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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