Archive for February, 2013

A Quick Guide for Using Your Travel Bennies

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Don’t you love the free air travel that the flight attendant career affords us? I know, I know, we all complain about how difficult it is to get on an airplane these days, but truth be told I wouldn’t want to travel any other way. There is the occasional trip that I can’t afford not buy a seat because I need to be some where, though most of the time I am flexible enough and love the chance of getting upgraded too! Here are a few tips and tricks for navigating around your travel bennies.

  • No matter what airline you work for there are certain rules of etiquette to follow. Know what the rules are and if you do take advantage of your travel benefits on other airlines make sure you know their code of conduct as well.
  • Be prepared and be flexible. More often than not if I’m headed on a vacation I have a couple of destinations in mind so I can switch gears if need be, i.e., my original destinations flight fills up or weather hits. What about accommodations……..
  • I usually travel off season. This way I don’t have to worry about every hotel or apartment rental being full. Paris in January? Perfect! Great rates and lots of available lodging.
  • What if your destination is not flexible and you can’t afford a full fare ticket? Know all of your options. Have your back up plans in place and purchase any space available tickets you may need. Find out if jumpseating is an option too.
  • Always try to give your self an extra day on either end of your trip. This will help ensure that you get on in case your original flight options fill up due to weather and/or flight cancellations.
  • Be sure to pack all your essentials in your carry on bag.
  • If you are flying on another airline be sure to download their app so you can keep an eye on your flight for gate changes, delays and their stand by list if they have that.
  • Last but not least be sure to bring little gifts, think chocolate, for the crew and gate agents.

Do you have great tips for stand by travel? We’d love to hear them. Please share in the comments below!

Happy Flying!

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Flight Attendant Books

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I know you never read on the jumpseat, but here’s a few titles by fellow stews that you may enjoy on your next layover;)

  • Straight Guy in the Queer Skies by Brian Easley: “Blast off and brace for turbulence with this wild ride through the life of a U.S. flight attendant. With the perfect mix of informative writing, real-world examples, and beautifully written lyrical prose, Straight Guy in the Queer Skies is sure to join the short list of compulsory works for frequent fliers, travel enthusiasts, or anyone considering a career in the sky. From the flight attendant interview-not what you think-to crew juice and pill shopping in Argentina, Brian Easley walks readers through the inner-workings of the profession so cleverly that, in the end, you’re sure to feel as if you’ve already completed your first six months “on the line.”
  • Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole: Real-life flight attendant Heather Poole has written a charming and funny insider’s account of life and work in the not-always-friendly skies. Cruising Attitude is a Coffee, Tea, or Me? for the 21st century, as the author parlays her fifteen years of flight experience into a delightful account of crazy airline passengers and crew drama, of overcrowded crashpads in “Crew Gardens” Queens and finding love at 35,000 feet. The popular author of “Galley Gossip,” a weekly column for AOL’s award-winning travel website Gadling.com, Poole not only shares great stories, but also explains the ins and outs of flying, as seen from the flight attendant’s jump seat.
  • Plane Insanity by Elliot Hester: Make sure your seatbacks and tray tables are in their full upright and locked position for these shocking, bizarre, hilarious, and outrageous stories of airplane travel. You’re belted into a middle seat with burly businessmen on either side. It’s ninety-two degrees in the cabin and someone forgot to use deodorant. A baby screams. A kid kicks the back of your seat. After two hours you haven’t even left the taxiway. Welcome to modern airline travel! In Plane Insanity, Elliott Hester delivers stories that could only come from someone who “rides tin” for a living—a flight attendant.
  • Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase by Betty N. Thesky: Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase is a wildly popular podcast about airline travel by real life flight attendant Betty, who shares funny stories from pilots, flight controllers, ground crew, passengers, and fellow flight attendants and is listened to by hundreds of thousands of Betty fans around the world. Now, by popular demand, here is the best of Betty in a book in what may be the world’s first podcast-turned-book, or pook. It’s a wonderful way to be entertained in the airport, on a plane, at home, and anywhere you want a good laugh.
  • Around the World in a Bad Mood: Confessions of a Flight Attendant by Rene Foss: This hilarious book confronts every aspect of a flight attendants absurd world from the endless array of passenger demands, to the secret language of flight attendants, and a unique version of the Safety Demo Shuffle. Fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for a side-splitting perspective on the trials and tribulations of air travel.
  • Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses by Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones: Remember when flying was glamorous and sexy, even fun? When airline food was gourmet, everyone dressed up for a flight, and stewardesses catered to our every need-at least in our imaginations? This classic memoir by two audaciously outspoken young ladies, who lived and loved the free-spirited stewardess life, jets you back to those golden days of air travel-from the captain who’s as subtle as a 747 when he’s on the make to the passenger who mistakes the overhead luggage rack for an upper berth; from the names of celebrities who were a pleasure to serve (and some surprising notables on the “bad guy” list) to the origins of some naughty stereotypes-Spaniards are the best lovers, actors the most foul-mouthed. This huge bestseller, a First Class jet-age journal, offers a hilarious gold mine of outrageous anecdotes from the high-flying and amorous lives of those busty, lusty, adventuresome young women of the swinging ’60s known as “stews.”

