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 Jenn Grahams
Ø Tell us about yourself :
I love my life. I can’t keep grounded because travel is my addiction. Writing is my creative outlet. My biggest dream right now is to become a published author with a book series about flight attendants.
Ø How long have you been a flight attendant:
Ø What is your role as a flight attendant and are you a domestic or international flight attendant? :
Domestic (within the United States), but I had the pleasure of doing London and St. Thomas trips a year ago when I was based in New York City. (Both trips were A-MAAZING!) Also, anything in Canada and Mexico my company counts as domestic so I’ve also flown to Vancouver. (Sometimes it feels like we’re that uncomfortably casual neighbor who shows up and says, “You don’t mind if I just consider your home mine, right all of North America?”)
Ø What do you enjoy the most about your job?:
The unexpectedness! Every day is different! Different crew. Different passengers. Different flight destination. For me, it’s so much more interesting than a 9-5 desk job!
Ø How often do you fly?
Right now I’m only flying 6 trips a month. I love flying SO MUCH, but I’m married and I don’t want my husband to feel like we have a long distance relationship. I have priorities and keeping him first means only flying part-time.
Ø What are your secrets to getting over jetlag quickly?
There are secrets?! Tell me! Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about jetlag too much since I fly domestic. I sometimes struggle before and after working Red Eye (overnight) flights. My advice is to take a 2-3 hour nap before the trip, a 3 hour nap after the trip, and then attempt to resume a normal sleep schedule.
Ø What’s the hardest thing about this job?:
Passengers with unrealistic expectations. You know the ones I’m talking about!
Ø What’s the worst/craziest experiences you have ever had as a flight attendant:
The Worst: Mr. Smelly Feet. I wish I could build a time machine and redo this moment in my career. To summarize, a First Class passenger (a frequent flier who probably spends millions with my company!) wasn’t wearing his shoes and I could smell his foot odor FROM MY JUMPSEAT! It was overwhelming! No one sitting near him wanted to address the embarrassing situation. Another First Class passenger asked me to tell Mr. X to put on his shoes. Before take-off during safety checks I said casually, “And could you please put on your shoes? Thanks!” Mr. X looked puzzled and replied, “Well, that’s a new one!” He obliged temporarily, but after take-off he took the shoes off again! (I guess he thought it was safety issue, not a personal hygiene issue!)
It was my first month of flying. I was too scared and intimated to address him face-on so I spent the rest of the flight trying to discretely spray JetScent (air freshener) under the man’s seat. It was AWFUL! If I could do it again, I would just tell him plain and simple, “Sir, put on your shoes. Your feet stink!” (Incidentally, I flew with Mr. X later that month and he wore his shoes the entire time! I bet another flight attendant set him straight!)
Ø What’s the best way to deal with hard to deal with customers?
- Really listen.
- Smile (or Give a Furrowed Brow of Concern when appropriate)
- Respond using positive words.
Sadly, some flight attendants immediately become defensive when passengers approach them with a problem. I find there is way less drama when you act polite and sympathetic. If a passenger becomes belligerent or offensive, however, I drop my Good Cop routine and break out my Mrs. No-Nonsense Bad Cop demeanor. Fortunately, that doesn’t need to happen often.
Ø Have you ever been in a near miss or plane accident? And did your training prove useful:
We were flying into San Francisco when a lightning strike happened right near our plane. I heard an insanely loud CRACK and then plane suddenly dropped like a rollercoaster. I was standing in the aisle and it felt like the floor of the plane jumped up, making my knees buckle. It was followed by turbulence like I’ve never felt before. (A crew member said it was the worst she’s felt in 22 years of flying.) I thought we must have lost an engine or something. All the flight attendants stumbled back to our jumpseats. We didn’t finish our service. There were plates and glasses in the Business and First Class, but the pilots called and said, “Just stay seated!” and we weren’t going to argue. There was nothing that could have prepared me for it. We landed safely.
Ø Do passengers ever try to sneak into First Class?
All. The. Time. It boggles my mind that someone would try to pull something like that. Passengers just plop down into an open seat and think we won’t notice, but we catch them every time. We have a passenger list and we know exactly who has and hasn’t paid for those premium seats.
Ø Do you have a rotation for first, business and economy class or are there different levels of flight attendants? :
At my company, you can pick where you want to work. There is no hierarchy like at some airlines and you know where you are working before the trip starts. If you don’t like it, you can try to swap or trade for a different trip/position.
Ø Do you have a preferred of class to work in?:
I guess I’m a First Class snob. I love doing the full service and delivering the appetizers, entrées, and desserts to passengers. I also like that most of the First Class passengers are frequent fliers who “know the drill” and don’t argue when it comes to safety regulations.
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!)
Meeting fascinating people from all over the world! Sometimes I like to blog about the people I meet. Their stories are amazing.
Recent blog post: “3 Fascinating Fliers”
Ø Do people really try to join the Mile High Club or is this just a “myth”:
Anyone who thinks that is a good idea should watch the scene from “Just Married” starring Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. It’s just not a good idea! I haven’t had anyone try to do it on my flights. (It would be too obvious.)
Ø Have you been a flight with any celebrities and were you star struck?:
Yes! I have flown with several celebrities. I recently had a star-struck moment when I met Judge Marilyn Milian from the daytime TV show “The People’s Court”. The purser flight attendant brought her over to meet me and I started crying! (I must admit I was a little sleep deprived so my emotions were running unchecked!) I really admire Judge Milian. She’s a brilliant interrogator, a highly intelligent woman, and a fair judge who always upholds the law. I’ve learned so much from watching her show so I was incredibly excited to meet her in person!
Ø Do you have to adhere to strict dress code and make up policies? Does it get tedious?
Technically our make up policy (for women) only requires that we wear blush and lipstick. The dress code is much more difficult to follow which is why most flight attendants at my company simply DON’T!
Ø What’s your favourite stopover destination and what do you do on your stop over’s?
It’s hard to pick a favorite! I tried hot yoga in Seattle, had an amazing night on the town with my crew in South Beach Miami, and went to a Korean-owned nude spa in Las Vegas! I rely on my crew and Groupon to come up with fun outing ideas.
Ø What’s the weirdest request you’ve had from a passenger?
A little, old German lady wanted me to unplug the cell phone of another passenger. A young man sitting next to her was fast asleep and his phone’s USB charging cord was plugged into an outlet at his seat. The German lady told me (in German), “This is dangerous. He needs to unplug.” I was very confused and responded, “No, this is fine. He is allowed to have his phone plugged here.” As I walked away, I saw her unplug the phone anyway. I really couldn’t figure that one out.
Ø I have heard that’s flight attendants have their own “language” or codes, what’s your favourite?
I love figuring out the Gate Agent’s short-hand on the Final Paperwork. S.O.B. means Souls on Board (although some flight attendants would say it means something else!). Can you figure out the rest?
Answer: This was a completely full flight! 16 passengers in First, 144 in Main Cabin, no lap children, 2 flight attendant jumpseaters, and 1 pilot jumpseater! The total came out to 169 souls accounting for all the passengers, jumpseaters, and the 6 working crew members.