Drunks on a plane!

3424024961_c274752fdf_mIt’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 the red flag that there might be a little something – something hidden somewhere. 

 

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 the lower oxygen levels in the blood.  The same amount of alcohol goes a lot further at 35,000 feet. Which is why flight crew need to be able to monitor how much passengers drink, so we can cut them off before it’s too late.  While rarely a threat to the safety to the aircraft, unless of course they’re threatening to shoot the 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 the reason it’s against FAA regulations to board someone who appears to be intoxicated. If an airline gets caught knowingly doing so, they will be issued a fine. 

 

Which brings us to Kate Moss.  Can we for a moment forget she was traveling on Easy Jet or the fact that she became upset when the crew ran out of sandwiches (not salads), which was only made worse when she spotted a flight attendant eating pasta on her break.  And focus on this…

 

Moss called the pilot a “basic bitch” as police escorted her from the plane.

 

Calling a pilot a bitch, or telling them to F off (as one passenger did on one of my flights years ago), is one way to get kicked off a plane.  The Captain makes the final call when there’s a problem.  Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  It’s their call. The Captain’s plane. Now back to Moss.

 

“But she was not aggressive to anyone and was funny really, the Easy Jet crew was acting out of proportion,” a passenger said. “She was a little drunk and had a disagreement with another passenger on the flight as she was refused alcohol and then went to serve her own vodka from her cabin luggage.”

 

That last bit about grabbing her own vodka is probably what got her in trouble. Passengers can’t drink their own liquor in flight.  When they do, we ask them to stop.  When they don’t, we have a problem.  When we have a problem, authorities are called to meet the flight.

 

Some airlines will allow passengers to bring their own alcohol on board to drink, but flight attendants have to keep it in the galley and pour it for them. We’re like bartenders.  We’re responsible for what happens to passengers during and after a flight. Somebody has to be the gatekeeper. Somebody has to step up and say when enough is enough.That’s why so many airlines don’t allow passengers to drink 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 sounds like might have happened to Kate Moss right before she went to grab her own stash.  But I don’t know.  I wasn’t there.

 

What I do know is airplane food isn’t worth getting upset over.  I also know it’s a huge deal for flight attendants to walk off a flight, have a passenger removed, or call the authorities to meet the plane.  Nobody wants to go in on a day off to talk to a manager about who made that call. Nobody wants to cost the airline money by taking a delay, diverting a flight, or bringing an airline bad press simply because a celebrity was involved in a story that went viral, like this one did.  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 like to take care of potential problems on the ground    

 

4114847529_2669115f3a_m In the air 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 (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. She was attempting to christen the entire coach cabin with water from the lav on her dripping hands. My all time favorite was the sharply dressed man who took a seat in the exit row after staggering onto the plane 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 don’t allow open containers of liquor, he passed out, head smack against the tray table.  

 

Is that who you want to sit next to on a five hour flight?  Is that who you want helping you in case there’s an emergency?  The guy who used your seat back pocket as an air sick bag? The woman who locked herself in the one and only first class bathroom for three hours

 


Didn’t think so. 

 

This is where some people will suggest airlines should stop serving alcohol.  I don’t think that’s the answer.  Why punish everyone when only a few can’t handle it. Moderation is key. Plus, it takes the edge off people who are — because of delays, seat recliners, zero leg room — in great need of losing that edge. 

 

Some people might find it hard to believe but flight attendants aren’t afraid to cut people off. Some people assume first class gets a free pass. That’s not true.  Not even if you’re Kate Moss. But how you cut them off is important.  I try to do it as respectfully and quietly as possible to avoid any embarrassment.  But I have no problem having them handcuffed if they mistake my kindness for weakness.

