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Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet

Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet

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Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet

4/5 (43 avaliações)
307 página
5 horas
Lançado em:
Mar 6, 2012


Real-life flight attendant Heather Poole has written a charming and funny insider’s account of life and work in the not-always-friendly skies. Cruising Attitude is a Coffee, Tea, or Me? for the 21st century, as the author parlays her fifteen years of flight experience into a delightful account of crazy airline passengers and crew drama, of overcrowded crashpads in “Crew Gardens” Queens and finding love at 35,000 feet. The popular author of “Galley Gossip,” a weekly column for AOL’s award-winning travel website Gadling.com, Poole not only shares great stories, but also explains the ins and outs of flying, as seen from the flight attendant’s jump seat.
Lançado em:
Mar 6, 2012

Sobre o autor

Heather Poole has been published in The Best Women's Travel Writing 2010. Her regular online column, "Galley Gossip: Confessions from the Jumpseat with Heather Poole," has received more than two million views and is featured on AOL's award-winning travel website, Gadling.com.

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Cruising Attitude - Heather Poole


Chapter 1

Plane Crazy

OKAY, WHERE’S CRAZY? That’s what I’m wondering every time I board a flight in my flammable navy blue polyester. In flight, I’ve seen passengers get naked, attempt to open an emergency door in order to get off the bus, reach inside a first-class meal cart and eat leftover food from a dirty plate, and get hit on the head by luggage—then threaten to sue the airline because the injury had affected their psychic abilities. Once I watched an entire group of passengers traveling to Haiti put a voodoo curse on a coworker in the middle of the beverage service. I’ve seen a woman try to store her baby inside an overhead bin. Not too long ago a drunken passenger grabbed a flight attendant’s butt—right in front of his wife! All the newspapers wrote about it. One paper even posed the question, What is with people going crazy on flights? That’s exactly what I want to know!

Just how crazy can it get? Well, not long ago, I was at the rear of the aircraft, welcoming passengers aboard while keeping an eye on rolling bags and overhead bins. As is not uncommon, a couple of passengers walking down the aisle looked upset as soon as they realized they were seated in the last row, otherwise known as the worst seats on the plane. (Hey, someone has to sit there.) I was explaining to one of those passengers that yes, his seat really did recline, even in the last row of coach, when another passenger, a woman wearing hip-hugger jeans and a yellow halter top that exposed a belly ring, walked up, handed me a boarding pass, and said, Someone is sitting in my seat.

I looked at the seat in question, 35E, and saw that Belly Ring Girl was right. Someone was in her seat. What made this particular situation a little crazy was not the fact that she had just yelled, This sucks!—I actually hear that phrase all the time, which, in itself, does kind of suck—but the fact that 35E just happened to be the second worst seat on the aircraft, the seat located directly in front of the hands-down worst seat, the middle seat in the last row.

Excuse me, miss, I said to the seated woman in 35E with the pink cardigan sweater tied loosely around her neck. "May I see your boarding pass?’

Handing me a boarding pass for another seat, a very good seat, an aisle seat at the front of the aircraft, Pink Cardigan snapped, I’m not moving!

Okay. I forced a smile at her. "Please, do you mind taking your seat, ma’am, so this young lady can sit in her seat? The flight is full."

I told you, I’m not moving!

Well, at least I found Crazy, I thought to myself, as she explained in detail why she wasn’t moving. It had something to do with the movie screen.

But there’s a movie screen right near your actual seat, I pointed out.

That didn’t matter. What did matter was that a tall man sporting a handlebar mustache now stood a little too close to me. Pink Cardigan continued to go on and on about the seat she refused to move to.

Ma’am, you’re in my seat, the man interrupted.

How he knew this, I do not know. Because when I asked to see his boarding pass he couldn’t find it.

Perhaps this is Crazy, I thought to myself. It was a little crazy, three people vying for the same crappy seat, was it not?

I sighed, turned to the half-naked woman who actually held the ticket for 35E and asked if she’d be willing to take the other woman’s seat.

Whatever. But you owe me a drink, Belly Ring Girl said to me.

Okay. One down, two to go. That’s when Mr. Sweet Stache walked to the back of the airplane and plopped down on the floor, placing an overstuffed backpack between his spidery long legs.

Don’t worry, he called out. I’ll just camp out here during the flight.

I turned around. He smiled. I didn’t smile back. He’d said it like he meant it and that worried me. Did he actually believe he could sit there? On the floor. In front of the lav. Beside my jump seat.

That’s not going to work, I said. It had a little something to do with that metal thing we like to call a seat belt. I was pointing to the illuminated seat belt sign, trying my best to get through to this guy, when his eyes glazed over, he got to his feet, and he began walking up the aisle like he knew exactly where he was going. Briskly he made his way from the back of the plane right through business class and all the way up to first class, where I’m told he stopped in the middle of the cabin and announced very loudly, Fine, I’ll eat your crappy first-class food!

It was official. We’d found Crazy.

Later on during the flight, after the service was over and everything had calmed down, I sat on a homemade bench (two empty beverage inserts connected by an oven rack) in the business-class galley and began to eat a sandwich I’d brought from home. A passenger from coach whipped back the stiff blue curtain.

Can I buy a business-class entrée? She held up a wad of cash.

Wiping my mouth, I quickly got to my feet. We don’t sell business-class food because passengers who travel in business have already paid for the food, and actually eat the food—

Can’t I just buy a roll or something?

I couldn’t respond. Because right at that moment, as she stood there waving a crumpled bill to pay for the roll or something, Sweet Stache walked out of the lav with his pants undone.

Oh boy. I gulped, turned around, and prayed he’d keep walking. Please keep walking!

He stopped.

Water, he said, pushing the hungry passenger out of the way. In the galley, right next to me, is where he decided to zip up his pants.

Of course, I did what any other flight attendant would do—I quickly reached for a plastic cup. Anything to make him go away! That’s when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a brown leather belt whip into the air with a SNAP! The woman who wanted the roll or something quickly disappeared.

Oh God, I prayed, please don’t let him be too crazy! Please say he’s just a little crazy. Because I really didn’t want to be strangled by a belt over the second worst seat on the plane or the crappy-ass first-class food he did not eat.

