They're the friendly people who hand you a bag of peanuts. They wear matching outfits and look really cool walking through the airport together in groups. They're always smiling and make every journey better. They're flight attendants. But in the words of the great philosopher Shrek, flight attendants are like onions, and if you've think you've seen everything their job entails, you're going to be surprised to learn about these 14 things most people don't know about flight attendants.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of 2016, there were more than 116,000 jobs available as flight attendants — with that number growing faster than any other job. Every day is a new adventure, and they get to see the world for a living. There's a lot more to this life than we passengers see, though.
In reality, flight attendants deal with many less than ideal conditions and circumstances, and their jobs are physically and mentally demanding. They might make it look easy — a sign of a true pro, for certain — but make no mistake about it: it doesn't come without a price.
The job has plenty of benefits, but it isn't always rainbows and unicorns. Here's a little insight into the life of a flight attendant.
1. Stuff Breaks All The Time
Please remain calm. The plane is still functioning as expected. As a Los Angeles Times article pointed out, issues could arise from hydraulic leaks, engine failure, flat tires, computer blackouts, and air traffic control restrictions — and you might never even know about it.
2. Kindness Goes A Long Way
Make sure you say "please" and "thank you," and maybe you'll get that extra cookie for free.
3. They *Really* Want You To Practice Basic Safety
Just because you haven't left the ground doesn't mean you can do whatever the heck you want. In fact, according to research shared in an article by Popular Mechanics, you're safest when you're in the air.
If the "Fasten Seatbelt" sign is on, obey!
4. This Job Isn't For The Faint Of Heart
Flight attendants go through a lot. According to Business Insider, Delta said roughly 150,000 people applied to be a flight attendant with the company in 2016, but just one percent made it through.
Their job isn't a breeze, and these people worked hard to get here, so showing respect is a must.
5. Most Of The Time, Flight Attendants Don't Know Each Other
But they all seem like best friends! And I totally imagined the same group of people traveling the world together in their coordinating uniforms! My life has been a lie.
6. Their #1 Priority Is Safety — Period
The peanuts and carbonated beverages are nice, but first and foremost, flight attendants make sure we get to our destination in one piece. They're trained to respond to everything from medical emergencies to weather emergencies to technical problems to terrorist acts.
7. It Can Be A Really Lonely Job
They might spend a lot of time on packed airplanes, but flight attendants spend even more time alone. Solo nights in strange hotels far away from home can make anyone feel isolated.
8. They Hate Delays As Much As You Do
They're not even getting paid for them. Seriously, they just want to take off already so that they can do their job and earn their paycheck, so don't blame them for the wait.
9. Their Health Takes A Toll
The hours, the passengers, the food, the unstable sleep schedule — flight attendants' bodies go through a lot of wear and tear most of us can't understand. The germs alone are alarming. One Los Angeles Times article found certain surfaces in commercial airplane cabins have many times the amount of bacteria on the average kitchen counter.
10. They're Trained For The Worst Emergencies
That's right. They're not just there to hand you pretzels. Flight attendants go through grueling training to be able to handle the worst case scenarios. Don't underestimate your cabin crew. (Rest assured emergencies don't happen too often. In fact, Bravo shared data from Aviation's Global Incident Map for 2017, which revealed that out of an estimated 9.7 million flights, there were just 185 emergency landings in the domestic U.S., all of which ended without incident.)
11. Many Of Them Are Underpaid
It may seem like a glamorous life, and maybe for some, it is. For many, though, they pay isn't what it should be. SmartAsset says the average salary is $44,860 a year, but it can go as low as $25,930 a year. It's particularly rough for newbies.
12. They Don't Know Where You Are
You're flying over either water or land. That's pretty much all the information you'll get, so don't expect the coordinates of latitude and longitude.
13. Sometimes, They Tell A Fib
It's for your own good. If the plane can continue safely flying as expected, the flight attendants' goal is to keep everything running like business as usual.
14. For The Most Part, They Love Their Jobs
Next time you fly, thank your flight attendants. They go through a lot and still bring you your tiny bottles of wine with a smile plastered across their faces.