From Carry-ons To The Mile High Club: A Flight Attendant Tells All

Monday, April 26, 2010

The airlines, for the average Joe like myself, is an industry shrouded in this kind of mystery. I’ve definitely flown my fair share of times, but I truly don’t know any more about its operations than that of potato farming. The recent book published, Betty In The Sky With A Suitcase, contains stories from airline flight attendants that shed some light on what really happens at 30,000 feet. Some of these stories I assumed, some I knew without knowing, but most I simply thought were just that — stories. The author,  Betty N. Thesky, was recently interviewed by the USA Today, spilling at least some of the beans.

Ever wonder about the Mile High Club? It happens “a lot. I don’t know why everybody wants to join that club because the bathrooms are small and dirty.” How about that schmuk who brought on the 125-pound carry-on? “I’ve had to check 45 bags at the boarding door. Then (passengers) don’t have to pay, so they’d rather do that. We still have all this pressure to get the flight out on time. Carry-on bags can be a disaster.”

We can all imagine the long list of negatives surrounding this career, but one of her more positive moments is worth sharing.

The flights when we were flying these young soldiers off to war were extremely emotional for me. En route we would stop in Rome, and there was a gate agent there that would sing over the PA system of the airplane. With the voice of an angel she would sing The Star-Spangled Banner with all the soldiers standing at attention, and I would cry like a baby. As hard as it was to fly them off to war, bringing them home was even more emotional.

Her advice for us is simply put: think ahead. If you’re heading back to North Dakota from Cancun, don’t wear shorts and your new floral print shirt, you’ll freeze as soon as the cabin door is opened. Also, no one wants you to die, so don’t check in your medication (I don’t think that’s a reference to the Mile High Club, either).

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