Here ya go. I handed him a glass of water without ice, not once taking my eye off the belt, now stretched tightly between his hands.

Thanks. The belt slackened. He placed it on the counter, next to my sandwich.

You’re welcome. I let out a sigh of relief. I had not been strangled.

Coffee. A statement, not a question.

I peeked into the coffee pot. Great. An empty pot. I’m going to have to brew a new pot. I’ll bring it to you as soon as it’s ready. And I guess crazy was catching, because then I did something totally insane. I asked a question I shouldn’t have asked, the one question capable of making this crazy person even crazier. Where’s your seat?

Forget it! He grabbed the belt.

I gasped. Sorry!

Forcefully, he jabbed the leather through the belt loops. Damn right you are. And with that he took a bite of my half-eaten sandwich and disappeared back to wherever he had decided to camp out for the flight.

Yeah, umm, can I get that roll? asked a familiar voice behind me.

Of course, that’s not as crazy as what had happened just a few months earlier. I had been standing between business class and coach during boarding, greeting passengers and hanging coats, when a woman in her early twenties pulled me aside and said she didn’t feel well and had a fever. I was about to tell her she might want to deplane and take a later flight, when she glanced at my name tag, looked me earnestly in the eye, and added, Do you know if there’s a first-class seat available, Heather?

The warning bell immediately rang in my head. Whenever someone uses my name, it almost always means a special request is coming.

I’m sorry, but there aren’t any open seats in first class available. Just as I was about to tell her that even if there had been an open seat we still would not have been able to accommodate her up front, she waved me away with a flick of the wrist and continued down the aisle to a coach seat.

On a 767, the business-class galley is located behind business class in coach. Coach passengers seated on either side of it in the exit row are normally frequent fliers who didn’t qualify for an upgrade now hoping to score free handouts. So when the sick woman sat down right behind the exit row, I knew it wasn’t my lucky day.

She rang her call light thirty minutes into the flight. I turned around holding a linen-lined tray with four drinks balancing on top—Diet Coke with lime, water no ice, vodka tonic, chardonnay—and asked, Can I get you something?

I don’t feel well. I’m nauseous.

Would you like a glass of ginger ale?

I’d prefer tea. Herbal tea. But not in a Styrofoam cup, a mug—a real mug, she said, eyeing the oven-warmed business-class porcelain mugs lining the chrome counter.

All we have is plain black Lipton tea.

Fine. Can I get something to eat?

As my partner continued working his side (and only his side) of the business-class cabin, I called my coworkers in coach who were just about to pull the carts into the aisle to do the service to get a rundown of snacks that were available for purchase. When I hung up the phone, she said, Do you have any uncooked vegetables?

Uncooked vegetables? I repeated. I wanted to make sure I’d heard that right.

That’s all I can eat.

How about a roll or cheese and crackers? offered my colleague. As a rule, we never offer business-class food to coach passengers, but she did look a little pale and we didn’t want to divert the flight.

But this sick passenger couldn’t eat rolls. She couldn’t eat cheese. She couldn’t eat salad. She couldn’t eat nuts. She couldn’t even eat chocolate! Nor could she eat the delicious homemade combination fried rice the passenger sitting directly in front her kindly offered. (But I did and it was delicious! Thank you, Kwan.)

The only thing she could eat were uncooked veggies, and if she didn’t eat them now, as in right now, she would get violently ill—or so she said.

As soon as the flight attendants working in first class were done with their service, I went up to see if there were any leftovers available. There rarely ever are. Well, not only did I find a bowl of green peas sitting on the salad cart but the lead flight attendant actually allowed me to take the first-class peas to the princess in coach!

It’s your lucky day, I said, handing her the silver bowl along with a silver spoon.

Not a word was said. No thank-you. No nothing. Just two bites, an ugly face, and the bowl was handed back to me. The passenger seated beside her rolled his eyes.

No sooner did I turn my back than a call light rang. I didn’t have to walk far to turn it off.

I need your help to get to the bathroom, she mumbled.

Taking her elbow, I helped her to stand. As she got to her feet, she moaned, I’m going to be violently ill. Then she quickly took four steps to the business lav. I handed her a barf bag, shut the door, and told her I’d return to check on her in a minute.

I’m not going to make it, I barely heard her say from behind the locked door.

On the other side of the closed door, I yelled, What do you mean you’re not going to make it? Do I need to page for a doctor?

No. I just need . . . I leaned in closer and cupped my ears against the door. The OCCUPIED sign turned to VACANT and I almost fell inside. Potatoes, she mumbled. Do you have any potatoes?

We have potato chips, but not potatoes. With all ninety-nine pounds of her weight leaning into me, I helped her walk back to her seat. Are you sure you don’t want a cup of club soda and a roll? It might make you feel better.

"I’m sure. Are you sure there aren’t any potatoes on board?"

The only thing I was more sure about were my passengers in business class. They had to be wondering where the heck I’d disappeared to again.

I shook my head. We had no potatoes. And that was when the ill passenger, the one who may or may not have thrown up in the bathroom (depending on who you asked), which may or may not have been the reason why the sink was now overflowing with what may or may not have been water, brown water, looked at me angrily and hissed, I haven’t asked for much on this flight!

Okay, it’s important to point out here—at least it’s important to me that I point out—that I’m really a nice person. I am. I love my job. I do. And I’ll do pretty much anything for the passengers, within reason, whether they’re sick or not. I will. Still, this passenger had gotten on my last nerve. But I kept my mouth shut and got down on one knee, the way we’re instructed to do in training, and looked her in her red eyes and listened as she not so very nicely said, And I’ve been pretty nice on this flight, considering the circumstances.

I inhaled deeply and nodded my head in agreement. It took all my strength not to remind her of all she had, in fact, asked for—a first-class seat, herbal tea, a business-class mug, uncooked vegetables, help to the bathroom, potatoes, and now this, to deplane first, that’s it and nothing more. In fact, she had asked me for more than any other passenger in fifteen years of flying!

