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Pros And Cons Of Being A Flight Attendant

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FLIGHT ATTENDANT PROS & CONS

I truly believe being a flight attendant is the best job in the world, but there are drawbacks of being a flight attendant too. 

There are pros and cons of being a flight attendant and in my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons. It’s best to go into the career with your eyes wide open.

If you want to know only the AMAZING things (those incredible perks that come with the job) about being a flight attendant, check out 10 Awesome Benefits Of Being A Flight Attendant.

In this post I want to highlight a few perks that come with the job and a lot of the drawbacks to being a flight attendant, the parts of the job that most people really don’t talk about.

What Challenges Do Flight Attendants Face?

The Dark Side Of Being A Flight Attendant

Flight attendants face all kinds of challenges every day on the job. With delayed flights, unruly passengers, and long days, flight attendants have so much to deal with on a daily basis.

However, one of the biggest pros of being a flight attendant is that you can leave your problems on the plane when you leave.

So many times in an office setting you may have coworkers that you might not particularly care for, and as a flight attendant you are always working with different people, so each day is a chance to make new friends and enjoy new crew members.

Pros & Cons For Flight Attendants – Pay

There are pros and cons for being a flight attendant concerning your pay. It really comes down to what stage you are at in your career.

In the beginning of your flight attendant career, the pay is low which of course is a con. However, if you choose a well paying airline, the more years you move up in seniority, so does your pay. Many flight attendants enjoy making six figures per year, and that is one of the best perks that come with the job.

You May Also Like: Poverty Or Riches – How Much Do Flight Attendants Make In 2022

Working Holidays As A Flight Attendant

Flight Attendant Perks

Working holidays is a pro for some flight attendants and a con for others. Before you accrue enough seniority as a flight attendant you can expect to work almost every holiday. If you have family that you want to spend every holiday with, it may not happen for a while.

Some flight attendants like me enjoy working holidays. Depending on the airline, you could earn holiday pay, and sometimes that pay is double and even triple your regular pay.

One of my best working Christmases was when I worked a trip to Jamaica and stayed at a resort for the holiday. So if you have to work on Christmas, there is definitely a chance that you can work a great trip with a fun layover.

If you have children, you can choose the day you will celebrate the holiday, it doesn’t have to be on the exact calendar date. My kids love getting to have two Christmases, instead of just one.

As a side note, after new parents have a new baby,  they have the option to take an entire year off to stay home. 

Reserve Flight Attendant VS Line Holder

Being on reserve is being on call according to operational need. You don’t get to choose where you go, but you do bid for days off when you are a reserve flight attendant.
 
Reserve can be tough because you work all kinds of shifts, and you are the mercy of crew scheduling. As a reserve you don’t have control over much, but you can get some of the best trips last minute.
 
Reserve is a very exciting time in your career, and hopefully you can accrue enough seniority to not be on reserve for too long.
 
Working 100 hours a month on reserve is much more difficult than working 100 hours when you are holding a line.
 
A line holder is someone who can bid for trips. Once there are enough reserves beneath you in seniority, you become a line holder.
 
Different airlines have different reserve systems, but one thing remains the same for all airlines, seniority is everything.
 
As a line holder you can have a lot more flexibility and control over your schedule. With enough seniority, you can work as little (unless there is are minimum hours stated in the airline contract) or as much as you like (as long as you stay within the FAA rest guidelines).
 
The difference between being on reserve and being a line holder is so vast that it’s like working at two different airlines within the same company.
 
The bright side is, that with enough seniority, every reserve flight attendant will eventually be a line holder.
 
 
Is Being A Flight Attendant Bad For Your Health?

I think health issues are one of the biggest drawbacks of being a flight attendant. You are always changing time zones, you end up eating a lot of airplane food, and you are trapped in a metal tube with sick people for hours on end.

I will say that after your first year flying you will have an immune system that can withstand almost anything.

But do you want to know what you are more prone to as a flight attendant? Cancer

It’s really devastating because flight attendants do get cancer often because they are exposed to cosmic radiation and the closer you fly to the poles in an airplane the higher the radiation.

One of the best things to do to protect yourself from cancer is to have a flight attendant side hustle so you can take some time off for self-care. 

Sleeping right, eating right, getting exercise and getting cancer screenings will help you stay on top of your health.

Flight Attendant Health

Passengers Onboard The Aircraft

Passengers that you meet can be both pros and cons of being a flight attendant.

One of the best things I love about being a flight attendant are the passengers. As a flight attendant you can meet so many interesting people from all over the world. There are many lovely passengers that will make your day.

However, things have gotten volatile up in the air. Some passengers have gotten violent, and have been taking it out on flight crews. As a flight attendant you can often become a target. People get angry about things that are beyond your control, and behavior can escalate quickly.

Having said that, the FAA has announced they will make permanent their “zero tolerance policy” so that unruly passengers who interfere with crew members can be fined up to $35,000 and be imprisoned. That’s a win in my book, don’t you think?

