I arrived back in Ft Lauderdale Monday this week…or was it Sunday? What day was the 12th? It doesn’t matter. I lived long days, and short days. International flying plays havoc on sleep, life, days, weeks…that’s simply the way that it is.
The bird sitting pretty on a gray day at Arlanda Airport- Sweden
At any rate, I returned from the first international trip with my new employer. Eeeek! I’m international now. Excuse me while I dance around in circles for a minute. It’s quite exciting. My excitement level was more than intermittently interrupted by nerves, due to the fact that it was ‘line training’. All new flight attendants, after passing classroom training, are required to complete, and pass a certain number of flight hours, or complete a certain number of routes with a supervisor. With this airline, I have at least three routes total before I am considered ‘on line.’ Until I complete the flights, I will not be put on the schedule to fly independently apart from a Supervisor. It’s just the process that the job requires.
Flying passive into CPH
These training flights are mixed with a crew, and the trainee is considered an ACM, or additional crew member. Even though I was additional, I was and am required to perform the duties of a designated position, showing that I know how to do the job safely and properly. It sounds much more scary and complicated than it actually is. I have the worst “test anxiety,” and spent so much time studying, which was helpful, but to lose the new kid feeling will simply take the repetition of a few flights.
I remember how nervous I was when I had my training flights with my first employer, and those flights were only about two hours each direction. The trips now are only transatlantic flights of no less than eight hours one way! The crews are large, and at times the bus from hotel to airport will have eighteen or more, as there may be other flight departures, or some crew members may be traveling passive, or essentially repositioning. In eight days I flew across the atlantic four times, completed two training flights, landed and departed in Stockholm Arlanda, Copenhagen, Oakland, California, and Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Two States, Three Countries, Three time zones, two red eyes, two regular eyes…Can I just close my eyes now please?!?!
We have nap time on these flights, and I wake up uniform a bit wrinkled after, hair somewhat disheveled, mascara slightly smudged. Thankfully, most of the passengers are sleeping, so I am not immediately judged. I notice the impression that we, the crew makes. Walking through the airport, people stare. A lot. I think it’s the hat. It’s novel, yes, but unless I’m on the airplane, or in an airport, surrounded by the other cabin crew members, someone might think that I escaped from the circus. I envision it’s only a matter of flights before an accessory goes missing. Hat, Scarf, Red Gloves, Apron, Sweater, Serving Shoes, Watch, Bag, Passport. God help us all. EMILY! How am I going to keep track of my stuff without you?!
Make sure you have all of your required items: An International Crew looking happy and sharp
I am now working under European Aviation Safety regulations, which are similar to the rules of the FAA. I am very cognizant of the similarities, and differences to where I was employed, and where I am employed. Overall, the job is the same– the flight attendant job is always the same. Just know this: If you are not happy in one flight attendant job (as you aren’t happy because of work rules, hate passengers, and don’t like not having any control over your life), you will NOT be happy in another. One of the reasons that I left my last employer was because, when I switched base locations, the aspects that I had liked about my job changed (lots of days off to travel, best friends as colleagues, west coast), and I realized that I needed to make a change. I now work on a plane that many flight attendants look at with eyes of friendly jealousy, and yes, I’m not denying the aircraft’s beauty, but it’s work. A plane. A means to an end.
The lights in my office actually do this
I see this employment, not so much as a job to pay the bills, because it really doesn’t, but as an experiment. An experience. It is a life adventure that I am SO lucky to have, but it’s not a sustainable life. I wasn’t born to be an international flight attendant. I wasn’t born to walk through airports pulling a suitcase, hat tilted slightly, red leather gloves donned. It’s part of me, but it’s not me in total. We are never what we do, what outfit we put on, or the role that we play. Because all of that, in a second, can be taken away.
Being a flight attendant is part of the means I use to create an authentic self. It’s a journey of self discovery of learning what I was born to do. Being a flight attendant may not be your answer to find your authentic self, but in many ways, it has been mine. It may not be my answer always, but for now it’s wonderful. I was born to tell stories, create meaning, and influence. I’m doing this work, working on a Dreamliner so that I can tell a more whole, more complete story. Because as much as I hope that my story has the power to help you, it has the strength to change me.
This flying experience was too valuable to pass. This adventure too enticing. This dream exactly what I never thought would be reality. Now it’s mine. And if I quit, or lose my job tomorrow, the experience is always, and forever, mine.
The Layovers- Biking in Sweden
I was crying yesterday over the fact that this new adventure is challenging, and if I stayed where I was, my life would be so much more comfortable. And I was first consoled by my daddy, and then put in my place by a friend. My friend told me, “Life isn’t sitting where you are comfortable.”
I was just told.
The adventure may not always be comfortable. The nerves may attempt to engulf. You may hate the new kid feeling, and have no idea how things will figure out, but they always figure out. Take one day at a time. No need to solve all of the world’s problems, or ALL of your own right now.
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