WHEN I WAS CABIN CREW…

FUNNY, TRAVEL, WORK & MONEY

Don’t about you, but part of me is fascinated about other peoples jobs. Apart from those friends I’ve known for forever who do something I don’t quite understand, but its too late to ask them now! ANYWAY, when I heard that @Gemswholesomekitchen let slip that she was a member Cabin Crew in her youth, I was delighted to find out more:

  • I had just turned 20 and I was living in London working  in the Oxo Tower restaurant as a maître de and basically partying my way through the life.

  • I was totally wild and having a whale of a time but working to pay for partying and not doing much else.

  • I had always liked the idea of being an air hostess just because I wanted to travel the world …I actually had no idea what the job was.

  • I saw an advert for Virgin Atlantic and thought YES! I like that uniform ( no joke) and  just applied.

  • I wanted some stability as was kind of getting sick of working, partying, working partying…

  • God knows why I thought this job would give me stability?

  • So, the interview process was a long one but I got through to the next stage which was a group interview and I LOVED it.

  • It was in VA head office in a place called Horley which I’d never been to before.

  • In fact I believe it was purpose built for air hostesses and pilots to live close to Gatwick.

  • It was a very strange place like a toy-town full of glamourous looking people all in uniforms of some sort.

  • I remember turning up at this group interview day so nervous and feeling so ungroomed.

  • All the girl’s just looked perfect; not a hair out of place, perfect make up… and then there was me who always got ready in 5 minutes, only wore a slap of dark red lipstick (you know that one that was trendy 20 years ago called Mulberry or something) and short hair which was handy as very low maintenance.

  • Despite feeling worried about not fitting in I managed to blag my way through and got accepted onto the 6-week training. I met a few really wicked girls on that day (one who I am still mates with today).

  • I was living in a little flat in Tooting Bec at the time and working in a bar called Spirit and still partying way too much – as I had been since I hit 15 and discovered clubbing….

  • Anyway 6 weeks away from all this living in this very strange place called Horley forced me to calm down.

  • For this period I’d come back at weekends and work shifts in the bar and have some kid of normality before back to air hostess training land.

  • The 6 weeks was hard work but also loads of fun.

  • Having to jump in water fully clothed and save dummies at the bottom of the pool. Doing our crash lands training in smoke filled cabins and learning where all the doors on the 100s of different aeroplanes were.

  • I just loved all of it and spent most of the time having a laugh and making everyone else laugh.

  • The best day was going to get the uniform fitted and coming home with basically a whole red wardrobe of summer and winter uniforms, suitcases, handbags they even gave us make up.

  • In our training, we had grooming lessons and basically got told how to wear our make-up…. Layers of foundation and powder and bright red lipstick I basically felt like I looked like a clown and hated it, but this was what was expected. So, had to go along with it.

  • I remember just thinking that everyone’s appearance was too perfect too groomed and I always felt like I looked a right messy cow. It just wasn’t normal for me to wear so much slap and to give a shit about looking perfect all the time.

  • SO, the 6 weeks passed and I got my ‘wings’ as they say and graduated to become a real-life trolley dolly!!

  • So after that you get given your roster which you get monthly with all your flights on.

  • I couldn’t believe it. Florida, Miami, LA, Barbados … WOW I was traveling the World.

  • America’s like New York and Miami and Orlando where juts a 24 hour stop over which was basically enough time to arrive go to the bar, get pissed, fall into a pissed sleep, wake up, go shopping and then work back.

  • LA and San Fran were 3-night stop over so way more time to explore and meant 3 nights of getting pissed and 3 days of shopping or sunbathing.

  • Barbados and Antigua were 5 nights which was completely amazing and always the best trips. Pure sunbathing and rum drinking.

  • I guess you see a theme here… Basically all I did was drink-heavily! Sunbathe- also heavily! And spend my wages on shit clothes. When I started I used to buy loads of fake stuff from New York: fake Gucci bags for 10 dollars and filling my case with utter crap to bring back.

  • Also when you checked into the hotel you were given an envelope on money which was your allowance normally about 100 dollars per night. If you were sensible you would save most of this to take home , but if you were like me ( and lots of other crew) you would spend this like it was your birthday money !

  • I haven’t told you this bit yet BUT I actually had never been on an aeroplane before I started this job. Can you believe it? I remember my first flight and I was so nervous because I was new and I was shitting myself I would throw hot tea on someone or forget to the safety instructions but also did not know what the hell to expect on a plane. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone so just styled it out and blagged once again.

  • Thanks god I LOVED it and decided to be on a plane was my happy place and yes, I was going to have fun fun fun.

