this year.

It looks like I made ~$38k.

Not bad on the surface (especially once you factor in flight benefits), but when you consider that we live in some of the most expensive areas in the country (major metropolitan areas, close to airports) and spend plenty of nights away from home and in hotels... A lot of us live paycheck to paycheck, myself included.


Q:

When you have to overnight somewhere how much of the tab does the airline pick up? Rooms, meals, etc.

A:

My airline picks up our rooms and transportation to/from the airport.

Meals come out of our pocket, but we're paid a decent enough per diem for it.


Q:

Why can’t people pick up their trash? Especially after FAs have been up and down the plane 5 times with a trash bag announcing it. :(

A:

Honestly, most people are in their own bubble on the plane, and pay no attention until we turn the lights back on for final descent. And that's when they want to get up, use the lav and throw things away.

It's part of the job.


Q:

Is it acceptable/ normal to tip FAs for drink purchases?

I don't want to make you feel like a "waitress in the sky" because your job is obviously much more than the service aspect, but if it's acceptable/ appreciated, I want to do so. Thanks!

A:

We’re supposed to politely decline once before accepting.

It’s not common, but it is appreciated! Just keep in mind there’s more than one of us on the plane, so I’d only do it if you received exceptional service from one of us in particular.


Q:

Is it true that I couldn’t be a FA, cuz I’m 6’ 6”? Also do you get to spend much time at destinations abroad or domestic? Like to see things or people?

A:

Depends on the airline. Too tall for ours but they go off your drivers license and don’t measure you themselves.

Domestic can be as short as 8 hours (which is a joke but it happens). International is usually at least 24 hours, but most of the time you really only get about 10 hours to explore and you’ve got to sleep twice in that timeframe.


Q:

I am 38 years old, I want to do this job, have for many years, but am stuck in a factory currently, whom do I apply though and where?

A:

Each airline hires as they need. There’s a Facebook group (and website) called Flight Attendant Career Connection that’s a great place to start.

United and Delta were hiring last I heard. So we’re a ton of regional carriers