Turbulence – One Of The Drawbacks To Being A Flight Attendant

When I first started flying there were seasons of turbulence, but now? Turbulence is a year round thing.

I have been injured in turbulence, it’s dangerous and can be life altering. We can’t see clear air turbulence coming, but pilots can inform other aircrafts about where they encountered it, which helps.

I’ve been in severe turbulence more than once. How I can describe it is that if feels like a giant grabs the wings of the airplane with each hand and shakes the airplane as hard as it can.

Once when it happened I flew up into the air and landed on the floor and got the wind knocked out of me. I was in the middle of the service, and the turbulence was not forecasted so it came without warning.

But forecasted turbulence? We know it’s coming and if it’s moderate or worse, getting someone a coke isn’t as important as sitting down and buckling up.

Substance Abuse – The Dark Side Of Being A Flight Attendant

The Downside Of Being A Flight Attendant

I’d like to shine a light on something rampant in the flight attendant career, flight attendant substance abuse.

There are a lot of flight attendants who are alcoholics. Alcoholism is a disease. If you are prone to becoming an alcoholic because it runs in your family, or you are already on your way to becoming an alcoholic, maybe becoming a flight attendant isn’t for you until you have the proper support system in place.

There is alcohol everywhere, and no shortage of flight attendants who want to party. This job takes you away from home a lot, you miss a lot of time with your family, especially if you commute, and if you are not well grounded, you could quickly turn to alcohol.

I’ve never been an alcoholic, and maybe my reason can help somebody. It’s nothing spectacular. I’m vain, and I’m careful with money. I’m the kind of person who gains weight when looking at fattening food.

I’m primarily a water drinker because it has no calories. I’d much prefer to eat any calories than drink them. I also don’t spend money on things that are not a necessity or a luxury. That’s it. That’s what has kept me away from alcohol my entire life.

So even when someone wanted to buy me a drink, I said no because I was not too fond of the extra calories.

An Interview With AJ – Flight Attendant & Recovering Alcoholic

Future Flight Attendant: Do you think alcoholism is a problem with flight attendants?

 

 

AJ: Alcoholism is, in my opinion, our number one problem. We push it to the limit on layovers and in our home lives. Most alcoholics won’t admit they have a problem and I always like to say “your program, your problem” because I will never talk to someone about their drinking unless they ask me for help.

 

Future Flight Attendant: Why do you think alcohol is such a big problem for flight attendants?

AJ: I think drinking with flight attendants is a big problem because it is just so widely accepted.

I remember working with a crew where we had a 35-hour layover. Two of us decided to rent a car and drive two hours to Yosemite to explore and stay out til midnight with a 6 am show, while others went out drinking until that time and they thought we were the crazy ones.

Another thing that drives flight attendants to drink, partly, again in my opinion, is depression that hasn’t been properly dealt with.

Future Flight Attendant: Would you say that there is peer pressure to drink alcohol as a flight attendant?
AJ: There is peer pressure to an extent. I, personally don’t really give into peer pressure too often. When I was drinking I was very much the one pressuring others to do what I wanted.
 
Future Flight Attendant: What do you wish you would have known before you started drinking? 

 

AJ: I wish I would have known exactly how much money I was wasting on alcohol as a young flight attendant. 

 

 

You don’t make much money at all those first few years, and wasting it on alcohol has been a constant reminder every time I go to make a payment on a credit card bill run up to the limit at bars.

 

 
Future Flight Attendant: When did your drinking start? Did it start after you were hired?
 
AJ: I was drinking before that. I was hired a few days before my 22nd birthday but had been drinking heavily since I was 18.
 
Future Flight Attendant: What was the drinking like at initial flight attendant training?
 
AJ: Drinking at training was insane. I was the first one to grab a beer when I got there and everyone else followed after.
 
In training, we would go out every Wednesday to a country bar that had 75 cent shots and get completely wasted.
 
Deanna @ Future Flight Attendant: Some of my classmates in training were big drinkers, so I know what you are talking about. They would be down at the hotel bar getting wasted almost every night. I don’t know how they were able to party and still pass their tests. 
 
I never was a drinker, but I’m usually the one that is out making jokes and being the center of attention. During training, I was working out, studying, and in bed by nine o’clock. 
 
A few times, I felt a little sad that I wasn’t making lifelong friends with my classmates that were out having a good time.
 
But I did make lifelong friends, and training was one of the most important times of my life. I’m so happy that I stayed in my room and studied every night.
 
The sad thing is, my classmates that were out drinking every night, are no longer flight attendants. I know a lot of them got fired, for what I’m not sure.
 
Future Flight Attendant: AJ, Is there anything you would like to share with new flight attendants?
 
AJ: The one thing I would like to share is don’t be afraid to be the rebel. In this day and age, being a rebel is saying “no”.
 