What is your favorite “flight attendant” book? Do you have funny stories of your own from your flight attendant career? We’d love to hear them! Talk to us in the comments below.

Happy Flying!

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Cheap Travel Dates

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As flight attendants we are lucky that we can jaunt all around the world for free or close to it but, what are we supposed to do once we get “there”? I feel so “life styles of the rich and famous” flying sometimes in first class and then reality hits when there’s no driver at my destination to gather my bags and me. I’ve figured out a few ways to travel on the cheap yet maintain my fantasy world of wealth:

  • Stay with your friends! We’re are flight attendants after all! Thanks to facebook we’ve been able to keep relationships with our coworkers past the length of a four day trip.
  • House swap with other flight attendants. Again, through the power of facebook we are able to seek out our fellow stews. Maybe you live in San Diego and you want to go to the German Christmas Markets and your colleague who lives in Germany wants nothing more than to spend some time in sunny California. Win/win!
  • House sitting. Maybe you have a couple weeks or more for your vacation. There are some great sites out there that specialize in house sitting. Usually there are pets and plants involved but, the place is free.
  • Airbnb.com is one of my favorite sites for renting a house. I find that renting a house is usually about the same price as a hotel room but, has amenities like a kitchen and bedrooms. This can be a great option if you are traveling with a few people. Airbnb also has rooms for rent too so the cost can be significantly less than a hotel room.
  • Priceline.com is a great tool for non revs because you can wait until you arrive at your destination. In other words make sure you make it on your flight before committing and then name your price. You get to choose what you want to pay and what rate hotel you’d like. If they accept your bid you are then committed to the purchase.

What are your tricks for finding affordable accommodations? Share your tips in the comments below!

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How to Dress for a Flight Attendant Interview

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Do you have the right appearance? Most airlines are conservative when it comes to picking their flight attendant candidates. Although the days of super glam are gone, grooming is still an important aspect of getting hired as a flight attendant. Here are a few basic guidelines to help you with your upcoming interview:

  • Dress the part. Choose a navy, black or grey fitted suit. Female hemlines should not be shorter than a half inch above the knee.
  • Shoes should be black. Females should wear a closed toe conservative pump. If the shoes are not new make sure they are polished and in good condition.
  • Females should wear nude hosiery.
  • If you are carrying a purse or briefcase it should also be neutral and solid in color.
  • Tattoos and piercings should be hidden except for female ear piercings. Females that do have ear piercings make sure that your earrings do not dangle and are no larger than a quarter in diameter.
  • Do not wear fragrance. You do not want to distract from your interview.
  • Female hair longer than shoulder length should be restrained in a neat manner.
  • Make up should be worn by females, also conservative.
  • Most importantly, wear your smile.

What advice do you have for someone preparing for an upcoming interview? Did you follow these guidelines? Tell us your story in the comments below.

 

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Gadgets for Travel

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I recently posted everything you need to know about crew coolers and chowing down on your trips. Are you ready to add a few appliances? No, I’m not crazy. I know many flight attendants who have taken their dietary needs to a new level by adding a couple key items. Have you given yourself permission to give up your healthy lifestyle because you don’t have the right tools on your trips? Well, no more excuses! Here are some great ideas from flight attendants to satisfy everyone’s cooking needs while traveling.

