Two hours after my silver wings were pinned to my blue lapel on stage in front of classmates, family and friends, I hugged and kissed my loved ones goodbye, stepped onto a bus, and headed to the airport with thirty of my classmates. Most of us boarded a flight departing to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, my new crew base. It was late at night when we landed and I only had three days to find a place to live before reporting to work for the first time.
Flight attendants hired by major carriers usually have three to four days off before their first trip, but one of those days is spent touring the airport. Therefore it’s very important to get all your business taken care of before you go into training because once it begins things will move swiftly.
When I started flying in the mid-nineties, flight attendants at my airline had to serve six months probation before obtaining flight privileges. In other words, our travel passes. This meant that unless I purchased a ticket like a regular person, or another flight attendant was kind enough to donate one their buddy passes, the only time I spent on an airplane was when I walked on board to work a flight. I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy being far away from home and working a job that’s unlike any other, but I struggled through the difficult time and six months later, armed with my passes, life changed for the better.