Hold that flight: a good-news airline story by Christopher Elliott originally appeared in the Seattle Times. In the fourth to last paragraph I answered the question, do airlines hold flights?
“Passengers ask us to hold the plane all the time,” says Heather Poole, a flight attendant for a major airline. Almost as often, the request is denied, unless a significant number of passengers need to connect with the same flight. “On-time departures are way too important,” Poole adds.
So…does holding a plane say ‘We care about you, late person” or “We don’t care about all you on-timers?'” You tell me.
Photo Credit: Heather Poole
“Does Sex Sell Airline Seats? Some Airlines Hope so. ” originally appeared on TravelChannel.com
We asked Heather Poole, a 15-year flight attendant and author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet her thoughts about marketing flight attendants as sex symbols.
She wasn’t too impressed.
“Cheap airfare is the only thing that sells tickets today,” says Poole. “That and — oh! — on-time departures and good safety records. If passengers really cared about what their flight attendants looked like, Hooters Air would still be in business. They only lasted for 3 years!”
Poole adds: “The only airlines that seem to flaunt sexy flight attendants are the ones looking to sell calendars or get “likes” on their Facebook page. There’s a reason they’re selling sex over a quality airline. Business must not be quite as hot as the crew.“
Plus, what about women fliers? asks Poole. Sexting up campaigns aren’t likely to win over this huge travel demographic.
“Do most female fliers really care how sexy flight attendants are? I don’t think so. It’s like some airlines are only directing their marketing at male passengers. Last time I checked there were women not just sitting on the plane, but occupying business and first-class seats, serious hardcore frequent fliers! They’re also flying the plane. To which I say, God Bless America! I’m so thankful I work for a US carrier. “
So what do you think? Do the marketing attempts to present flight attendants as sex symbols make flying more attractive to you? Or should airlines focus their efforts elsewhere?
[Photo credit: Heather Poole]
I’m always asked, “which airline do you work for?” whenever I’m being interviewed. As if the answer is going to give people a better understanding of why I wrote the book, Cruising Attitude, or why I feel the way I do about flying or travel in general.
“One of the big ones,” is the usual response, followed by something about how the book isn’t an airline expose so it doesn’t matter who I work for. The company name is irrelevant. Then I’ll remind the interviewer that the book is about being a flight attendant, not an airline, and how being a flight attendant is more of a lifestyle than a job. “Half of the book takes place on the ground!” I’ll exclaim to get my point across. Then I’ll wrap it up by saying something like, “It doesn’t matter who you work for, the job is the same wherever you go.”
I’ll admit that there have been times, not many, when I’ve wondered just how true that statement really is, like when I’m checking into a layover hotel and spot a foreign crew doing the exact same thing. Because certainly the job has to be different overseas! And by different, I mean better, of course. What’s strange is whenever self doubt begins to creep in, something will happen to confirm what I believed all along. Take for instance the time a newspaper out of Australia reviewed my book. I was shocked to see so many Australians felt the exact same way about Qantas crews as Americans feel about U.S. crews.
One of the most exciting things about having published a book about flight attendants is getting feedback from other flight crews, and not just flight attendants from other airlines, but from crew who live in foreign countries and work for international carriers! Sometimes it comes in the form of a really nice letter. They’re always my favorite. Other times it comes in gold and arrives wrapped in bubble wrap inside a Fed Ex envelope. Imagine how excited I was to receive a pair of Saudi Airline flight crew wings yesterday! A sign to me that flight attendants worldwide really do have parallel lives, regardless of the company name written on the side of the plane.
Saudi Airlines flight crew
I’m scheduled for a flight attendant interview on Tuesday! I’ve been through the process once before so I am familiar with the questions they may ask, but I’m just not confident in my answers sometimes. The hardest part is answering behavioral or situational questions. When they ask, “Name a time when…” I find it really hard to recall examples from my past work experience. I have trouble with these questions and I’m not sure what a good answer may be. I hope you can help. Here are a few examples.
1. How do you handle stress?
2. Name a time when you were under a lot of stress and how did you deal with it?
3. Describe a situation when you had to make a quick decision?
You’ve been through the interview process once before, so you already know what to expect. That’s half the battle. Try to relax and don’t forget to smile. Being able to keep your cool during a stressful situation is a big part of the job. The fact that the airline called you for a one-on-one interview says a lot about you. Thousands of people apply for the job, but very few applicants hear back from the airline. Remember that next time you’re not feeling overly confident. And try to have some fun.
