Cabin crew secrets: Ex BA Flight attendant reveals shocking reality of working in a plane

Cabin crew look after plane passengers on flights, do safety demonstrations and serve food. However, there’s much more to the job of a flight attendant than many people might realise. What’s it really like to have such a position? Ex British Airways cabin manager Simon J Marton explained what it was like during his time onboard in his book Journey of a Reluctant Air Steward. Marton revealed that the reality of cabin crew jobs is not as glamorous as it may seem.

“The appearance of a whole troupe of flight and cabin crew uniformed-up, with neck-scarves, swept-up hair, metal wings, gold stripes and long legs parading through an airport can lead one to think actually it must be glamorous,” wrote Marton.

“To get on a large aircraft that could be taking you anywhere across the globe, ending up next to a swimming-pool, sipping a cocktail and wearing Gucci sunglasses, looking effortlessly beautiful.

“That’s the imagination coupled to a little bit of truth only,” Marton explained.

“Flying is, however, tiring. Exhausting is a more fitting description and fatigue is common, but you just deal with it until you can do it no longer.”

Marton goes onto to tell of a “medical fact” that a colleague had told him about.

“A 40-year-old air hostess had died and the autopsy revealed her organs resembled those of a woman twice her age,” recalled Marton.

“Easy to believe, as flying can be damaging to your health. Cabin air-conditioning systems are packed with bacteria, and the recycled air has been the cause of drowsiness among working cabin crew, while passengers don’t tend to notice as they are sitting down.

“You have a 50 per cent higher risk of contracting one of several types of cancer and, at the very last, long-haul C/As have their circadian rhythm is messed about with weekly.”

It’s not just the impact on health that can be difficult in the role of a flight attendant. “Is it fun? Depends on who you work with on the day, and that could be completely unpredictable,” said Marton.

“You might end up with an introverted misery guts who drains the life from you and you have to work with them for maybe 10 or 12 hours.

“That, however, is unlikely, as cabin crew are chosen for they buoyancy and their energy – they’ll be as happy at the end of a duty as they were when they started.

“The work is pretty straightforward: giving out food, drink and information – oh, and being personally responsible for about fifty people’s overall safety.

“It doesn’t stop there: you have to be a compliance officer a nurse, a listener, a confidante perceptive, art, in-control and an ambassador for the company. Smiling helps a lot.”

Another flight attendant has revealed what they wished passengers knew about cabin crew jobs.

A United Airlines flight attendant explained she wishes passengers understood that crew want the plane to depart on time just as much as the fliers do. 

“We want to take off on time too. We’re all going to the same place,” the cabin crew member told travel site Travel and Leisure.

“We’re all leaving at the same time. I think people tend to be overly rushed. They added: “A little patience and a little kindness goes a long way.”

Another United flight attendant had a similar message for travellers who can get riled up. “Cut us some slack,” the flight attendant told Travel and Leisure. “Be compassionate, because we’re trying to be compassionate towards you.”

Marton also revealed when he would hand out upgrades. It was nothing to do with manners or appearance, as far as he was concerned – it was how much passengers deserved it.

“I was always the one up for upgrading deserving-people, handing out flatbeds, or simply larger seats in short-haul like sweeties,” he said.