Tag Archives: interviews

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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Executive Travel: In flight service

20130302-100708.jpgThis article was originally published in Executive Travel Magazine

By Christopher Schmicker
Mar/Apr-2013

This flight attendant and author shares her perspectives about change up in the air, and ways savvy passengers can make the best of it.

“Flying today is like being on an episode of Survivor,” says Heather Poole. “Only the strong survive.” As a veteran flight attendant at a major U.S. airline (the name of which she declines to disclose), Poole should know. Over the past 15 years, she has witnessed the industry’s rapid evolution from pre-9/11 to the present.

Six years ago, in July 2007, Poole opened a WordPress account and set out to chronicle her life in the sky. When you Google her blog a disclaimer of sorts appears: “Another Flight Attendant Writing About Flying.” But Poole’s candid observations, infused with a brand of black humor that only those tasked with servicing fickle customers with a smile can properly lay claim to, have won so many loyal fans that to call Poole just another flight attendant fails to paint the full picture.

Thanks to her book, Cruising Attitude, published in 2012 by William Morrow, Poole appears frequently on TV shows from Good Morning America to Fox & Friends, and in the pages of newspapers from The New York Times to USA Today. Along with Steven Slater (“What a nice guy,” she says of meeting the former JetBlue employee. “It felt like I’d known him all my life.”), Poole has become a de facto ambassador for her profession.

Cruising Attitude expands on content from her blog and covers topics that range from crash pads and crew wages to air rage and the perils of pouring Diet Coke at 35,000 feet. What comes across through all of these anecdotes is Poole’s sincere passion for her job, despite the ups and downs. “I wanted people to understand what [flight attendants] do and where we’re coming from,” she says, “because honestly we’re all in this together.”

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Flight attendant confessions video

get-attachment.aspxEver wonder what your flight attendant really thinks of you? What they’d tell you if they had the nerve? Or weren’t afraid of being fired? What deep, dark secrets would they reveal about their jobs?

There are 17 Things your flight attendant won’t tell you.  No more.  No less.  And Fox & Friends invited me on their show today to discuss a few of those not-so-secret “secrets” mentioned in the article making waves online.  We talked about coffee, upgrades, turbulence, and getting licked by passengers in flight… Yes, you read that correctly, LICKED.  (We’ve found crazy!) There may have also been something X-rays and giving in birth in flight.

Watch the video at Foxnews.com.  <—- CLICK IT!

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Skydoll: Destination Unknown (Book 2)

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is a chance for authors around the world to tell you what they’re working on. The author answers 10 questions about their next book, and tags the person who first tagged them, plus at least 5 other authors. Margo Candela, author of The Brenda Diaries,  tagged me.  

What is the working title of your book?  Skydoll: Destination Unknown.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  LONG AGO I was working on a book called Stewardeath, a dark comedy about a serial killing flight attendant.  Almost every agent who read the manuscript said they liked the voice, but wished I could make it more “fun.”  An agent who’s famous for being snarky scribbled a personal note at the bottom of a generic rejection form letter that said she hoped to never have me on one of her flights. HA!  So I did what most wanna-be-published writers do and stuck to my guns and….well…you guessed it.  I never sold the book.  Eventually I got the hint and changed the name to Skydoll.  I was busy working on that when an editor at Harper Collins found my blog and asked me to write a memoir for them.  That book became Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet. Now I’m back to working on Skydoll – AGAIN.

What genre does your book fall under?  Novel.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Emma Stone!  Love her.  But Lizzy Caplan is pretty awesome, too.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  I’m striving for (HBO) Girls meets Cruising Attitude.  Can I use my own book?  If not how about Sex in the City meets Coffee Tea or Me.  Or maybe 2 Broke Girls meets…A View From the Top?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  An agency, I hope.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I’m on page 5 of Chapter 2, so…  Over ten years if you count Stewardeath!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I’m lucky because there aren’t many books about flight attendants, and very few of those are actually written by flight attendants – who are still working – LIKE ME!   On that note the most famous stewardess book of all is Coffee, Tea, or Me.  It was ghost written by Donald Bain, but an airline hired two stewardesses to become Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones as a marketing stunt to promote the book.  For years Coffee, Tea, or Me was sold as a nonfiction book, but today you’ll find it in the fiction section of the bookstore.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?   I can’t say that anyone or anything inspired me to write this book.  But the author who inspires me the most as a writer is Marguerite Duras.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  You mean sex, love and flying isn’t enough?  Seriously what more could you ask for in a book?

