Flight Attendant Confesses Ups And Downs Of Job

An anonymous woman who said she is a 22-year-old flight attendant for a major airline urged Reddit users to ask her anything in an open forum over the weekend. The candid Q&A session turned into a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a flight attendant, including a tell all on the weird things passengers ask for, a discussion on how many people really try to join the mile high club and a confession about the kind of shenanigans that really happen between lonely crew members at outposts. Keep reading to learn more about the ups and downs of the job, including why you should be nice while on board a plane. Just be warned this post is most definitely NSFW (not safe for work).

Q: What is the most crazy request you have been asked by a passenger?

A: Crazy? Goodness.
  • A bag to spit in. I had to confirm several times the word spit
  • A lady with a neck brace “I need soft food I will have rice” (The menu items did not include rice even after explaining she kept ordering things that just didn’t exist)
  • Hot fried chips
  • Nappies
  • Ice cream
  • My number
  • On a Lagos flight a passenger told me he wanted to masturbate. I directed him to the on board toilet.
If it exists a passenger has asked me for it. They ask for EVERYTHING.

Q: What is the best thing about being a flight attendant?
A: Best thing? I feel obvious but new destinations, I get a small taste of EVERYTHING I love it so much, I get to see smell and taste so much. I meet friends all over the world and party like a rockstar everywhere I go because I know I wont be there for long.

Q: What is the pay like? Besides being able to travel all over the world, are there any other benefits, either monetary or otherwise?

A: About 38k US a year, free rent transport and bills, all I pay is internet and taxi. 90% off tickets.

Q: Are there as many people joining the mile high club in the bathroom as television portrays it?

A: Yes people try to join the mile high club. Let me tell you something, those toilets are FILTHY. Absolute FILTH. People shit in the sinks.
Moving on, I caught a lesbian couple in the toilets we had to get three crew to bang open the door and make them come out. She responded with[,] “We were trying to piss[.]“

A crew was fired for getting drunk while she was a passenger flying somewhere and joining a gentleman in the lavatory.

A women had TWO men going at it on a flight from Manchester. Crew opened the door on them and the female tried to assault the crew. When the men went to their connecting flight they were arrested. Not sure what happened to them!

Q: Do people really get bumped to first class if there is a conflict with another passenger?

A: With the question of bumping people yes we move people but generally not for conflict. A month ago on one of my flights economy was full and this gentleman had changed seats several times to accommodate couples, families etc who needed to change seats. He didnt care where he sat and was so gracious. So we moved him to business class. Lesson, be nice!

If you are ill (severely) you will usually be moved to business or first if there aren’t many people in those cabins to recuperate and lie down at the discretion of the seniors.

Q: What’s something a passenger has done that you’ve really appreciated, or was just really nice?

A: I’ve had passengers write comment cards about me, they get given to me via emails from my manager, which is so nice … i love them[.]

Q: When do you plan on settling down? This job doesn’t seem like the type where you can keep a stable relationship.

A: I know :( I hope it’s around 25 … I am 22 now and I love the job so I think two or so more years before I move back home and find love … I will never find a stable relationship in the industry, it is unstable. I want a stable relationship but I wont find it here[.]

Q: Since you fly so much, do you happen to have any sexual urges while in a different country? Do you get off to hooking up with passengers or do you go somewhere to get some?

A: Yep! I um see friends in outstations. I have had some encounters in Hong Kong and I have a few ‘friends’ in Dubai. It’s really hard and you get really lonely so you look for any guy to meet you after flights. All the crew sleep with each other in outstation. It’s a big problem, the cabin crew are desperate to sleep with pilots and senior crew. You have crew call you in the middle of the night in your room, especially pilots!

Q: How long do you stay in each city?

A: Usually 24-72 hours[.]

Q: What’s your favourite city in the world?

A: I cannot name one but I will try to do it region wise
1) Hong Kong (The most fun)
2) Vienna (Amazing food, people, scenery)
3) Moscow (Fascinating, so closed for so long)
4) Melbourne, Australia (Diverse, charming filled with character)
I find some redeeming quality in every city I visit.

Q: What are your thoughts on flight etiquette (e.g. when it’s okay to put your seat all the way back). Is there a classic faux pas we should know about?

A: Seat back if your legs are too long and when not eating. During the meal seats up and if you’re short, it’s not really necessarily. But otherwise seats up for everyone when eating, you can do whatever you want after service.

Q: I’d like to be a flight attendant to see what it’s like to travel and interact. Would I have to go through an exorbitant amount of training before I can work?

A: I did 7 weeks! So worth it… I felt so ready. The training is hard but it paid [off] for me[.]

Q: How do you adjust being in the air so often, and with different time zones and all that? When I fly from the US to Singapore, by the time of the end of the trip I want to actually throw up. Air gets so thin, and the airline food is pretty bad even on Singapore Airlines. I literally need to have a can of sprite when flying on long flights next to me once every hour, slowly sipping until the soda is done to keep sane.

