Tag Archives: My Book

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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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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Letter from a pilot

This is NOT Dave. (Photo courtesy of Caribb)

I love this letter.  I really do.  Not just because it’s from someone who works in the airline industry – although these are always my favorite! – but because it’s from a man, who happens to be a pilot, who decided to give a book about flight attendants a shot, and liked it!  This after reading the chapter about pilots, chapter 13, I think: Dating Pilots (Why I want to say no when the answer is yes, yes, yes!)

Hi there. I saw you on TV about a month ago and thought “why should I buy her book of sensational, inaccurate airline information?” (I fly for one of the other big airlines) so I checked it out of the library and read it. I have only one thing to say – GREAT JOB! I loved it. Great writing, and totally accurate information. Now I plan to buy a few copies and give them to my friends. You know what that means, for a cheap pilot (I guess I wasted at least one word there) to spring for a book. I look forward to your next book. – Dave

PS:  Just in case you never heard the classic flight attendant / pilot joke – “Do you know what a pilot’s primary form of birth control is? Answer: their personality. “Do you know what their back up is?” Answer: their layover clothes.

Think this is what may have given Dave the wrong impression about my book...

Or maybe it was this…

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July 22, 2012 · 10:31 pm

Cruising Attitude World Book Tour

Show my your cruising attitude!  Download photos HERE

A beer after work, that's all @GVFlyGirl had to promise the Captain to get him to pose like this. HA!

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CRUISING ATTITUDE: Chapter 13 – Turbulence (and difficult passengers)

An excerpt from my book, Cruising Attitude…

13.  Turbulence

What most nervous fliers don’t realize is, turbulence is normal and it can occur even when the sky appears clear. If you are a nervous flier, don’t be embarrassed to let the crew know during boarding. Flight attendants are trained professionals. If we know you’re scared we’ll go out of our way to be reassuring if the airplane does encounter a few bumps. I’ve gone so far as to sit in an empty seat beside someone and hold their hand. It’s better not to wait until you’re clutching the armrest for dear life and sweating profusely with each bump to let us know who you are. If there’s time during boarding we might be able to introduce you to the cockpit. Pilots are better able to calm nerves by letting passengers know what to expect in terms of when it will happen, why it happens, and for how long it’s scheduled to last. Aircraft fishtail during turbulence, making the back of the airplane much bumpier than the front, so one good trick is to book a seat as close to the cockpit as possible. If that’s not possible, get to the airport early so an agent can switch your seat to a more desirable location. Airlines block the best seats for frequent fliers. Frequent fliers use miles to upgrade and a lot of times their upgrades don’t go through until the last minute, so be patient with the agent if they ask you to have a seat in the terminal. If that doesn’t work, tell a flight attendant what’s wrong and we’ll try to move you. Also, don’t forget to count the number of rows from your seat to the closest exit door or window. If something does happen and it’s dark, you’ll be able to feel your way to safety.

While passengers dread turbulence, what leaves flight attendants shaking are in-flight confrontations. It’s a really big deal for us to walk off a flight or even have a passenger removed. Really, we do not enjoy rocking the boat—or in this case, the plane—but sometimes we have to. There’s no calling the cops or the fire department or an ambulance at 35,000 feet, which is why we always try to take care of potential problems on the ground.

Does it come as a surprise to learn intoxicated passengers have a tendency to turn into trouble after a few too many? The reason they seem tipsier in the air than on the ground is because of lower oxygen levels in the blood. The same amount of alcohol goes a lot further at 35,000 feet. While rarely a threat to the safety of the aircraft, unless of course they’re threatening to shoot the flight crew with a 9mm handgun like one drunken passenger did on a flight from Cuba, they do have a tendency to wreak havoc. I’m positive this is one reason why it’s against FAA regulations for an airline to board someone who appears to be intoxicated. If an airline gets caught knowingly doing so, they will be issued a fine.

It’s not hard to spot inebriated passengers when they walk on board and announce, “Let’s party and have some drinks!” Those we know to keep an eye on. It’s the quiet ones we have to worry about, the ones who ask for a cup of ice, and that’s it. That’s a big red flag that there might be a little something-something hidden somewhere. Like bartenders, we’re responsible if anything bad happens to passengers who’ve had a few too many drinks after they leave our flight. That’s why we don’t allow passengers to bring their own booze on board, why we don’t automatically serve free drinks when there’s a delay, and why we’ll cut people off if we feel they’ve had enough.

It’s not always possible for a few of us to keep tabs on so many of you, so some people do squeak by. For instance, after serving a very large first-class passenger not that many Jack and Cokes, we couldn’t stop him from coming into the galley and eating leftover shrimp tails (i.e., garbage) he picked off used passenger meal trays we were stacking back inside the carts after the dinner service. Then there was the elderly woman who drank four vodkas within an hour after takeoff. I had no idea my coworker had just served the sweet old lady a double when she flagged me down and asked for “two of those cute little bottles.” Once we realized our mistake, it was too late. Our crazy little granny with the thick Irish accent was attempting to christen the entire coach cabin with water from the lav on her dripping hands. When one of my colleagues tried to talk her into taking a seat (near the back of the cabin so we could keep an eye on her), she screamed something I will not repeat about my colleague being gay. I don’t know what surprised me more, Granny’s potty mouth or the fact that my coworker didn’t have the gay mafia waiting for her after our flight. I also always love the passengers who use their seat back pocket and/or that of their neighbor, as a barf bag. And the ones who lock themselves inside the one and only first-class lavatory—and never come out.

