One of my favorite things about being a commercial flight attendant was the fact that I couldn’t take my work home. In commercial aviation, you check-in exactly at the required time for your flight— working to whatever destination— and from the moment you, either step off the aircraft or hear the click-click of your hotel room door open, you are off until the next (very exact) report time. I really do love that part of commercial flight attendant life.
As a corporate flight attendant, when work begins and ends is not so defined, and if you think, as a private cabin attendant, that you will have the luxury of keeping your responsibilities to only days when you are on the plane, your career in private aviation will be very short. I was on a corporate jet trip in March with two nights in Oakland. My crew of two pilots and me drove right past my international airline layover hotel and I remember thinking how everything felt, “same-same, but different.” With the airline, I would get two, four, five, and seven-night layovers in London, San Francisco, Copenhagen, and Los Angeles. Never did I have to stress about making sure I prepped for my flight. Just put on my lipstick, braid my hair, and artfully place the salad bowl hat on my blonde head.
With corporate flights, I found myself running around, in what commercial flight attendants consider “layover free time,” trying to find the right smoked salmon, gluten free cookies, and a multitude of other various items. When you are a corporate flight attendant, you become a blend of party planner, sous chef, poised actress, problem solver, safety professional, and whatever else the day may require of you. It takes more thought, creativity, organization, and presence to orchestrate a luxury jet charter experience for clients. And the satisfaction of pulling together the pieces; prepping and polishing the details of a flight—to create the exquisite experience that a multi-millionaire has paid for; that is many a private cabin attendant’s favorite reward of a very demanding and competitive career. I’m not saying one is better than the other; corporate or commercial. I’m just saying that I know one really well and to the other, I’m new to it. I’m saying it’s a little “same-same, but different.”
Griffin called the other day and invited me to join him as he shopped for all the catering for his flight the following day. Griffin is also one who came from commercial aviation and still works for the airlines. He enjoys corporate because he has the chance to really ‘Wow’ his clients. His job requires that he create a beautiful 5-star dining experience and make his guests happy.
We try not to call travelers, “passengers” in private aviation. We don’t treat them like they have never buckled a seatbelt or seen a lavatory door before. As a corporate flight attendant, it’s as if you are invited into someone else’s house to throw a dinner party. On a commercial flight, air travelers have stepped into your house. In that environment, you make the rules. Safety is the main priority and the caterer that delivered the food gave you two choices if you are lucky and that’s if you are even lucky enough to get food!
One of the reasons corporate aviation can be fun due to the amount of creativity it allows for and demands. Griffin and I wanted to share with you a glimpse of what it is like; planning and purchasing catering for a private jet trip. He and I had so much fun, and it was a real treat for me to get out of the house and continue to learn about private aviation even while I’m on disability leave due to a broken ankle.
As someone who is fairly new to the industry, joining another corporate flight attendant as he shopped was a great way to gain additional knowledge and learning. It was great that I was able to see how someone else “does it.” One of the best things you can do, if you are interested in becoming a corporate flight attendant, is to find someone who you can look up to and who can be your mentor. Griffin has been a great resource, inspiration, and encouragement to me, and I sincerely would be lost without him. I also would laugh a whole lot less, and we all know that would be tragic.
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