A: You never really adjust. I just did three middle of the night flights and I can’t stay awake in the day, so I have been nocturnal for a week. Some things that I do to keep myself sane is as soon as I get on board I get a bottle of 1.5L water and make myself drink it all. Then I brew a big pot of mint tea after the service and make myself drink that throughout the flight too. Keeping hydrated is valuable to my sanity and mood. We have one trip that is four days long and you have 24 hours in each port but the whole flights are nighttime only. It is TORTURE. Key points 1) Stay hydrated 2) Stay rested (sleep whenever you are tired) 3) Eat smart (this means no business class cheese boards or first class caviar, stick to fresh food only) For me eating right is the hardest, you’re so tired you just want to SHOVE chocolate in your mouth. If I follow the above I am totally fine on board. On flights over 10 hours or so we get rest (sleep) in the crew bunks[.]

Q: What airline/flight benefits or perks do you get as a result of your job?

A: 90% [Off] Flights
Hotel discounts
Event discounts
Free tickets to events

For more adventures in the sky, be sure to follow our resident flight attendant, Heather Poole, in her “Galley Gossip” column.

Please note: These questions and answers have been edited slightly to fit an interview format.

[Photo credit: Flickr user laszlo-photo]

World’s Oldest Backpacker To Travel Europe This Summer

When most people think of backpacking, they picture a bunch of youths in their mid-20s eating street food, hiking to city sites and sleeping in dorms of 10 or more travelers. Australian nomad Keith Wright is breaking the stereotype, and at 95 years old, has planned a two-month backpacking tour of Europe for this summer.

Nicknamed the “world’s oldest backpacker,” Wright began backpacking when his wife passed away 10 years ago. Since the age of 85, the Aussie has been exploring the world solo, selling his home, staying in hostels, sipping brews with fellow travelers and trying as hard as he can to get off the beaten path.

“I have seen things most tourists haven’t seen, because I walk the back streets and take trains or buses to nearby towns for the day,” he told The Daily Mail.

Travel has become a large focus of Mr. Wright’s life, as he carefully budgets all year long for these special trips. Starting May 28, the backpacker will spend his summer visiting Madrid, San Sebastian, Paris, Munich, Vienna and London.

Locked up Abroad: It’s only Christmas, why are the shops closed?

I’d never seen such a long line at a supermarket in my life. It was December 22, 2006 and I was hoping to buy a few items at a chain supermarket in Vienna, Austria. After waiting in line for about 15 minutes, it was almost my turn. But then an announcement was made, in German, the lights were dimmed and the people behind me in line dispersed- some left their items in their baskets, others took the time to replace their groceries on the shelves.

“Veer closed now,” said the cashier, in English, sensing my confusion.

“But can’t I pay for my things?” I asked, hopefully.

“We close at six,” she said, pointing to a clock which proved that it was exactly six o’clock.

“Do you know if there are any other grocery stores in the area that are open?” I asked.

“Oh no,” she said. “Everything will be closed until Wednesday.”

My wife and I had just arrived in Vienna for a four day weekend, and it was only Friday night. We assumed that the shops and museums would be open on Saturday and again on Tuesday. It turned out that the city was practically sealed shut for four full days. Some shops had limited hours on Saturday, December 23, but all were closed on Sunday and Monday, and again on Tuesday for St. Stephen’s Day.

Some restaurants remained open, but all the museums and other tourist attractions were closed. I didn’t actually mind that, but the real kicker was the fact that the streets were so eerily empty. Part of the joy of walking a great city like Vienna is the people watching, and the site of empty streets and shuttered storefronts was depressing. As Morrissey once crooned, “I want to see people and I want to see life.”

Fast forward to Christmas Day, 2011 in Falls Church, Virginia. I was about to make a sandwich from some leftover ham from our Christmas Eve meal and decided that some Swiss cheese would be the perfect complement to my lunch. I drove up the street from my house and found that both supermarkets we frequent were open. Not only that, but there were plenty of shoppers out and about. If the woman at the deli counter hadn’t wished me a Merry Christmas, it might have been just any other day.

I couldn’t help but think back to the four day lockdown in Vienna five years ago. Americans aren’t used to going even a full day with the shops closed, how would they cope with a four consecutive day shutdown? On Friday night, impatient shoppers hoping to buy Air Jordan sneakers were so eager to get into the shops that many rioted in cities across the country. Imagine the mayhem if the U.S. were to suddenly adopt European-style labor laws which mandated store closings for public holidays.

As a traveler, public holidays can be both a blessing and a curse. Having an opportunity to see how people celebrate various holidays in other parts of the world can be priceless, but walking empty streets for days on end is obviously a drag. As Americans, we’re used to being able to satisfy almost any passing fancy, even if it strikes us on Christmas day. That impulse is very hard to shake, no matter how long you live outside the U.S.