To be fair, it’s not always the passengers who are crazy. Sometimes, it’s my colleagues. Years ago, I knew there might be a problem when four out of the nine flight attendants working my trip stopped me before I could even get my crew bags into the overhead bin to say, You’ll be working the drink cart on the left-hand side of coach.

Okay, I said, even though it was not okay. I’m not big on confrontation.

I’d been awarded this trip on reserve, which meant I didn’t know the crew. Not that that mattered. What mattered was they were based in San Francisco, one of the most senior bases in the system. I am New York–based, which is and has always been the most junior base in the system at my airline. It’s where most new hires end up. At some airlines, flight attendant positions on the plane are determined before each flight based on seniority. Just because a flight attendant works the galley position on one leg of the trip doesn’t mean they will automatically get to work the same position on the next leg of the trip. If a more senior flight attendant wants to trade positions, the junior flight attendant will do so. Not at my airline. We know where we’re working long before we leave the house for the airport, and we don’t have to trade if we don’t want to. Even so, the rest of the crew felt superior enough to tell me where, exactly, I’d be working that day, even though I already knew where to work, which was not the drink cart on the left-hand side of coach.

After I stowed my bags in the crew-designated area for my position, a bin in the middle of coach on the right hand side, I walked to the very back of the plane to introduce myself to three flight attendants hanging out in the galley. The crazy look in his piercing blue eyes immediately gave him away as the problem colleague. I smiled anyway.

I think I’ll be working with you today. I’m Heather.

Mike. Mike sat down on his jump seat. He crossed his legs and smoothed his thick black mustache, not once making eye contact. I’ll be working the beverage cart alone, if you don’t mind.

Not sure of what to make of this, I looked to my fellow colleagues for support. There was none to be found. They were too busy counting meals and loading the ovens, a job that normally requires one person, not two.

Umm . . . okay . . . but what am I supposed to do while you’re working the cart alone?

He shrugged and walked away. My noncrazy colleagues glanced at each other without saying a word as they continued to busy themselves in the galley. I was on my own here.

Looking back, I should have just listened to Crazy-Eyes Mike and let him work the cart alone. Why didn’t I just twiddle my thumbs in the back of the airplane and watch? Instead, when it was time to start the service, I hopped on the other side and practically sprinted backward up the aisle as he pushed the cart with way too much force.

Whoa, cowboy. I laughed, hoping he’d get the hint. He didn’t.

Cowboy didn’t stop there. It got worse, much worse. Unfortunately there is nothing in our training manual about what to do when a fellow crew member purposefully rams a cart into a passenger’s seat and yells, Bitch!

Oh my God, are you okay? I’m so sorry, I stammered to the woman now doubled over in pain. I looked at Mike. What are you doing?

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, his eyes bugged out of his head and his face turned red. In the middle of the aisle, surrounded by 123 passengers, he screamed out another, worse word. At me. I think.

The rest of the trip was spent frantically trying to calm down a few passengers, reassuring them that yes, something would be done about Mike. One passenger wanted to press charges. Mike had scared them all so much that not one person on the left-hand side of the airplane ordered a drink. Now I was stuck dealing with the mess. After everything calmed down, I began hand-running drinks back and forth alone while the flight attendants working the other aisle calmly maintained the flow of service. Mike sat on his jump seat and read the paper.

Ten minutes after Mike’s outburst, the captain called and asked me to come up for a chat. Behind the comfortingly locked cockpit door, I told him exactly what had occurred. Choosing his words carefully, he asked whether or not I felt we should divert. I told him I didn’t feel authorized to make such a decision. Because I was afraid to make such a decision! Who was I to take responsibility for an airplane making an unscheduled landing? The pilot should make that call. We did not divert. I spent the rest of the flight in the cocklesspit.

When we did finally land, authorities met the flight. After all the passengers had deplaned, Crazy Eyes was escorted off by two cops. The crew scattered, all in a hurry to get home, and I slowly followed behind what I assumed would become an ex-coworker, a blue uniform sandwiched between black and white, as I walked alone to baggage claim to catch a courtesy van to my layover hotel.

We met up again later that night, as we would many nights to come, in a now recurring dream. I find myself wearing nothing but a navy blue feather boa, combat boots, and a baton on my hip while boarding a flight back to New York. My heart stops when I come face-to-face with Crazy-Eyes Mike. He grunts. I step out of his way to allow him to pass, and as he does, I notice his hands are locked in silver cuffs behind his back. Of course, I do what any normal naked flight attendant would do: I toss the feather boa over my shoulder and tell a smiling flight attendant I’ve never met before that she’ll be working the beverage cart on the left-hand side of the airplane. Immediately she stops smiling and rams me with her suitcase, causing me to double over in pain. Then, just as I’m about to yell out a word I never use, regardless of how appropriately it might describe the other flight attendants or passengers, the alarm clock wakes me up. It’s 5:00 a.m. and I’m working a flight to Seattle or San Diego or Santa Barbara. Doesn’t matter where I’m going, really. All that matters is it’s time to do it again.

So where’s Crazy?

Or am I crazy?

You tell me.

Chapter 2

I Never Wanted to Be a Flight Attendant

IN ORDER TO be a flight attendant in the 1950s, women were required to be attractive—just below Hollywood standards. No wonder many a hopeful starlet became a flight attendant as part of a backup plan.

Rumor has it Tom Berenger and Richard Gere once worked as flight attendants. I don’t believe it, either, but I have dreamt about it. Several times. Richard looked amazing wearing nothing but a navy blue pinstriped apron serving me chocolate chip cookies in bed. Dennis Miller, on the other hand, really did work as a flight attendant for Continental, or so I’ve been told. Still trying to figure out how true that is. But what a snarky flight attendant he must have been! Actress Kate Linder, who has been on The Young and the Restless for more than twenty years, is still a flight attendant for United Airlines. You’ll only find her behind a cart on the weekends. Kim Kardashian’s mother, Kris, was a flight attendant for American Airlines when she met Robert Kardashian, O. J. Simpson’s attorney. What’s funny about that is Kris’s second husband, Bruce Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist, was married first to a flight attendant who supported him while he trained for the decathlon. Bruce later went on to purchase a private plane, which he learned to pilot in order to make it on time to public appearances.

