Category Archives: Corporate flight attendant
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about pilots called “ Men with Wings”. I guess it is safe to say that it was geared toward male pilots- their role in corporate aviation and my experiences working with them. So, I thought it is only fair that I share my thoughts and knowledge on
male flight attendants as well.. They definitely deserve their own blog too.. After all, they have struggled a bit getting into this industry and deserve credit for all their hard work ☺
The Rumors and the Facts
Until a few years ago, I did not personally know many male corporate flight attendants/cabin attendants. All I really knew was what I had heard through the grape vine, things like:
Many operators / aircraft owners – typically don’t like to hire them, but on the other hand, some female clients “ will ONLY work with male Flight attendants”. Now, after meeting a few and hearing their first hand experience, I learned that these rumors are actually true! Sadly, there are still employers out there that think ONLY female FAs belong on these corporate jets.. In specific parts of the country, and the WORLD for that matter- this is the general consensus. Sometimes it is a cultural issue, but many times it is just a “sexist” thing ( In my opinion).
The male cabin attendants tell me that in order for people to hire them, they REALLY have to sell their credentials and have outstanding references vouching for them.
It is also true that there are many high profile females that only want this gender onboard.. The typical thoughts on this is because maybe they don’t want their significant other “checking out “the female FA? Or that maybe they think females are too much drama?? ( I am really just speculating and going with opinions of my peers on this one). One of the guys I know informed me that the female celebrity he flys “refuses” to have a female cabin attendant onboard after she had a “bad experience” with one… (hmmmmm…wonder what that was about?!)
From what I have seen, the male FAs in corporate aviation all seem to have some of the best resumes out there: including many years of culinary experience. Many have held past positions as international chefs, restaurant owners, and personal assistants to fortune 500 CEOs. Some are also aircraft mechanics and pilots! They all seem to have tremendous skill, impressive experience, strong work ethic, and excellent personality.-Exactly what it takes to make a great corporate flight attendant!
Unfortunately, there are still employers that will, at times, only hire the young pretty girl that has no experience because they think the clientele will prefer that. Sexism AND Ageism !( I guess that’s a whole other blog).
I am not judging or criticizing those employers, it IS their right to hire or not hire whomever they wish. However, I do believe that people should always be judged on “ who they are, not what they are”.
Now I don’t mean to exclude male commercial fight attendants, because they have had their own challenges on the job (like dealing with homophobic/old school pilots,and getting unfairly stereotyped) but in this day and age, they are generally accepted and welcomed into aviation without question. During MY commercial days in the sky, I worked with MANY male flight attendants and honestly enjoyed their company and work ethic more than some of female flight attendants I worked with..
YOU KNOW I AM ALWAYS HONEST…. After all, this blog is a place where I express my honest opinions, share my stories, and give the best advice I can..
As always, PLEASE feel free to give me your feedback, thoughts, or share your OWN experience!!
With Love (and honesty),
Cobblestones and Heels
As a CONTRACT cabin attendant, tax time can be quite scary…
Throughout the year we are flying our little butts off making bundles of “tax free money”!! when we are new.. the reality of what that will mean the following April- usually doesn’t set in till its too late ☹ ..Unfortunately, the majority of us have learned our lesson the hard way about saving or (not saving) our tax money.
The first time I flew “contract” for an entire year, was a real eye opening experience for me.. Luckily I had a great accountant that helped me out of my mess, After scolding me of course! She also taught me a great deal about “itemizing”, and all of the things I can “write off” as a contract flight attendant because essentially we are running our own business..
If you are new to this game, here are my tips…
First, speak to an accountant at the beginning of the year and get some help estimating how much you should save from each pay check for the end of the year and put that money aside!
Also, don’t take the advice of your friends, family, or co-workers when it comes to this stuff unless they are a professional CPA or accountant! Everyone likes to put their 2 cents in, and although they may have some good advice (including this blog), no one knows your personal tax situation but you!
Second, try to pay twice a year instead of all at once at the end of the year!
Third, here are some of the most common things you can write off for your “business”:
1. Clothes ( all those pretty suits you buy, shoes, and hosiery too)
2. Laptop and computer purchases
3. Cell phone bill
4. a watch purchase
5. Transportation to and from airports and FBOs
6. Car mileage or payments
7. Rent if you have a second bedroom and you claim it as your “office”
8. Trainings (this is huge!!)
9. Getting your hair done
10. Office supplies, faxing, copying, etc..( at kinkos or your hotel)
11. If you do not get reimbursed for food expenses, or do not receive per diem, you will write off your meals on the road
12. Other travel or hotel related expenses- that the company you are flying with does not pay for.
Now depending on your personal situation, geographic area, etc., there may be much more added to this list. But make sure you keep all receipts in case of a scary audit!!