How do Americans cope with holiday shopping hours in other less consumer driven parts of the world? Some choose to bitch; others slow down and figure out how to go native. I’m caught somewhere in between, but I have to admit, my ham and Swiss cheese sandwich tasted awfully good.

[flickr image via Kevin Dooley]

Austria comes to New York: a look at the Openhouse Gallery’s Austrian pop-up shop

This month, the Openhouse Gallery in New York hosted a free Austrian pop-up shop, which gave visitors a glimpse into what they could experience in terms of art, food, tours, culture, hotels, festivals, museums, and outdoor spaces if they visited Austria.

austrian popup shop in new yorkWhile the space itself was small, it had a lot to offer. The girls who worked the exhibit were extremely helpful and were happy to walk around with me to explain exactly what everything was I was looking at.

When first walking in, I was immediately struck by a giant painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt called “The Kiss”. In 2012, Vienna will celebrate his 150th birthday with an array of event and exhibits in his honor.

If visitors needed help planning a trip to visit Austria, the pop-up shop featured a travel lounge, as well, with comfortable white, leather couches and a table of tour packets, culinary books, travel advice, and even an Austrian memory and matching game called Craz.The most interactive part of the exhibit, and by far my favorite, was the sampling station. Authentic Austrian goodies to try included:

  • Pumpkin seed oil and pieces of bread for dipping
  • Viennese cookies from the Vienna Cookie Company
  • Gðlles specialty vinegar
  • Rupp Alina cheeses
  • Zotter hand made organic chocolate

The next section of the pop-up shop expanded on the idea of art, design, and theater in Austria. Visitors were able to take a look at some Austrian craftsmanship from Wien Products, such as vases and other housewares. Pieces of outdoor furniture that are used to help create the lively atmosphere in the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, one of the largest museums quarters in the world, were also on display.

autrian popup shop in new yorkVisitors could also learn about the theater culture of Austria, with the “Sound of Music” installation. The show, which is set in Austria, will debut at the Salzburger Landestheatre this Fall from October 23, 2011 to June 30, 2012. As you continue walking, you will also be able to explore a small gallery of historical Austrian paintings by Austrian artists.

At the end of the visit to the Openhouse Gallery’s Austrian pop-up shop (or the beginning, if you wanted), visitors were invited to enjoy some traditional Viennese coffee and desert in their Cafe Sacher, which included:

  • Wiener Melange- an espresso coffee with foamed milk
  • Grosser Brauner- a double espresso coffee with cream
  • a slice of original Sachertorte mit schlag with whipped cream
  • a homemade piece of Viennese apple strudel

The waitresses were even dressed in a traditional dirndl-style costume.

Interested in booking a trip to Austria? Visit the Austrian Tourism Board website. Want to know more about pop-up installations at the Openhouse Gallery in New York? Check out Paul Gerben’s Pickers Cafe that will be going on into 2012.

Exhibit at Austrian Cultural Forum in New York gives a new perspective on beauty

austria cultural forum in new york host's beauty exhibitThe Austrian Cultural Forum in New York is currently hosting Beauty Contest, an exhibit featuring 20 international artists focusing their work on their interpretation of beauty. Some of the artists call upon their own experiences being a gay/lesbian, transgendered, or exhibitionist living in eastern Europe, while others comment on beauty’s evolution in terms of society. Visitors can expect these visions to be presented through an array of mediums, including sculpture, video, photography, and painting.

The majority of the artists working on this exhibit live and work in Vienna, Austria, however, there are still some artists who grew up in Austria and moved to New York, and others who have been raised in various American cities. Artists you may recognize include Cindy Sherman, Matthias Herrmann, Kalup Linzy, and Evangelia Kranioti.

The exhibit runs until January 3, 2012, and on certain dates there will be special events held as part of the Beauty Contest program:

  • October 19- A panel discussion will be held at 6:30PM, moderated by Gia Kourlas, the dance editor at Time Out New York as well as a dance critic for the New York Times. Other members of the panel will include French historian, dancer, and choreographer François Chaignaud, American author of The Man in the Grey Flannel Skirt Jon-Jon Goulian, Austrian dancer and choreographer Silke Grabinger, and the curatorial advisor for the exhibition Beauty Contest, Salette Gressett. The discussion will focus on “how emancipatory artistic reflection and practice has fought to reveal the hidden structures of repression toward gender, race, and age and to shake off antiquated visual preconceptions”.
  • November 10- A performance by Austrian artist Maria Petschnig will take place at 7:30PM. It will consist of video clips and live action that suggests fantasies, transitioning from the sensual to the grotesque. The performance will question the difference between public and private as well as one’s actual self verses the staged self.
  • Every Wednesday- Private tours are led at 5PM by co-curator Andreas Stadler.

The gallery is located at 11 East 52nd St. New York, NY 10022 (between Madison and 5th Ave) and the exhibit is open daily from 10am – 6pm.