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

cadams
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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."       
49 Comments
Leah3
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I fly a lot & notice people who don't pay attention to the safety demonstration. That really irritates me! I always pay attention to it. I bet there are people out there who think all flight attendants do is perform the safety demonstration & serve peanuts/pretzels & drinks; they're wrong! Even though I'm not yet an SWA FA, I know it's a hard job; it's still what I want to do as my career! This is what I will be from the day I'm hired until the day I have to retire!
Leah3
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I didn't ask this at my group interview, but (in case I forget to ask at my one-on-one next month), how long are layovers? What is the shortest layover, & what is the longest?
Roland_Pritchet
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I do not often takr the oppertunity to write my thoughts about good service I get because I guess always expect it and when ou do not get it I just stop doing bussiness with that company., however i felt that the service I recently recieved deserved a note form me. I flew to Chicagoe from Denver on 6/17 to pick up my grandson and return with him. Our flight 962 was to depart at 2:55 PM however it was delayed froma considerable length of time which under normal circumstances would have been a disapointment. It so happened that because my grandson is 3 we were in the preboard line and the flight crew arrived and stationed next to us also waiting for the flight to arrive. My grandson had a new fireman outfit on that attracted thier attnetion and all of them talked to him about his costume which started him talking to them. It was most considerate of the crew to allow him to entertain them with his stories especially one of the pilots. It helped the time pass for all of us. When we borded they annouced his name on the intercom and made him a junior navigator. It made his day and mine as well. When we arrived in Denver he was invited to step up to the cockpit to see all the instruments. He is a very bright young man for 3 and will rember the occasion fro a long time. I want to thank the crew for the special attention he got and we both will look forward to many more flights with Southwest in the future. Roland Pritchett & Grandson Ethan.
jmalone
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Leah - the length of layover just depends on the specific trip. They can be as short as 10 hours and as long as 23. I personally like a layover that is around 14 hours. It gives you the time to wind down a little, make some phone calls, eat dinner, iron your uniform and hit the bed. Good luck in your endeavor to become part of our family! James Malone MDW FA
Leah3
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Thanks, James! That helps & doesn't sound too bad! :)
Leah3
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I'm sorry if this is off topic, but can anyone tell me how long I should expect to wait after my second interview to see if I'm invited back for training? I'm just curious. Things have changed (though they're certainly not bad!) since I interviewed for (SWA) FA position 7 years ago.
Chris3
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Flight attendants have a responsibility for safety, just like anyone else in the crew. While the responsibility is not as great as that of a pilot, it still exists.
Gary
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What a great article! I have been a healthcare professional for 23 years ICU, ER and trauma services . I am often asked why I would leave a healthcare setting to become a FA. Reading this article I could not have stated it better. I would like to bring the skills that I have learned in Medicine to the Friendly Skies and to the passengers of SWA in hopes that I can provide a safe and secure setting for each an every SW customer. I truely believe that safety is the first concern at SW.
Drew1
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Carole, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you on my PIT-MDW flight (432) this afternoon. You handled today's weather-delay-stressed passengers with flair. It was inspiring to see how much you enjoy your job after twenty-two years! I hope to run into you again somewhere across the network, and look forward to your next blog post! Signed, The gentleman with the odd blog name in seat 2B.
najma_abdullahi
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im looking for REAL JOB and i think southwest is the right place for me to work
Matt29
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It seems the public thinks flight attendants are generally not very intelligent. That's so funny to me. I've met former doctors, nurses, teachers, makeup artists, military (me included), lawyers, housing/real estate, bankers...the list goes on. Personally, I think we've just figured out that the 9-5 grind isn't for us. We have CHOSEN to break free of that dreariness and most of us LUV our jobs! It just amazes me that there is so much diversity among not only our flight attendants, but our entire company!