There are also companies that will take taxes out even if you are working contract. ( this is ideal in my opinion).
If they give you the choice, you may have to figure out what the best route is to go for YOU (again with the help of a professional).
Don’t let April 15th be D day for you!!
Fly safe and wise,
Cobblestones and Heels
Yes, there is an actual Art to networking… and like many other “arts”, this one comes natural to some people, but is a struggle for others. Innate talent vs. learned skill I guess you can say! But whichever category you fall into, networking is a MUST for those pursuing a career in corporate aviation. The competition is stiff out there- so many talented people that are drawn to this profession for all the wonderful things about it! So how do you compete with masses? Besides the obvious things like education, training, and skill building, you need to CONNECT with others in the industry. You need to reach out, get out of your comfort zone and pursue the opportunities that are out there.
Here are some tips I hope can help!
First, I am not saying you should “stalk” people or corporations. Don’t Facebook them or contact them on a daily basis.. Then you just look crazy and NO ONE wants to hire CRAZY! Your pursuit should be assertive but not aggressive.
Second, Start to build a trusted group of people in your industry that you can count on for good advice. You may not get job opportunities through them but the advice and guidance you can get is just as valuable. In reference to Corporate aviation, these people include pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents at FBOs, dispatchers, Training facilities like FSI or FACTS, and even line service personnel.
Third, the use of recruiters can be very helpful. There are a few good ones out there I believe I have mentioned before such as : in-flight crew connections, Aircare crew, and jet professionals. Again, even if they don’t have immediate job openings, they are still willing to share advice, help you build a profile and make suggestions to prepare you for the job openings when they come! Also, if you connect with a specific recruiter on a professional/ friendly level, they are more likely to keep you in mind for a position than if you simply sent your resume to them without any personal connection. Stay in contact with them. Even send holiday greetings!
Fourth, professional sites like LinkedIn are jems for networking! Its always best to connect as a second party to someone whom you have someone in common with rather than emailing complete strangers ( not that you cant do this from time to time as well). But if you have someone in common they are more likely to respond.
And if you personally know someone that you have in common, all the better! Don’t be afraid of people! Just reach out on a professional and friendly level. They will either respond or ignore you, but at least you gave it a shot!
Also, even if a job is not posted from a specific company, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Maybe one just opened or they are not going to post it publically! One time I sent a direst message to an HR person of a company I wanted to work for! He responded telling me exactly who to contact to inquire further, and sure enough they were hiring contract FAs and I got the gig! You just never know so GO FOR IT! Once you do make that connection, don’t let it be a one time thing. Follow up down the road, keep in touch, and build a repore/relationship with them so you are always in the back of their mind.
Fifth, Always be open to every opportunity that may possibly be a stepping-stone for you, gained experience, and a chance to meet people. Along with this, Be cautious but not guarded. For example, if you really want to just get that first trip under your belt, don’t turn down an offer because you think it doesn’t pay enough or it isn’t on the type of aircraft you think you want to fly on. What you should turn down is a trip that is not with a reputable company or any situation that seems odd to you. Check in with someone you trust and then make a sound decision. Sometimes people just want to get a trip so bad that they take ANYTHING that comes there way.. which could end up being a disaster.. On the other hand, I have seen people loose out on a chance to gain experience because they were too picky or too timid..
Sixth, socialize! Go to events, conferences, and any corporate aviation related group setting! Go to dinner with your crew and communicate! This is a social industry so be a part of it.
Lastly, don’t ever burn bridges ( In any profession), but in relation to corporate aviation specifically: it can be s SMALL world. East coast to West coast, we all seem to know, or know of each other… Be helpful to others when you can, and don’t JUST have a personal agenda.. be a team player.. That is what a “CREW” is all about!
Remember that what comes around goes around and if someone helps you get a job, help them back when the time comes. Because often it does in one way or another.
I believe the real key to networking is the circle. We all help each other and it keeps going around… what a concept huh?!
Cobblestones and Heels
As of late, the theme for the majority of emails I have received from new or aspiring Flight Attendants has been: “what is the first flight/trip like?” And, “how can you prepare for it?”
About a year ago, I wrote a blog on the same topic called “first flight”, but it has come to my attention that I did not adequately answer all the questions in people’s heads. I think what most of you want to know is : how to prepare for it, and what is the experience really like. So, here we go ..