  • Immersion Heater: This is a great little gadget is easy to pack in your carry on. You can heat hot teas or soups with it.
  • Mini crock pot: Small enough to store in a larger crew cooler. You can pack food products in it too for added space. This is a great idea for your longer layovers when you can really get into making something for yourself.
  • Cuisinart smart stick blender: Also fits in your cooler, great for making smoothies.
  • Platypus Wine Preserver (a flight attendant must have) Meant to preserve wine once it’s opened it also serves as a great travel bag to bring your favorite vino to enjoy on your layovers. Time permitting of course.
  • Ziplock’s zip and steam bags You will find microwaves in many hotels.  Ziplock steam bags are great if you can prepare and freeze some meals ahead of time. Simply pack the frozen meal in your cooler and when ready place ingredients in the steam bag and microwave according to directions.

Another trend is using your hotel room iron to heat food. (who knew?) Just use the iron and your airline manual to hold it steady. And, don’t forget to turn it off! (See pick above)

What innovative ideas do you have for preparing meals on your layovers? Share with us in comments.

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Shopping in Boston

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Boston is one of my fave places to layover! Rich in history, great seafood and shopping! If you’ve had the pleasure you may have strolled down Newbury Street, Boston’s Rodeo Drive and thought, “great place to window shop but, the prices are way out of my range!” Well, I have good news! Not only is it a beautiful tree lined street with amazing architecture, cafes, art galleries and high end shopping but, there are some true finds if you know where to look. Boston’s Back Bay, where Newbury Street is located is laid out in grid form and Newbury Street has nine cross streets listed in alphabetical order, Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, Hereford and then ending it and skipping I,J,K and L Massachusetts Avenue. If you start your journey at Arlington Street the area is considered “Proper Back Bay,” in other words the pricey end. As you make your way towards the other end you’ll discover some wonderful treasures. Second hand stores like “The Closet” that actually doesn’t call itself a second hand store but rather a “gently worn, gently priced” clothing boutique. It’s one of the best secret weapons of many chic Bostonians. But, now you know! We love to know what the locals know, don’t we?

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Keep Hanging down the far end of Newbury Street and there are plenty of consignment stores to check out and my favorite market. Delucas Market, Boston’s oldest grocery store has a location on Newbury Street at the corner of Fairfield Street. Operating since 1905, you’ll know you’ve arrived as you are transported back in time with the old, original (?) squeaky hardwood floors.  They boast a wonderful wine and cheese shop, real deli sandwiches for $6.99…hello…that’s cheaper than the airport and this is Boston after all! Too cold to leave your hotel room? They’ll deliver!

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My list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that there’s an awesome Marshalls one street over on Boylston Street. Have you ever noticed that the Marshalls major city locations rock? Two floors. Need I say more?

Have you had a great Boston layover? Want to really see the sites and learn a little history the fun way? Go see my great friend Mike at “City View Trolley Tours” down by the New England Aquarium. Mention me and he’ll give you a great deal on his “hop on hop off trolley tour.”($21..normal online rate is $38)

Have you been to Newbury Street? What are some great finds that you’ve discovered in Boston? Let us know in comments! Sharing is caring;)

Happy Flying!

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Hotel Safety

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We flight attendants travel in packs and that’s a good thing. I always feel like my flight attendant family has got my back but, what about layovers? Sure we meet up sometimes and hang out but, what about when you are all on different hotel floors or you’re solo on a trip? Have you become lax when it comes to your own personal safety? Here are a few friendly reminders on how to stay safe on a layover.

  • Buckle your seat belt in the hotel van! Yes, I am talking to you! I know most of you do not because I see it on every trip. We all know flying is safe but, driving with some of the van drivers???
  • Never discuss your hotel on public. This means on social media outlets too. Be mindful when you’re chatting with your crew on the plane, shuttle or anywhere the public is present.
  • Also keep your room number to yourself. Let your crew members know what room you’re in by writing it down not by announcing it to all the other guests in the hotel lobby.
  • Check your room before you lock yourself in. Prop your bags in the door way and give your room a once over.
  • Deadbolt your door. This is the only lock that the hotel staff can’t open.
  • Don’t open the door automatically. If you didn’t order room service or request anything don’t open the door. You can always call the front desk for assistance.
  • Heading out on your layover? Great! Write down your plans and a description of what you are wearing and leave it in the room. This would be a huge help to the authorities should you go missing.
  • And, last but, not least! Know your exits. It only takes a couple minutes to take a look on the back of the door to know what your escape options are during a hotel fire.

Do you use common sense and safety practices while traveling? Did I miss anything? What are your best safety tips? Add them to comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

Safe and Happy Flying!