But flying is not for everyone. Ant, the comedian, was a flight attendant for American Airlines before he became a TV personality. Evangeline Lilly, who starred as a plane crash survivor on the television show Lost, hated her brief stint as a flight attendant, calling it the worst job ever thanks to short layovers and swollen feet.

Men who don’t have a problem with swollen flight attendant feet include Robert De Niro, George Best, David Caruso, Wayne Newton, Lou Rawls, Montel Williams, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. They all married flight attendants. And let’s not forget the most recent person to join the flight attendant wife club, Kelsey Grammer, who ditched his wife Camille, from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, to wed Kayte Walsh, a Virgin Airlines air hostess. Bill Maher, a self-proclaimed bachelor, dated fly girl Coco Johnsen for a couple of years until they wound up in court. And there are all the famous affairs . . . but I probably shouldn’t go there.

The prime minister of Iceland and the world’s first openly gay female leader, Johanna Sigurdardottir, once worked as a flight attendant for Loftleidir, a predecessor of Icelandair. Wife of rogue trader Nick Leeson (Barings Bank), Lisa Leeson, became a flight attendant for Virgin. Virgin’s very own Richard Branson was actually born to a flight attendant. Prince William’s wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton to parents who both worked as airline crew before going into the party supply business.

While times (and requirements) have changed, the job is still a desirable one. Thousands of people apply each year. At my airline, the average age of a flight attendant is now forty years old. For the first time in history, being a flight attendant is considered a profession, not just a job. Fewer are quitting, turnover is not as high as it once was, and competition has gotten fierce. Ninety-six percent of people who apply to become flight attendants do not get a call-back. In December 2010, Delta Airlines received more than one hundred thousand applications after announcing they had openings for one thousand flight attendants. Only the most qualified applicants are hired. Even though a college degree is not a requirement, there are very few flight attendants who do not possess one. Lawyers and doctors have been known to apply. This should tell you a lot about me, and anyone else you encounter in navy polyester. Think about that the next time you’re on a plane.

Of course, the first time I tried to become a flight attendant I wasn’t part of the lucky 4 percent.

In college, I went to my first airline interview in order to get away from a roommate who had more than her fair share of issues. She’d bring guys back to our dorm room and leave them behind. Try studying Japanese culture when your roomie is throwing up all over your clothes, the ones you’d specifically and repeatedly forbidden her to wear! So when my mother, a woman who had always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant, mailed me a newspaper clipping with an ad circled four times in red for an open house with a major U.S. carrier, I decided to apply. Not so much because I wanted to become a flight attendant, but because the airline provided a free ticket to a city out of state where the interviews were being conducted. Broke and tired, with a laundry hamper full of vomit and a disheveled man locked in the bathroom using my Q-tips, I just wanted to get away. I also wanted to fly on an airplane, something I’d only done three times before in my life.

Two weeks after I received a letter from the airline telling me where to go and what to say to the ticket agent to get a seat on the flight (not all airlines cover the travel expense), I stepped off the aircraft, sashayed down the jet bridge in four-inch beige pumps, a little black bag rolling behind, and made my way to a nondescript door clear on the other side of the busy airport terminal. There I found a giant room filled with hundreds of happy, smiling women. I stopped in my tracks. The banquet room was lined with neat little rows of applicants, knees held tightly together, ankles

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43 avaliações / 32 Análises
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Avaliações de leitores

  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a flight attendant. I always admire these hard working individuals that have to multi-task at 35,000 feet while dealing with a variety of personalities in a very confined space. Really a great book to read if you've flown once or numerous times!
  • (5/5)
    Funny and nice read. Surprisingly it held my attention to the very end and didn't get boring.
  • (4/5)
    Great book, it contains all passion and best stories at 30 000 feets
  • (4/5)
    Heather Poole is a very easy to read author. Her light and breezy style takes her reader through the rigors of flight attendant training school and then into the (not so) friendly skies. The book was a lovely diversion from some of the heavier books I have been reading lately and it certainly brought a few chuckles to my day as I read it. Ms. Poole's experiences with discontented travelers are certainly entertaining but I certainly can feel for her as she is mistreated by overbearing and entitled fliers.Having flown in the good times (pre-9/11) and the bad (post 9/11) and in First Class and coach I have seen some of the behaviors she writes about although I have never been so obnoxious as to expect a flight attendant to wait on me hand and foot as some of her stories relate. Anyone with experience in the customer service industry will appreciate the people profiled as Ms. Poole's worst cases.Some of the explanations of how the industry works as to scheduling and the like gets a bit convoluted - I do feel for flight attendants in a way I did not before - and confusing. The break downs are necessary to the subsequent stories but I wonder if the reader confusion is worth the short tale after? I am sure that readers in the industry will be nodding their heads knowingly over the tales of bad living arrangements and questionable co-workers.All in all this was an enjoyable, light read to take my mind from meatier reads. Ms. Poole has an easy writing style and even when she is sharing tales of the worst of her customers she does it with generous warmth. It would be a great book to read, erm while flying. heh
  • (3/5)
    Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole is written in a similar fashion to Waiter Rant and The Nanny Diaries. It’s a behind the scenes look at airline travel from the perspective of a flight attendant. It was quite engaging at first but I lost interest in the stories about half way through. Some were interesting stories and you can certainly commiserate with the flight attendants after reading about some of the interactions. One question came to mind – why are people so rude these days? As a customer or client I know we should be waited on and have our concerns addressed but you don’t need to treat others rudely. The narrative about the hiring process and exhaustive training program for flight attendants is crazy. There are stories about people having sex in the bathrooms, dealing with people with motion sickness, rude people and many other odd things an attendant has to endure during a flight. The stories did jump around a bit and the author could have spent more time describing the characters and the individual situations more.
  • (3/5)
    Certainly a very different read and an enjoyable one to read while on a plane - albeit a very different flying experience then the world Heather completed her training in. The pre/post 9/11 changes are stark. But sadly I don't think FAs are paid any better - the crash pads are just a sad reality.
  • (4/5)
    I had no idea flight attendants had so much training. And that if they messed up once during schooling that they were out...Otherwise, pretty interesting read. There are a lot of things I didn't know about flight attendants. The glamorous life isn't quite as glamorous as we might think, but it still sounds like fun. If the pay wasn't so crappy. Should read if you like personal memoirs.
  • (3/5)
    Nothing stands out particularly in this book about the trials and tribulations of Heather Poole's early career as a flight attendant. But added all together it is an easy and entertaining read. My interest in the book was through a recent acquaintance and colleague who was one. I found there was a lot I didn't know about what these people put up with in their chosen career. But for all the crap they take from demanding customers and relatively modest pay, the travel perks tend to offset.
  • (4/5)
    If you're thinking about an exciting career in airborne customer service, this is the book for you! If, like me, you are not considering becoming a flight attendant, it is hard to explain why you would even pick this book up, much less read quickly through it in fascinated excitement, as I just did.

