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‘What’s Your Route?’ – The Flight Attendant Questionnaire

As soon as a prospective flight attendant is invited to initial training, he or she learns just how fascinating the job is to people. It’s true that some view this career path as not being a respectable way of making a living forever, but while some grumble about us (usually only those who are ignoring our requests for compliance onboard an aircraft), it’s quickly clear, in social settings, that introducing yourself as a flight attendant is often as mind-blowing to people as introducing yourself as an astronaut.
However, sometimes this reaction gets tedious because a very specific set of questions always follow. It’s no fault of anyone’s, and I’m sure if I weren’t flying, I’d be asking the same ones.
Here are those questions.
1.) “What do you like to be called? Is it flight attendant or steward/stewardess?”
Officially, it’s flight attendant. I doubt most of us really care about being called steward/stewardess, since we usually are anyway.
2.) “My (self/family member/friend) had a terrible flight on your airline!”
We have no idea where you’re going with this one. Am I supposed to rip my wings off and stomp on them? We know some of our colleagues do a poor job, but sometimes the stories have nothing to do with the airline being at fault, and that’s likely not what you want to hear. Even if it IS the fault of the airline, it doesn’t make us feel good to hear and we likely had nothing personally to do with the situation. Things like this don’t make for pleasant, light-hearted conversation. We would love to help you if we can, but…we can’t help your cousin’s friend’s neighbor have a pleasant on time flight in the past, regardless of who is at fault. If you ask us why we think a certain situation happened, that’s another story, but if you feel the airline needs to hear your complaint, direct it through the proper channels. Not to me over a glass of champagne at a friend’s wedding.
3.) “What’s your route?”
Our flights tend to differ all the time. I have flights I tend to work all the time, but that’s personal preference. Very few of us work the same flights all the time. We bid for flights in order of seniority, so the best flights/layovers go to the people who’ve been flying the longest. But we can trade around as well, so you’ll rarely find a flight attendant with one “route”.
4.) “Give me free/cheap tickets!”
Oh, absolutely, stranger I met thirty seconds ago! I’ll never get why this is such a common request/demand, but our employment is very closely tied in with our flight benefits. We are responsible directly for your behavior while at the gate or on the plane, and making trouble means the employee can lose their flight benefits, or even worse, their job. (Sarah Steegar explains it perfectly here.) If I’m going to fly you somewhere, I’m going to want to know you so well that I know your deepest, darkest fears. Then I can exploit them if you make life difficult while on my flight benefits.
5.) “Have you ever joined the mile high club?”
I can’t speak for all of us, but most of us very quickly see what happens in those lavatories. Unless you get turned on by things like kitty litter boxes that have been neglected for a week or a NYC dumpster in the dead of summer, you’re not really going to find anything sexy about an airplane lavatory. But…different strokes, I guess.
6.) “Do you pay for your hotel rooms?”
      “Do you share rooms?”
The answer to both is a big, huge NO. Think about the massive cost that would impose on any of us, especially new hire flight attendants! And imagine flying into a city where a big event may be taking place, and hotel rooms are all booked up for miles around! That happens all the time. So no, our hotels are paid for and arranged by our airlines, who have contracts with specific hotels and blocks of rooms booked in every city we spend the night in.
And please, don’t ask us which hotel we are staying in. This is a security issue. There are crazies out there, and unfortunately, most of us have had to deal with creeps on the job. You might not be one, but it’s just good practice to keep it private. If a flight attendant tells you “I forget which hotel it is,” chances are, he or she did not. Don’t press any further – it’s a polite way to tell you that we can’t tell you.
7.) “I could never do what you do! People are awful!”
It’s true that not just anyone can do this job. Not everyone has the right amount of patience, kindness or ability to travel so much. But really, it seems that everyone assumes I have people screaming in my face all day. Does it happen sometimes? Yes, but rarely! Way more often, I meet wonderful people. I chat with people from all walks of life, and I’ve even made some of my greatest friends on flights.
I don’t mean to make this sound rude in the least. We all appreciate the curiosity! But it often comes at awkward times (like when we are trying to nap on a commuting flight!), or monopolizes conversation. It’s hard to put airline life in a nutshell. We’d love to tell you our stories, but none of them come out of The Questionnaire. Give us some time – and some wine – and you’ll know everything you want to know…and several things you wish you didn’t.
[Photo: News.com]
Comments are Closed.
ksu September 15, 2016

"And please, don’t ask us which hotel we are staying in. This is a security issue." I can understand that one wouldn't want to tell that to a person who specifically asks for that on board, but it is hardly a well-guarded secret, seeing that airline crews are quite visible in checking in in uniform at their respective hotels, and also that the choices of lay-over hotels tend to be quite predictable. On a short business trip to Africa some years ago, me and my travel companion spent a lot of time with the LH crew that flew us out and back, as they were staying at the same hotel as we were..

SpartyAir September 13, 2016

I don't know what kind of people you meet, but my sister was a flight attendant and I never hear people ask any of the questions you stated except a variation of one and that was the question about where you fly to. My brother and my brother-in-law are pilots and I suspect you would think many of the same questions would be asked of them. And I can tell you I have never heard any of them except the one about where they fly to.

live5 September 13, 2016

I'm proud to say I've never asked a flight attendant any of these questions, however I am always fascinated to meet flight attendants in the real world. They always have great stories!