Come On A Trip With Me

Before I became a flight attendant I know for a fact I never paid them any mind when I would fly. I’m not really sure why. Okay, actually I do. I’d be the asshole who would come onboard, not make eye contact when they would greet me, go to my seat, ear buds in, and I’d knock out til I got to my destination, only waking for my small cup of water & Biscoff cookies. I would fly a few times a year for vacations and it never crossed my mind how bizarre the life of a flight attendant could be. I think that’s why I never considered it as a career choice for me.

However, one thing I’ve learned since doing this is that a lot of people are very curious about how we live & how work ,well, works.

So come along with me on a trip! This one covers Super Bowl Sunday & Valentine’s Day so it was a pretty good one!

For me, a trip really starts the day before when I prep everything. I start off with laundry, then either grocery shop or meal prep, clean out my bags (I usually carry 2, sometimes 3 different pieces of luggage), wipe out my lunchbox with cleaner, and then repack each bag with either what I’m planning on eating or fresh laundry. 

I don’t do much besides prep the day before a trip – ESPECIALLY if I have an early report time which this specific trip I do. Our report time is 0450. Which means I will get to the airport an hour early at 0350 because that’s how I do things (late is never acceptable, it’s even less so in aviation where for every single minute a flight is delayed, the airline is fined) so since I live an hour from the airport that has me leaving my house at 0250 which has me waking up to start getting ready at 0130. Yes, you read that right. 1:30 in the damn morning…or night, depending on how you look at it. So yeah, I don’t go out aside from grocery shopping & I also don’t cook on pre-trip days. Clinton handles that for me. He also cooks for me on days I get home from trips because I am exhausted. I am very spoiled. 

Okay back on track. For this specific trip I’m heading to bed at 6 PM because if I don’t get sleep I’m a raging bitch – mostly to my buddy bidder Karren who chooses our bids/trips so I feel it’s only acceptable to take it out on her. I take half a Benadryl to help me sleep (do as I say folks, not as I do) & I’m out til 1:30 when I wake up in a shockingly good mood. I still think it’s bullshit but I’m okay. Karren won’t have to hear me run my mouth today.

I’m dressed, my makeup is on, my hair looks like shit but it usually does, and all my bags are ready. I kiss my sweet Emma 27,568 times and tell her I love her and to be a good baby for her dad and I give Clinton his goodbye kisses (both of them are very groggy) and tell him I love him and to take good care of my baby and I leave. Karren and I carpool as we live in the same neighborhood so I drive a few streets over and pick her up.

An hour later, we are pulling into the employee parking lot at MCO and catching the shuttle to the airport. Once at the airport, we go to our crew room to check in. We triple buddy bid this month so we are also with our friend Wendy. We all 3 graduated our training together in 2017, have a lot of fun together, & work together well. Of the 3 of us, my employee number is the most senior so that means when choosing what position we want to fly, I get first choice. 

Wendy and I take turns flying “lead” (or “A”) – she was lead on our last trip so it’s mine again for this trip. Which is okay by me really, I’m a good lead. I also like making a little extra money (lead FA makes an additional $2.25 per flight hour). Karren chooses next & she chose C (my personal favorite position to fly). Wendy will be B. 

After checking in, we sign in as well on a sign in sheet. As lead I choose a safety topic to discuss to which I chose crew communication & de-escalation of events. If you’ve been living under a rock the last 2 years, there’s been a rise in crazy things happening on flights & people assaulting and harassing the flight attendants so de-escalation is huge with me. I don’t want to be viral on someone’s TikTok video! Also as lead, I will then check my crew’s passports, make sure they have all their required items, and check to make sure their iPads are up-to-date, synced, and fully charged. After all the business is over, we exchange Valentine’s gifts! V-day isn’t for 2 more days but I’m not carrying these goodie bags with me the whole time, no sir. These 2 ladies were my Valentines last year as well! I always like to do fun things for the crew on Valentine’s Day (one of very few holidays I will work) – one year it was pink cake pops from Starbucks, last year it was cookies from The Glass Knife bakery in Winter Park. This year it’s chocolates & an assortment of pink mini bottles of booze as I didn’t have a lot of time to shop around.