    I guess this book answered a question that we all must have asked, but never really pursued, as we are served a diet coke or commanded to take our seats. Who are these people? What are their lives like?

    Heather Poole provides the real deal, the inside scoop on the glamorous flight attendant life style. And, man, is it ever not glamorous. Who would do this work? And why?

    You know how much flying sucks? OK, now imagine that it's your job, and you do it for 30 or 40 hours a week, and have to smile and pretend you like it. Then imagine you get paid really badly, and have to hot bunk it (share a bed) in dingy flop houses spread around the country where fellow attendants come and go at all hours of the night. Now imagine the passengers, the whining, complaining, needy, rude mass of humanity, who hate flying as much as any sane person would, and who you must passify, calm, and herd. Then imagine the polyester uniform you must wear, and the hair and makeup codes you must conform to.

    If you do this kind of work, you do get travel benefits. Sort of. But they don't sound very generous, and of course every time you use them you have to do what? Get on another stinking aluminum tube and fly. No, ladies and gentlemen, this is a truly awful way to make a living, and we can only shake our heads in wonder at Ms. Poole's excited telling of adventures and misadventures over her 15 year career in the sky. Good on her, for creating a very readable memoir. She's got some real war stories. I loved the awfulness of the life she described. But I don't think she thinks her life is awful. I believe that she thinks it's been a rollicking good ride.

