People often think that being cabin crew is the ultimate glamorous profession. Visiting exotic sun-kissed destinations, first class service, designer uniforms, world-class hotels, hot pilots and fabulous parties!
Truth is, life as crew really isn’t like you see in the movies. Once you head out on line and step away from the comfort of your training course and trainee friends, reality can be very different.
But as the saying goes ‘Life is what you make of it’ and to help your life as cabin crew go as smoothly as possible, we’ve put together some handy hints and tips on how to survive being cabin crew.
Look After Your Health
The BIGGEST piece of advice I could give to anyone is to look after your health. It is THE most IMPORTANT thing in the world and something we very often take for granted. If you haven’t got your health then you have nothing – believe me.
Flying puts a massive strain on our bodies. Working in a pressurised cabin, coming in to contact with hundreds of different people each day, confined in a metal tube with all those germs, jet lag and fatigue, plus the partying that you will do all has a massive detrimental effect on your body.
Eat well, drink plenty of water, rest when you can! Multi-vitamins are a great help to top up your immune system.
Not forgetting of course your mental health which is equally as important as your physical wellbeing. Not only is flying tough on the body, it’s also incredibly tough on the mind.
But you don’t have to suffer in silence. Speak to someone if you’re feeling low – a colleague, a friend, a family member, even your management, that’s what they are there for. Exercise is great for your body and mind and every hotel will have a gym. Mediation apps can also really help when you’re away from home.
Take Time Out
Our job isn’t easy. Being locked in a metal tube, with hundreds of strangers, hurtling through the air at 500 miles per hour, 6 miles up, whizzing across multiple countries and time zones is enough to test even the most patient of people.
Make sure that you always allow yourself some ‘me time’. It can be as little or as much as you need, everyone is different.
Take yourself off and immerse yourself in a good book, magazine, movie or boxset. Have a bath. Light some candles, pour a wine and let your troubles just wash away. Go for a walk alone and enjoy nature.
Taking time to yourself has been proven to reduce stress and unwind, reboot your brain and re-energise you, increase productivity, improve your concentration and problem solving, improve relationships and help both your mental and physical health.
Get Yourself Organised
Organisation is key to surviving in our profession. You will quickly realise that being prepared is extremely helpful. Changes to your roster, call-outs from standbys, unscheduled night stops, diversions etc can all impact your routine.
Have things ready incase you’re on standby – uniform washed and ironed. A night-stop kit ready even if you’re operating a there and back. Food-prep, for when you get sick of eating the crew food or first class leftovers.
Every little helps!
Friends and Family
You’re going to realise pretty quickly that being crew means you often miss out on many friends and family gatherings, parties and events.
This can be pretty tough.
Relationships can often become strained as people outside our industry just don’t understand the lifestyle and rosters of a flight attendant.
You’ll soon find out who your true friends are, and these are the ones you should cling on to.
But fear not, you’ll also be making loads of amazing new friends within the industry, friends that you will laugh, cry and share some of the best times of your life with.
Grow A Thick Skin
Ah our beloved passengers. The guests, customers, self-loading freight. They can make or break your day. Some are lovely and some are not. Thankfully the latter is in the minority but you will come across, shall we say, challenging passengers who will abuse you verbally (and VERY occasionally physically).
Some who get angry will try and goad you to get a reaction.
The best piece of advice I can give you is DO NOT TAKE THE BAIT. If you get angry and lower yourself to their level then they win.
There will also be colleagues you won’t get along with. We can’t like all of the people, all of the time. There may be tough pursers or pilots you have to deal with. But much like abusive passengers these awkward colleagues are thankfully in the minority.
Don’t let this put you off. Even if you don’t feel like you will have a thick skin now, you will grow one and quickly learn to let things just go over your head.
Have A Sense Of Humour
Have a sense of humour or you’ll never survive in our job. You know that saying ‘If I don’t laugh I’ll cry’? Well it’s very true in our industry.
There will be many occasions when you may want to break down in tears but the best thing you can do is to try and laugh it off.
Indeed, studies have shown that a sense of humour can improve your mental and physical health, boost your attractiveness, and improve your leadership skills, all very important in your role as cabin crew.
Follow The Rules
But rules are there to be broken I hear you cry. And this is in some cases true! Although sadly not in the aviation industry.
Here, rules are there for a reason. They have been created to keep you and your colleagues and passengers safe.
They have been developed and adapted from the very first day that the Wright Brothers took to the skies and our cabin crew predecessors such as Iris Peterson, Barbara Jane Harrison, Ali Osman, Jan Brown and Edith Lauterbach have helped hone these rules, allowing our profession to be as safe as it is today.
Take a look at our Angels in the Sky series over on the Confessions Of A Trolley Dolly blog to find out more, and for further evidence of how critical safety and following the rules is to the Cabin Crew role – including our latest article on the flight of United 811, where the crew went above and beyond in utterly terrifying circumstances to ensure the safety of their passengers.
Get Used To Change
I’ve been flying for over 15 years now and I am still no good with change. To be honest, I don’t know of many cabin crew that are.
But if you can embrace change then this will be nothing but a good thing because believe me a LOT changes in our industry.
Your roster will change, constantly. The way you carry out the service onboard will change. First aid, safety and standard operating procedures will change. Your colleagues will change, you might be looking forward to flying with someone only for you or them to be taken off the flight. Uniforms will change. Hotels you stay at will change. Aircraft will change. You WILL change.
Have A Little Patience
Patience is most definitely a virtue, especially in our profession.
There’s lots of waiting around, at airports, hotels, for planes, for passengers, for rosters, for pay day. Queuing to get through customs, to get your luggage, to get on the bus to the staff car park after a 14 hour duty.
Then of course as mentioned there’s the wonderful general public who will always test your patience. Just remember that ancient cabin crew mantra of ‘Teeth and Tits’ and smile though your frustrations.
And Finally…Have Fun!
There really isn’t another job like being cabin crew. It truly is one of the best jobs in the world.
You are going to meet some of the most incredible people you could ever wish to meet, both crew and passengers. You’re going to get to visit some of the most incredible places and stay in some amazing places. You’re going to be presented with so many fantastic opportunities and you should seize them all with both hands.
Just remember that this isn’t a dress rehearsal of your life. Live each day to the fullest and enjoy every moment.