This is what my trips look like on paper. Blocked out is any identifiable info, hotel names that we stay at, and the hotel phone numbers. I’ve also cut off names and employee numbers.

So here’s a little bit about the trip itself. It’s a 4 day trip with only one flight on day 1, three on day 2, one on day 3, and one on day 4. Extremely simple even though day 2 will suck. We have long layovers in Cleveland and San Juan. We have a short layover on day 2 in Tampa (go figure, the longest day with the shortest rest)

Day 1, we are off to Cleveland. We make our way to KCM (crew security) and onto the gate. The gate agents will check our badges and give me paperwork regarding the flight. This paperwork tells me how full the flight is, if we have any guests needing wheelchairs, special accommodations, babies, pets, etc. I relay this information to my crew. Once we’re down the jet bridge and enter the aircraft we’d have a quick few moments to do our safety checks in our compliance areas. After that I move onto getting things ready for our pilots – I grab them each some water, a trash bag, and I write all of our names on a piece of paper and what positions we’re flying for them to reference when needed. I tell the gate agent if we need anything like ice or extra masks. My iPad gets set up for snack and drink service later & around this time the gate agent is usually asking “y’all ready to board?” 

Boarding is ,honest to God, my least favorite part of any flight. Why? We don’t get paid and we probably work the hardest during this time. Yes, you read that right – flight attendants do NOT get paid their hourly rate to board (or deplane). Another post for another day!

The flight to Cleveland is smooth, beautiful sailing. We have a chaser on this flight with us named Louis who is very nice & we sit up front and talk about our dogs and his kids. He is laying over with us but flying home to Orlando in the morning while we continue on for 3 more days. Once in Cleveland, we catch our hotel shuttle (who was already there & waiting on us! Score!) & get to the hotel. 

My “get-to-the-hotel” routine is down to a science – get to the room, check for murderers & bed bugs, get naked, wash my hands & face, put any food that needs refrigerated in the fridge, unpack whatever I plan to wear or use, spritz my luggage down with rubbing alcohol, charge my iPad for work, and then change clothes to start my layover activities whatever they may be. This is every trip, every day. If I go out on my layovers I also spritz my clothes and shoes with alcohol when I am back in the room. Other notables – always a hot shower, always skin care, always FaceTime my man, and always check my alarms for the following morning approx. 200 times.

We decided on our last trip that we want to go out in Cleveland even though it is blue balls cold outside & snowing. I have had my mind set on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for years & for whatever reason, still haven’t been. I go out on most of my layovers unless they are short or in boring cities. Often times I go out alone because then I can do exactly what I want – a luxury unlike any other for me. I have wasted many a good layover going out with crew whom I just don’t click with or something like making me pay for the expensive Uber because they “don’t have that app” & then magically didn’t have any cash on them or a money transfer app either to help at all. Plus, as a Virgo, I love my alone time.

However, I have my girls with me on this trip. We have 20 hours in Cleveland & we got in super early that morning so we have all day for exploring. And for whatever reason they left the decision up to me and I went with the mother freakin’ Christmas Story house instead of the R&R HOF. I’m still kicking myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with A Christmas Story & it was very cute but I think it would have been more fun to go at Christmas time! However, I got to hold up the leg lamp and say “fra-gee-lay!” and “it’s a major award!” I really did enjoy it and the reason I chose it was because it was only $15 as opposed to the $30 + Uber/Lyft cost for the Hall of Fame. Whatever, for me I’m always down for new experiences. I am NOT a “stay at the hotel the whole time” kinda girl. I think it’s vital to my sanity to explore my surroundings. Karren booked our ride back to the hotel but we ended up getting dropped off at a Chili’s for lunch & we just walked back to the hotel from there. Typically we don’t do a lot of chain restaurants but for a cheap drink & some appetizers it worked. Once we got back to the hotel I wouldn’t see them again until the next morning as we had an early showtime & needed the sleep.

The next day was a long, ridiculous shit show. Our day was Cleveland to Tampa, Tampa to Manchester (NH), then Manchester back to Tampa for the night. Leaving Cleveland we were delayed because our water tank was frozen. In turn we had no water for the first flight. It was 43 degrees when we got onboard to do our checks and it was so cold my toes were hurting! Our second flight had a medical emergency that consumed the entire flight. Our third flight was fine but we were all so tired & just ready to get to our hotel so we could try and watch the Super Bowl (or for me – The Dr. Dre & co. concert!)

