A Dream Job On Hold

Hello there beautiful people!

I’d like to preface this post by saying I know that pretty much everyone is getting their ass handed to them in one way or another lately so believe me when I say I know everyone is having a hard time and I in no way want this to seem like an oh poor me post because it isn’t but it is something on my mind and a big piece of my life currently that I feel like sharing.

In the very beginning of COVID-19 hitting the states and before the government money was given to airlines my employer offered what we call a special leave of 1, 3 or 6 months to try to reduce the work force but allowed people to keep health and flight benefits but have a return to work date.  It was a hard decision because at that time there wasn’t even talks of full blown shut downs it was so early in the pandemic. I chose the 6 month option and very thankfully qualified for unemployment.

Then the government stepped in and gave money but required no employees be laid off/furloughed til October 1st. Obviously travel has not returned to anywhere near where it would be for the airlines to return to a “normal” need for the same number of  employees as we had pre-pandemic so come October big cuts will happen.

When my company announced how many furloughs they expect to hand out to flight attendants last week it was a big number- a really big number. Even if that number is the worst case scenario and changes by a few thousand it’s still a big number. While nothing is official yet and won’t be for probably another month or so I’m in the last 3,000 flight attendants hired so if they furlough 15,000 or even 10,000 it will more than likely take years for my seniority to be recalled. Thankfully I work for a union which means that I have to be recalled back to work within 6 years. Even weirder than waiting I could be called back to any base not just where I was based when I got furloughed in the first place so that’ll be an interesting hurdle to get over.

It’s a lot for me to take in. How the airlines work is already weird as hell to talk about but trying to read through our 300+ page contract to try and figure out what happens when one gets furloughed/when do the benefits stop etc. how does it work when I do get recalled is a total mind F#$k.

I knew it was going to happen but hearing it out loud is still a punch to the gut.

I think the hardest part is that this is my dream job.

I absolutely love being a flight attendant.

I call it my fake job because even though I sacrificed a lot to get it, trained hard to graduate, moved 3,000 miles away to live in a bunk bed with an insane number of humans, and answered the phone no matter what time it was to go anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, it rarely felt like “work.”

I got to adventure for a living.

Every senior person I talk to always says the same thing, you will go back because there is no better lifestyle than being a flight attendant. You may have ups and downs with it, take time away and come back but once flying gets into your blood, it just doesn’t leave.

It’s still my dream job, it’ll be my dream job the moment they invite me to come back even if that takes a few years to get to. I know that and I can look forward to this little break in life to accomplish other goals of mine but man, the moment that phone rings I will happily throw the pantyhose back on, rush to the airport, hop on that jump seat and spill my soul to the first crew I meet in true flight attendant fashion.

I’ll even be nice to the passengers 😉

In the meantime I’ll be working on my resume, sweating over cover letters and dreaming of the day I get to return to my life in the sky.

And now I’ll spam you with pictures from some of my favorite layovers…

Anytime I got to go to a baseball stadium,

IMG_5576

IMG_2275

IMG_9988

That one time Alex and I flew to Eugene, Oregon for lunch and then I picked up a trip for a long Vegas layover that night so we had to rush back to San Francisco,

IMG_5397

IMG_5425

Anytime crew scheduling gave me a resort layover (this happened very rarely for me)

IMG_0282

IMG_7842

IMG_8726

That one time I got sent to South Korea in the dead of winter and had not packed appropriately (because I didn’t know I was going) so I wore every single layer I had on top of each other,

IMG_3602

That time I met a T-Rex in Kansas City,

IMG_7156

Any new state I got to cross off like Montana below and all of the layovers (not pictured because it’s not their blog 😉 ) that I got to see family and friends. Between Boston, Burlington, Orlando, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Baltimore, San Diego, Austin, Eugene and so many more those layovers are always so special to me.

IMG_8943

Cheers & All my love,

Kari

Layover Life : 5 Things You Need to do in Memphis, Tennessee

Ahh Friday, what a glorious day you are and one that I actually have off so major plus!

This week I got sent to the airport to sit standby and was quickly informed I’d be working to Memphis for a 30 hour layover.  I have actually been to Memphis when I was younger and did both Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum (both absolute musts if you’re in the area) but I wasn’t sure what I’d want to do for one day and one day only. I texted my sister who lives in Nashville what one should do in Memphis and she said “nothing! Ha. Peabody Hotel, Arcade for Brunch & Graceland.”

Having already done 2 out of the 3 of those things I set off to make a new plan and here’s what I came up with to fill my last minute layover in Memphis!

1. Take a Tour of Sun Studio.

Sun Studio is where greats like B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley all recorded some of their early work in. In fact Elvis & Johnny both recorded their very first songs in the single room that still stands virtually untouched today. The tour is $14 and lasts about an hour. It’s guided by incredibly passionate music fans- our guide Jason sang along with every song he shared and you couldn’t help but at least tap your foot in solidarity. The moment I left I found myself down a rabbit hole researching all of the amazing songs that had been recorded in that room and of course creating a very dorky playlist to go along with it. I loved the tour! Bonus: when you purchase a ticket you also receive use of a free shuttle service that brings you to Beale Street and also to Graceland which is a great value!

