At the heart of the flight attendant job lies the sweetness provided by the fruits of labor. Amid the frustration of crazy schedules, rude passengers, bad weather and difficult co-workers, the flight attendant job provides perks like no other. Many times this wonderful lifestyle is downplayed, in order to ensure that the job applicant is made aware of the difficulty experienced in the beginning.
If you are able to withstand the irregularities of the position for the first few months, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. After the probationary period is over, as an airline employee you will receive space-available air travel for a minimal charge, or in some cases complimentary, on your own airline.
In addition this, you will be provided with a plethora of travel discounts on other carriers, anywhere from a 50% discount to 90%. Some even offer an annual "freebie", on a space-available basis! I remember flying to England and Ireland once on another carrier for the humongous fare of $40!
We enjoyed seeing castles and the beautiful Yorkshire countryside; we toured Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, shopped at Piccadilly Circus, and boogied the nights away in the discos. Nothing will ever erase this wonderful experience from my mind!
Hotels and car rental agencies also give reduced rates to airline employees, as well as some eateries and tour packages. Most establishments around airline hub cities cater to airline employees and give generous discounts.
Many courtesies are extended to airline employees that are usually extended only to high rolling jet setters. I once stayed in a hotel that had biking and horseback riding trails – free to us, and unlimited access to a Jacuzzi and workout room. The owners also provided a private car for our use only, to go into town and shop during our 23-hour layover in that city.
I have been to the Grand Canyon and hiked the Appalachian Trail; I have sunned in the Caribbean and snow skied in Portland; I have beheld the magnificence of Niagara Falls, shopped-till-I-dropped at the Mall of the Americas and strolled the monuments and historical sights in Washington, D.C.
Most of the vacation spots in America have been my stomping grounds. If you fly internationally as a flight attendant, the world will be your playground; even if you fly for a domestic carrier, you can go virtually ANYWHERE on vacation!
Some of the people I have met while onboard an airplane as a flight attendant have been quite memorable and I consider this a perk of the job. I have met really nice folks who generously gave the flight crews samples of their various wares, including shoes I received from a shoe salesman, a very large box of retail size cosmetics from a cosmetics rep, clothing from apparel store owners, and autographed books from celebrities.
Some of the famous people I met while flying include legendary actors, rock musicians, politicians, poets, writers, athletes and artists. For the most part, these folks can be quite down-to-earth and interesting to talk to. I’ve gotten many a free ticket to a concert or ball game from celebs I have met and it’s a real kick to meet them!
The company benefits for airline employees are also quite generous, affording paid days off, medical and dental benefits, credit unions and 401K’s. And what other job gives you as many days off per month (10 – 15)?
But, putting aside all the wonderful above mentioned benefits you reap when working for an airline, nothing can compare to the emotional benefits you get from providing comfort and companionship to scared or emotionally distraught folks.
When lending an ear to someone who is going through a family crisis and being told by them that you were the ray of sunshine in their day, the personal gratification you will receive for a job well done is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
Finally, the one thing not often mentioned is that there is also a certain unexplainable joy when walking through an airport terminal in your uniform. Nothing warms my heart like hearing a little girl say to her mommy, "I want to be an airplane lady when I grow up!" Not everyone who relishes the honor of being chosen for this outstanding position is bestowed with the revered flight wings.
The flight attendant job holds a curious mystique that attracts many admirers, envious of the adventure and excitement we experience on a daily basis. And the camaraderie experienced is typical only to this industry – where else can 5 perfect strangers, with diverse personalities and backgrounds, at the end of a 4-day trip, click and become lifelong friends? And that, my friend, is why we fly!
---By Wendy Stafford, a former flight attendant and president and senior consultant at Airline Inflight Resources, a professional interview coaching company devoted exclusively to airlines. Visit her website at http://www.airlineinflight.com