When it comes to answering interview questions, the most important thing to do is let the airline know you’re a customer service oriented person – as often as possible. Talk about how you go above and beyond the call of duty to help people. Airlines are looking for flight attendants who are friendly, work well with others and take pride in their job. Try not to read too much into the questions. There’s no such thing as a right answer. You don’t have to share life-altering events for an airline to realize you’d make a great fit. Think in terms of the job. Keep it simple.
[photo courtesy of Kudumomo]
I love this commercial! Doesn’t matter if I have no idea what they’re saying. Now how do I get cool music like that playing in the background whenever I walk through the terminal?
“In 1974 I flew L.A. to New York for $250.00 round trip. Adjusted for inflation (google “inflation calculator”) that would be $1107.00 today. Orbitz has a roundtrip price for the same flight for $278.00 (advance booking) right now. We are not paying for the level of service we had back in the good old days and to expect it is very naive. Airlines that try to give anything more than cheap basic service don’t last long. With the wages that flight attendants earn (and they do earn it) I’m surprised anyone would take the job. Give’em a break!” – Greg (a comment found on my Indigo Airlines post)
Photo courtesy of Nutmeg
If you think long distance dating is difficult, try being married to an airline employee. It ain’t easy. Because working for an airline is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, a very unusual one. Even now, seven years later, my husband, a man who travels more often than I do, doesn’t completely understand how things work in the aviation industry and will often times get frustrated whenever we’re discussing our travel schedules. That’s because my schedule, much like a pilot’s schedule, can change at a moments notice, making it difficult to create long term plans. I work holidays and weekends and I’m away from home for days at a time. Not many people can handle that.
Pilots, for the most part, are type A personalities. They’re logical thinkers who remain calm, cool, and in control as they command the aircraft. Think Captain Sullenberger
. There’s no room for emotion when faced with ditching an airplane into the Hudson River. Flight attendants, on the other hand, tend to be caretakers. We can pretty much make do in just about any situation. There’s a reason why so many flight attendants end up on reality television shows like Survivor, Amazing Race, etc. Now they say opposites attract. I believe it. So is it any wonder that many pilots and flight attendants wind up having relationships with people who are completely different from themselves? Quite a few pilots tend to choose nurturing types like flight attendants, nurses and teachers, while a lot of flight attendants seem to get involved with pilots, police officers and firemen. Makes sense.
In my last post, The Bachelor – pilots, fashion & a few pilot fashion tips
, I mentioned that I’m a fan of the reality television show The Bachelor
. Well it just so happens that this season the man in command of the rose ceremony is a pilot named Jake. I truly believe that Vienna, one of the final four contestants, will be the last woman standing. What can I say, I always go for the underdog. Also, I admire strength in the face of adversity. Oh, sure, Vienna’s a little immature, sharing intimate details of her dates with Jake that would have been better left unsaid, but she’s young, thinks she’s in love, and excited about what the future may hold. No one is perfect. So why would I choose the wild child who rubs everyone the wrong way, the woman who snuck into bed with the captain of her dreams only to be turned away and sent back to where she came from? Two reasons: 1. She has the type of personality that can handle life as a pilot’s wife
. 2. The psychological effect of fear.
I’m interested in becoming a flight attendant. I was wondering if you could give me a little advice as to what to expect in an interview, how should I prepare for it, etc. I would really appreciate it.
Whatever you do, do not wear a canary yellow suit to the interview. That’s exactly what I did the first time I interviewed with a major airline. Needless to say, I didn’t get hired. Not that that was a bad thing because I wound up graduating from college instead. Not to mention, I prefer the airline I work for now. That said, education is key. There aren’t many airlines hiring these days so competition is fierce. Only the most qualified will succeed. Since the aviation industry isn’t as stable as it once was, it’s always a good idea to have something to fall back on.
DRESS THE PART: If you want to become a flight attendant, try looking like one. Start by wearing a blue or black suit to the interview. Skirt length should be no more than an inch above the knee and pantyhose are a must. Keep fingernails clean and polished and long hair pulled back or styled conservatively. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum – no dangly earrings! Do not overdo the makeup. Think fresh and neat.