Kimberly
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Ok, I did not get invited for the one on one FA interview, HOWEVER while speaking to Ginger in the Dallas office on interviewing tips, I mentioned that I also applyed for revservation agent position in the San Antonio office. Well Ginger and I completed a phone interview that day. I was invited to fly to San Antonio for a one on one interview. The staff in SA office were great (thanks Kathryn for the ride). Since the one on one I have recieved a email that the interview was successful and we are moving forward with the hiring process. I have been on Cloud nine since the email and call to Dallas to move forward. Looking forward to working with everyone in San Antonio. Kimberly
Nancy9
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I've recently been wondering if 42 years is too old to think seriously about becoming a flight attendant. Now that I'm seeing my empty nest emerge, I'd like to pursue MY dream! What do current FA's recommend interested parties do to prepare themselves for the application/interview process? Is there truly a chance that I'm not too old to apply? I'm currently an RN... safety is truly my deal. Thanks, in advance, for honest input! Nancy
Federico
New Arrival
I started my training this April, and I'm flying since June as a Flight Attendant, so I don't have a big experience by my side, but I quote you from the first word to the last. Being a Flight Attendant doesn't deal with travelling but with safety. Well written Carole. I really hope I'll be able to make this the job of my life 🙂
Leah3
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Nancy, I really don't think 42 years old is too old to become a flight attendant! There was a retired school teacher at my group interview for FA position this month; I'm not saying she's old. Go for it! It's been my dream to be a Southwest flight attendant since elementary school. To those who begin FA training Monday, I wish you well! FSWAFA-Future Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant! :)
Leah3
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Kimberly, I'm sorry that you didn't get invited for a one-on-one for a flight attendant position, but congratulations on becoming a reservations agent!
PLM
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Carole - What a wonderful article!! I am currently a "poolie" whose 1-on 1 was 4/20 and HOPING the invites for Class 227 will extend that far. I have copied and pasted your article to print and have handy for those who ask me about my new, exciting career change! I have already had to remind those folks who tease me about becoming a "waitress in the air" that I will also be the person responsible for their safety on board that aircraft! Your article sums it up perfectly and I absolutely cannot WAIT to become part of this awesome Southwest family! I know it sounds cliche' - but it really is a dream come true for me!! By the way - NANCY - I will be 49 years old in two days - as a former teacher I can tell you this - it's never too late to chase your dreams!! DO IT GIRLFRIEND!!!!!!!
Leah3
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Nancy, I know I'm not yet a flight attendant, but I emailed my resumÃ
Nancy9
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THANKS, Leah, PLM and Carole. Great info all the way around -- you're all so helpful! It seems SW attracts great people. Anybody want to contribute more info on FAs that commute? I think that would be me!
Rodney_Ramos_Pr
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Hello Carole, I sent your contact the photo you requested. I tried to cc you with the email however, I did not write down your email correctly because your email got sent back to me. Anyway, he go the photo. If you have any questions please contact me. Take care, Rodney
Leah3
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You're welcome, Nancy! I know a flight attendant who commutes, & it is an hour long flight from her home city to her base. Here is some information I have from my group interview on commuting: Commuting is when you live in one city but are based out of another city. If you choose to commute, remember you will be traveling standby to your Base city. (Many of our flights are full, especially during weekends & holidays). During probation, it is highly suggested that you live in your Base city.
Adam_S
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Ok I am headed off to Dallas in August for my flight attendant training (class 226) and I am trying to find out which hotel the students stay at during their stay... Totally unrelated to your blog but I figured Leah will know! 🙂 Can't wait to start!!
Leah3
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Can anyone tell me the age limit on when you can apply to be a SWA FA? What I mean is, how old is too old to apply? I know a lady who used to want to be one (she knows about my interviews), & I told her they're hiring now! I think she's worried that she's too old; I don't know her age, but I doubt she's too old.
Leah3
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I'm sorry Adam, but I don't know! 😞 I wish I did! Surely they stay at one close by. Adam, can you tell me how long you waited after your one-on-one to hear whether or not you were going back for training? I wish you well, & I'm sure you & your class will do great! Have fun! 🙂
Nancy9
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Is anybody aware of whether FA's are ever hired out of the Spokane, WA area (eastern Washington... next door to Idaho)? Wondering if perhaps the commute is too far off of the beaten path. How long is probation? How about sharing unusual commuting circumstances out there... Thanks!
Leah3
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Hi, Nancy. I live in Oklahoma, but cannot be based out of my hometown. SWA has 7 flight attendant bases. They are Baltimore, Chicago Midway, Orlando, Dallas, Houston, Phoneix, & Oakland. I hope that answers that question, but I'm not sure if it does! Sorry if it doesn't. Here is what I can tell you about probation: The probation period for Flight Attendants is six months & begins upon completion of Initial Flight Attendant Training. Get to know your Supervisor-go into the office & introduce yourself. For the first month you will get a line (schedule) that cannot be altered. The next five months you will be on reserve status. You will be able to change your Base once during probation, but the Base must have available openings. You will be allowed only one occurence on probation. (An occurence can equal a sick call, no show, tardiness, test failure, or unable to contact while on reserve.)
