Flying next to one annoying passenger really makes a traveler appreciate the effort it takes for flight attendants to flash those pearly whites so consistently.
And if that doesn’t do it, reading this list of ten surprising secrets of the trade from veteran Helen Poole, author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy passengers at 35,000 Feet, should do the trick.
IF THE PLANE DOOR IS OPEN, WE’RE NOT GETTING PAID.
You know all that preflight time where we’re cramming bags into overhead bins? None of that shows up in our paychecks. Flight attendants get paid for “flight hours only.” Translation: The clock doesn’t start until the craft pushes away from the gate. Flight delays, cancellations, and layovers affect us just as much as they do passengers—maybe even more.
Airlines aren’t completely heartless, though. From the time we sign in at the airport until the plane slides back into the gate at our home base, we get an expense allowance of $1.50 an hour. It’s not much, but it helps pay the rent.
WE CAN BE FIRED FOR BIZARRE REASONS.
Newly hired flight attendants are placed on strict probation for their first six months. I know one new hire who lost her job for wearing her uniform sweater tied around her waist. Another newbie got canned for pretending to be a full-fledged attendant so she could fly home for free. (Travel benefits don’t kick in until we’re off probation.) But the most surprising violation is flying while ill: If we call in sick, we aren’t allowed to fly, even as a passenger on another airline. It’s grounds for immediate dismissal.
What a job!
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