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Traveling with Jane Jetsetter

March 20, 2009


One of my good friends is a flight attendant for a low budget carrier. I feel in another life that’d be the job I’d want to have. I’m positive I have a ridiculously glamorized vision of the profession because I picture jetting off somewhere fabulous and having the most interesting conversations with passengers. In one Q&A session, she dispelled that myth and provided me with a laundry list of flying tips.

So, listen up all you flying drunks…here’s her wisdom on how to land in the good graces with flight attendants – a free bit of advice, maybe don’t ask for that pillow they’ve got stashed in the overhead bin (it’s gross).


danapop (dp) Kay. Doors close, plane pulling out from the gate – you look around the cabin…is there a certain type of passenger that just churns your stomach and makes you think – “wow, this is going to be dreadful”?

Jane Jetsetter (JJ) I am not a big fan of passengers who are traveling together and decide that they each want an aisle seat but they also want to talk. They end up rubber necking across the aisle to have a conversation and I have to break it up every time I walk down the aisle to hand out drinks and snacks.

dp Every person I know that is a flight attendant (bar you) has married a pilot. Do all pilots date flight attendants? Is it an unwritten rule? I picture it to be a little like going to a small college and running into exes where everyone dates everyone…is it?

JJ Most of my girlfriends and I avoid dipping our pens in the company ink.  My roommate on the other hand is dating a pilot. I think it depends. This job can either define who you are and who you want your friends to be or you can have a life outside of it. But, yes, it is much like high school.  People gossip and certain people have notorious reputations for various reasons.

dp What’s the most memorable flight you’ve ever been on? (Could be working or non-work related).

JJ That’s a tough question. I have had lots of medical emergencies and drunks, but those are never memorable flights for good reasons. I like the flights where the pilots call you into the cockpit to see a nice sunset or lightning showers. Moments like those remind me of the privileges we have as flight attendants.

dp What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen a passenger do on one of your flights?

JJ I had a woman on one of my flights whose bag was too big to fit in the overhead bin. We told her she had to take something out of her bag to make it fit. When she started taking things out we noticed that she was taking stolen hotel towels out of her bag.

Another one of my favorites is when passengers take the newspaper into the lavatory with them. I once had a guy take his laptop in with him.

I also love the passengers who do aisle aerobics in front of us in the back galley. We are well aware of the tight quarters, we don’t want to watch you do your stretches!

One last thing, I HATE being poked by passengers! Please use your words!

dp Celebrity sightings?

JJ The lead singer of the Counting Crows, The Newlywed game show host, Grizzly Adams, The Killers

dp Tell me the truth – how often are the airline pillows and blankets really cleaned and sanitized? Would you use one?

JJ I don’t know how often the pillows and blankets are cleaned. They are definitely frequently used. I will use them when I am desperately tired but I look for the ones in the way back of the bin that have not been used.

dp In your experience – what’s the quickest way to a free drink? Opposite end of the spectrum – what’s the quickest way to your shite list?

JJ The quickest way to a free drink…letting me know it’s your birthday, anniversary, or some other special occasion.

We hate people who feel entitled to free drinks.  They will say things like, “Isn’t this a free drink flight?”  No!

dp Who is your favorite type of passenger?

JJ I love the business passengers.  They know the drill.  They bring small carryons and things like computers and iPods to keep themselves occupied.  They ask for one drink if at all and carry their own bottle of water.

dp Just being in the travel industry, I’m sure you pick up on quite a few trends – what are some things you predict with travel, particularly with flying? More direct flights? More remote destinations? Expanded online booking perks?

In terms of this question, I can only speak for my company. Recently we have cut back on flights because of the economy and low demand. We have plans to make booking vacation packages easier but we are not really supposed to talk about that until it has been rolled out.

dp The economy has obviously directly affected the travel industry – how have those changes impacted you?

JJ We bid for a monthly schedule and then we can pick up more trips or give the trips we do have away.  It is really easy to get rid of trips right now but really hard to find trips to pick up because of the cutbacks.

dp You’ve been a flight attendant for a while and I’m sure in that time you’ve traveled to a ton of exotic locales…what’s one of your favorite places to visit? Do you have any undiscovered gems you can disclose?

We only flight within the U.S. so I can’t really say that I have traveled to a ton of exotic locales.  I have flown the British Virgin Islands, Italy, and Paris on other carriers using the travel discounts we get as employees.

The places that we do fly to that I like are Ft. Lauderdale because of the beach, Philadelphia because it is a fun city to walk around and shop in, Portland because of the tax free shopping, Seattle because of Pikes Market, and San Diego because of the weather.

If you could travel anywhere today, where would you go and why?

JJ Somewhere warm because I am tired of the bitter cold Chicago winter that I have had to endure this year!

dp I can imagine you’re an expert packer – can you share a few tricks of the trade? Any must have items in your bag at all times? What’s in your carryon?

JJ I always carry jeans, a black t-shirt, and flip-flops. I also use the shampoo and conditioner that the hotels provide. To me, it’s all the same.  And I always have a book or magazine in my carryon.