Loneliness, danger and dirt: Flight attendants reveal things most people don’t know about the job

Despite the frequency with which people fly these days, flight attendants’ jobs are still, surprisingly, shrouded in a fair amount of mystery.

In fact, we know so little about what they do for a living that misconceptions abound.

To help lift the veil a little, Stuff.co.nz asked flight attendants everywhere to share some things that might surprise people about their job, and more than 60 responded.

We’ve anonymously included some of their answers here:

We only get paid for flight hours

So, for example, your duty day could actually be 12 hours, but you only get paid for six hours of work.

We aren’t paid for boarding or deplaning. We are only paid for time away from the gate.

And it’s especially hard to make ends meet at the start

You are bombarded with new and unexpected expenses that come along with the job, like a second apartment (your ‘crash pad’) since you usually don’t get based where you live, countless Ubers/Lyfts to get you to and from the airport, meals on the road, uniforms, luggage, tips for drivers, and petty cash in case your fellow crew members want to go out.

For the first five years you are DIRT poor, and five to 10 roommates is a must.

But you can make a very good living

‘You’ll never get rich being a flight attendant, but you can have some control over how much you make.’

Our main job is safety and security

There are about 300 rules we follow for this.

It’s actually kind of lonely at times

We spend hours alone in hotels and airports.

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When we’re on reserve, we can spend up to six days without flying or going anywhere

We are supposed to have everything ready to go at the drop of a hat, but on slower flying months, we finally have time to catch up on Netflix.

There are many hats we might have to wear

Think of anything that could possibly happen anywhere – if it happens at 37,000 feet in the air, guess who is taking care of it? We do much more than hand out Cokes, but unfortunately that is what the public sees, especially if they only fly domestically.

I know how to build a bomb stack, and if it came down to it, I could deliver your baby.

Flight attendants put their lives on the line every time they fly

We are trained to protect the flight deck at all costs.

Flight attendant training is, hands down, the toughest job interview you’ll ever go through

We’re truly hard-trained safety experts on a plane to save your life, not just to serve you a tomato juice. The training is inexplicable, like childbirth. You can’t understand how hard it is until you experience it.

All that training comes in handy

Even though I’m not First-Aid or CPR certified, our training helped make me capable of saving a life in mid-air on two different occasions.

Some airlines still have strict guidelines for the physical appearance of their cabin crew

For my airline, having a pimple or a cold sore may cause you to be grounded for weeks.

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It’s rather dirty and unhealthy

I work international flights and the health problems among flight attendants is staggering: kidney stones, hearing loss, depression, sleep deprivation, repetitive strain injuries, digestion issues. And people have no qualm handing me a dirty diaper when I am serving food. Yuck!

It can put immense strain on relationships

If you want to spend holidays with the family, this job is not for you. If you want every weekend with your partner off, this job is not for you. If you want to be home with the family every night, this job is not for you.

The job requires physical strength

Bar carts are heavy but ‘I’m not supposed to lift your bags. “Our companies don’t cover our injuries if we get hurt lifting your bags.”

There’s a reason flight attendants are the most eccentric, quirky, and generous people you will ever meet

We are hired that way. It helps us deal with all of the different personalities we encounter every day.

People don’t leave this job

Once you decide you like it, it becomes a lifelong career. You’ll know within the first year.

Stuff.co.nz

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