“Hey, Alex! It’s Karalee…or Kara.” I pause for a second before continuing my ‘cold-call.’ “I’m on your trip tomorrow…” I transform my statement into a question by the slight intonation of my voice. At this point, it’s not a question if I’ll be on the trip, but an uncertainty that this pilot knows who I am. I always feel strange and a bit nervous calling my pilots I’ve never met before. I do it, but using the call feature of an iPhone is not common in 2018. I guess that’s why I do it. You have to do what you can to stand out in this industry and often, it’s the littlest touches that change everything for you, your guests, and your crew.
“Oh, hi!” Alex responds brightly. “Yeeaaaah. About that trip. My aircraft isn’t going,” he says. The pilot and I talk for another couple minutes as he explains the situation and some details about the guests (aka passengers). I should still be going to Mexico, even if the two pilots are not. There are more planes and more pilots. There are always more flight attendants, too. Although I do my best work on whatever flights I get, no one owes me. I can’t seem to find the line where luck and hard work in corporate aviation begins and ends. It’s all blur and I work hard, but I feel lucky. I feel like it’s solid, but I’m not naïve to think that anything lasts forever. The reality is, I’m on a list of phone numbers. Sometimes, it’s just who says ‘yes’ first. So you learn— either because you’re me and you had the year that I had or you are a flight attendant yourself with a weird crazy schedule that you can’t seem to make sense of— don’t get attached.
I had thoughts of floating around a hotel pool on Jimmy the Unicorn while soaking up the January, Mexican sunshine. I had visions of how I would make a boarding card, wondered if the hotel printer would work when I needed to make the in-flight menus, or what grocery stores I would shop at while I was there. With plenty of time before departure, the trip canceled; for me, too. I wasn’t that disappointed. I hadn’t let myself get attached yet.
- Don’t get attached to the trips. They may cancel as you are on your way to the airport.
- Don’t get attached to the destination. That can always change.
- Don’t get attached to the pilots. Those two might get pulled to fly a different trip. Have a prior delay, time out, or get on an opposite rotation as you. You see them every day for four days straight only to not see them again for the next six months.
- Don’t get attached to a certain type of aircraft, because tomorrow, you’ll be on a Falcon, instead of a Gulfstream or a Boeing 777 instead of an Airbus.
- Don’t get attached to one private jet operator over another. If they pay you quickly, just say, “Thank you,” politely, and hustle for the next trip, profusely.
- Don’t get attached to your charter clients or passengers. They may be the nicest, most polite, interesting and engaging individuals you have ever met, but you might not have the opportunity to fly them again; ever.
- Don’t get attached to your days off or your plans. Those entities are one phone call away from going away.
Just, believe me when I say— don’t get attached.
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So, do I get attached? Absolutely. Of course. I’m human. I would have been disappointed beyond belief if Bora Bora hadn’t happened, but I truly didn’t let myself revel in excitement until I was actually on the island— and I knew about that trip A MONTH in advance (that’s a long time for a contract corporate flight attendant in private aviation world). I just try not to let myself hope. Sadly, I’ve become notoriously bad at making plans. I was this way in commercial aviation as well, but how quickly plans can change in corporate aviation is at an entirely different level. During the moments of waiting for the details of pop-up trips and scheduling changes, I find myself thinking, “I’m really glad I’m not dating someone right now. They would have a really hard time understanding how crazy this lifestyle can be.” I mean, just to put things in perspective, in the past sixteen hours;
- I thought I would be in Puerto Vallarta for the weekend.
- Then home for the weekend.
- Then in Vegas.
- Then just Aspen.
- Then home.
And, the list I just gave you was Friday/Saturday/Sunday. As of now, I’m home. I’m home, but I could get called to go. Right now. Literally. Just when I think I know what to expect from this industry, it surprises me with a new challenge and new possibilities. I love that.
I don’t know for how long I’ll be around, who I will fly for next, or where I will go.
This world is weird and wild and I love the way it plays.
On a personal note, I wonder where the balance lies between not becoming attached to any places, planes, or people while allowing myself to look forward to the future and truly attach myself to certain scenarios for my life. I don’t get that attached to outcomes because I’ve learned better, but I do still hope. Because hope is everything.
- I hope someday soon I meet someone who understands how crazy it is to think you are going to Mexico, Vegas, and Aspen all in the same weekend.
- I hope somewhere that person does exist
- I hope for my writing to be more than it is.
- I hope to be adopted by one aircraft, a couple of pilots, and a wonderful owner.
- I hope and I hope and I hope and I shall always keep hoping.
I write as if I am unfolding along with these words. I’m not writing as though I have the answers or the ideal path. I write because I discover in the process. I write with the hope to help you discover. Don’t become attached to the outcome, but always care about the process. For, it is the process that will change where you end up and the level of peace you will feel within the chaos.
- I don’t need to become attached, because I might break my ankle tomorrow and everything that I wanted for myself could change.
- I don’t need to become attached because what doesn’t work out the way I wanted might work out even better…I just can’t see that right now.
- I don’t need to become attached because it’s not my job in life to control the outcome.
- I don’t need to become attached because I trust. Trust your timing.
Care about the process. Care about your work. Care about how you show up day after day and let what outcomes you are attaching yourself to, go. You’ll make yourself an insane crazy person— as both a commercial flight attendant and a corporate flight attendant— if you become too attached to a schedule you have no control over, the delays that just happen, or the people in your life who don’t give you the chance you deserve.
It’s ok to love, care, and ‘attach’ yourself to your dreams. Do that. Love your dreams. Build them, nourish them, feel them. But know, you are just a little human with limited vision to see all that is in store beyond what did not work out today! There is a feeling I have found by surrendering my hopes, goals, and attachments to the Universe, a Greater Plan, and Higher Power that allows me to have more peace than I have ever experienced in my life. I couldn’t do this job if I worried myself sick about how much money I just lost out on because these trips canceled. I couldn’t survive if I got angry and frustrated over all of the changes and uncertainty. I couldn’t be happy if I tried to control any aspect of what I do in aviation or became too attached to what I thought I deserved. I care. I care deeply, but all of this is a gift— the good trips and the “bad” ones. I don’t believe there are any bad trips, though. It’s all learning, and the learning is amazing.
I still experience sadness, frustration, and sense of loss over work that I so desperately wanted or the men who I hoped would love me. But, I told myself once I would hate being a commercial flight attendant, and I really liked it. I said at one point I would NEVER work in corporate aviation, and here I am. I didn’t plan to be a writer. I know for a fact that there are men I have fallen for in the past, and it didn’t work out, and now I can see why.
There are so many more flights ahead of you. So many more terrible schedules. So many more learning experiences. So many more destinations to enjoy. Instead of making yourself crazy over everything you want, attach yourself to the list below—
- Be thankful.
- Live in gratitude.
- Appreciate your opportunities
- Invest in the process
Freedom isn’t found by living a jet-setting lifestyle, but first, let yourself exist so that you are content, peaceful and secure in your innate worth and the moment you have right now. Attach yourself to that.