TAG – You’re it!

(Check back soon to see who got tagged)

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The Vile High Club

A few weeks ago 20/20 ran an episode called Real Dish which included a segment about airline food that featured a cameo of me talking about an Egg McMuffin a passenger stole out of my jump seat.  So what does my breakfast have to do with mice and roaches seen by the FDA inspecting airline food?  Good question.  Just know that at the time I couldn’t believe a passenger would do such a thing.   Now I get it.  I totally get it.  Watch THIS VIDEO and you will, too. 

ABCNEWS.COM – Airline food isn’t just an old joke – FDA records show the prep facilities can be alarmingly dirty:

The Vile High Club.

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Interview with a Saudi Airlines flight attendant

Ahmed Mousa

With your culture, how do you handle the treatment of female passengers? Like everybody else. No special treatment these days.

During the Ramadan, how do you deal with not eating and drinking during sunlight with a very tiring job like yours? It’s allowed in our religion (Islam) during Ramadan to eat and drink while traveling, but some of us prefer to be fasting.

Is it true that female cabin crew can’t serve men during their “time of the month?Nooo! Of course it’s just rumors without source.

Can you marry and/or have kids and keep working? Yes. With the new rules females can marry and have kids. They have maternity leave for maximum one year.

Is there a call to prayer in the air? No, but if someone asks we’ll let them know.

During prayer onboard the aircraft when passengers need to get up and face the east, how do you accommodate for that? All the new fleet (wide bodied) is equipped with a worship place in the aft of the aircraft (A330 , B777 , B747)

Do you have a union? Sky Team Alliance. 

Do you have to share hotel rooms with other flight attendants? Yes, but only on domestic layovers. We get our own rooms when we work international flights.

What is the strangest customer request & how did you handle it? For me the strangest request came from a teenage girl. She wanted to kiss me. I had to take her number just to escape from her because she insisted on kissing me in flight. One of my friends had a passenger ask him if he could try and open the door during flight just to see how a decompression will occur.

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Heather Poole & The Secret World of Flight Attendants (my interview with Peter Greenberg)

[This post originally appeared on PeterGreenberg.com]

Every week we report on all the craziness that goes on up in the air, but we rarely get to hear from the first person on the scene—the flight attendant. That’s why we always try to talk to and listen to Heather Poole, author of the New York Times bestseller Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet. Peter sat down with her to find out about her new memoir, her travel tips and her biggest passenger peeves.

Peter Greenberg: Heather, I have to tell you in the interest of full disclosure, I have actually trained in the simulators, both the cockpit and the cabin, so I’ve done what you’ve done. I believe if you can’t appreciate the process, you can’t value the product.

And so I’ve actually worked a couple of flights, and I have to tell everybody it is not an easy job. At the end of that, I needed a vacation for just one cycle of doing these turnarounds. I was done for a week.

Heather Poole: I know, but we are survivors as flight attendants. You have to be to do this job. You are awesome to have walked a mile in our shoes. You should run for airline CEO.

PG:  Let’s talk about your book. It’s great memoir that also has some practical tips in there. It’s packing advice, but also why it’s a bad idea to fall for pilots. Help me out on this one, Heather…

HP: Because of the mysterious lifestyle of the flight attendant, everyone assumes that we’re all getting together with pilots. But you have to remember, there are so many more of us than there are of them. I don’t think it’s happening any more than it happens in other jobs. It’s just that at the end of the day, we end up at a hotel, and everyone’s imaginations run with that.  Remember the pilot looks more like Danny DeVito than he does Rob Lowe. I’m sure pilots feel the same way about us flights attendants in a lot of cases too to be fair.

