28 Dec The Reality of Flying for a Living: Interview with Alex Kovacova
Ever wonder what being a flight attendant is really like? Is it a dream travel job or merely a mirage? Are the customers as obnoxious and are the mile high stories as glorious as you imagine? Enter: Alexandra Kovacova of CrazySexyFunTraveler.com. Besides blogging her way around the world and being the sexiest Slovak with a keyboard, Alex also has had the real dream travel job experience of screaming babies and rambunctious customers at 30,000 feet. Here is her tale.
1-Who are you and what is your travel background?
My name is Alexandra Kovacova and I was born in Slovakia but already at early age I knew I was going to leave the country. When I reached 18, I left and keep coming back only for holidays. It’s been 9 years already and I think I will always live abroad.
2-How did you fall into being a flight attendent?
I studied in Czech republic and Spain and when I got MA degree in Spanish philology I decided to work while getting my last exams at English philology. The first job offer I found on internet the following day was cabin crew. I laughed a lot as it was my mom’s dream job for me so I took the chance, passed the interview in Slovakia and then also the 6 weeks of everyday tests in the Czech republic. I was promised to be based in Spain as I didn’t care that much about work but more about the country. Unfortunately, I was sent close to Glasgow, Scotland. After a year there I realised Spain was never going to happen so at least managed to change the base somewhere warmer – this time to Brindisi, not a very known town in the Southern Italy. I worked for an airline that had only European flights so I only traveled across Europe.
3-How do you get a job as a flight attendant?
You can find cabin crew offers all over internet or just go to the airline website directly to check it out. You need to pass a few weeks of tests and memorise technical terms. Depending on the airline, sometimes you have to pay for the cabin crew course like I did (1,000 – 2,000 euros).
I didn’t like many things so I quit after 2 years of working. And to be honest, I have not found the best airline to work for.
Talking about money you can make and how long you work, it varies between the airlines and bases. I was lucky enough to have a lot of free time in both bases. You are paid per airborne hours – hours in the air, not those on the ground. In Glasgow I got around 1,000 – 1,300 pounds per month, in Brindisi 1,000 – 1,600 euros. But there were people who worked more in other bases and earned more, but also people who earned much less.
4- What is the lifestyle of a flight attendant really like?
It is not so glamorous like some people think. Airlines not doing longhaul flights, such as the one I worked for, never let cabin crew stay at a hotel/airport. We had 2 longer flights or 4 shorter flights per day (some bases also 6 super short flights) starting in your base and finishing there too so every night we came back. People think you travel, but no. You don’t see absolutely anything, not even the inside of the airport as you have 25-minute turnaround when the passengers disembark, you prepare everything for the next flight, new passengers embark and we leave the airport. Yes, all this has to be no longer than 25 minutes so please next time when you leave/board a European flight, move your ass!
We worked 5 – 3 – 5 – 2, ie. 3 and 2 days off and 5 days should be work days, but some of them were standby days when they could call you during 11 hours that day to go to work. It happened to me only twice during 2 years but some people were called off every week from standbyes. You have to answer the phone the first time they call you, or you are in trouble. They were even checking us if we answered the phone and most of the time they called me when I was in the shower or taking a pee, literally; or at 4am during the earliest hours of the morning. Not fun if you are insomniac like me and finally manage to fall asleep and they wake you up just to see if you answer the phone. There are many rules saying how many hours you can work and when. I mostly had 12-hour days.
So yes, the lifestyle is busy. And people party a lot, even the pilots and first officers. I used to live with some of them, so I know.
Like I said, you get to travel only during your days off and most of the time I flew somewhere for those 2 or 3 days, unless it was a beach time or someone was visiting me over and I stayed.
5- What advice would you give to someone who wants become a flight attendant?
Drink more [water:)] as on a plane your body dehydrates quicker and also use more body lotions, face and hand creams. And take care of your hair more for the same reason. Every sickness gets worse on board and some of the worst are simple cold, earache and headache. Don’t risk it with bad earache.
Work for an airline with longhaul flights to travel more and stay in nice hotels. Get a lot of patience for some nasty passengers, sexual comments, long looks and butt-snapping, get used to be made fun of or shouted at for no reason. Get used to delays and not making many plans as they will easily change them for you. But at least getting used to hanging out with pilots is cool 😉