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Crazy Carry Ons

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We heard the silly things passengers say, how about what they bring on board the plane? My favorite stews have some great tales for this topic! It came up today when a friend posted a picture of not one but, two hoola hoops that he encountered on two separate flights on the same day! (Thank you Justin for letting me post this adorable picture of you!)

  • Rhino sperm! Silver tubes the size of a two liter soda bottle were being temperature controlled in a box. Curiosity got the best of me and I asked. They were being taken to another zoo. I guess it was cheaper and easier than taking the actual rhino!
  • Human eye balls got a ride in the flight deck for a transplant
  • Half of a car engine
  • Windshield for a 57 Chevy
  • A HUGE Scooby Doo head on Halloween
  • A dining room chair
  • Gallon jugs of honey that were placed in overhead and leaked out all over a businessman’s garment bag and seeped thru to the suit he was going to wear at a meeting 2 hours after arriving at his destination. He was doing a presentation. Also, it dripped out of overhead onto a passenger below. Sticky situation to say the least.
  • YES a kitchen sink…beautiful Mexican sink…put this in your closet! REALLY no please or thank you. Sorry had to go in overhead bin..
  • Surfboard

What have you seen come on board the plane? You have to wonder sometimes how they made it past security and the gate agents! Tell us your crazy carry on tales in comments!

Happy Flying!

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Part Four: What Chow is in Your Crew Cooler?

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We’ve figured out what cooler to carry, what containers you’d like and how to keep everything cold but, what about the main reason we carry the cooler? What types of food should you pack? There are many choices. I will list a few here that are either healthy, hold up well or both!

  • Pack your bag chock full of the good stuff! Lots of veggies and fruit! You can make salads everyday. I recommend packing the veggies whole and chopping them up over the course of the trip for fresh salads every time. Bring as many perishables as you can eat. It will guilt you into getting the right nutrition since you won’t want to waste the food!
  • You can also stock up on condiments along the way and keep them stored in the dry part of your cooler.
  • Prepare a few meals ahead of time and freeze them. I learned this great trick from a flight attendant. He would marinate his fish or chicken and then put it in a freezer bag to freeze before his trip. He brought some tin foil along in his bag and would cook his meal in the galley oven.
  • Granola, cereals and oatmeal all make great choices for the morning in your hotel room when you don’t feel like venturing out or don’t have time to.
  • Are you a tea drinker? You should pack some night time teas. They are a great way to relax in your hotel room on a short night when caffeine and alcohol just won’t do.
  • If you are a “sweet” person bring along a small amount to get you through your trip so you are not tempted when passing by the sweet scents of Mrs. Fields cookies or Cinnabon. Pack a little dark chocolate.
  • Cans of soup and tuna packets are always a good choice too in case you run out of your fresh supply. Just make sure it’s the pop tops so you won’t need a can opener.
  • Have a nice long layover that you plan on relaxing during? It will depend on which country you are flying to but, you are most likely exempt from the liquid ban going through security. Bring along your favorite vino or beverage and save a ton of money. Just remember to adhere to your airlines guidelines!

Your turn! What are your favorite food choices for your cooler? Any good ideas or recipes to share? Please let us know in the comments below!

Happy Flying!

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Part Three: How to Keep the Cool in Cooler

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Now that you’ve figured out which crew cooler suits your travel needs and what containers compliment it, the next question is how to keep it cold for four days. So how do you keep the cool in your cooler? Here are a few tips and things to help you do that:

  • Keep it full. This can be tricky as you start to deplete the contents but, what you need to do is add more ice as your food supply goes down. I’ll get to “how to” do that in just a minute.
  • Pack your cooler full of cold or frozen food. Preparing frozen meals at home is one way to do this. Another way is to buy frozen meals. Keep all your fruits and vegetables in the fridge until you are ready to pack your cooler for your trip. This should be one of the last things you do, so plan accordingly.
  • I like to use freezer bags as my method of ice storage. If you use typical ice packs, once they defrost they are no longer useful and they just take up valuable real estate in your cooler. Freezer bags don’t take up any room at first when your cooler should be packed full with food. As you eat your food you can add ice to the freezer bag and double bag them so they close at opposite ends (this way they will not leak). Bring enough bags to fill your bag until the very end. You can always find ice on the plane and your hotel.
  • Freezer bags also work well because if you buy any food along the way you have some storage to add more things to the cooler as well.

What is your method for keeping your cooler cold? Do you have any great tips that I missed? Please share them with us in comments. And, I’d love to chat with you on Facebook!

Happy Flying!

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