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So, when are you going to get a REAL job?

Adventurer B
The above question that is sometimes asked of Flight Attendants by their parents, significant others, friends, and even someone at a party they have just met.  A possible reason for this may be because many decide to fly for a few years with the thought of seeing more of the world and then going on to more "serious" endeavors.  After all, how stimulating can handing out drinks and smiling all day be?  Some mistake having a good time at work with it not really being a job.  I've heard the words, "What do you mean you're tired.  You must be staying up late partying!"  Sure, traveling different places can be fun, but working out of town does not a vacation make!  Especially when we can be in our hotel as little as ten hours (or less during irregular operations).  The fact that a normal schedule has us flying three or possibly four days a week gives some the feeling it is merely parttime work.  During our two to five weeks of vacation (depending upon seniority), we can bid where we have half the month off.  That adds to the parttime job perception.  I remember the gentleman rushing aboard the aircraft early one morning. He looked at me and said, "Hobby (the airport)?" I replied, "No sir, I do it for a living!" I'd like to tell you what makes this a REAL job:      You may have heard it said, "The Flight Attendants are here primarily for your safety".  Our President, Colleen Barrett, recently wrote, "I assure you that Safety overrides every single thing that we do, without exception, and it has been that way for the 35 years that we have been in operation."  SAFETY.  That is the charge that every professional Flight Attendant takes to heart when we pin on our wings before every flight.  While boarding the aircraft we want to welcome each passenger and make them feel they are our guests.  At the same time, it is important we screen bags for size and weight.  Carryons must fit the sizing box and the overhead bin or slide under the seat where the aisle is clear in case of an evacuation.  This is for passenger safety.  At pushback we ask that all cell phones and battery operated devices be turned off for takeoff and landing.  This is not to annoy passengers, but these devices could possibly interfere with the electrical equipment in the cockpit.  Safety.  As we demonstrate our emergency procedures, many talk, read, sleep or generally ignore the information that makes flying safer. life vest manequin 001.jpg No matter how many times a person has heard these words, they should be fresh in his or her mind.  Wearing seatbelts, raising seatbacks, stowing tray tables, and not smoking are all rules not to be taken lightly.  During flight, the Flight Attendants are aware of what is happening in the cabin.  This month, I had a female passenger whose lips and fingers had turned blue after we were airborne.  Flight attendants are trained to handle many medical emergencies and our aircraft are equipped with a defibrillator, oxygen, first aid equipment, and very importantly, access to a doctor via a radio patch through a company called Med Link. We are all trained in CPR. RT CPR BW6.JPGWhen an emergency evacuation has been necessary, I am proud when the Flight Attendants are singled out as making a difference. Slide Jump Vance Toler.jpgWe come to work prepared to handle any situation we are presented with. You, the passenger, become our responsibility when you step on the aircraft and remain so until you have deplaned.     Many of us have continued feeling this responsibility by giving assistance off the aircraft by helping with phone calls or giving rides to hotels, relative's homes, or even a hospital.  Add to the safety element of our job the opportunity to improve someone's day.  The opportunity to help physically challenged passengers, children, families, foreign visitors, those fearful of flying, going for medical treatment, or to be with family in times of stress make the job meaningful.     Safety and service give Flight Attendants pride in calling what we do a REAL job.  These aspects surprised many of us who originally thought, "That might be a fun thing to do for a little while."