Stranger sitting next to me on an airline making small talk: So, is Los Angeles home for you?
Me: No, but I work there, so I’m there pretty often.
Stranger: What do you do?
Me: I’m a corporate flight attendant. (smiling)
I see their mind start spinning into a million questions. If you’ve met me, you have probably asked me some of them yourself. Most people apologize after asking a few questions realizing that I’ve probably had this same conversation a million times before, but I actually love talking to people about my job.
The synopsis of my occupation is that I fly around the world on a private jet and get paid to do it. You’re probably thinking “SIGN ME UP NOW!” That’s what I did when I heard that a company was hiring for this position. But before you go quitting your job and running to the nearest airport, here’s all the basics of what being a flight attendant for a private jet means:
Q: What kind of planes do you fly on?
The company I work for charters Lear Jets (too small for flight attendants), Challengers, Gulfstreams, and a Global.
Q: How many people are on these kinds of planes?
Our biggest jet carries 16 passengers (or PAX), the smallest jet that I fly on carries 9. And of course, the crew which is one flight attendant and two pilots.
Q: Who have you flown?!?
Well, I can’t answer that. (yes, some celebrities, business people, and privately wealthy families) But one of the most incredible passenger I’ve flown was a LUNG. Yes, that’s right. Just a body organ. In a cooler. I’ve added “Life Saver” to my resume.
Q: Ok, well you can’t say who, but are they really snobby?
Nope! My experiences with my passengers have been really great. They are just normal people too trying to get from point A to point B and I am just around to give them a stellar experience.
Q: So, do you get to go to really awesome places ALL THE TIME?
No. Not always. Sometimes I get lucky and have a lot of time in some amazing cities, other times, I end up in the middle of nowhere where even the closest Walmart is an hour away.
Q: Do you get to pick the places you go?
No. When I come to work, I am assigned to a specific plane and anywhere it goes, I go. Sometimes it has a schedule, but sometimes we get ASAP (aka “pop-up”) flights, where we have an hour to get ready and be at the airport.
Q: So how much time do you actually have in these places?
Sometimes I have virtually no time: we land, drop off or pick up pax, then head right back out. Once we land at the end of a day though, our crew has at least 10 hours of rest before we can fly again. Other times, I have so much time I don’t know what to do with myself. It can be a little tricky here though, because after the initial 10 hours of rest, we can get one of those pesky pop-up flights and cannot be more than an hour away from the aircraft.
Q: How often are you home?
What is this thing you call home? Ha ha! Kidding, of course. As of right now, my schedule is 20 days on, and 10 days off duty. However, depending on if a trip ends later than those 20 days or if I’m helping a coworker with a little extra time off, I’ve stayed on duty for as many as 33 days without going home (I’ve known a contract girl who has been gone for 3 months at a time!) Sometimes, I get lucky and my aircraft goes to Phoenix during my rotation, but it’s only happened to me about 4 times in the last year and a half, so it’s rare.
Q: What do you actually DO on these flights though?
What DON’T I do?! I’m a server, a bartender, a cook, an accountant, a shopper, and a cleaner. Before a flight, I buy the catering, fuel for the aircraft and set the plane up for the flight (setting up beds, putting on soft music, staging snacks and waters, etc). During the flight I serve the passengers and ensure they are comfortable and enjoy their experience. After a flight, I tidy up the plane, shop for items the passengers used that are part of our typical stock, and record my receipts for that trip. All of that can add up to very long days!!
Q: Your job is amazing. Do you enjoy it?
Absolutely. It challenges me, and I get to have many “once in a lifetime” experiences. When I first took this job and left my career some people thought I was crazy, but all the best people are and I have absolutely no regrets!