So many girls (and guys) have dreams of walking to their departure gate with their crew, high heals echoing throughout the airport, passenger heads turning. They dream of a life is the skies, full of glitz and glamour. They dream of exotic love affairs, overseas shopping and relaxing beach days. They dream they will see the world.
However, if they think that’s the life they will lead as Cabin Crew, then quite frankly they can dream on!
I recently made a video about how great it is to be Cabin Crew http://lifeasabutterfly.com/2012/11/25/becoming-british-airways-cabin-crew/ and had a very positive response from both prospective and current crew. However, my feedback was that it was rather one-sided. So in response to this I am going to write about some of the less glamorous sides of Cabin Crew.
I loved flying, however there were many pitfalls as well as benefits to the job. Yes, I was lucky enough to cross the world’s busiest zebra crossing in Tokyo, I did hand-feed a giraffe in Nairobi, and I did top up my tan in Rio. But the reality is that although I did experience these wonderful things, I wasn’t able to make the most of them because I was constantly so incredibly tired. With rarely over 24 hours in a destination, night flights and time differences to deal with, my body rarely recovered from one trip before I was off on the next. I was constantly wishing for my bed and often missed out on going out and doing things down route because I was so tired. All I wanted to do on my days off was to sleep.
On my last ever flight, whist collecting in the rubbish (which for a start is not glamorous at all!), I was handed a cup covered in sick, half of which dripped all over my hand. For me, that was confirmation in itself that I was doing the right thing by leaving. I don’t cope well with sick, and unfortunately I encountered it regularly in this job. I had people being sick all over their beds, covering the toilets in sick so that they are no longer usable, projectile vomiting across the aircraft, and the list goes on.
The passengers themselves were more often than not lovely. However there were certain routes, on which the passengers infuriated me. Some passengers were disrespectful to the aircraft and the crew. On disembarkation it would quite literally look like a bomb had exploded with all the mess. Hygiene levels were often poor, and there would be a terrible smell that would gradually worsen throughout the flight. I often had passengers tell me that they are going to ‘piss themselves’, and the state of the toilets often indicated that they had. But my main bain was the way the passengers spoke to me and the other crew. I understand that there are cultural differences, and that perhaps it is acceptable where they are from to hiss and click your fingers at people. But I just struggled to deal with it myself. After 8 hours of being hissed at, I would get off the aircraft feeling rather low and infuriated. What especially annoyed me was that most of these passengers actually resided in the UK-so they should know better!
Another problem I had was my social life. If I look back at my pictures from trips with work, there are always big, social gatherings, usually involving substantial amounts of alcohol. This was great fun a lot of the time, but I just found it exhausting that every single trip you would be with different people and have to start up new friendships all over again. You would rarely see the people you have flown with before, and therefore it was very difficult to ever make any friends. It was even hard to meet up with friends on your days off at home as you would not have the same time off very often!
All of this aside, my primary reason for leaving the job was the money. Living in London, an average take home of about 1200 Pounds a month, was not enough to live on. I found that I was having to take Pot Noodles and such in my luggage for trips, so that I didn’t spend my allowances down route as I needed that money to live on. For me, that took away from the experience of being Crew a lot. I was forced to avoid doing some of the tourist things down route to save money, which defeated the point of doing the job for me.
I did this job for my love of travel. I thought getting paid to travel would be perfect. But in reality, it had negative effects on my health, I didn’t really see that much outside of an aircraft or a hotel room, and it has left me in thousands of Pounds of debt.
I am not saying that Cabin Crew is a bad job, it is in many ways a wonderful job, as I promoted in my video. I just wanted to show both sides of the coin, and demonstrate that it’s not all perfect working at 30,000ft.
For more information on what it is like to work as cabin crew along with how to pass the assessment day and training course check out my new book now available for purchase on Amazon!