    I guess that's what you'd want your flight attendant to feel - that this is a pretty good life, all things considered. So it's all good. Thank you Heather Poole for sharing your experience of work.
  • (3/5)
    I have never ever wanted to be a flight attendant. Ever. However I do like reading about people who do things that I don't want to do so this book was fun.
  • (3/5)
    Fun memoir of airline career
  • (4/5)
    Heather Poole speaks in a friendly, positive way while detailing the sometimes bleak life of a flight attendant. Her stories are entertaining and informative. With no hint of self pity, she talks about rude passengers, awful living conditions and loneliness. The book is far from depressing though, it's light and fun to read. If you, a son or daughter or friend considers flight attending, this read is a must before sighing up. The most important come away from Cruising Attitude is this is a job that few could do well for long.
  • (4/5)
    Truly behind the scenes. I really appreciate flight attendants more now and give them props. It's a tough job that you're not well rewarded for and many people could not make the grade.
  • (3/5)
    You know, these days I read travel books with a whole different eye. One, I’m usually reading them in an airport or a hotel. Two, the situations and places in the books seem very familiar to me now. That’s one of the reasons I was so interested in Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet – I see a lot of flight attendants in the course of a week’s work, and it looks like an interesting, exciting job. Like most jobs, though, it’s not quite what it seems.Author Heather Poole was encouraged by her mother to apply for a job as a flight attendant — the job her mother had always wanted. That first interview was a complete failure, but after college and a few years spent designing watches, she tried again. Her stories of flight attendant training school were really surprising — they are tough on those students! The whole thing seems designed to wear them down and weed out the weak. That’s probably a good thing because the job itself is not for delicate flowers. The hours are long, the schedule is unpredictable and the people you meet are crazy.Poole does a great job of working in stories about crazy passengers and other flight attendants without giving too much away:“I may not remember her name, but on the descent into New York she told me all about her ex-husband, a pilot who cheated on her numerous times with other flight attendants, and whose former mother-in-law is trying to get sole custody of the children using her job against her. There was another man who never told me his name, but I do know his first sexual encounter took place with a man twenty years his senior and now he only has a thing for older men — with red hair. Just like the man sitting in 22B. I couldn’t tell you their names, but I do know they’ll be spending the night in jail because he punched her after she scratched his face for daring to call his wife in her presence as soon as the flight touched ground.”It’s like a soap opera in the sky!And, of course, there are the celebrity encounters for the folks working in first class. That has to be one of the more interesting parts of the job. Poole talks about her time working on a private jet, the rich and powerful men that she met (and occasionally dated) as they were sitting in first class, and there are celebrity stories that read like gossip column blind items:“So, here’s the galley gossip. He was one of the biggest pop stars of our time, and while he wouldn’t breathe the air at 35,000 feet without wearing a face mask, he had no problem scarfing down two first class meals…This actor known for having a thing for supermodels fell asleep with his hand down his pants in first class…The comedian who got kicked off of one of daytime tv’s hottest talk shows asked the pilot not to make any more announcements because her baby was sleeping…A Canadian who shot to the top of the music charts for her scathing lyrics wouldn’t allow a passenger in the window seat to pass by her in order to use the lavatory until quietly meditating with her first.”I was really interested in the stories about the schedules and workload. As much as I travel now and the crazy schedule I keep, hers is so much worse! What they put flight attendants through ought to be criminal. The crazy hours, the backbiting, the competition for good flights — it’s all insane and one of those jobs you really have to love to put up with all of that.This is a fun read for anyone who travels a lot. It gives you a whole new respect for the people serving your beverages (although after what she says about Diet Coke, I’ll feel guilty about asking for it!) and pretzels. It’s certainly an enlightening read for anyone interested in a career in travel. I could have skipped a lot of the stories about her love life and personal life in favor of more travel anecdotes, but it’s generally a pretty good balance.
  • (5/5)
    An honest, light-hearted, well-written first book. Easily one of my favorites :-)
  • (5/5)
    Absolutely loved this book. Having been a passenger on many a flight I always wondered whether the flight attendants lives were as glamorous as a lot of people often think.I hope Heather Poole writes another book soon!
  • (2/5)
    An interesting look at the life of a flight attendant. Could have been a lot shorter, there was a lot of details that were redundant. She had bad landlords and high expectations from here employers - who doesn't?
  • (4/5)
    I had just finished Heather Poole's memoir, Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet, when the news broke about the Jet Blue pilot who had a breakdown on his flight from New York to Las Vegas. After reading Heather's book, you kind of understood how this happened.Poole began her career on a regional airline, SunJet, that offered a $69 flight from Dallas to Newark, Ft. Lauerdale and Long Beach. The airline was often filled with unattended minors shuttling back and forth between parents and grandparents, and one flight Poole flew had 12 unattended minors. She joked that the planes were literally held together with duct tape on seats, in the galley, etc.She eventually moved on to a bigger airline, and she gives the reader a fascinating insight to the world of flight attendants. The first step was flight attendant school, or as Poole called it 'Barbie Boot Camp', which lasted for two months. Each day, fewer and fewer people would be at school; it reminded me of Demi Moore in the movie G.I. Jane, where recruits would disappear without a word.Poole made a good friend in Georgia, a gorgeous Southern belle who had always dreamed of being an flight attendant. Her roommate was a Texas gal named Linda, who was a grandmother. Heather had her doubts about Linda, but they became friends too.I learned many interesting facts about flight attendants. For example, they do not get paid until the plane backs away from the gate. While you're boarding and they are welcoming you and helping with your bags, they are not being paid. I think that is just plain wrong.They must find crashpads to stay in, usually rented rooms in homes near their base airport. Heather and Georgia lived in a home owned by a Russian cabbie, where they shared a room with four other women, and there were three other bedrooms set up in similar fashion upstairs. And only one bathroom. It sounds almost like living on a submarine to me. (In fact, some people did have a bed-sharing agreement, like a submarine.)There were even some flight attendants who lived in RVs in the employee parking lots at JFK airport.Poole attempts to explain the reserve system, which sounded like the equivalent of hospital residents on-call system, but I didn't quite understand all of the intricacies of it. It is very involved, and the first time Heather was called to work on reserve, she messed it up and almost got fired, as she was on probation and could be fired for any small infraction.In the 1970s, flight attendants averaged 18 months of employment, because they must be single and childless. Today, they last either a few months or an entire lifetime; there seems to be no middle ground.Most attendants take the job for the travel passes; the ability to fly for free or for a very reduced rate. They can also have a few family members or friends fly for free. For the low pay and sometime abusive conditions, I'm not sure it's worth it. (Some of her stories of horrible passengers made me cringe. How can human beings act like that?)Poole is a terrific writer; her book reads like a good novel. She tells her story with humor and pathos, and there's even some tension thrown in for good measure. I raced through the book, and it gave me a new appreciation for flight attendants.One thing she said that stuck with me is that flight attendants appreciate hearing a "please" or "thank you". I think that it is only fitting that I end by saying 'thank you' to Heather Poole for writing this informative and entertaining memoir.
  • (3/5)
