For the economically challenged people out there, like myself, whose biggest desire in life is to travel, this is the biggest tip and best information you will ever get in your life. Are you ready for it? Befriend a flight attendant or a pilot!
I cannot stress enough to you how this will change your life. Obviously, I am not advocating that you go out and try to befriend someone in the field merely to use them, because that is clearly not friendship. However, if a friend does come along in this profession…..hold on for dear life!!!!!!
I recently got a glimpse into the alluring life of flight crews when I had the privilege of accompanying a friend (who is a flight attendant) on a trip to Namibia. I got to see the other side of the flight experience which is, in my opinion, a very intriguing lifestyle, and these are the three insights I have gained.
- First things first, when you are a pilot or flight attendant, your friends and family can travel with you at an incredibly discounted price and get spoiled rotten!
When you are traveling with the flight crew, everything is different. I was given a ‘jump seat’ ticket, which really is just permission to come along on the flight and grab whatever seat is open. On the flight to Namibia, however, I was extremely privileged to get a business class seat and was spoiled rotten! White sparkling wine before takeoff and all that I desired to drink and eat throughout the entire 10 hour flight. Not to mention an extremely comfortable seat that completely reclined. I enjoyed it thoroughly and even though I can never usually sleep on planes, in business class I was able to sleep for the majority of the flight. The crew actually made fun of me when I woke up, saying they had to keep checking on me to see if I was still alive.
And the food!!!! I cannot emphasize enough how good the food was. The food in economy is normally just edible and you eat it simply because your body requires some sort of sustenance. However, the food in business class was real food that I could actually enjoy. Good enough actually that I would order it in an actual restaurant out of choice as opposed to accepting it out of necessity. The only downside to this experience is that now I will never feel satisfied in economy again. Oh first world issues.
Finally, there is an air of freedom involved when you aren’t just another passenger. I could move through the cabin with ease, lingering in the kitchen to talk to my new flight attendant friends without someone asking “can I help you.” I even got chocolate and candy brought to my seat, and a whole bunch of other preferential treatment. Yes, I realize that this makes me a shallow child, reveling in the fact that I got a whole bunch of extras and perks, but honestly, tell me you wouldn’t feel good about that too?
- Although they may work hard on the plane, they get to play hard on the ground.
When we arrived at our destination we were shuttled to our hotel, one of the most gorgeous hotels that I have ever stayed at, and it was of course free of cost since layover accommodations are covered by the airline. The crew assured me that it isn’t always this nice, but I choose to believe that their life is an endless string of exotic locations and fancy hotels. Which, let’s be honest, it mostly is.
I spent the next 3 days in one of the most beautiful and exotic countries I have ever been to, essentially just playing, like grown up children. Our time was filled with wild safari and sand dune adventures, exceptionally good meals, and a lot of hanging out, talking, eating, drinking, and laughing. It was the most fun that I’ve had in a very long time…and with complete strangers! There is a sort of comradery within a flight crew that is very compelling. Of course, again, I was assured by the flight crew that this is not always the case, but again I choose to believe it is always a fantastic experience full of fun and making new friends. Please don’t tell me differently, I prefer to keep this blissful bubble alive and not let it burst!
- Hard work comes with its own perks.
Now this is the part that I was very shocked and excited about. Cockpit access! Perhaps the biggest perk, and this is not allowed on all airlines, but I was allowed into the cockpit to talk with the pilots and get a feeling of what the job entails – most pilots seem to enjoy the interest and intrigue others show in their work and relish the ability to show you exactly what it’s all about. And why not? We all feel that way about our passions.
On the flight over I merely joined the cockpit crew for an hour or so, since I was so comfortable in my business class seat and spent many hours sleeping like a rock. On the way back, though, I was privileged to be able to be in the cockpit for takeoff and landing, and could stay and hangout for as long as I wanted. Experiencing the flight from the cockpit is an incredibly unique and educational experience. There is really nothing like seeing a plane take off or land, essentially right from the driver’s seat. And again, to be honest and a little childish, it was just seriously cool! Not that I was ever a nervous flier before, but I actually feel even more secure flying now knowing what I know about the whole procedure.
I am very thankful that I got this little glimpse into the working life of a flight crew. Although I know I experienced the best of it, not the worst, I still think that for the most part it is a very compelling lifestyle and I am very thankful for all of the work that goes into making our flights safe and comfortable.
Published in Fusia magazine, April 2015