Welcome to a series of Flight Attendant interviews, these guys and girls (aka “Trolley Dollies“) are some of the most interesting people I have ever met! They fly from destination to destination, put their body through hell, have to deal with unruly passengers and the ladies have to look perfect everyday, yet these crazy guys and girls come back day after day with smiles on their faces because they truly love their job!
Today’s lovely Flight Attendant is Jean from Holy Smithreens
Ø Tell us about yourself:
Hi! My name is Jean and I’m a travel blogger at Holy Smithereens – I sometimes get called Holy as well , though I’m far, far, faaar from being a saint 😉
Ø How long have you been a flight attendant:
I worked as a flight attendant for a year. Once upon a time.
Ø What was your role as a flight attendant and are you a domestic or international flight attendant? :
I was hired specifically to be an International long haul flight attendant. This was for Asiana Airlines (based in Seoul, South Korea) and I was one of their foreign cabin crews.
Ø What did you enjoy the most about your job?:
The travel! And the friendships made.
Ø How often did you fly?
We had a roster that ranged from 7-10 flights a month. It depends where you flew and how long the layover was.
Ø What were your secrets to getting over jetlag quickly?
When you land during daytime – don’t sleep! Get out of the hotel (as staying in will just tempt you to sleep). Shop, walk, work out, meet up with friends – anything to force yourself to be up. And when you land at night, force yourself to sleep. This is painful but I never wanted to take sleeping aids so this is what I did and it’s been a success.
Ø What was the hardest thing about this job?:
Being away from family and loved ones, and putting on a happy face when I’m so ready to whip out my (imaginary) chainsaw.
Ø What’s the worst/craziest experiences you have ever had as a flight attendant:
Too many to mention! I wrote briefly about some of the things in this blog post. But to add to that:
A woman, at the end of the flight tipped me USD 200 and then later enthusiastically introduced me to her son, whom she described as very smart, and also very single too.
And on my very last working flight, a sleazy man grazed his hand on my hips asking for beer. I grabbed a can and shook it like crazy (like harlem shaking in the galley kind) and immediately handed it to him. Foam exploded on his face and gadgets, and funnily enough he didn’t complain.
Ø Whats the best way to deal with hard to deal with customers?
I try to put myself in their shoes. And when that doesn’t work, I always think about that Mike Myers scene in View from the Top when he loses his cool and to calm himself he rings this little bell next to his head and chants” I am a tiny kitten……..”
Ø Have you ever been in a near miss or plane accident? And did your training prove useful:
Fortunately none! Though I only flew for a year.
Ø I have read a lot of “how to get a free upgrade” tips, everyone wants to know the best way to get an upgrade to business class but in reality we know it’s not as easy as just asking or “looking the part”, how often are people upgraded? Does smiling and asking actually work?
This usually happens during check-in, and not when you are already inside the aircraft.
Ø Do you have a rotation for first, business and economy class or are there different levels of flight attendants? :
Not a rotation but it’s more seniority and based on your performance and years of service, you then get promoted to upper classes. And as I only worked as cabin crew for a year, I was on economy the whole time.
Ø Do you have a preferred of class to work in?:
I honestly prefer economy. My clumsiness and short patience won’t ever pass for business class service!
Ø What are the benefits of being a flight attendant (other than loving your job and being able to travel to another city or country!)
It’s always a great conversation starter when someone asked you what you do for a living. And your people/social skills really improve. Every single day you encounter different types of people. And the shopping! And it’s not like some jobs where you’re stuck day in day out with the same colleagues, most especially if you didn’t get along. If you can’t stand a someone on a flight, you will just have to suck it up for the flight duration. Chances are you’ll only see him/her again several months later.
Ø Do people really try to join the Mile High Club or is this just a “myth”:
I have seen it happen once (not in the usual setting of lavatory) and heard other encounters from colleagues so it’s definitely not a myth.
Ø Have you been a flight with any celebrities and were you star struck?:
Well there were a couple of times that a Korean celebrity flew with us. I didn’t know who they were so I managed to keep my cool.
Ø Do you have to adhere to strict dress code and make up policies? Does it get tedious?
Definitely. Most Asian carriers take appearance very seriously. Nails were checked, aprons and uniforms were routinely checked (no crease!) Shoes should be polished. Not a strand of hair out of place. I was a late bloomer and only when I joined Asiana did I learn how to apply makeup and discovered the world of serums and masks. During training I was taught how to smile (maximum 6 teeth showing!) , walk and sit. It was a lot of hard work to make me look respectable and demure.
Ø What’s your favourite stopover destination and what do you do on your stop over’s?
Sydney! Because I got to hangout with my Zombie. I usually meet up with friends and family who lived in the layover city. And London was a favourite too. I went to museums and shop.
Ø What’s the weirdest request you’ve had from a passenger?
While we were collecting meal trays, I saw a woman trying to discreetly shove the cutlery inside her bag! I looked at her, raised my eyebrows and she said, “Can I please have these for souvenir?” I later gave her a clean pair and told her if you’re going to take them for souvenir, you might as well have sparkly, unused ones!
Photo Credit front cover: Mauren Veras