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50 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming Cabin Crew

Some people think that being cabin crew is easy. Well they’re wrong. It’s hard. It’s hard work getting an interview to get the job. It’s hard work actually getting the job. It’s hard work training for the job and it’s bloody hard work actually doing the job!

Quite often, once newbie crew have completed their training and are thrown to the wolves out on-line some realise – that what they thought was their dream job – actually isn’t for them. 

Following my many years mincing up and down those aeroplane aisles, I’ve learnt a lot and decided to compile a list of the ’50 things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Flying’ for all those budding Trolley Dollies just starting out on this fabulous career path.

  1. If being cabin crew is your dream then do it. Fill out that application form and go along to that open day. You only live once so seize every opportunity.
  2. The training is hard. Like really hard. Written exams, practical exams, long and fast paced days spent in the classroom and aircraft cabin mock-ups. You need to pass every exam with 90% or higher. Fail three and you’ll be going home and you won’t be able to re-apply for 6 months. Training can last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, oh and with most airlines, you don’t get paid for those first few weeks.
  3. The ‘I’m only going to fly for 12-18 months’ line so many of us say when we start flying is bollocks – it usually ends up being much longer. 
  4. You WILL get sick when you first become crew. Everyone does. When you think of the hundreds of people we come in to contact with every day you soon realise that it’s a fact of the job. Just remember that your health is THE most important thing. Look after yourself. 
  5. You’ll try every lotion, potion, health drink, super-food and vitamin combination from Holland & Barrett (other good health stores are available) to try to stop you from getting sick. One amazing health booster is Phizz and you can find out more about this orange elixir here.
  6. Wether you’re still in training or out on-line – you CAN cope. No matter how bad things are. Keep going!
  7. Don’t fall in love with the first hot pilot – PILF (pilot i’d like to f*ck) – you meet. 
  8. Not all pilots are PILFs.
  9. Passengers really can make or break your day. No two are ever the same, days or passengers. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Try not to let them bother you. Some times this will be easier said than done. Just remember that ancient cabin crew mantra ‘Teeth and Tits’ – Keep smiling!
  10. When your told in training that passengers leave their brains at home it’s true, passengers really do leave their brains at home. You wouldn’t believe some of the things that actually come out of their mouths. For a taster, check out – ‘The Most Weird and Wonderful Passenger Requests and Questions’
  11. It’s ok to make mistakes. As long as you don’t blow a slide or spill tea over the flight deck controls don’t stress, we all make them. 
  12. Every airline has Pursers/Seniors/Cabin Managers/CSD’s – ‘C*nts Standing at the Door’ who are complete dragons and who everyone hates flying with – we all know the ones – you may even be one yourself. Don’t let them get to you. 
  13. When you’ve been flying for a few years make sure you don’t become one of these ‘Wagon Dragons’.
  14. Some Pursers/Seniors/Cabin Managers/CSD’s are a wealth of knowledge and will really help when you start flying – listen to them when they give you advice. They’re trying to help.  
  15. If you’re not enjoying the job give it a few months. It takes time for both your body and mind to adjust to those early starts, late nights and long days locked in a pressurised tube with 300+ strangers. If after a while you still hate it then instead of constantly moaning about it, just leave. No one likes a moaner.
  16. You’ll sleep – A LOT and it’s important you do.
  17. But no matter how much you do sleep, you’ll still feel tired.
  18. The money isn’t as good as what they make it out to be at your interview. Just remember though, there are loads more badly paid jobs out there. You’re only really earning when you’re flying. With some airlines, all the getting to and from the aircraft, going through security, briefings etc – none of that is paid. Some flight attendants are paid hourly, based on actual flying time. The clock starts once the cabin doors are closed and ends as soon as they’re opened. So for any passengers reading this, just remember that we’ll be just as pee’d off as you are about that three-hour delay.  
  19. If you’re not already – you’ll become a total aviation geek #avgeek. You’ll end up knowing the aircraft you work on like the back of your hand. Every seat, every piece of equipment, every noise, every nook and cranny. The amount of time we spend onboard, aircraft become our second home.
  20. And every time you hear a plane flying overhead you’ll strain your neck to gaze skywards, quickly firing up flight tracker to see where they’re jetting off to and if you know any of the crew.
  21. You’re going to miss countless family gatherings, parties, christenings, birthdays and weddings. Get used to it. It’s one massive downside of the job.
  22. You need to get used to sleeping in strange places. It could be a comfy crew rest area on a brand new aircraft; or a battered old passenger seat at the back of economy; or perched on a canister in the galley. Just make sure it’s not on your jump seat when you’re coming in to land and a sneaky passenger takes a pic of you. 
  23. Anxiety and depression are extremely common. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the US, flight attendants are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. So make sure you take care of your mental health, as well as your physical health. If you’re struggling – speak to someone, don’t bottle it up. And make sure you look out for each other. Being cabin crew can be a very lonely job.
  24. You’ll drink – A LOT! Yes flying really does drive you to drink.
  25. To try to reverse the effects of all that alcohol, make sure you drink plenty of water. It really does help with the post-layover hangovers, dried out skin and the other dreadful effects that flying has on your body. 
  26. Girls you don’t have to look like a drag queen or Pam Ann to be a glam and gorgeous inter-f*cking-national trolley dolly. Sometimes less is most definitely more. 
  27. If you want to climb the ladder in the industry then do so. But, never forget where you came from and do not piss anyone off on the way up, because it’s a bloody long way back down. 
  28. Don’t be a grass. No one likes a grass. Go to work, get your job done and go home. It’s one of the many perks of our career that we can leave our job onboard that aircraft when our flying is done.
  29. You better get used to eating crap – Coffee and Pringles are a major staple of any cabin crew diet.
  30. Fad diets are not a long-term solution to that muffin top you’ve grown after downing endless tubs of pringles and grab bags of maltesers.
  31. You get cheap flights, buddy passes, companion travel, staff travel – use them! Take your lover, brother, sister, parent, best friend and explore the world!
  32. You’ll share things with your cabin crew colleagues that you never thought you’d share with anyone else. The conversations that go on in our galleys can be emotional, hilarious, deep and frighteningly honest. Jump seat therapy really does work. For more life behind the galley curtain check out – What Happens In The Galley, Stays In The Galley!
  33. Appreciate every single destination you visit, even the rubbish ones. We’re very privileged to do what we do. Just think – when you’re moaning because you’ve got another New York bullet, or another night stop in Rome, or yet another lay over in Las Vegas – there are people who would love to visit these places.
  34. Despite many believing that all male cabin crew are gay this simply isn’t true. You can read more here about – The History Of The Homosexual Flight Attendant
  35. And just a note to the straight boys, not all gay crew will want to get in to your pants – we have much better taste. 
  36. You have to get used to change. A lot changes in the aviation industry. From roster/schedule changes, changes in procedures, changes in crew members – it can all get a bit much.
  37. And you’ll soon realise that we don’t like change. 
  38. It’s hard to maintain relationships and this career can put a strain on even the strongest of couples. The lifestyle of cabin crew is unique, we often cannot make plans far in advance and may have to cancel at the last-minute, which can be very difficult for those not in the industry to understand.
  39. The mile-high club really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 
  40. When on standby your ass is owned by the airline. Sometimes this works in your favour – giving you a chance to catch up on housework or the latest Netflix box set. But if and when that phone rings it feels like the end of the world. 
  41. The job will change your life. Fact! Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. 
  42. You better enjoy being the centre of attention because during that flight YOU are the main attraction. Passengers will watch your every single move. It’s like being on stage. 
  43. I’m definitely not a morning person. Setting an alarm for 3am and being rudely awoken when it’s pouring with rain outside, cold, dark and miserable NEVER gets any easier. 
  44. You’ll become a doctor, nurse, paramedic, police officer, firefighter, bouncer, all rolled in to one. 
  45. You have to be a people person to do this job – no matter how much you think you’re not. 
  46. The grass isn’t always greener. When you’ve been having a bad day/week/month/year just remember that life outside the aviation industry isn’t always better. Many crew who leave will often regret their decision and try to come back – rejoining an airline they may have left just a few months before – bottom of the pile, no seniority, the new kid all over again.
  47. When you’re on a trip with the same crew you’ll spend a lot of time with them and then potentially never fly with them again.
  48. You may just meet the love of your life onboard – could be a passenger or colleague.
  49. You’ll work with some of the craziest characters, biggest and best people in the world. Well I guess you have to be a little bit mad to do our job. You’ll make life long friends and become one big (mostly) happy family. 
  50. Enjoy and make the most of every single minute!  