Deanna @ Future Flight Attendant: I love that. 
 
I want anyone who has a drinking problem to know that we are not judging you. However, we also want new flight attendants to know the harsh reality that you could lose your career or even your life from drinking. 
 
I lost a family member from alcohol poisoning, and the damage that it caused to all of that person’s loved ones has been devastating. Even if you don’t love yourself, I want to tell you that so many people do love you.
 
I understand the desire to use alcohol to sleep, to numb pain, and to ease the loneliness, we are all human. There can be a lot of those things in life, and most especially in the flight attendant lifestyle.
 
Alcohol is everywhere as a flight attendant and it’s free and cheap most of the time.
 
But we work so hard to get this dream flight attendant job and drinking it away is no way to go. Anyone that happens to get fired for drinking will be sorry for the rest of their lives, I’m sure of that.
 
AJ: I do have a few close friends who have been let go for drinking-related incidents and I was very lucky I quit drinking when I did.
 
Future Flight Attendant: Do you have any drinking stories you would like to share as a flight attendant?
 
AJ: I ended up with alcohol poisoning twice, 2 months in a row before I got sober. 
 
I had the same doctor both times and he wanted to put me in a study for alcoholics. I knew I had a problem but for a doctor to say that to me really messed me up. I didn’t get fully clean until a month later.
 
I think if I was still drinking when 2020 came, I would be dead.
 
For awhile there I lost my job, got put on the NAL program (when a large number of flight attendants got furloughed at the start of the pandemic), lost my dog of 13 years, and had an ectopic pregnancy where I lost twins.
 
Had I been drinking, I would have drank myself to death because all of that happened within two months.
 
The only other thing I didn’t expect about getting sober is that it allows you to REALLY get to know yourself. 
 
If it takes you getting drunk to do something that you want to do, that means it’s something you need to work on.
 
When I got sober, I made a list of everything that scared me.
 
This year I went on a solo trip to Africa. I swam with sharks, and even scarier than that, I became a comedian for about 6 months.
 
I forced myself to get in front of people and tell my jokes. At one show we had 180 people. A show I put together, produced, and performed in.
 
It’s about facing and overcoming your fears and taking away the excuse “oh I was drunk when I said that, sorry.”
 
Deanna @ Future Flight Attendant: Wow! You overcame huge obstacles and did incredible things. 
 
You had big goals and you accomplished all of them. I’m so proud of you for quitting drinking and becoming the incredible person that you are today. Not that you were not always that person, of course you were, but when you stopped drinking, you let her out.
Future Flight Attendant: What was the turning point that made you decide to stop drinking?
AJ: I was actually at a concert and drinking quite heavily. Close to me was this older woman who was obviously drunk and making a complete ass out of herself.  I thought “My God, that’s going to be me if I don’t stop.” 
 
I quit drinking the next day and haven’t look back since. I’ve been sober for three years, 1,120 days to be exact.
 
Deanna @ Future Flight Attendant: What an amazing way to stop drinking, that seems divine intervention.
Future Flight Attendant: Is it true that if the company knows you have a drinking problem, you can’t get fired for it?
I’m not sure of the details, and I’m a details person so, I’d like to see that in writing before I believe it. Do you happen to know anything about that? Do airlines have this type of program in place for their employees?
 
AJ: Well, a good friend of mine got let go for drinking and did EVERYTHING under the sun to help make her look good but was still let go.

 

Airlines can replace you so easily, there are thousands of people that want your flight attendant job, and you are a liability with a drinking problem.

 

Future Flight Attendant: Can you recommend a place for other flight attendants or aspiring flight attendants to turn if they have a drinking problem?

 

 AJ: I would say the EAP (employee assistance program) or try AA. That’s what I did. Or, they can reach out to me as well. I will always talk to someone who wants to get sober.

 

Future Flight Attendant: Where can anyone reach you?

 

AJ: If someone wants to email me they can reach me at ajbehan90@gmail.com

 

Future Flight Attendant: Thank you so much AJ for telling your story, I’m sure this will help the people who need to hear it. Maybe this can be a divine intervention wake up call like you had.

The Pros & Cons Of Being A Flight Attendan
AJ sober, healthy, and happy with her beautiful baby girl.

 

So there you have it, the pros and cons of being a flight attendant. I know we went over a lot of things that are on the dark side of being a flight attendant, but those things needed to be said. Knowledge is power.

 

Being a flight attendant is one of the biggest highlights of my life, but it’s not without a downside. 

 

The pros for me heavily outweigh the cons, and as a flight attendant you live a really exciting life. 

 

mean, how many people can say that Hugh Jackman taught them how to take a really great selfie? I can, and that’s only because I was a flight attendant on one of his flights.

 

If you or any other flight attendant has a drinking problem and needs help you can contact your EAP – employee assistance program, AA – Alcoholics Anonymous, or FADAP – Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program.

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