One hot young thing, determined to talk a couple of male passengers into buying her drinks, once made the rounds on a flight overseas until one of my coworkers confronted the underage girl in the galley. The girl responded by punching my colleague in the face. Now, if that had been me I don’t know what I would have done, but my Puerto Rican coworker, a petite young thing herself, didn’t skip a beat. I can’t tell you what happened next, but I will say I just stood there stunned because girlfriend had just messed with the wrong flight attendant.

But my all-time favorite was the sharply dressed man who took a seat in the exit row after staggering onto the airplane with an open container of alcohol. Of all the seats the guy could sit in . . . I asked him to hand it over, but instead of doing as told, he guzzled it down and burped in my face. Then he wanted to argue about why he couldn’t bring his own booze on board. As I was reminding him that most businesses do not allow open containers of liquor, he passed out, head smack against the tray table…

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CRUISING ATTITUDE: Chapter 2 – I never wanted to be a flight attendant (an excerpt)

In order to be a flight attendant in the 1950s, women were required to be attractive—“just below Hollywood standards.” No wonder many a hopeful starlet became a flight attendant part of a backup plan.  Rumor has it Tom Berenger and Richard Gere once worked as flight attendants. I don’t believe it, either, but I have dreamt about it. Several times. Richard looked amazing wearing nothing but a navy blue pinstriped apron serving me chocolate chip cookies in bed. Dennis Miller, on the other hand, really did work as a flight attendant for Continental, or so I’ve been told. Still trying to figure out how true that is. But what a snarky flight attendant he must have been!

Actress Kate Linder, who has been on The Young and the Restless for more than twenty years, is still a flight attendant for United Airlines. You’ll only find her behind a cart on the weekends. Kim Kardashian’s mother, Kris, was a flight attendant for American Airlines when she met Robert Kardashian, O. J. Simpson’s attorney. What’s funny about that is Kris’s second husband, Bruce Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist, was married first to aflight attendant who supported him while he trained for the de- cathlon. Bruce later went on to purchase a private plane, which he learned to pilot in order to make it on time to public appearances.

But flying is not for everyone. Ant, the comedian, was a flight attendant for American Airlines before he became a TV personality. Evangeline Lilly, who starred as a plane crash survivor on the television show Lost, hated her brief stint as a flight attendant, calling it the “worst job ever” thanks to short layovers and swollen feet.

Men who don’t have a problem with swollen flight attendant feet include Robert De Niro, George Best, David Caruso, Wayne Newton, Lou Rawls, Montel Williams, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. They all married flight attendants. And let’s not forget the most recent person to join the flight attendant wife club, Kelsey Grammer, who ditched his wife Camille, from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, to wed Kayte Walsh, a Virgin Airlines air hostess. Bill Maher, a self-proclaimed bachelor, dated fly girl Coco Johnsen for a couple of years until they wound up in court. And there are all the famous affairs . . . but I probably shouldn’t go there.

The prime minister of Iceland and the world’s first openly gay female leader, Johanna Sigurdardottir, once worked as a flight attendant for Loftleidir, a predecessor of Icelandair. Wife of rogue trader Nick Leeson (Barings Bank), Lisa Leeson, became a flight attendant for Virgin. Virgin’s very own Richard Branson was actually born to a flight attendant. Prince William’s wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton to parents who both worked as airline crew before going into the party supply business.

While times (and requirements) have changed, the job is still a desirable one. Thousands of people apply each year. At my airline, the average age of a flight attendant is now forty years old. For the first time in history, being a flight attendant is considered a profession, not just a job. Fewer are quitting, turnover is not as high as it once was, and competition has gotten fierce. Ninety-six percent of people who apply to become flight attendants do not get a call back. In December 2010, Delta Airlines received more than one hundred thousand applications after announcing they had openings for one thousand flight attendants. Only the most qualified applicants are hired. Even though a college degree is not a requirement, there are very few flight attendants who do not possess one. Lawyers and doctors have been known to apply. This should tell you a lot about me, and anyone else you encounter in navy polyester. Think about that the next time you’re on a plane.

Of course, the first time I tried to become a flight attendant I wasn’t part of the lucky 4 percent.

In college, I went to my first airline interview in order to get away from a roommate who had more than her fair share of issues. She’d bring guys back to our dorm room and leave them behind. Try studying Japanese culture when your roomie is throwing up all over your clothes, the ones you’d specifically and repeat- edly forbidden her to wear! So when my mother, a woman who had always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant, mailed me a newspaper clipping with an ad circled four times in red for an open house with a major U.S. carrier, I decided to apply. Not so much because I wanted to become a flight attendant, but because the airline provided a free ticket to a city out of state where the interviews were being conducted. Broke and tired, with a laundry hamper full of vomit and a disheveled man locked in the bathroom using my Q-tips, I just wanted to get away. I also wanted to fly on an airplane, something I’d only done three times before in my life.

Two weeks after I received a letter from the airline telling me where to go and what to say to the ticket agent to get a seat on the flight (not all airlines cover the travel expense), I stepped off the aircraft, sashayed down the jet bridge in four-inch beige pumps, a little black bag rolling behind, and made my way to a non- descript door clear on the other side of the busy airport terminal. There I found a giant room filled with hundreds of happy, smiling women. I stopped in my tracks. The banquet room was lined with neat little rows of applicants, knees held tightly together, ankles crossed delicately off to the side, dressed head to toe in blue and black. My brand-new canary yellow suit and suntan hose screamed LOOK AT ME! And not in a good way. Right then and there I wanted to die.

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BIG NEWS: My book is actually a book!

Galley copies arrived today!  “Galley” is term for a pre-publication copy of a book that publishing houses send out to reviewers and people in the press. I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this day.  Or how I feel now that it’s FINALLY here.  Or why I’m still typing and not out celebrating!  On that note can somebody please pass the champagne!

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