  • Luckily, I was a complete grafter as had always had a job since being a teenager. So being on my feet for a 10 or 12-hour flight was no biggy really.

  • The flights going out were always way more busy and hectic and in those days, we gave as much booze to passengers as they wanted so most flights you would always encounter someone who got shit-faced and was either rude or tried to join the mile-high club with a fellow passenger…

  • Yes it really did happen A LOT.

  • I think the funniest story I had was when this young lad about 21 was sitting next to quite an eccentric and groovy older lady who was old enough to be his granny, (who he didn’t know) And yes, they got so drunk and ended up in the toilet getting up to no good.

  • Of course, he was so drunk and then fell asleep and work up in the morning sober and full of remorse of what had happened. Of course all the crew knew and his face when we were serving him brekky was a picture!!

  • I also experienced family’s fighting on one fight and getting arrested when we landed in America and being sent back home. I just felt so sorry for the kids.

  • I had lots of really bad weather on flight and some seriously hairy landings but it kind of became normal so I never really got scared.

  • Despite some drunken passengers most people travelling were lovely and in a good mood as they were going away somewhere. I actually loved the job as waitressing and working in restaurants was all I had ever done workwise. Much of the job was like waitressing in the sky, But it was very hard work and super long hours. I always appreciate when I get a happy flight attendant as I know they many have not slept for hours and been on their feet working without a break.

  • But stability this job did not bring me. It was just more or what I was doing before.

  • Partying and drinking so heavily; the lifestyle was so unhealthy

  • I was in a constant state of jet lag so eating crap in the middle of the night and skipping meals in the day and then hitting the bar when I didn’t know whether it was day or night meant I was all over the shop.

  • I put on lot of weight and remember getting a letter form the uniform department telling me I had gone up 2 dress sizes and should be watching my weight… Yes, this really happened (I mean it was 20 years ago so am sure and pray it would not happen now but what a cheek…)And did wonders for my already terrible low body confidence and unhealthy eating habits. I mean I’m talking from a skinny size 8 to a normal size 12.

  • This was about a year in to working with them.

  • What you looked like was so important to the company , I remember on many occasion getting told off for not wearing the correct make up and having it slap some more on before I flew. I hated this part of it.

  • I was now living with a mate in south London and s speeding time when I wasn’t working partying again and drinking all the free vodka bought back from the trips and then off on long haul flight somewhere,

  • Once you’ve been to Orlando or Florida 10 times it all begins to feel the same.

  • Same hotel groups with the same menus just different time zone.

  • I must say the hotels were amazing always 5 stars and always got a suite, after a year you can start taking friends away so I took family and friends with me on trips for really cheap and got to show them what we got up to…

  • Which leads me onto another funny story, my flat mate at the time was booked to come to New York on shopping trip with me. As always friends and family get upgraded to Upper Class if there’s space. Randomly but one of her ex boyfriends happend t be on the same flight going to make a film or something. So, they ended up getting pissed and yes you guessed it joining the mile-high club in Upper Class… I nearly got the sack and she was mortified when she sobered up and had to get on the crew bus with us all. Of course, everyone had heard about it and many complaints were made. I had been working at the other end of the plane in economy so knew nothing about it until after it had happened!!!

  • Basically, for me this life was just, booze and more booze and in fact made me feel even more unstable if that possible.

  • I only lasted a few more months as I managed to complete mess things up on a 7-night Cape Town stop over, I partied solidly with lots of the other crew but then when I was meant to fly and work back I was nowhere to be found. In fact, I was asleep in my hotel room and in no fit state to fly as was still drunk. It meant they had to fly me back home in disgrace and it resulted in me being “grounded “and given an office job for a year and then could go back to flying if I behaved. I kind of thought it was time to hang up my wings and try and sort myself out….

  • So many funny memories but also writing this just reminded me it was too mental a time for a wild child like me. Of course many crew were not like me and sensible and didn’t drink to excess but the mates I gravitated towards all did and so I went along for a jolly.

  • My kids don’t even believe me that I ever did this job and it was such a haze I don’t either sometime but every time I get on a plane I always check the doors and do the little safety checks in my mind and have a little chuckle to myself.

  • I run my own plant based food business now and take care of myself. Eating well, sleeping loads and self-care. A million miles away from flying days but I wouldn’t change it for the world and lived to tell the tale.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Susie March 3, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Great list!
    Would’ve loved a few points about how much responsibility you had for all those peoples lives? Surely you encountered a few medical emergencies? I bet you saved AT LEAST one life!

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