Tag Archives: flight attendants

Talking travel: airlines, airports, frequent fliers and life in the sky

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The following interview originally appeared on Vishal1mehra.com October 7, 2013

First things first, what motivated you to travel, and become a flight attendant?

Heather - When I finally realised life was about amazing moments and new experiences, I knew what I wanted to do. I’ve been a flight attendant for almost 18 years now.

As a flight attendant you often have a first hand view of people traveling to and back from their trips. What has been some of your most memorable travel and flight experiences?

Heather - My favourite trips tend to be the ones that were totally unplanned. I’ll never forget deciding at the last minute to hit the road with a colleague from work on a Friday afternoon. This was almost twenty years ago when I worked a regular 9-5 job on the ground. We drove from McAllen, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico for the weekend. We ate goat (a first), listened to guitar music under the stars, spent the night in a cottage on a mountain, and woke up early the next morning in the clouds. As a flight attendant, the nicest and most memorable layovers for me have more to do more with the people I meet than anything else. Once we landed late Christmas Eve in Bermuda. The man who picked us up at the airport and drove us to the hotel every week invited the entire crew over to his house on Christmas day for dinner. It was such a nice thing to do. This after having spent many Christmas dinners stuck at an overpriced hotel buffet

We know you work for a major American airline, do you have a favourite airline, if you’re allowed to answer this question ;)

Heather - Can I say my airline? I mean come on, they hired me! (After our competition didn’t.) I can’t tell you which carrier I work for because I’d like to keep my job, but it’s one of the big ones. And with that I’d like to thank all the frequent fliers who’ve helped me keep my secret. It’s got to be the worst best-kept secret in the world.

Also, I hear Cathay is pretty freakin nice. One day I’ll fly on them

Any preferred airport? 

Heather - My favourite airport is Miami.  Not to be confused with my favourite route!  Because the NY-Miami is my least favourite route in the system. But as far as good food and people watching goes, you can’t beat Miami.

And what about your favourite aircraft type? I bet it will be a Boeing ;)

Heather - Yep, I’m going to be sad to see the 767 go.  I’ve worked that aircraft more than any of our other wide-body airplanes. I guess you could say I feel most at home on it.

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Flying the less-friendly skies

1238071_10151845524384061_77421692_nMy first Op-Ed. Los Angeles Times, A25. They changed the title from “flying the less-friendly skies” to “Turn off your cell phone means turn it off” in the paper. I liked the original one better. It’s more in the spirit of the piece.  And yeah, the handcuffs got cut out. 

Long ago — I’m talking in the 1960s — “stewardesses” were taught how to walk up stairs in heels and how to blow out a match after lighting a passenger’s cigarette. They were issued pillbox hats and little white gloves. Their glamour was a big part of the allure of airline travel.

But when passengers reminisce about those good old days, I remind them that barely anyone could afford to fly then, and then I might point out a colleague and say, “Remember the stewardesses back then, the ones in hot pants and go-go boots? Well, there’s one right over there. Still flying.”

Hard to believe, I know, but these days flight attendants are allowed to grow old and gain a little weight. As long as we can still fit through the exit window, buckle our seat belts without an extension and, most important, pass the yearly training, we can fly as long as we want.

I’ve been a flight attendant for a major carrier for 18 years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time. But nothing changed my job more than 9/11. Since then, at yearly training we focus more on safety and security than service. We’re taught karate. We talk about throwing hot coffee at lunging terrorists and other things I’m not at liberty to discuss. “This is not what I signed up for,” I’ve often heard veteran flight attendants mumble during class.

At the same time, with turmoil in the industry and rising fuel costs — and, more recently, with the recession — airlines are more focused than ever on the bottom line. Flight attendants have taken multiple pay cuts. We’ve watched days grow longer and layovers grow shorter. Sometimes, with only the minimum required eight hours behind a hotel room door, it feels like there’s not enough time to eat, sleep and shower.

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Flight attendant details life in the sky in best-selling book

20130223-085718.jpgFlight attendant details life in the sky in best-selling book by Brian Summers originally appeared in the Daily Breeze on August 6, 2013. 

Heather Poole will not soon forget the underwear incident.

It was three years ago, when a New York Times photographer visited her home. Poole is a flight attendant, and the newspaper’s website published 12 pictures detailing every step of how Poole packed for a week-and-a-half trip. One tip: Poole prefers rolling some clothing rather than folding to save space.

There was only one problem: She didn’t pack any underwear. And people — lots of them — noticed.

So eventually, she came clean on her blog.

“All right,” she remembers telling her readers, “I wear underwear. I just didn’t want the whole world to see.”

Such is life for Poole, a Redondo Beach resident who might be the most famous flight attendant in the United States. Her 2012 book, “Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet,” was a New York Times best-seller.

While still working for a major airline, she has appeared on ABC’s “20/20” and “Good Morning America,” as well as “The Ricki Lake Show.” She has almost 90,000 Twitter followers, and her blog is among the most popular in the industry.

The recipe for her success is simple. Poole, 42, engages with readers about flight attendant life — layover hotels, seemingly endless shuttle bus rides, cranky passengers and canceled flights. She shares how she can never plan for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas because she rarely knows her schedule in advance.

When she told me she was writing the book, I said, ‘Oh yeah, OK. I am sure a lot of people are going to read that,’” said her mom, Elise Poole, a recently retired flight attendant at the same airline. “Shockingly, a lot of people did want to read it. I’m very proud of her that she did it.”

Heather Poole is fond of telling how she met her husband, Neil, on an airplane and how he told her, in the aircraft’s galley, that she could do better than the men she was dating.

