Cailey Rizzo
Updated February 22, 2019

A flight attendant is there to make your flight safe and comfortable (emphasis on the safe). But there are a few things they wish every passenger knew to help them help you.

First and foremost: flight attendants do not have a stash of medication in the galley for when passengers start to feel sick. While there is always a first aid kit on board, airline regulations stipulate that flight attendants aren’t even allowed to hand out aspirin. If you know that you get anxious or nauseous on flights, pack your own medication.

Just because they’re wearing a uniform doesn’t mean that flight attendants get special in-air privileges. Like passengers, they have to listen to the pilot’s rules. When the captain turns on the “fasten seatbelt” sign, flight attendants must also sit down and strap themselves in.

Although the job may seem glamorous — jetting off to exotic locales and spending life in transit — the reality is decidedly less so. Most flight attendants work for days at a time. And although it may seem obvious to say, it’s worth stating: Those who travel for a living don’t get to see their friends and family for days, if not weeks, when they’re on call. It can get a bit lonely and disorienting having to spend most nights far away from home.

There’s also the issue of scheduling. Because of erratic work schedules, flight attendants usually don’t have an established schedule of times to eat and sleep. It’s constantly changing.

Oh, and flight attendants don’t start getting paid until the cabin door closes. That means that while you’re boarding, they’re basically working for free. Cabin crew greatly appreciate a speedy process getting on and off the plane.

But despite the harsher, hidden side of things, the job does have its appeal: exploring different cities, meeting interesting people, and getting a bird’s-eye view from the sky. If you’re considering working in an airline cabin, read Travel + Leisure’s guide to becoming a flight attendant.

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