Depending on our rapport, I might come right out and tell a passenger who’s had one too many that that’s it, the last one, enjoy.  Other times I might serve a passenger a glass of very little Jack with a whole lot of Coke.  Mostly Coke.  All Coke.  With maybe just a tiny bit of Jack rubbed around the rim of the glass.  Sometimes It’s just easier saying we ran out of alcohol.  But sometimes we really do run out so don’t assume we think you have a problem when we tell you that.  Another tactic is to just disappear.  Hide.  On one occasion I became the most forgetful flight attendant on earth.  “I’m so sorry I forgot your drink,” I said. Then I promised to be right back, with no intention of ever returning. Anything to keep the situation under control.  

 

My job is to keep the cabin calm.  The best way to do that is to ensure things don’t escalate and somebody goes off in handcuffs.   Sometimes that means I cut people off before they start calling the Captain names. 

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St. Lucia 

                                                

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Traveling to get lost helped me find myself after tragedy

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I’d been in Saint Lucia less than 24 hours and already I felt antsy. It didn’t help that the resort was only 10 minutes from the airport, or that we were handed a rum punch the minute we walked into the hotel lobby. Thirty minutes after getting off the plane, I was sitting under a palm tree on a blue and white striped towel reading a book.

The resort was nice, the drinks were free. From my cushy lounge chair I could hear the waves, and see the ocean, vast and blue. Off in the distance, the land jutted out into the sea on either side of me. People were getting ready to get ready to line up at the buffet for dinner. Tacos and empanadas, I overheard somebody say. None of it helped.

I was depressed, but I don’t think anyone could tell.

I took a sip of my drink, the local beer Piton, and it reminded me of college, Pearl Jam — that song “Alive.” I felt anything but alive as I tossed the book I couldn’t get interested in aside, threw on shorts and a tank over my swimsuit, and decided to take a walk. I told my husband to watch our kid, who was splashing around in the pool

Ten months earlier, I lost a child. Not my first. There have been six altogether. Six pregnancies. Six losses. The last one was the hardest one, because I was five months along when he decided to leave this earth. One minute I was in labor, and the next minute I was being handed a list of funeral homes and crematoriums.

I had to take a year off from working as a flight attendant after that. The thought of being asked to hold a baby — or even having somebody yell at me over nothing. A broken seat light, a middle seat, running out of chicken in first class.

I went to Saint Lucia to get lost, blend in, disappear. Which wasn’t hard to do at this all-inclusive resort five minutes from the airport. But I was still restless.

Walking onto the beach, I picked a direction at random.

“Venture at your own risk,” read a wooden sign stuck in the sand. The risk being — I looked around — seaweed? Another American tourist? There was nothing else.

More than anything I wanted there to be something else, anything else, that could distract me. Something to make me forget everything I’d been through. I found tire tracks leading back to the hotel, and followed them with my eyes to a seaweed removal machine behind a cluster of palm trees. Still I hoped for more as I turned the corner and imagined signs of life: colorful cottages, half naked children, laundry flapping in the breeze.

Instead I found more of the same: Sand, seaweed, a big blue beautiful ocean and a kayak on a deserted beach. Paradise.

Disappointed, I turned around and went back to my chair.

“We’re renting a car,” I told my husband.

“How much longer do I have to feel like this?”

“How much longer do I have to feel like this?” I’d asked my mother every single day leading up to our vacation. She was the only person I could talk to about it, the only person I knew who wouldn’t worry about me simply because I wanted to talk about it, the only person I didn’t make uncomfortable just by talking about it.

She assured me the feeling would pass, and that things would get better, over time. I wasn’t so sure about that.

Time takes too much time when you’re feeling down.

It’s hard losing a baby, but dealing with people who can’t deal with you afterward is even worse. A lot of people knew I was pregnant. At three months along, I probably looked more like six months. It’s how it is for the women in my family; I come from a long line of very large pregnant women.

And so everyone knew: parents at my son’s school, parents on the soccer team, parents at the music school, parents I rarely spoke to but saw on a daily basis. Then, all of a sudden, I was clearly no longer pregnant.

Some parents seemed confused and asked me about my weight loss. Others congratulated me and wanted to know what I’d named the baby. Then there were the majority of people who just kept their distance. No eye contact, no questions — they may as well have been running away. My deflated belly had become my scarlet letter.