    Flight attendants - they do nothing, travel around the world and wear nice clothes, right? Maybe people that do not travel think so but the reality is very different and most frequent travelers can tell you so. Heather Poole takes this one step further and gives the story of what it really is to be a flight attendant. Training, the first years, the first flights, the problems, the laughs, the cries - they all are in this book. The life of a fight attendant is not really different from that of anyone else... except that their hours are a bit weird. For at least half the book the author manages to amuse and entertain. And then things go downhill. From the entertaining and funny book that you started reading it turns into a repetitious whine fest. Just how many times should the reader be told that seniority is the most important thing in the profession (after the first 3 times, I was getting annoyed), that international crews look better because they sleep more and wear better clothes (but she had never been part of an international carrier so is this really so or does she see only what everyone else sees), the company she works for and the systems are not very nice (it is called a job - you signed for it, you do it), the money are never enough (yes, anyone that works can say the same), how hard it is these days to get to your base with all the overbooked flights and so on and so on. The details are interesting - the first time they are told. After that it gets really annoying. It's a good glimpse in the life and a lot of the stories are hilarious (and I had seen similar ones occasionally). The inside stories were priceless -- there is so much that people do not even think about and I start wondering how the airline companies do not end up canceling even more flights. But the book could have been made a lot better than it is now.
  • (4/5)
    MY THOUGHTSLOVED ITI have always thought that being a flight attendant would be extremely glamorous, with decent pay, but Heather Poole points out that the starting pay is not great, the hours are weird, you never know where you will end up and you pretty much learn to sleep anywhere. I adored the chatty style of the book and the stories are pretty hilarious. She recounts her training which is pretty impressive. The first job she gets is for a discount airline that has since vanished and I couldn't believe some of the details about unsafe the airplanes were for that carrier. Well, that was until my brother showed me a picture taken back in the 70's where there is a piece of plywood blocking the cockpit and the beverage service was an ice chest pushed though the aisle. She recounts how every flight attendant wanted to get that golden ticket for free airfare and just how difficult it was to achieve.I was really impressed that in all the times she has flown, there never was an major disasters except for the passengers. You will never take your seat belt off again after reading about turbulence and how many attended get hurt on the job this way. And then, there is the abuse by the airlines themselves towards their employees. That part was just dreadful. My favorite tale of hers when when the lead singer for her favorite rock band was on board. She didn't recognize him at all and triple checked the passenger list since the guy sitting in the seat was past his prime and looked nothing like her hero. I adore these inside tales so much. If you have read any of the Babylon books, you will truly love this one, even though Poole doesn't name names. Be sure to always be polite to your flight attendants, they have a rough job.
  • (3/5)
    Once upon a time, I thought being a flight attendant was a glamorous job. See the world for free and all that jazz. And then I met some flight attendants who, while they love their jobs (most of the time), quickly disabused me of that particular fantasy. Heather Poole's insider memoir Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet serves the same function. Like many jobs, being a flight attendant is only glamorous from the outside looking in.Poole started as a flight attendant at a cut rate carrier (now out of business) but quickly interviewed for the same position with a major airline and was hired. She gives the reader a glimpse into the extensive training involved in the job and the ways in which different aircraft require different protocols in terms of safety and also in terms of service. She discusses her fellow new recruits and what they faced as they joined the ranks of the more experienced flight attendants. Large portions of the book detail the expensive and cramped living conditions flight attendants endure living in "Crew Gardens" (Kew Gardens), New York, the abyssmally poor pay, and the stress of being the lowest person on the totem pole and having to consistently work the unpredictable reserve slot. Certainly not an easy lifestyle and one destined to be very hard on a social or personal life. Poole does dish on ill-behaved passengers and the unrealistic expectations placed on flight attendants by some of the more egregious fliers but these stories are short and anecdotal compared to the tales of a flight attendant's lifestyle.The memoir is breezy and conversational and it is clear that it evolved from blog posts as it reads like a string of stories one friend would tell another one about her job rather than a tightly threaded narrative. The chapters jump around from tales in the air to training and back again so it's definitely not a chronological story and the anecdotes contained in the same chapters are sometimes only very tangentially connected. Some of the more technical aspects of bidding trips or seniority or being on reserve were a bit convoluted and not particularly necessary for a layman's audience as they were just confusing (and to be fair, probably every bit equally as confusing for the new flight attendant). But overall the book was humorous and offered cynical-about-the-public me more affirmation that people are demanding, selfish, and generally not nice, especially to anyone working in a service industry. That Poole and her fellow co-workers can keep their tempers in the face of some of the worst ingratitude and unpleasantness is a credit to them. And I'm glad that she can laugh about it in hindsight and that she invites us to laugh about it with her.
  • (4/5)
    For someone who “doesn’t read memoirs”, I’ve picked up more than a few this year. This one drew my eye because I enjoy flying, and had absolutely no idea what a flight attendant’s job was like.After finishing the book, I’m fairly certain that I would never want to be a flight attendant. I never would have imagined a super-strict book camp, or the fact that for a long time, an attendant makes so little money they are lucky if they can afford to rent a room of their own, let alone an entire apartment. And we’re not talking about the 70s or the 80s here — when Poole became a flight attendant in 1995 she made $18,000. That number is even lower now, because attendants took a pay cut following 9/11.And it was the lifestyle that I found most intriguing about this book. We also get plenty of stories of crazy behavior, by both passengers and crew, but most of them are nothing we haven’t already imagined for ourselves. The real meat is the life of the flight attendant. She does a pretty good job of explaining the system, but I’m still not sure I completely understand it. The concept of being “on reserve” is ridiculously complicated. Being a commuting flight attendant also seems a bit complex.Overall, I found this to be not only interesting but very entertaining. Poole has a nice easy tone, and she seems like someone who would be fun to hang out with. The one pick I have about the book is that I think it could have been a little better organized. She goes off on a lot of tangents. Entertaining as they are, I think sometimes the reader can lose the theme of the chapter.If you like humorous memoirs, this is definitely one to pick up. I know I’ll never look at a flight attendant quite the same way again.
  • (5/5)
    I'm sure most of you have flown before and have had the opportunity at sometime to interact with a flight attendant. I think there are quite a few details we, as passengers, never consider when flying and that's just how hard of a job, flight attendants actually have. It takes more than a nicely dressed attendant who smiles graciously as you enter and sets about to make sure your flight is enjoyable.In the book, Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole, a reader is taken on a behind the scenes tour of what it takes to make it to a flight attendant. From the long and grueling training most don't pass, to the crazy stories of some of the things passengers expect while flying. Not to mention just where do they go in between flights, what happens when flights are delayed and what are some of the perks about being a flight attendant.Heather Poole has been a flight attendant for various airline companies in the past fifteen years and has seen it all. Things we would never think about but that people have tried, done and some have been arrested for. She shares some celebrity encounters without mentioning the names of just how some use their status and some are strictly just like us as passengers. I think for me the most unusual story is that flight attendants don't get paid until the plane leaves the gate, which means, when faced with delays, they aren't getting paid to hear our complaints. Another crazy story is one passenger who packed his deceased mother in a garment bag to get her to her final destination to avoid the exorbitant fees to have her shipped any other way.This book is packed with amazing and down-right shocking stories of just what a career in being a flight attendant really is like and for me, makes me appreciate what they do a whole lot more. Never will I see them the same after reading this great book. I received this book compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and LOVED it! This one rates a perfect 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion and look forward to sharing this one with my readers. If you're a frequent flyer or are just interested in what it takes to be a flight attendant, you'll definitely want to check this book out.
  • (4/5)
