I just came off a 3 day trip that included a 30 hour layover in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis is a newer destination for my airline & I hadn’t flown there yet nor had I ever been to Memphis for personal travel so I was really looking forward to it! I LOVE going where I’ve never been!
So basically we only worked on days 1 & 3 on this trip as day 2 was our layover.
Answers to 2 popular questions –
YES – the airline puts us up in our hotels. We do not pay for our own hotel. Airlines have contracts with certain hotels for flight crew. You have the option to do what’s called “hotel buy-back” which is ,say, I have family in Nashville & I choose to stay with them on my layover, I can basically sell my room back to the company & I get $50. However, I don’t utilize hotel buy-back because I often don’t know anyone in our layover cities & I like the personal space of having my own hotel room.
YES – we can do what we want on our layover time. That time is ours to do with as we please. You wanna stay in & be a slam clicker? YOU CAN (a slam clicker is someone who goes to their room, slams the door, clicks it locked, & you never see them again for the duration of your layover) You wanna go out & see what’s around? Of course you can! Thus the beauty & main appeal of this job.
For a 30 hour layover you can bet your ass I’m headin’ out to explore! And I knew just the place to go…but first, the work!
I flew with my dear friend Brennan. Brennan and I met back in 2019 on what I like to call my worst flight ever. Our first trip together was so fun! We went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras & went to parades, caught shit loads of beads, ate po’boys, & drank hand grenades as myself & our other crew member “J” threw beads from the rooftop to people down on Bourbon Street. It was a blast…until the next day. We worked a trip to Baltimore then was flying back to New Orleans…we all wore our beads because we wanted to make it fun for our guests onboard. It wasn’t fun. It was a chaotic, stressful, mess of a flight that ended with me (who was flying lead) being absolutely ripped to pieces by a New Orleans police officer in front of our guests as they deplaned. It was mortifying. To this day, that is the one and only time I’ve ever went into the lavatory and cried. Whenever I see Brennan I always say that was my worst flight ever and he always says he uses it as an example when talking to new hires because it was such a flaming dumpster fire. Some may say we have a trauma bond, I like to call it friendship.
We worked 3 legs before arriving into Memphis :
It was a long night & we had a slight delay leaving Boston but overall it was a very good night. I flew in the back & on our last flight of the night out of Orlando, Brennan’s fiancé got on the flight to spend time in Memphis with him. I tried getting Clinton to come too but it was a last minute request and he was very tired & we live far from the airport. We decided that we would all go to Graceland the next day!
We got to Memphis super late & the hotel no longer had shuttle service available to us so they told us simply “Find a cab & we’ll deal with it when you get here” Umm, great (the hotel pays for our cabs, then our company pays the hotel) but we found us a minivan & we all loaded up to head to our hotel at ,like, 1 AM. The van made crazy noises if the driver sped up, slowed down, & one of the seats wasn’t properly installed so our crew member who was sitting in it would randomly spin around BUT we made it safe & sound to the hotel!
As promised, they paid the driver & we got our room keys. That hotel was poppin’ for that time of night which immediately made me think I wouldn’t be getting any sleep that night but the exact opposite occurred and I slept amazing! I totally pre-judged a Memphis right off the bat & it didn’t help that I have someone who posted on my Facebook that Memphis is “ghetto” – can I just say I loathe the word “ghetto”? I feel like that is such a derogatory term AND an unoriginal way of describing a place you don’t like. I believe everywhere has its own charm. I also believe I’ll form my own opinions instead of listening to someone who doesn’t go anywhere! I can’t stand travel ignorance.
So anyways, the hotel ended up shockingly quiet considering all the people up and about that night & I woke up refreshed & ready to roll early that morning. I still hadn’t heard from Brennan & his man about what time we were going to Graceland so I hopped on the website to go ahead and check out tour times. The earliest available was 1:30 PM & I thought that sounded pretty good so I went ahead and bought my ticket & texted them via CrewChat to book that tour time when they wake up. I got up, got moving, & decided to walk over to the Whole Foods across the street to grab a few things to have at the hotel & to replenish my lunchbox with.
While at WF I got a message back from Brennan saying there were no longer any tickets available for 1:30 so they had to buy the 3 PM tickets so…that’s how I ended up going to Graceland alone!
Now, if you know me at all, you know I don’t care AT ALL to take off alone! I actually prefer it! So, at 12:30 I booked my Lyft & made my way to Graceland.
Graceland has been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember! I told Clinton that it doesn’t matter if you’re an Elvis fan or not – this place is true American history!