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Drunk passengers, playboy pilots & life in the sky: Flight attendant reveals secrets of the industry

 

Now available at Terminal 2, Sydney Airport

This post originally appeared on Boston.com

What does a flight attendant really do? (Answer: more than you think.) What’s it really like to deal with drunk passengers, suave pilots and potential terrorists? (Answer: it’s tougher than you think.) What really happens when a flight is delayed, cancelled or worse, redirected to another location? (Answer: everyone’s mad, not just the passengers.) Is it really a glamourous life at 35,000-feet? Flight attendant Heather Poole is dishing about it all – and sometimes more – in her new book “Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet“.

I’ve known Poole for some time and have worked with her on a few different travel projects over the years, so I was eager to get my hands on this book, which broke into Amazon’s top 100 best selling books on its very first day on the market. The book is a hilarious look at what really happens in flight, how flight attendants identify “problem” passengers (they’re looking at you, guy with his fly open who smells like whiskey trying to board with first class while holding a coach ticket), and the real reactions and emotions that happen when there’s an emergency. The book also details the life of a flight attendant on the ground, from sharing flats to scary cab rides and blind dates.

Poole is already working on her next book, but before she got too involved in that I sat down to chat with her about this book, and gain some insight on the most common questions asked from fliers today:

Melanie Nayer: What is the one thing passengers don’t know about FAs?

Heather Poole: We don’t get paid until aircraft door is shut and pushed away from the gate. Boarding is the most stressful time, and when there’s a delay or mechanical issue, people yell at us, but we don’t control the weather or the mechanics on the plane. Believe me – I’m mad too! I’m out of money if that trip doesn’t take off.

MN: How do you handle it when passengers argue about the flight with you?

HP: I love it when a passenger will call home and get the weather scoop from their wife or boyfriend. The weather isn’t where your wife is. Airlines do not have airplanes just lying around to grab when we need one. Everything is very efficiently run. When a plane is broken, they just don’t have an extra plane in the airplane garage. They pull planes from other people’s runs. Here’s a tip: it’s always better to fly in the morning because you have a better chance of getting to where you need to be. When a plane goes out of service, they’ll start pulling planes from other route. The last flight out loses.

MN: What are you biggest passenger pet peeves?

HP: Oh there are a few… When I ask a question, no one answers anymore. Passengers are so consumed with their electronic devices that i’m just talking to myself. When passengers are right up against my [backside] when I’m in the aisle for beverage service because they want to get by to go to the bathroom or return to their seat. Also, nowadays the kids will sit in coach and parents will sit in business class, an there is all this back-and-forth on the plane. You’re trying to do a service and mommy or nanny are walking up and down the aisle. it’s not that we have a problem with passengers moving around, but does it have to be during meal service? Then there’s the passenger who lies to get upgrades or get seats together. One guy pretended he was on his honeymoon so he could get upgraded and free drinks. After a few too many, he came to the back of the plane and spilled to us his wife was at home.

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A few things you didn’t know about me (My interview with Johnny Jet)

This interview originally  appeared on JohnnyJet.com

Occupation:   Flight attendant  / author of the book Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 feet

Hometown:  Plano, Texas

Residence:  Los Angeles, California

Website:  HeatherPoole.com

Twitter:  @Heather_Poole

Facebook: My fan page is where I post airline related news and information.  Sometimes I’ll post public updates on my regular page, but those mainly revolve around my life on the ground.

Pinterest I still don’t get it.  But I keep trying.  Last week I pinned two recipes to my page, bringing it to a grand total of four pins.

Bio:  Flight attendant, wife, mother, blogger, NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR! (It still doesn’t feel real, not even with the caps.)

How often do you fly:  Not as often as I’d like.  I’m a “commuter” (I live in LA but I’m based out of New York), so I try to work as many hours with the airline as I possibly can in a short amount of time. My husband, a frequent flier, travels over 100,000 miles each year for business.  We have a five year old son.  Because our families live in different states, we don’t have anyone to lend a helping hand when we’re both traveling at the same time.  Someone has to stay home and take care of The Kid and that someone is usually me.  I’m lucky to have a flexible job.  Sometimes it feels like we’re playing a game of tag – YOU’RE IT!  Off one of us goes to the airport.  As a family we try to make the most of long weekend getaways.  Once a year we take a week long vacation.