    Heather Poole is a very easy to read author. Her light and breezy style takes her reader through the rigors of flight attendant training school and then into the (not so) friendly skies. The book was a lovely diversion from some of the heavier books I have been reading lately and it certainly brought a few chuckles to my day as I read it. Ms. Poole's experiences with discontented travelers are certainly entertaining but I certainly can feel for her as she is mistreated by overbearing and entitled fliers.Having flown in the good times (pre-9/11) and the bad (post 9/11) and in First Class and coach I have seen some of the behaviors she writes about although I have never been so obnoxious as to expect a flight attendant to wait on me hand and foot as some of her stories relate. Anyone with experience in the customer service industry will appreciate the people profiled as Ms. Poole's worst cases.Some of the explanations of how the industry works as to scheduling and the like gets a bit convoluted - I do feel for flight attendants in a way I did not before - and confusing. The break downs are necessary to the subsequent stories but I wonder if the reader confusion is worth the short tale after? I am sure that readers in the industry will be nodding their heads knowingly over the tales of bad living arrangements and questionable co-workers.All in all this was an enjoyable, light read to take my mind from meatier reads. Ms. Poole has an easy writing style and even when she is sharing tales of the worst of her customers she does it with generous warmth. It would be a great book to read, erm while flying. heh
  • (3/5)
    Brief DescriptionHeather Poole has been a flight attendant for 15 years (for an unnamed airline) and she's ready to give us the inside scoop on crazy passengers, the disjointed life of a flight attendant, the realities of a crashpad, and what its like to fly the "friendly skies" for a living.My ThoughtsI enjoy books that give you an insider's look at various professions, and the life of a flight attendant is one that was particularly appealing. Poole does a good job of conveying the weirdness and stress that is the life of a flight attendant ... so much so that it made me wonder why anyone would want to have this job. (Free flights, baby!) If you've ever thought that being a flight attendant was a glamourous job, think again. Not only does it make having a relationship next to impossible, but flight attendants seem to barely make a living wage. In addition, the job requires dealing with difficult people in a closed environment under a lot of stress. Still, Poole makes a good case for the career, which provides a host of unique experiences (both good and bad) that give flight attendants a life that is anything but normal and boring. Although the writing is bit clunky at times, the book moves along at a fast clip and focuses squarely on Poole's flight attendant experiences. I guarantee you'll never look at a flight attendant the same way again. Also, If you're considering pursuing a career as a flight attendant, I'd recommend reading this book first as it is very possible you will change your mind.
  • (5/5)
    This book was a good read, I didn’t want to put it down, but it’s not a book like Three Cups of Tea where you want to tell everyone you meet that they have to read the book, but still quite the page turner.I give her credit for talking about her co-workers but not in such a way that you would be wondering if the next flight attendant you say was ‘the one that . . . “I must say that hope that I am a person who appreciates people who serve me. I look the busboy in the eye and thank him when he picks up my plate. We tip well, because as one of my sister-in-law says the extra couple of bucks means nothing to her, but probably means a lot to a server (not just monetary.) Servers remember us and that makes the experience even better. You really do learn a lot of stuff about being a flight attendant that you didn’t know previously and if you don’t respect them more after reading this book then I don’t know what to say.
  • (4/5)
    If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a flight attendant, this is the book for you. The author hooked me right away with her friendly, chatty style. I loved hearing all the details of her career and personal life down to what she wore and where she slept. Although glamorous in some ways, this job is really tough, especially for the newbies. Sometimes I felt the author was far too whiny (which is understandable), but overall, I do recommend the book.
  • (4/5)
    I smiled and rolled my eyes at the goings-on of the crew and passengers. The insights into the "backstage" of flight attendants were fascinating. While a breezy read, it was a bit too episodic for me, perhaps because the author was a blogger first. Also, it is obvious this is a new author as the book needed tightening up. There were a lot of tangents. Recommended for those that like reading behind the scenes memoirs.
  • (3/5)
    Working in the aviation industry I can sympathize with the working stiffs of the sky. This is an insider’s look at the gritty and glorious world of the flight attendant. Weird things happen in the sky and people are often at the worst when fear and alcohol meet. It’s easy to observe and analyze passengers when you are cooped up together for hours on end. Although the narrative bounces around a bit (dare we say flighty?), it’s in keeping with the energy level that flight attendants have to maintain and project. This is a good read for seasoned travelers, those considering an airline career and those who want to chuckle at or with the sky folks.
  • (5/5)
    I don't know how I came upon Heather Poole and her blog. I think I must have stumbled upon it when I was starting to use Twitter. She wrote about air travel and I traveled by air quite a bit, so I figured I can get some cool tidbits. Over time I came to appreciate her sense of humor and the earnestness she put into her work. And I did enjoy peekeing behind the curtains a bit, much as I did with Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.The book is structured chronologically, it is essentially her Flight Attendant career in sequence, from initial training to where she is now, well, actually to where she was a couple of years ago. I think she may have written the book in that sequence as well. The early chapters were a little hard to follow because the writing comes at you fast and furious. The book has a very breathless and immediate quality to it, like your BFF telling everything that you wanted to know. That breathlessness eased and the book got better and better as the later chapters came around. By the end of the book I was riveted to the apges because of the stories she was telling. Believe me, they were pretty juicy stories.Even though I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am getting the Flight Attendant side of the story with regard to the airline industry, pilots, and passengers, it made me very much more aware of the inequities that exists in the airline industry and how little the flight attendants have in their control. the training, advancement, and pre-historic compensation and seniority system is a real shock to the system. The stories of their working condition is on a par with Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. The main difference being that we, the general public has some very unrealistic ideas about the glamour life that the airline employees lead. In addition, the stories about the people that she came in contact with in her daily exposure to the flying public gave me pause to think about all the times that I was irate or short with a flight attendant. I am now sheepishly regretting all the times that I was cross with them. After all, the ethos in the present commercial travel ethos is nothing like that portrayed in Pan Am series. In the post 9/11 world, things changed, some due to the terrorist threats, some due to the economic travails that the airlines were forced to endure post 9/11. Travel conditions now are what traveling by bus was like during the heyday of air travel.But most of the interesting stories come from the pilots, passengers, and other flight attendants that populate her universe. I did not realize that it was such a flying freak show up in the air, but it is. Bad behavior all around, but mostly on the part of the flying public. For some reason, bad behavior seem to be fine with otherwise sane and civilized human being. Perhaps it is the whole ritual of driving to the airport and having to go through that elaborate sequence of security checks before you pass muster to achieve the anointed status of being a passenger. Or it might be the previously exalted status of being able to afford to fly, but bad behavior seems to abound on the airplane. I have even noticed this in my own travels. But the stories in the book are far more interesting than mine.There are also points in the book where the author begin to go down some interesting paths for reflection and rumination. I particularly enjoyed her short reflection on the connections and disconnections that seem to come in great bunches in her line of work, and how easily broken those tenuous threads of connection are for her. I also really enjoyed reading about her thought about her own emotions as well as the forced retrenchment of the airline industry after 9/11. I would have liked to have read more of her own thoughts and opinions, but alas, the stories can't wait. Maybe in her next book.I really enjoyed the book, even though the pace seemed a bit hectic, but then again, that is a pace that one asosciates with air travel these days, so it felt familiar and apropos to the topic. I would recommend this book highly if you needed a laugh and if you wanted to really understand why the great American flying experience is the way it is.