I couldn’t wait to get away from it all in Saint Lucia.

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I want to be a flight attendant… but I don’t have a college degree.

20131007-121531.jpgHello! I am an aspiring Flight Attendant. I’m 20. I live in Germany as an 
Au-Pair and I’m finally headed back to San Diego in a month. I don’t have a college education under my belt so I was wondering what should I have to accomplish before applying to airlines? In other words, what should be on my application/resume to standout? I’m considering an aviation operations degree program but I know I want to be a flight attendant in at least 1 1/2 years and know to complete an associates degree I need at least two years.. So i guess that’s my also a question,  will I have a chance of getting an interview with being in college for aviation?  Or will they truly only consider me if I’m a college graduate?  I’m also considering CNA Training to let them know I’ve been trained for emergency situations. But i dont know what’s truly need and im hoping you could enlighten me on how to land an interview.  Thank you for your time! I look forward to hearing back!
-Olivia

It’s not required to have a college degree to become a flight attendant. But competition is fierce. Only the best get hired. That’s why most flight attendants do have college degrees (doesn’t have to be related to aviation), speak another language, or have worked as medical professionals. Good customer service is everything to an airline.  A smile and a good attitude go a long way. Who better to work for an airline than an au-pair! You’re used to dealing with people – children, so you must know how to make them happy. I’ve seen grown men cry over not getting an upgrade. Recently a grown woman refused to share her row with another passenger. In this job you have to have patience, be able to keep people calm, and also know how to adapt to change quickly. You can’t be rigid.  You have to be able to go with the flow.  I say apply to the airlines and see what happens. While you’re waiting to hear back, enroll in school. Study whatever you like. It’s always good to have something to fall back on, especially in Airline World where things are always changing, not necessarily for the better.

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I want to be a flight attendant…. but I’m a single mom

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I’m thinking about applying to be a flight attendant and I have a 1 year old son and I’m not too sure if its a good idea. I watched the Flight attendant video Delta airline shows and it scares me. They say the pay is low! I’m not with my son’s father so we switch weeks. My son is with him one week and with me the next. I want to do this because it’s a career oppurtunity but all I hear is the bad part of being an attendant. Do you think it’s for me? Or should i try something else? – Angel G

Those first few years as a flight attendant are tough. It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. This is why flight attendants only last a few months or an entire life time  It’s that extreme.  As for the pay, nobody becomes a flight attendant for the money.  New hires average between 14K-20K the first year – unless they work insane hours, in which case they’re never home.  What kind of life is that when you have a young child at home?  (You can read more about how much flight attendants make HERE.)  Most flight attendants start out very young, that or this is a second career later on in life after the kids have grown.  I don’t want to squash your dream, but starting this job with a young child at home will be difficult.  There’s a good chance you won’t get based where you live.  Sure you’ll have days off to fly home and you’ll be able to use your flight benefits to get there, but unless you have a 24 hour support system while you’re away it’s going to be hard.  Add bad weather, flight cancellations, and full flights into the mix and you might not even make it home.  That’s why you have to be flexible. Why you always have to have back up plans A, B, C, and D. The hardest thing about the job is reserve.  It’s a killer.  You’re at the airlines beckon call.  Research each airline to see how their reserve system works.  Some airlines require flight attendants to work an entire month of reserve until you’re senior enough to hold off.  Other airlines only require flight attendants to work a few days each month.   If the airline is at the end of a hiring spree, you might get stuck on reserve for a long time.  If you’re one of the first to be hired or you know the airline will continue hiring, there’s a good chance you might not be on reserve for long.  But that also depends on where you’re based, and how senior the flight attendants are at that base.  Reserve is what breaks most flight attendants. You should also know that most airlines don’t pay for training.  Training averages 4-7 weeks, depending on the airline.  If you have a good support system at home, I say go for it!  If you don’t like it you can always quit.

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