How many countries have you been to: Somewhere around 25, I think.  I’ve been flying domestic routes for the last five years.  After getting stuck in Switzerland for two weeks during 9/11, it became important to me to be able to jump in a car and drive home if need be.  I don’t need something like an Ash cloud keeping me away from home for too long while my son is so young.

How many continents have you been to:  Four.

Favorite American city:  Carmel.  It’s romantic, relaxing, and a fairly short flight from Los Angeles.  For excitement nothing beats New York City!

Favorite international city:  I don’t really have a favorite city. But my favorite country is Italy.  Give me any city in Italy and I’ll be happy.

Least favorite country:  Anywhere women don’t have equal rights.

Favorite World Heritage Site:  Statue of Liberty. (Is that one?)

Favorite airline:  Cathay.  Sadly I’ve never flown with them before, but I know they’re an amazing airline based on what I’ve heard from passengers over the years. My husband once sent me a two page email describing in great detail the food that was served in first class on a flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

Favorite aircraft type:  777.

Aisle or window:   Windows on overnights.  Aisles any other time.

Favorite airport lounge:  Flight attendants aren’t allowed inside the airport lounges.  Otherwise we might camp out – and never leave!

Favorite U.S. airport:   MIA.  For me it’s all about the (Cuban) food during a long sit between flights.  And the coffee, you can’t beat the cafe con leche in Miami! Miami also has some of the best people watching in the world!

Favorite international airport:  London Heathrow.  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I get when I’m sitting on the crew van and we’re driving around on the tarmac between all these gigantic airplanes from all around the world, some I’ve never even seen before in my own country.

Favorite hotel:  Bryant Park Hotel in NYC.

Favorite cruise line:  I’ve only been on two cruises.  That’s it.  But check back with me again this summer and I’ll let you know if I survived the Disney cruise my in-laws booked for the entire family.

Favorite island:  Oahu.  The flying time is the same as the LA to New York route, except after a five hour flight (and an hour long drive to the other side of the island) you’re in paradise.

Favorite fancy restaurant:  The word “fancy” throws me off.  Recently I had dinner at Pipa Tapas Bar in Manhattan and loved it.  I can’t wait to go back. I also now have this strange desire to decorate my home with dozens of crystal chandeliers.  If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about.

Favorite hole in the wall:   This week it’s Pho PCH in Redondo Beach.

Favorite fruit:  Bananas don’t always travel well, so I have to go with the orange. It makes an airplane smell soooo good!

Favorite food:  Chips and salsa with a side of guacamole.

Least favorite food:  Airplane food.

Favorite travel movie(s):  The Lover had me dreaming about crossing the Mekong River wearing gold lame heels and a fedora hat for years.

Favorite travel show(s):  House Hunters International.  Whenever I watch that show I always find myself wondering why I don’t live there!

Favorite travel book(s): The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux.  It inspired me as a writer.  I love character driven books.

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20/20: Just Plane Crazy Interview

20/20 interviewed me for an episode called Just Plane Crazy.  The full segment can be viewed HERE.  Or you can  pick and choose a segment…

JUST PLANE CRAZY:  Passengers Gone Wild: You won’t believe what some people will do in the air.

JUST PLANE CRAZY: Celebs Flying Foibles: Some celebrities’ airplane antics have landed them in hot water.

JUST PLANE CRAZY: Crews Gone Wild:  Underpaid, overworked flight crews sometimes go to extremes.

The best part about the whole experience: I got to meet Chris Connelly!

20/20′s Chris Connelly. I can’t tell you how nice and funny he is! If you ever run into him ask him about the famous lead singer from the 80′s who yelled at him on a flight.

While I was trying to work up the courage to ask Chris Connelly if he would pose with me for a photo, he asked me to sign his book – MY BOOK. I was shocked. And I could tell he’d actually read it! Even more shocking.

I had no idea what to write!

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