First, you must remember that no two trips or flights will ever be the same. As the passengers’ and crew change, so does the whole dynamics of the trip. Your prep for each trip will be different depending on all variables such as destination, weather, flight time, pax load, and time available for preparation. I will say, the only way to “almost” guarantee yourself a good first trip is to be PREPARED. Generally speaking, you are given a decent amount of advance notice. Don’t EVER put anything off till the last minute if you can avoid it. Pilot’s rule of safe flying is “ staying ahead of their aircraft”.. Similarly, we need to stay ahead of our passengers and their needs. This does take practice and gets better with time, but if you are an organized person, you will catch on to this pretty quickly. For example, don’t just shop/cater for all REQUESTED items.. You should also be prepared with extras in case of late additions to your pax list, or the concept that minds do change at the last minute. Your passengers may order chicken, but the day of the trip, have a taste for something else. Most of our passengers have the expectation that private jets are like 5 star restaurants in the sky and they will have many options available to them. As crew members, we are more in touch with the reality that at 45,000 ft- the options are limited to what you brought with you and there is NO going back! But knowing how our pax think, our job is to be prepared: IE. keeping in mind that the “original” request for chicken may change to beef or a salad…
Additionally, plan ahead for later legs on your trip in relation to aircraft stock and destinations that may have limited resources. For example, if you are flying to a 3rd world country that may have limited options or lower quality food, be prepared for the trip back out by stocking your aircraft with items from a better location. Another tip is bringing an extra cooler with you for additional needed storage space..
How do you keep your cool when change happens? Be mentally prepared for it! If you anticipate change occurring, it won’t catch you off guard. Lets face the fact that in aviation, “nothing is consistent but change”. That makes sense right?!
Another big part of having a good first flight is being a good team player with your crew. CRM folks. We are not alone on that aircraft, we are part of a team. Accept help, advice, and input from your pilots. In addition, keep them happy too. If a bad situation arises, it will have a smoother outcome if you have synergy and a good working relationship with your whole crew! How do you do you this?- Wel it starts from the very beginning. Prior to setting foot on your aircraft, establish a relationship with your pilots. Call them and talk about the trip. Feel them out a bit for their temperament, needs, and agenda. Not only will gathering this info help YOU, it will also set THEIR mind at ease about you and set a good tone for your trip in terms of communication and overall compatibility.
Finally, I want to share with you a couple “first trips” of FAs I know that were gracious enough to share their experiences for all of you!
How could I ever forget my first flight! It’s hard to believe it was only 6 months ago! As you know, I was brand new to corporate aviation and had flown for a commercial airline for almost 6 years. I had outgrown it and was ready for something new, a challenge but I didn’t want to sit in an office. I love flying, traveling, food, meeting new people, exploring new countries. I’m a gypsy at heart and this is perfect for me.
The night before my first flight I hardly slept. I was too excited and a bit nervous but I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I had planned out the entire pre-board, flight and post flight duties. It was going to be a short flight, just a little over an hour. I was going to have 4 passengers and was to serve lunch. I had ordered my catering and also bought some fresh produce, cheeses, charcuterie and dessert from a local Whole Foods.
Once I got to the plane I began my preflight checks. This was routine at commercial aviation as well so nothing new except for where the equipment was located on the plane. I proceeded to put my ice away, lay out the newspapers and organize my catering. It was then I was informed that I was going to have an extra passenger. I panicked for a split second but then carried on with preparing the boarding appetizers. I was raised in southern Italy and food, good food is a big part of my life. It’s probably my favorite part of the job. Drafting menus, buying fresh produce, talking to the caterers, plating the food. The tiny galley took a minute to get used to but somehow I pulled it off! The flight was over before I knew it and 5 people had been fed a boarding appetizer, an entree, dessert, and coffee.
What an incredible feeling! I had done it and loved every single moment of it!
“I remember feeling ecstatic, anxious, and hopeful as I did my first trip from DC to Dallas. It was on a Falcon 50, and I had waited months for this moment. I was so happy that all my work completing FACTS training and applying to countless companies had paid off! Simultaneously, I was nervous as anyone would be the first time completing a new job alone. I had only two passengers who requested very simple service – fruit crudites. An unexpected situation occurred when the lead passenger’s pen leaked and stained the carpet with blue ink. Fortunately, this was on the return leg so I informed the cleaners about it immediately when we returned to the FBO. My advice to new FAs is to keep calm! You have to ease into this job, and in training they make the catering seem very elaborate. Perform the job in a way that makes you feel most comfortable.