2. Stuff your face at Central BBQ.

Memphis BBQ where can you really go wrong? Honestly, you can’t. Let me tell you though, when you want to go really right, you go to Central BBQ. This place is so good it has 4 locations in the greater Memphis area so no matter where you are you can enjoy it! The brisket was so tender and I loved the hot BBQ sauce that came along with it. Everyone who worked there was really nice and made me feel like I was home- well except Jeopardy! wasn’t on and though my mom’s mac & cheese is my forever favorite it’s quite different! Oh and she sure as hell never made us brisket. This place is special folks, you’ve got to try it.

3. Live Music & Big Ass Beers on Beale Street.

Of course what is a trip to Memphis without testing out the open container law on Beale Street? I’m just kidding but I did stop for a “Big Ass Beer” at King’s Palace and listened to some live music in their courtyard which was a great way to spend an afternoon despite the fact that it was 100 degrees and I felt like I was dying a little inside sitting out there (my New England/Irish blood has a serious aversion to humidity haha) To be honest, I actually don’t know that I’d care to spend any time on Beale at night- call me a loser but I don’t even like Bourbon Street after 5 PM so for me an hour during the day was perfect.

4. Watch the Peabody Ducks Waddle through the hotel lobby.

If you don’t already know about the historic duck march through the lobby of the Peabody hotel, click here immediately to find out. Now you can continue this post… I decided to check out the 5pm session when the ducks are marched from the fountain back to their penthouse suite on the roof. I arrived around 3:30 because I was in desperate need of some air-conditioning and I’m actually glad I did. I got a seat at the bar and met a nice older couple who put the duck walk ever so simply “they roll the red carpet out, the Duck Master makes a 5 minute entertaining speech, the ducks walk to an elevator and we clap like morons.” They made sure I had as good a spot as possible though because even as morons, it was still unbelievably special! There were probably 150-200 people on multiple floors of the hotel lobby looking down at these birds waddling away on a Tuesday afternoon. You’ve just got to check this out friends!

5. Take in the sunset on the rooftop at Hu. Hotel.

This was my favorite part of the day, easily! The rooftop bar at Hu. Hotel is small but mighty in it’s spectacular views of the Mississippi River and cozy rooftop seating. The bar menu had some great options for beer & wine but their cocktail list looked inspired! Still pretty full from the BBQ lunch I ordered an appetizer with a glass of rose (#basic) and sat for an hour enjoying the views. The hummus was delicious! I don’t know how busy it would be on a weekend as I was going up on a Tuesday (ayy) but I can’t recommend it enough! I loved it so much that I’d love to see what the rest of the hotel and it’s rooms were like on my next visit.

…………………………………………………………………

From the moment crew scheduling called me to basically last night when I got back from working my trip “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn was stuck in my head. If you follow me on my Instagram you’d know that I went a little hard on using the song lyrics to dictate my day but hey, I had a prayer in Memphis! So the next time you find yourself in Memphis even just for a day like me, you should absolutely add these stops to your to do list! I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

Oh but if the shuttle driver puts her hand out to grab your luggage, do not shake it. The alarming look on her face will shake both of you to your core. I’m so awkward

I hope you have a great weekend filled with rooftop bars, great views and all of the BBQ- or cleaning, like me. I mean, we can’t always be walking in Memphis!

Kari

My Most Frequently Asked Flight Attendant Questions (Part 1)

Oh hey there, folks!

I think any flight attendant can attest that we get asked A LOT of questions about our jobs and the lifestyle that comes with it! Sometimes it feels like the deeper I dive into our world the more follow up questions and the more utterly confused people are. My roommate thinks I’m insane when I start talking in FA speak and my dad while he enjoys the benefits of my free flights, has NO idea what my life is like on a normal basis. Hell, neither do I sometimes. While I won’t say this is every flight attendant’s experience as all airlines are slightly different I can say this is mine and I’m happy to answer the top questions that I get asked most often. Well, besides how to open the lavatory door because let me tell you, NOBODY KNOWS HOW TO OPEN THE DOOR OF THE BATHROOM DOOR.

What is your “route”? 

Short answer, I don’t have one. Long answer: There are two types of flight attendants, those who hold lines and those who don’t or “reserves”. As a line-holder you “bid” for your schedule for each month which is entirely based on seniority. These schedules are every trip you’ll work that month, where you’ll layover and how many hours you’ll fly total. The more desirable the trips (aka international, Hawaii, etc) the more senior the line goes to. So for that month that is their “route” but more often than not unless you speak a specific language OR are so senior you can hold the same route- your routes change month to month. Being a line-holder is the goal and the more seniority you have under your belt, the more desirable trips you can fly regularly.

