Being a flight attendant is like living in this alternate universe. No one quite has a life like you and no one quite understands it. I mean, I literally live out of my suitcase. I’m not kidding you, all of my underwear is permanently in there.. I’m never home long enough for it to even be worth unloaded essentials like that. I brush my teeth with one of those travel toothbrushes, often use hotel shampoos and see my boyfriend more on Facetime than his face in real time. Being a flight attendant makes me binge on everything. I binge on seeing my family, friends and boyfriend, on eating out and working out and drinking and travelling and working.
This job does however offer a constant life of adventure. I never know where I’m going to end up, how long I’m going to be gone, or what is going to happen on the way. For instance, I write this post at 9:30 am.. after I was supposed to get on a flight to Toronto at 6:15 am but it unfortunately had rolling delays for three hours until it was inevitably cancelled. Because I fly standby, all those guests who were supposed to be on that 6:15 am flight are put onto the next – making the one at 11:40 full too. Chances are I wont make that one and will end up getting to Toronto at 8pm.. a whole 12 hours later than anticipated and 7 hours after my initial start time for my on-call shift… which is a big no no. Luckily my company is being understanding given my situation. Sadly this has been a typical day for me so far this month and this type of day is to be expected while working in aviation (especially in the winter).
So what is the schedule of a flight attendant really like?
The first week of every month we get the opportunity to “bid” for our schedule the following month. We can request things like having days off or dates of the week off, or starting our shifts in the morning or evening, or having specific overnights in a city, etc. etc. etc. And then the computer does some fancy math with all the other bids and tries to figure something out that pleases the system as well as the people who bid. Then the third week of the month our schedules for the following month is released (aka best day of the whole month WOO its like Christmas)!
We’re scheduled with a guaranteed 10 days of every month. Our pairings (or shifts) can range from one to five days long. We can work for a max of 7 days in a row and then need 24 hours off. We can work up to 14 hours in one day, and go up to 17 with our permission. But don’t forget.. flight attendants only get paid for hours in the air. For instance, I worked 16 hours the other day but only got paid for 4.5. Trust me, delays suck for everyone. So when flight attendants are busting their butts to figure things out for you, get your drinks and prepare the cabin on the ground – they are doing it for free. We get put up in hotels during our overnights and get minimum 9 hours of rest between flights. We can also get scheduled for on-call or “reserve” shifts. So for instance, I can be schedule for 4 days in a row of reserve between 1 pm to 11 pm. During those hours, and only during those hours, they call me to come work. I have 15 minutes to answer that call or else I will be considered a no-show and will have punitive consequences. You also need to respect all the other rules that go into being a flight attendant.. like no drinking 11 hours before your shift!
My Schedule for January:
Jan 1-2: OFF
Jan 3-6: Vacay in NCY
Jan 7: start 12:50 pm YYZ-YOW-YHZ-YUL-YOW-YYZ end 4:40 am (this changed quite a bit due to a snow storm and medical emergency.. was originally supposed to get to Quebec City at 12:30pm)
Jan 8: start 4:40 pm YYZ-YQB
Jan 9: start 5:50 am YQB-YYZ-YUL-YYZ-YXU end 3:00 pm
Jan 10: start 5:15 am YXU-YYZ-YFC-YYZ-YUL end 8:00 pm
Jan 11: start 8:00 am YUL-YYZ (and then fly home to thunder bay after)
Jan 12: OFF
Jan 13-16: Reserve 1:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Jan 17: OFF
Jan 18: OFF
Jan 19-23: Reserve 1:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Jan 24: OFF
Jan 25: start 11:00 am YYZ-YOW-YHZ-YOW-YYZ-YXU end 11:00 pm
Jan 26: start 2:00 pm YXU-YYZ-YQB-YYZ-YXU end at 11:00 pm
Jan 27: start 2:00 pm YXU-YYZ-YQT-YYZ end at 10:15
Jan 28: start 11:00 am YYZ-YOW-YHZ-YYT end at 11:00 pm
Jan 29: Layover in St. Johns, NF
Jan 30: start 4:15 am YYT-YHZ-YOW-YYZ end at 11:20 am
This is by no means anything similar to what I had last month, or what I will get next. But that’s part of why I love this job, I love the constant change (despite it being a headache some of the time), it keeps you on your feet, unsure of what will happen next. I love exploring new places and the travel benefits don’t totally suck either. Next month I’m hoping to get enough days off to hit up Barbados….. wish me luck!
xx , S