If you are unfamiliar with a new galley, keep things simple and order from the caterer instead of trying to prepare everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help – whether it’s another FA, the pilots, the caterer, or even the dispatchers coordinating the trip.”
Thanks Girls for your input!
And I hope this blog helped to clear up what that first trip is all about!!
Cobblestones and Heels
At the end of my email signature, I have always included a quote-
“when once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return” by Leonardo De Vinci”. I read it once a long time ago and just really liked it. Recently, I was having a conversation with a co- worker (pilot instructor), who was telling me that he stopped flying to be at home with his little kids.. which is a very noble and respectful thing to do.. But as he was saying it, I saw in his eyes, the same look I see in every crew member I know who has ever gotten the career truly ” in their blood” Myself included! Sure, I can find happiness in other aspects of the aviation industry in terms of a job, but nothing.. and I mean NOTHING- can ever replace that love for being in the skies.. The extensive travel, the uncertainty/excitement of what the day will bring, the view at 45,000 ft above the rest of the crazy world, and the gift of experiencing temporarily living a million different places in one life time. I swear I could write pages and pages of my own reasons!
When new or aspiring flight attendants contact me asking me tons of questions about my job and “how one gets started”, I am just as excited as they are because I can relate to how they are feeling, and so happy for them to have found this career. Right now, I am living vicariously through them as they write me on their trips and tell me the tales of their new experiences. I want them to succeed as if they were my own family, because in a way they are..
In my opinion, Flight Crew are like “blood sisters and brothers” because that is where the passion for flight travels through them and only those who have it flowing through their veins- know what its truly like.
Cobblestones and Heels
The November issue of Ranch & Coast Magazine was gracious enough to highlight my blog, include a great photo of me, and add my input on “flying Private”.
However, After reading the final print, I feel the need to clear up some points that were made, that did not exactly flow from my mouth..
I have high lighted below the sections of the article I want to clear up so nothing is mis-interpreted..
1. “breeze through the airport”- while it is true that private jet passengers do not stand in TSA lines, or even enter the main terminal at all ( domestically), they do still go through a scanning process. They are also checked through the “no fly list”, to make sure there are no issues with their background.
2. “travel with luggage”- Although it is true that these VIP passengers are not charged extra for luggage,and do not have someone rummaging through them, there is still a weight and balance issue for the aircraft so it is NOT true that “weight limits don’t apply”.
3. “enjoy the view”- Private planes DO in fact adhere to the same flight restrictions as commercial when it comes to altitude and flight plan. The ATC will inform the aircrafts where and when they can fly. This is NOT up to passenger preference, especially after 911. What these passengers CAN control flying private, is the “approximate “time of their departure and arrivals in their destination city. ( they are not bound to commercial flight schedules).
I would never want my readers to misinterpret anything, or have any inaccurate information. Sooo, while this magazine had great intentions, the contact pertaining to ” benefits of private jet travel” was not written by me nor were my words precisely quoted.
The magazine is a great read though, in the big picture…
Every year I choose to write a “911 blog”.. I guess to remind my self as well as everyone else, to spend some time in remembrance of this tragedy and its impact on EVERYTHING.
Typically each year there is something that reminds me to write this blog.. Maybe a story on the news the night before, maybe a friend that brings up a memory.. or sometimes its my work (as a flight Attendant)- just being on a plane has sparked thoughts of those events.. This year, I was studying some material for my new job as a cabin crew safety instructor and happened to being reading over security topics. I was reading specifically about security breaches and all of a sudden I looked over at my husband and asked him, ” tomorrow is Sept 11 isn’t it?” I stopped studying, grabbed my laptop, and began to type my thoughts..
I wonder how many Americans have their own silent anniversary of 911. I know that the individuals who lost loved ones or lived in NYC at the time probably do. But what about everyone else?? As a New yorker and as a flight attendant, that day will never go without memory in MY head. But although it does make me sad to think about it, I feel that it helps to remind me of some really important things:
ONE, how fragile life is and to not hold on to grudges or negativity with a loved one or friend.
TWO, situational awareness and my own personal security while traveling or anytime I am outside my home.
And THREE, although there is evil in the world and people who are capable or horrible acts against others, there are also many heroes and saviors among us. IE, the passengers of flight 93, and the brave service men and women fighting those fires of 911 or fighting for our country everyday in the armed forces.
I pray that we never have another day like 911 but realistically, I know anything is possible. So all I can do is keep positive and healthy thoughts in my own head, and be grateful of my life as it is today…
I welcome and appreciate any of my readers to comment on this blog with their own 911 stories, memories, or anything they have learned from that awful day.