I am on reserve which means in a very basic explanation I go where I’m told, when I’m told- domestically and internationally. My days off are my days off but when I am “on” the earliest I know what I’m doing is about 24 hours ahead of the trip, the latest is 3 hours before the check-in time. There are 3 things that can happen to you when you’re on call… 1) You get assigned a trip. It can be anywhere from 1-4 days long but the moment I get assigned it, I do know what I’m doing each day/where I’ll be laying over for that length of the trip. 2) You get assigned Standby. Standby is when I get sent to the airport to sit for 4 hours to potentially fill in on a trip that falls apart- because we typically have 3 hours to get to the airport it’s important to have some reserves already sitting at the airport in case a crew goes illegal (delays, last-minute sick calls, etc) so that we can run right to the gate and cover that trip. Standby is F&*%($* impossible to pack for but that’s a subject for another time! If nothing goes awry by the time your 4 hours are up, you go home. And finally, 3) you sit on call but do not get used. This happens occasionally, where we are on call the whole day but the operations have gone well enough that you do not get sent anywhere. It’s nice when it happens which is far more frequently in the slow season- my record is 10 days of on call straight that I didn’t get used which was at the end of January aka the slowest month ever. The amount of Great British Baking Show I watched would make your head spin.

So what is your schedule like/how do you get paid?

I get 12 days off a month as a reserve flight attendant and a base rate for flying a certain number of flight hours. The 12 days off can for the most part be put anywhere I’d like them (with the exception of holidays which LOL you’re never getting off). I do not have a 9-5 kind of personality so I’d much rather work longer days (our duty days are usually more like 10-13 hours instead of the standard 8) to get more days off that I can put where I’d like them.

This month’s schedule… yellow are off days and green are days on call that I was assigned something. If i’ts blank, I didn’t get called in.

If you fly over your base rate you get more money, if you fly below it- you still get paid for the full amount you were guaranteed. Our pay structure is freaking bonkers so I probably won’t ever get further into that because I can assure you- it makes no sense. Fun fact if you don’t already know it: Flight Attendants are not getting paid our hourly rate until the brakes of the plane release at the gate and we stop getting paid when the brakes are set at the next gate. 

Where is your favorite layover? 

IMPOSSIBLE to pick one. While it’s been amazing to get to explore big cities that I had never been to I am far more happy when I get to adventure around the small towns. My favorite big cities are probably Pittsburgh (pierogies til I die), San Diego (holy prettiest people ever) and Portland, OR. My favorite small cities are anywhere other than Portland in Oregon, Madison, WI and obviously Burlington, VT… does it count if I’m from there? I think it does.

Madison, Wisconsin

How long are your layovers/do they put you up?

Our layovers range from 10 hours (the shortest) to some international destinations of 48+ hours long. It honestly just depends on the trip. I prefer the longer layovers on my trips obviously because I love exploring new cities, especially if I know someone there that I can visit. They do put us up and actually in most places really nice hotels; like some of our international layover hotels are DOPE. Basically if our layover is over a certain number of hours they are required to put us up “downtown” in that city but if it is shorter we are put up by the airport.

What is the longest flight you’ve ever worked? 

When I was based in San Francisco I got called in for Standby one morning. Moments after checking in scheduling called to tell me I was working to Incheon. I told the lady I didn’t know where Incheon was and she was clearly in a hurry so she just told me what gate to go to. Off I went to the gate and boom 11 hours later I landed in Incheon or better known as Seoul, South Korea where I would spend the next 24 hours eating as much Bibimbap as I could get my little hands on.

Baby’s first Bibimbap

Where are you based/where is home?

Out of training my entire class was sent to San Francisco to be based. Being from Vermont I knew I would not commute back and forth so I actually moved to the Bay Area and signed a lease for a year (biggest check I’ve ever written was singing that lease). When I requested a transfer to Denver I did not renew my lease and instead moved into what a large population of junior flight attendants live in because #costofliving called a “crash pad.” Crash pads are not sponsored in any way by any airlines specifically but they are SUPER common in the industry because a large number of flight attendants and pilots alike are “based” somewhere but they actually live in a different city and commute in for their trips. A crash pad is usually an apartment close to the airport where you rent a bunk on the nights you have to be in that base (say you have an early check in one morning but you can’t physically get to the airport that same morning, you come in the night before and sleep in your bunk). My crash pad was considered a luxury find as it was a 3-bedroom house that I shared with “only” 16 other flight attendants. My room “only” had 4 people in it and I was even allowed 20 hangers in the closet (the fact that we even had a closet in our room was a big deal!) We each paid $500 a month for a single bunk… let that sink in people! Most crash pads in the Bay are more like 2-bedroom apartments with 16 people- 8 to a room and sometimes ONLY ONE BATHROOM! It is easily the most absurd part of the industry.

My old crash pad bunk decorated oh so sweetly by one of my roommates.

When I say I lived in a luxurious bunk I mean this is the alternative in a lot of places…

I am now based in Denver where I have always wanted to live and as of a few months ago, I officially call home! I live downtown with 2 “normal people” roommates who sleep in their own rooms and I am happy to report that I have a whole closet full of hangers all to myself 😉

………………………………………………………..

I’m going to break this post up into a few parts just for ease and my long-windedness (sorry guys, I’m a rambler) so I shall end it here. If this was interesting to you at all or it brings up any additional questions feel free to comment so I can answer them in my next post! If this wasn’t interesting to you at all well just skip these ones, duh.

Have a happy week friends!

Kari

Disclaimer: All views are my own and do not reflect any official policy or position of the company I work for.