© by Dan Air

About Confessions of a Trolley Dolly (86 Articles) brought to you by International Gay Trolley Dolly, Dan Air ! Come & join us onboard as we take a peek behind the galley curtain with all your cabin crew & aviation news, galley gossip, glamour & humerous tales of life at 39,000 feet!

5 Comments on 50 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming Cabin Crew

  1. This is a great post! So accurate.

  2. Brilliant, and oh so true!

  3. jonnobols59 // 15/05/2019 at 4:17 AM // Reply

    I typically give Starbucks gift cards to the cabin and cockpit crew when flying international long haul. I don’t expect anything back, I just do it as a gesture. I also pay strict attention during the safety briefing. You think you know how to exit any aircraft during an emergency if the cabin crew who so graciously welcomed you onboard and poured that lovely Bloody Mary before takeoff, is now a bloody heap of tissue and bone? Sure, you oik, ya just turn the handle. But are you aware there is no standard door for all aircraft? Whereas on one type of aircraft you turn the handle to the left, on others you turn it to the right. And after the fuselage has hit the ground with numbing force and you’re not aware of where you are, are you going to be able to do that macho stroll to the door, open it and get out? No, Sherlock. I AM SORELY TEMPTED to lean over to my seat humanoid as they ignore the safety briefing, and, sotto voce, tell them, “I’ll step on your quivering, incontinent heap of useless confusion if anything like an incident occurs where fast thinking and automatic use of emergency action is required.” Sorry, this didn’t start out to be a rant. But show cabin crew respect.

  4. chalaaparnagmailcom // 17/08/2019 at 4:22 AM // Reply

    Thanks a lot for sharing the experiences of a cabin crew. I really enjoyed reading it. All the 50 points were so interesting that I didn’t really realise that I’ve come to the end.
    Sharing things we know helps a lot of newbies who wants to get in or for who are just curious. I think, I’ll give a try to this. Thanks again.
    With lots of love
    And yeah, please keep writing..

  5. Simon Marton // 26/02/2020 at 5:15 PM // Reply

    I love this and agree with rather a lot of it. I’m no longer in the industry but I can assure you it’s true. Well done, Dan!
    Love, The Reluctant Air Steward

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