PLM
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Leah - I'm in Oklahoma!!! Where are you???
Leah3
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Hi, PLM! I'm in Tulsa! Where are you?
Nancy9
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Thanks, Leah. Looks like commuting from Spokane could be tricky. Good luck with your interview!
Leah3
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You're welcome Nancy! I still encourage you to send in your resumÃ
Rodney_Cancel
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HI! I'm Looking forward to be a Flight attendant. I have a excellent customer service experience and skills in Airlines. I'm Bilingual ( Spanish and English). I'm Puertorrican but i just move few months a go to Orlando , FL. How I can Apply for a FA position with Southwest airlines? i think i send a resume online but the connection here was slow and I'm not sure if the recruiter team received it. This is want i want to be in the future, i want to completely change my life and mi career, and by the ways i love to fly. Please let me know where i can apply for this position? I"ll appreciate a lot. Thank you. Have a great day!!
Adam_S
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Lets see I appliede for SWA in July of 05, got called for my group interview in March, had my One on One interview the same day, and I found out I got hired about 2 weeks after my One on One... Then I just kinda had to sit and wait for a spot to open up for class... I cant believe I have less than 3 weeks till I leave Oregon for good! OMG I am really nervous about training but I am so excited as well! Good luck to everyone who is interviewing and congrats to those who got in already! Cant wait to see you all in the sky!
Gary
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NO, 42 is not to old!!!! I am 43 will more than likely be 44 before my training. I to have been in healthcare for 23 years. I am currently in the training pool awaiting a date. Keep your dream alive and go for it. SWA was my only choice no other airline would work for me so I went for the BEST!!! Can't wait to be apart of the SWA family and culture. This is a great article. Could not have said it better thanks Carole. Gary A. in BNA
Leah3
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Congratulations, Gary & Adam! *Has a party, passes out cake, & throws confetti.* Can you (either both or one of you) tell me some of the questions asked at your second interview? I've been thinking of questions I might be asked this month. When I interviewed seven years ago, the only two I remember are, "Why do you want to work for Southwest?" & "Have you gone above & beyond the call of duty?" If you'd rather not tell me some of what they asked, it's okay! Who knows, maybe we'll work together some day! I'm certainly very, very excited about this, but I'm not going to lie & say I'm not scared, because I am a little bit. I have lots of enthusiasm & determination, though, that's for sure! :)
Adam_S
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Yay Leah! LOL You provide me with much amusement... I hope we get to work together sometime! Don't feel bad about the being scared part, I was soooo nervous (heck, I still am!) being nervous is good because you can turn that nervous energy into positive energy by being perky and goofy and just have fun... A lot of the questions asked during the one on one interviews were specific examples... Like they asked "Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to provide someone with the best customer service." or " Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a very upset customer/guest and how did you handle it?" Just things like that, so its a good idea to have a few instances in mind that you can relate back to... Good luck on the interviews! BTW: I just got my training packet on Friday, I cant believe its coming up so quickly! I am studying like crazy! (oh also found out which hotel it is...The Crowne Plaza hotel!). My flight from PDX on the 27th is going to take 10 HOURS to get to DAL... lol yay for getting up at 3am!!
Leah3
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Ha, ha! Thanks, Adam. I love to be funny & I'm certainly very outgoing! I'm serious when it's time to be, though. I figured I might be asked about a time when I've gone above & beyond the call of duty again. One FA said they'll ask what kind of animal I want to be. I said, "A dog!",& he told me I have to say why. I'm ready if they ask me, & I hope I am asked that question. Oh, wow, I'm seriously starting to get scared now; I won't let those interviewing see that! I feel good about it this time, but if (I emphasize if) it doesn't work out this time, I'll try again; before that, I'll try to be a Customer Service Agent for at least two years. My third choice is a Reserv. Agent, but I'm never giving up on becoming an FA! I was wondering if you found out what hotel you'll be staying in. I'm sure it will be a nice place! If you ever have a chance, please post & let us know how things are going! :) PDX=Portland! I know my city codes! 🙂
FriendofBlogBoy
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Leah, Well, according to the timetable you've outlined above, it is only two more days till your 'one-on-one' interview! I've read many of your posts all over this blog, and I think you post here more than I do! :-) I certainly wish you well in the next step of the process, and I think that even if you are not hired as an FA, you should apply for the position of Enthusiastic Cheerleader for Southwest Airlines, because you're FIRED UP!! Best wishes even if you are an Okie, Kim :-) Hook 'em Horns!!