BE YOURSELF: First impressions count. It’s a nerve wracking experience, but try to relax and don’t forget to smile. Introduce yourself to other candidates in the room. Airlines prefer applicants who are friendly. So be yourself, enjoy the moment, and laugh! Have fun.
Continue reading GALLEY GOSSIP: HOW TO PREPARE FOR A FLIGHT ATTENDANT INTERVIEW
photo courtesy of GeorgeParrilla’s
1. PHONES HOME - As soon as the first class virgin settles into the big, comfy, leather chair, they immediately begin to phone everyone they know during boarding to share exactly where they are, and they do so in a very loud voice as they recline the seat all the way back, giving a detailed description of just how far the seat actually goes. Amazing, isn’t it? Calls are followed by a self portrait which gets sent via text. Hi mom!
2. WON’T GIVE UP THE COAT - Flight attendants working in first class hang coats during boarding. Because the virgin is unfamiliar with airline procedures, they’ll usually wad up the jacket and shove it inside an overhead bin. If a flight attendant offers to hang it in the closet, the virgin always looks a tad bit worried about parting with the item. Don’t be afraid, coats will be returned fifteen minutes prior to landing.
3. STRANGE USE OF HOT TOWELS - Hot towels are distributed in first class before the meal is served. Most passengers use the steamy cloth to wash their hands, while some will use it to clean their eyeglasses or wipe down the tray table, all of which are acceptable uses of a hot towel. The virgin has been known to do things a tad bit differently. I’ve witnessed quite a few passengers giving the old armpits a good rub down. A couple of coworkers have even spotted passengers trying to eat the thing as if it were a spring roll.
4. ORDERS THE BREAD BASKET - Menus are passed out in first class. Inside passengers will find a selection of appetizers, entrees, desserts and wine. Off to the side it mentions that sourdough and multigrain rolls are served alongside the main course. The virgin has been known to order the bread basket as an entree choice.
Continue reading GALLEY GOSSIP: 10 SIGNS THERE’S A NEWBIE IN FIRST CLASS
I listened to your Frommers podcast recently and found it very funny. I especially liked your comments about people’s attitudes to flying and the bit about control freaks. It made me realize what I’ve suspected for some time which is that I am a control freak, especially when flying!
My last trip a couple of weeks ago I ended up shouting halfway up the plane at another passenger who got up to stroll to the toilets when the seat belt signs were on. They were the latest in a line of many and had also stopped to have a little chat with their mates on the way back. Being British I get a bit huffy about people not following instructions, I think it’s a national quirk, and, normally being British I might just have carried on muttering to the lady next to me along the lines of “Well really, can people not read, what’s the point of putting the signs on, what are the crew doing about it, nothing etc etc”. But it was a miserable flight in economy on Continental across the Atlantic and the fact that I’d unexpectedly just had to pay 5$ for a bottle of white wine vinegar was doing nothing to improve my temper.
I’d like to report that the effect of my outburst was instantaneous, that the guilty party sat down and no one else got up. Sadly she just shouted back “I’ll go to the toilet when I want to, thank you VERY much.” Everyone between her and me on the flight went quiet and I just felt like a right idiot. I bought another bottle of white wine vinegar and fumed quietly for a bit, half wishing we’d hit a bit of turbulence next time someone got up when the signs were on, “to teach them a lesson.” How sad is that! Next time I’ll do as you suggest and try and relax more!
Your letter cracked me up and now you’ve got me thinking that I may have been British in a past life or something because I, too, am a bit of a rule follower. Nothing drives me crazier than a passenger who thinks they’re exempt from following the rules. Really, how many times do I have to ask someone to turn off the electronic device before takeoff? Hello, Mr. Exit Row, I know what you’re doing all bent over like that with your head crammed between your knees. Do ya really think that I think you’re whispering to the floor? Please, do me a favor and don’t make tap, tap, tap you in front of your seatmates who are now giving you the evil eye. I mean really!
Contine reading GALLEY GOSSIP: ENFORCING RULES IN FLIGHT
Photo courtesy of Carrib (flickr.com)