Three leg days are hard. Anything beyond 3 flights (because I’ve seen it go up to 5 on some trips!) I won’t do. I’ll drop trips if they include a 4 or 5 leg day. The constant compressing and decompressing on your body is hard. People don’t realize that. I love to fly but honestly, being a flight attendant is the worst thing I’ve ever done to my body. I couldn’t wait for this day to be over – especially that middle flight. Lordt. 

As soon as we sat down on the shuttle I ordered food to have delivered for us at the hotel, Wendy went in halfers, and Karren had packed enough appetizers and snacks in her bag that she could have fed us for 2 trips! We ran to our rooms, I showered and rushed through my hotel routine, and we all piled up in the lobby to watch the game & stuff our faces.

*yes, we cleaned up after ourselves!

We only had an 11 hour layover and we’d already used up some of that with the game so sleep was needed. Luckily, the next day was only one simple flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Happy Valentine’s Day to us!

Puerto Rico will probably get it’s own post one day because I cannot express here how much I love it. Everything about it makes me happy! And I’ve never had a bad flight to Puerto Rico (I did have a man ask when I was due with my baby -I wasn’t pregnant- on a flight to San Juan once which dampened my mood but that’s not PR’s fault, that’s just poor taste!) – I trust Puerto Rico. They behave for me. 

Our flight was perfect, as expected. We got in early and to our hotel early. It was sunny and hot and perfect. We all got changed and took a ride to Isla Verde for our Galentine’s Day brunch at Bistro Cafe. Wendy had been there once before but we’ve literally been dreaming of going there together for close to a year! The food is decadent whether it’s something sweet or savory. The drinks are gorgeous and colorful. Bistro Cafe was the cutest little spot for Galentine’s Day! Each room has a different theme & while I wanted the flamingo room, it was so busy and with a 45 minute wait I was glad to just get in. It’s a bit on the pricey side but usually I’m eating lunchbox food so this trip was kind of a splurge for me! Usually I eat out once on every trip (usually in foodie cities) & stick to my meal prep for my inflight meals and short layover meals. I had the most amazing chorizo omelette & coconut French toast washed down with a couple different mimosas. Heavenly. Chef’s kiss.

Popsicle mimosas at Bistro Cafe

Back at the hotel we still had a few good hours left so we changed into swimwear and went upstairs to the rooftop pool and hot tub. We enjoyed more of our V-day treats & I was just happy to be in the sunshine. It’s been so cold everywhere we’ve been (even our Tampa layover was chilly) so being able to let the sun beam on me felt great. I don’t do well in cold areas…it’s just so depressing. I swear, if I ever move again outside of Florida, I’m going to Puerto Rico. And that’s facts.

I am my happiest with the sun upon my face

As usual it was early to bed, early to rise. Our showtime on day 4 aka “go home day” was 5 AM so we left the hotel at 4:25 that morning. Another day of waking up at 3 in the dang morning. But on go home day everything feels easier! One simple flight from San Juan to Orlando & we will be home! I was home by 9:30 that morning. Early showtimes kill me because I’m not a morning person at all but I love getting the day over with early!

Going home for me looks like this – if Clinton is home, he brings Emma out to meet me at the car. She jumps in my lap while I’m still inside the car and smothers me in Emma kisses & she literally whimpers when she sees me. It melts me. Clinton also greets me with a bunch of kisses before taking all of my luggage in for me. I go inside and immediately strip my uniform dress and hosiery off and purge myself of anything reeking of “airplane”…while I do this, Clinton unpacks my lunchbox for me and puts away my ice packs and any cold stuff I may still have. At this point I’m flopping into bed with Emma and just hold her for a few minutes. If it’s early, I usually fall asleep right about now, but this morning was different. Clinton took me for breakfast at C’s Waffles in New Smyrna. We took Emma to the park for a long walk, he started orientation for his new job that day, and while he was gone doing that, I attempted watching some episodes of “Euphoria” THEN fell asleep on the couch with Emma snoring on my lap.

Go home day is the best.

– Autumn

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