FriendofBlogBoy
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This blog is not long enough, nor do I have enough free time to relate here all of the terrific experiences I've had with SWA Flight Attendants in my 33 years of flying on Southwest. In all that time, I've encountered many many wonderful employees that I've never seen again. I've run into some of the same ones repeatedly. Nevertheless, they are without fail the most professional and enjoyable people to be around. If you figure three FAs per flight, times the 20 billion flights I've taken (more or less), its amazing that I've met exactly ONE who was not the typical Southwest employee. Hey, consider the percentages -- that ain't bad! Besides, everyone is entitled to have a bad day once in a while. As much as I interact with people in the hospitality/travel/service industry (airlines, airports, taxiis, hotels, rental cars and restaurants), I've absolutely NEVER met a more consistently awesome set of people than those who work for Southwest, and it doesn't matter whether I see them in Seattle or Baltimore, Midway or Harlingen or anywhere inbetween. Regardless of the various duties of being an FA, the "REAL job" is putting up with us travelers! I salute all of the hard-working Southwest flight attendants (even that one grouchy guy! 🙂 ) Kim
Leah3
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Yes, Kim, you're right! Only two days! Yea, yea! If I don't get on as an FA this time, I will send in my resumÃ
Leah3
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I had my second interview yesterday, & I feel it went well. Hopefully, the Recruiter & FA who interviewed me think so, too! It will be 4-6 weeks before I hear about training! I'm still scared waiting to hear. I had fun, & of course, I had fun on the flights, as always!
Aimie
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Help! I lost my bookmarks. There is a website/forum out there of Southwest Flight Attendant wannabee's and I lost it, and can't remember the site. Can anyone help?
Glennda_Dawson
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Hello there. Obviously I'm Glennda. I have been reading comments on the blog and have found this informative. I am one of these older females that my whole life I wantd to be a flight atendant. I have been in the medical field 30 years this month. I in January and again in June sent a resume on the internet. I am not sure if it was received. It may be that Southwest receives so many they don't or can't respond back. I would like to continue in my persuit. Thank you, Glennda
Dann
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The website for "Wannabee's" was very helpful before i went to class. A lot of information there---- http://swa.flightattendants.org
dalbir_kaur
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Hi i am looking forward to be a flight attendant,my problem is that how do i get started.if u can help me regarding this i would be really greatful.i would really love to get started assp.thank u,dalbir
Amy_Jo_Devine
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Hello All! I have been reading this blog everyday! ItÃ
Mary
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I've read comments on applying later in lfe to be a flight attendant. I am 59 and really want to become an FA, do I stand a chance and are there any medical restrictions? I did submit a resume in Dec 2006, havn;t heard a word yet? I'm real excited about it! Thanks
Naiara
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HI!!ive been reading your comments and i would like to make u guys a question!! Im from spain and im getting my flight attendant license..i would like to work in the US..but dont know how?if u guys could give an advice, email me please... thank u!!
Enida
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Hi!even though i'm still just in high school I have really made up my mind about what I really want to do for the rest of my life. The idea of being a FA and helping people makes me happy for some reason. I just love planes, I love everything about being a flight attendant. People ask me what I want to be all the time and every time I get the same response, " Aren't you afraid of a plane crash and your life is done?" "Aren't you going to do something different, that's more like a job not a career, you'll cave you can't do it, it's not real fun!" But each time no matter what the question is, my response is the same, " That's what I am going to be and I will not change my mind" I really don't care what others say this is something that I think its a maybe one of the coolest careers,dangerous but awesome. I am positive that this is something for me. You may think that this silly of me. Me, a teenager, someone that barely came into the world and that I have no sense of what I'm talking about, I'm just a kid. But it's not like that at all. I have my dreams set for myself and I'm going to accomplish them with a bump here and there but I will get to my desired destination, and I will be so proud of myself. It takes a lot for me to set a goal that really suits me, but when I have that goal I go out of my way to accomplish them and I succeed. So I'm asking for some advice. How did you get to where you are right now, did it take a lot of effort or was more like a fun experience for you that really helped your life out? What schools did you have to go to for being a FA? How is it being a FA, is it tiring or are you enjoying yourself. How is life as a FA, do you miss you family? Is a high-ens life? Basically how is it like ?Thank you so very much you have no idea how much this means to me!With all my heart. !
Thomas1
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Southwest flight attendants are the best! I collect airline things...Is there anyway I could get one of those demo vests?