“What are your days off?”
“Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.”
“Well, let’s get together Monday then?”
“Oh, I work Monday.”
“I thought you said you were off on Mondays?
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“Well, I am…except for that Monday.”
“You said you work mornings, right? What about getting together after your trip on Saturday?”
“I do work mornings, but Saturday, I fly an evening trip.”
“So when are you free?!?”
“You are impossible.”
If by impossible, you mean awesome, then yes, I agree with you.
A flight attendant’s schedule can be a little unpredictable, a little random, and for those outside of the airline industry, a little hard to understand. I dated this guy for a hot second who threw a fit because I told him that I had a certain day off, but then ended up having to fly on that day. I think I can throw enough fits and don’t have enough extra time to deal with another persons’ pouting, so he bounced himself out of my life as quickly as he had entered.
Probably for the best.
Every month, there are a couple of cycles that I count on, one of those cycles being another round of what the airline industry calls, Bidding. Bidding is the process of picking from a handful of lines, schedules blocked by the month with predefined days off, trips, or what is called reserve, which is basically a crapshoot, the flight attendant ball-n-chained to the whims of the company’s scheduling department (It’s not fun, but it’s kind of like airline crew initiation. Every employee sits reserve, some for years, and years, and years…)
I have five days to pick a line that will determine my life for the next month. I like that the schedule varies from month-to-month, but I do get tired of having to make the decision of what to do with my life on the high frequency of every 30 days. Looking at the pages of trips and days off gives me anxiety because, not only am I deciding what my work life will be, but also what my personal adventure plan will pan out like. Do I want to work mornings or afternoons? Who will I possibly be flying with, and should I go to Morocco or Slovenia (tough life right)? My choice of what I work is mostly influenced by my need to see a new place every month, and that often interferes with socializing with my normal friends (non-airline employees) in Los Angeles.
The anxiety of schedule choice is actually more pronounced than it once was, because now I have enough seniority (means I’m old) to almost hold the line I want instead of taking the leftovers. I used to wonder how it would feel when I had the choice over my days off, and now that I basically do, I have to actually know what I want. Oh decisions and knowing myself; two of my many constant struggles!
Airlines don’t, across the industry, use the same type of scheduling systems, but reserve, lines, bidding, and working weekends are well known and familiar concepts. When you here me rave about the 18 days off I have next month, or that I’ve been to Barcelona, lived in Florida for a month, visited Hawaii, saw some Presidents, vacationed in Half Moon Bay, traipsed to Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Alaska, and saw a few other random sights, just this year, your jaw drops, and with wistful lust you breath, “Oh, you are so lucky!” Yes. I am. But, I have only described the easy to understand part of a flight attendant’s life; the glamorized aspect. The wonderfulness of the lifestyle.
What I didn’t mention is that I have put in my initiation time. I’ve lived through months and months of not having any choice over where or when I fly, months of being required to have my cell phone on me at all times. Of just holding out that eventually I would have enough free time and money to travel where I wanted. I’ve been left out of many invites to birthdays, missed weekend beach volleyball get-togethers, and have had to, on many occasions, reschedule my life, because my flight was delayed. The flight attendant life is a fun one, no question, and I am fortunate with the quality of life I do have, but there have been sacrifices.
N oone can have it all, and there are always cons to to the pros. In anything. The question is whether or not you are willing to accept the downsides.
I only have 7 more hours to figure out my life for August.
Happy Bidding To Me…