Ask the Flight Attendant

By Amanda Roland

Lindsey Steele attended State College of Florida for undergrad; after finishing her studies she began her career with Continental Airlines which then became United Airlines. She lived in Chicago for two years before transferring to Newark to work international flights. Since the beginning of her flight attendant career, she has enjoyed being an international flight attendant and a domestic flight attendant as well. She has seen many different countries and has become a woman of the world. When asked if there are any other paths she would have chosen the answer is, “I’m always doing exactly what I want to do.” Her hobbies include traveling, going to different restaurants and being in tropical environments.

What are the requirements to be a flight attendant?

I believe it varies between airlines, but for the most part you have to have a high school diploma or GED. Beyond that, they are looking for someone that is outgoing, great with people and a team player. You need to be able to act fast in any situation that is thrown at you because when you’re in the air you’re relying on only the other flight attendants and pilots to help you out, also the passengers rely on you for their safety.

What is a basic day as a flight attendant?

That’s a tricky one because there’s not really a basic day, depending on what time you have to be at the airport, and if everything is running smoothly that day. But for the most part, say my flight leaves at 10 a.m. I have to be at the airport no later than 9 a.m. to check in. If there’s only one flight then I’m done and get to start my layover or there could be multiple flights and I don’t get home until after midnight. Passengers also play a big roll in the day-to-day experiences of the job.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you as a flight attendant?

I’ve met so many amazing people and have gotten to see a lot of the world even when I wasn’t working, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise. I also enjoy interacting with passengers and crew-members on a day-to-day basis. Having several celebrities as passengers was also fun to be a part of!

Is turbulence something that you get used to?

For me, definitely! You get used to it after a while.

Do you get any time to explore different places on your layovers?

Depends on the layover and how long it is; but, yes if it’s long enough to explore then I always take full advantage of it!

What is the schedule like?

How often do you get to be home? It all depends, for me I have a schedule so it’s pretty flexible. I pretty much get to choose when I get to be home and when I want to work. Sometimes it’s tricky, especially during busier travel times, so I don’t always get to be home on holidays or special occasions. If you don’t have a schedule, you’re on what they call reserve and you’re on call certain times of the month, but for the most part you still get to pick your days off.

Do you have to speak a foreign language to be a flight attendant?

No not at all, but like most jobs it does help to be able to communicate with passengers that speak another language.

What is flight attendant training like?

In a nutshell it’s five weeks of learning all the different aircrafts, procedures, and regulations, also making sure we are able to provide the safety needed in the event of any emergency.

What should I study in school/what types of jobs should I have to be a flight attendant?

I would have to say anything with hospitality or customer service. Most airlines are looking for people with great personality and that can handle any situation that’s thrown at them.

What is difference between a line holder and a reserve?

A line holder gets a set schedule and pretty much knows what trips you are working. A reserve has set days off but when you are on your “on” days you might not always know when or where you are going. So it’s basically like being on call.

How does choosing a base work? Do you get to list a preference for a base?

During training they usually tell you what bases are available at that time and you choose between those. I chose Chicago and was based there for two years and then transferred to Newark. So you can transfer between bases as long as there is availability, and if not you’ll be put on a waiting list based on seniority.

Is being a flight attendant different when you live in a small town vs. a big city?

Not really, it’s different depending on the base and what flights they offer. Each base offers different routes, for example if you’re wanting to fly to Australia you’re going to want to fly out of one our California bases.

I hate putting my seat up, why do we have to do it when we land?

Most people do, however it is for your safety. If for some reason the plane needed to be evacuated after landing and the seat was back, the person behind you would have a hard time getting out in a timely manner.

My legs get so cramped when I am sitting for a long flight, what would you recommend to help them?

Whenever the seat belt sign is off, I recommend getting up and walking up and down the aisle or even just standing up for a few minutes. As long as the flight attendants aren’t in the aisle doing service it’s okay to stretch your legs.