I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what it is like to be a Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant. I figure the easiest way to do this is to describe a recent trip. It's a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday three-day trip with layovers in Los Angelas (LAX) and Salt Lake City (SLC).
It's Sunday night and tomorrow, I have a trip. I'm a commuter so my first order of business is getting to work. I log on to SWALife (our Company's internal web site) to check the loads for the flights to Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI)...my report time is at 12:10PM, so I try for the 7:40AM departure. Now that I'm listed for the flight, I make the last preparations for tomorrow.
MONDAY It's 6:15AM and my alarm clock just went off...after a quick shower, I'm out the door headed for the airport by 6:45.
We arrive in BWI right on time at 9AM and head for the Crew lounge, where I check in for duty by computer and print out a copy of my trip so I know where I'm going and when for the next three days. My trip sheet also lists the name and phone numbers of the hotels where I'll be staying.
Since I don't have to be at the gate until 12:40PM, I've got time for a nap and lunch. After a quick bite, I put on my uniform...I never commute in uniform because it's easier to stay looking crisp if I wait until it's time to actually work to suit up.
12:30PM, and I'm off to the gate. I meet my Crew, "Jack" and "Jill" (not their real names), in the jetbridge. The Captain briefs us for the flight, and before we know it the aircraft is pulling up to the gate...it's time to go to work. As the passengers begin deplaning, Jill and I step onboard to help the inbound Crew tidy up. I'm flying C position (we have three positions, A, B, and C, at Southwest) so I also need to check the presence and operation of all the emergency equipment, and Jack stays in the jetbridge and watches the luggage. We complete our Crew change, board the flight, and depart BWI right on time for Phoenix, AZ (PHX). Even though the flight is full, the next thing I know, we're descending for PHX. Five hours went by faster than I thought.
We have two hours of ground time in PHX before working a flight to LAX. We tidy up the aircraft, complete our Crew change, and head into the terminal for a bit of "airport appreciation." It's nearly 7:00PM Eastern, and it's dinner time! By the time we find, purchase, and eat our dinner, it's time to report for our flight to LAX. After a quick Crew change, we're boarded and off for California. We get to LAX right on time and turn the plane over to an Oakland, CA (OAK)-based Crew who will take it on one more leg, and we're finally finished flying but not quite done. Jack and Jill have sold liquor on their flights today, and they have cash and coupons to record and deposit. Out we go to the curb to catch the hotel shuttle, and we only have to wait a few minutes. Once at the hotel, Jack signs us in; we decide on a time to head back to the airport tomorrow; and we're done for the night. Once I get to my room I grab a quick shower, iron tomorrow's uniform, and it's off to bed. It's almost 10PM eastern, and I'm asleep before my head hits the pillow.
TUESDAY Lobby call is 8:45AM Eastern, but I still could have used a few more winks. Fortunately, there's a Starbuck's in the hotel lobby...mmmmmmm caramel macchiato. Today looks pretty easy on paper--only four legs, and they are all relatively short. We arrive at the gate 30 minutes prior to departure. It's the aircraft's first flight of the day, and it's clean as a whistle and ready to go. We perform our various pre-flight duties, board up, and off we go. Three stops and just under seven hours later we arrive in Salt Lake City (SLC). We change Crews and head for the hotel. Jill wants to check out a shopping center she heard about and asks us to come along. After a quick change, we meet up again in the lobby, and the hotel van driver gives us a lift to the mall. We go our separate ways with plans to meet up in a couple of hours for dinner. At dinner, we check out the Hard Rock Cafe. Dinner is good, and we all get to know each other a bit over the meal. Jill has a three-year-old daughter, and her husband is an attorney. Jack is working on his real estate license and plans to sell commercial property on the side. We call the shuttle for a lift back to the hotel, confirm tomorrow's lobby time, and head off to our rooms. I make a few phone calls, check my e-mail, watch a little TV, and it's time for bed.
Wednesday 7:00AM Eastern, and we're on the Crew van headed for the airport and then to Phoenix, AZ (PHX). It's day three of a three-day, and we're looking forward to going home at the end of the day. We depart SLC right on time, but getting out of PHX is a different story. It's raining in PHX this morning, and traffic is delayed. Unfortunately, we are about an hour behind schedule when we lift off for Austin, TX (AUS). We like to stop in AUS because the airport has excellent food, and we nominate Jack to make a food run while Jill and I tidy up and board the aircraft. He gets barbecue (another mmmmmmmm). Two and half days, nine legs, four states, and countless peanuts later we are back in BWI at 4:00PM local time. We're only 20 minutes late, which isn't bad considering we left PHX over an hour late. We complete one last Crew change, and we're done. Jill dashes off to catch her flight home, Jack heads to the parking shuttle, and me? I've got about two hours before my own flight to home checks in. I change out of my uniform and find a quiet spot in the terminal to relax. I make it home around 9:00PM. It's been a long day. There's three days' worth of mail in my PO Box and laundry to be done, but that can wait til tomorrow. I had a great Crew to fly with, and now I've got Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.