My Lyft was an awesome man who gave me sooo many restaurant recommendations in the area around the hotel & he dropped me off at the main entrance by the museums and ticket office. I jumped in line, had the lady scan my ticket, & joined the other 1:30 group members. The place was PACKED!
After about 10 minutes they took us into a theater to watch an 8 minute long video about Elvis and Graceland & then the Graceland ambassador spoke to us –
She got the job as ambassador because she was the first tour guide they ever hired for Graceland in 1982. Before that she’d taken care of the horses at Graceland & still to this day considers Priscilla Presley one of her “nearest & dearest girlfriends” & said that she can “call her anytime, day or night & she’ll be there” which I think is just amazing. This woman truly knows the Presleys!
The next step was heading outside to have a photo taken against a backdrop but since I was alone I asked if I could skip that part & they said yes. Once the photos are taken they issue you an iPad & a set of head phones for the audio portion of the tour. Then we boarded shuttle buses & rode across the street to Graceland, the home.
My first impression was that spoken out loud by a young girl a few rows behind me on the bus ::
“I thought it’d be bigger”
I did too! However, it’s a beautiful home. It looks very “attainable” by todays standards, it looks like something an upper middle class family could afford.
The inside though…
We pressed “play” on the iPad & began listening to John Stamos narrate the tour. The tour began in the living room & wound it’s way around the dining room & kitchen, downstairs, outside to numerous little rooms such as a small shooting range, his father’s office building, & a racquetball court. It ended with the meditation garden where the family is buried. I got choked up at seeing poor Lisa Marie there next to her dear son. So terribly sad.
The house was insane to see! So many funky colors, patterns, and textures! Fabric ceilings? Check! Hunter green shag carpet on the walls? Check! Glass stairwells?! CHECK! The only area that was off limits was upstairs which was Elvis’ private space when he was alive & is kept private out of respect for him now. Or it could be as someone in my tour group said…he’s still alive & living up there. Who knows?
You could stay as long as you’d like at the house but I turned my iPad & headphones in & boarded the shuttle to go back across the street to the museums and to the planes. Not all tickets included access to view the planes but as a flight attendant, I really wanted my photo made with the Lisa Marie!
On the way out, our driver pointed out some of the signed bricks on the brick wall around the property – celebrities such as George Jones & Ray Liotta were ones that I spotted! He also told us that once he picked up Jon Bon Jovi from the airport ,because he also drives a limo part time, & before dropping him off wherever he was heading, he (JBJ) asked the driver if he wouldn’t mind swinging by Graceland so he could sign a brick! How fabulous! He said there are probably thousands of celebrity signatures scattered around on those bricks!
My next stop was at the Lisa Marie. There is something so cool and chic about this plane to me. It had gold sinks & real towels in the lavatory. Velvet furniture (carefully preserved by having clear plastic covers over everything) & leather chairs. There was even a bed with a giant seatbelt around it! There was a recording stating that the seatbelt was an FAA requirement which cracked me up because ,well, who’d have thought of that?!
There was a 2nd plane to look at as well but only 2 people were allowed in at a time for that one because it was largely blocked off on the inside. After viewing the planes, I made my way up to the museums back near the ticket office…these may have ended up being my favorite spots! There was one for all his gorgeous cars (all restored to their original glory by professionals & car enthusiasts), one for all the “toys” – the motorcycles, boats, go-carts, tractors, etc. One that was a tribute to his time in the military (I missed this one because I had been there for 4 hours, was totally starving, & my feet were throbbing), one dedicated to his influence on other musicians/celebrities, and my personal favorite – just one dedicated to him. It showcased his personal items, his gold records, and his iconic tour outfits. The displays were STRIKING! Walking into the section where they displayed his tour outfits was awe inducing! They displayed each one in a single light box – everything was very clean & pleasing to the eye! The craftsmanship in his outfits was truly amazing as well – all those gems and stones! I bought my postcards & magnet (my 2 souvenirs I always make sure to buy) & decided to call it a day.
I was sore, a bit chilly, starving, & could officially mark some things off my bucket list! I absolutely loved Graceland & can’t wait to go back to Memphis to venture off to Beale Street, eat amazing BBQ, & visit a few of the museums (Civil Rights museum & Rock & Soul museum are high on my list!)
My Lyft back to the hotel was a few dollars more expensive but was a lovely lady who offered me tons of suggestions on where I should go the next time I’m in town. My night ended with the rest of my meal from Whole Foods & some self care at the hotel. I had a fantastic day exploring somewhere new & hope to be able to return soon!
Graceland – 5 stars, do recommend!!
**Ticket to Graceland home + plane access was $79. Ticket prices do vary but that was the one I purchased and it was totally worth it!