Fly safe and be safe..
Cobblestones and Heels
One of the biggest questions I get from people pursuing a career as a corporate flight attendant/ cabin attendant, is: ” How easy or hard is the transition from commercial to Corporate?” There is no simple answer to this question because it depends on YOU ( and how hard you are willing to work at getting a job). If you are interested in a job in corporate aviation, The process is pretty much the same coming from commercial or another industry all together. The only acceptation to that statement is the fact that your initial safety training may be a bit shorter and less expensive. The actual FAs job on a private plane is NOTHING like the job on a commercial one. Not only are the rules of the “game” different, your job responsibilities ( outside of safety), are completely night and day!
Now remember, I made that transition myself, so this advice I am about to give, comes from experience!
First, The day you decide to to leave your salaried with benefits commercial FA job, you better have done your research! Know the facts about the industry job market country wide and pertaining to your own geographic area! Also, don’t be in denial of how unstable it can be.
I started my career in CA but returned to NY because I preferred the east coast. I was working out of NY area when the stock market crashed.. oh boy! Planes were repossessed left and right! People were barely flying private (the brokers were broke!). I had to return to CA in order to continue working.. A couple of years later, CA slowed down and I was then getting job offers from the east coast! I have moved back and forth from the East to the West Coast 3 times just to follow the wave of employment in my career ( and the countries economic state).
Bottom line, be prepared for a scenario like mine.
Also, research the skills needed for this job, peanut slinging is not one of them. JK! ;) .. If you have some first class serving experience with your airline, that is a plus. But if you don’t, prepare to beef up your culinary skills and learn the necessary serving and etiquette skills. We spend our time planning, ordering, cooking, serving, and planning some more!
Harsh honesty warning:
Third, some corporate aviation companies look at commercial airline experience as a “minus”. They seem to think that you will get on their private planes and start playing ” cell phone hitler” or have bad habits like sitting on the jump seat ignoring passengers.. I have honestly heard this verbatim from an owner of a private jet company who was very hesitant to hire from the commercial side. Now we all know he was generalizing but the truth is, some commercial FAs don’t make the transition well because they have been “programmed” in the commercial world for so long that their expectations of the new job are a little off base from reality. IE. We DONT sit on a jumpseat reading unless its 3 am and all our pax are sleeping! Even then, we are still taking care of our pilots, cleaning, and preparing for the next meal service.
Now before any commercial FAs out there get mad at me or misinterprets the above statement, Let me repeat: it takes one to know one! And I definitely had no idea what this job entailed until my first trip!
Finally let me say that in my opinion, having commercial training in your backround makes you a far more safety oriented corporate FA (than someone transitioning from a different career), which is really what we are on that plane for at the end of the day!
In the end, the pursuit of this job is work in itself coming from ANY other career!
Cobblestones and Heels
Eight years ago this month, I made the switch from a commercial flight attendant to a corporate one. It was a huge transition in many ways, including in my personal life. I was not only starting a new job, I was embarking on a whole new life path. In addition to work, I was ending a relationship and moving across the country. I was scary and risky but I felt in my heart it was the right thing to do.
A few days before I was leaving, my mom gave me a small angel pendant that she kept for years. She told me to keep it on me for good travel luck and safe flying. And I did. For the last 8 years, this angel followed me around the world. Anytime I changed luggage pieces, I would make sure to transfer the angel so I would never fly a trip without it. The angel represented many things to me including faith and a connection to my family. For those of you that follow my Facebook page, you would have seen that I recently have accepted a position on the ground as a corporate flight attendant instructor- Another big change but one that again, I feel is the right move. Last night, I was going through my luggage and dug out my little angel pendant. I do believe this angel has kept me safe in the skies for all of these years.. And now she will have a new home in a special box on my dresser.. Maybe someday I will pass it on to someone close to me that may need it.
I was wondering, who else out there carries with them something like this? For flying, traveling, or just sentimental value?
I would love to hear your story..
PS,In reference to my new position, don’t worry, I wont stop blogging and will have many more stories to tell and advice to give :)
Every time there is a plane crash my mom calls me to make sure it wasn’t me.. I don’t even work on commercial planes.. but she calls none the less.
After hearing about the UPS cargo crash, I waited to see if this would be an exception .. Nope… still had to explain why it couldn’t possibly have involved me.
But I will say – At least I have a mom that is still around and cares enough to call :)
Cobblestones and Heels