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The Asiana crash and flight attendant training

ImageMore than “Singapore Girls’: Safety emphasized in airline’s grueling training course by Harriet Baskas originally appeared on NBC News Travel July 12, 2013

Cabin attendants on carriers in the United States and elsewhere can skip the sarong-swimming lessons, but they must all pass an annual refresher course in safety measures.

In addition to reviewing medical and evacuation procedures, this annual recurrent training often includes discussion of accidents and incidents that occurred the year before. “We discuss what went wrong, how the crew reacted and how they could have done things differently,” said Heather Poole, a flight attendant on a major U.S. carrier and author of “Cruising Attitude.”

And while the Asiana crash shines a light on the job performance of flight attendants, Poole predicts fearful passengers will start asking about the experience of the pilots on board.

“But just know,” she said, “flight attendants wouldn’t work a flight if they felt uncomfortable with the cockpit crew.

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[Photo credit: Chris and Sue]

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Everything you ever wanted to know about being a flight attendant…

Book View TV interviewed me about my book, Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 30,000 Feet.  Basically we discussed everything you ever wanted to know about being a flight attendant.

PART 1:  BARBIE BOOT CAMP.  A little bit about how my book Cruising Attitude came to be, and what it’s like, really like, to be a flight attendant

PART 2: SKY ROMANCE?   What’s a crashpad?  Why do flight attendants commute?  How does it work?  How do flight attendants balance flying with life on the ground?  It ain’t easy.  And what about dating pilots?  Watch here….

PART 3: TURBULENT GLAMOUR. It’s not a glamorous life.  We discuss flight attendant pay, uniforms, and what scares me more than turbulence.

PART 4:  THE CRAZIES. What it’s like to work on a private jet, why passengers go crazy in flight, and a little bit about special passengers (AKA frequent fliers)

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9 safety tips for new flight attendants (and solo travelers)

rsz_1rsz_1rsz_img_09131. “The Gift of Fear,” by Gavin De Becker, should be required reading for all men and women, especially for those of us who travel, particularly for women who travel alone. I’ve recommended this book to more flight attendants and passengers than anything thing else over the years. It’s saved my life more than once.

2. Skip the first floor. They’re easier to break into. That’s why you’ll never find a flight attendant below the second floor in a hotel. There’s a reason for that. It’s in our hotel contract.

3. Leave the lights and television on when you’re not in the room. Put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. It gives the appearance that someone is occupying the room, so no one will break in.

4. Stay Healthy: Never leave home without a small antibacterial spray. A mini bottle of vodka works just as well. Hit up the remote, the light switches, doorknobs and taps. You don’t want to get sick while you’re stuck at a less than desirable layover hotel.

5. Walk with intent. Walk down the street like you have a place to be, like you know where you’re going and need to get there quickly. Do that and people will leave you alone.

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Woman’s Day: 7 Things Your Flight Attendant Wants You to Know

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Check out the May issue of Woman’s Day Magazine!  On page 158  I offer a few travel tips….

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A little bit about groping, poking and smacking flight attendants on the plane…

1373691534_731640c452Passenger accused of groping Spirit Airlines flight attendant originally appeared on NBCNews.com.  (NOTE:  They left out a story I shared about a pilot who was smacked on the behind by a female passenger sitting in the exit row. “Woo get some!” she yelled out for an entire airplane full of passengers to hear.  So ya see it’s not just flight attendants who are getting groped, poked,  and smacked.)

Heather Poole, a veteran flight attendant for a majorU.S. airline, has seen her share of passengers acting out on flights, though she says the misbehavior has changed over the years.

“Today, passengers are more likely to get aggressive with us than touchy feely in a sexual way. Not to say it doesn’t happen,” said Poole, author of “Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet.”

“Recently, a female passenger hit me on the butt hard as I was passing by. She (was) angry because I stepped on her toe.”

A male passenger once asked Poole if he could lick her, she said. “The answer was no. No written warning was issued.”

When confronted with a flier who seems to have amorous intentions, Poole says she stops serving alcohol and removes herself from the situation by sending in another flight attendant to deal with the passenger. Most of the time that’s all it takes, she said.

“Trust me, there are some passengers who might live a lot longer if they keep their hands off certain flight attendants,” Poole added.

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[Photo credit:  TheZipper]

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April 10, 2013 · 4:09 pm

Here’s what I think about those sexy flight attendant ads…

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“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?

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[Photo credit: Heather Poole]

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The Worst, Funniest, and Most Common Bad Passengers I’ve Encountered

ImageFrom time to time I get asked questions about bad passengers. I thought I’d share a few of them here.

What’s the worst passenger behavior you’ve witnessed?

I’ve caught passengers taking other people’s luggage out of the bin to make room for their own bags. I’m not joking. They’ll pull out a bag, drop it on the floor and walk away leaving it in the middle of the aisle for the passengers behind them to crawl over. Have you ever tried stepping over a 21-inch Rollaboard? Not easy. Happened three times last month!

The funniest?

Recently a woman tried to stow her suitcase in that, oh, what do you call that spot? Crevice? Crack? Between the overhead bin and the ceiling? There’s like a millimeter of space there! I don’t care which airline you’re traveling on, that’s not going to fit. Then there are the recliners and the anti-recliners. One anti-recliner got upset at a recliner because she couldn’t get her tray table down. I suggested if maybe she removed the gigantic fanny pack from around her waist it might go down. She looked at me like I was the crazy one! One man actually called me over because the passenger in front of him had reclined his seat. I had to point out that, uh … his seat was reclined too!

What’s the most common bad passenger behavior you’ve seen?

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[photo credit: Telstar Logistics]

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