” This is why the job is so exciting. The possibilities are limitless. And just when you think you’ve experienced it all, something else wondrously amazing or far-out weird will happen. ” (Ch.10, p.154)
Heather Poole has been a flight attendant for more than fifteen years. Starting as a new hire fresh out of the training academy, being on a standby reserve, working her way out in the seniority ladder, she has seen it all. In Cruising Attitude, a humorous and witty tell-all, she equates flight attendants (FAs) to survivalists. They learn from experience to plan for the unexpected; they scavenge to survive. They are more than just servants who make sure passengers are buckled up and who pour beverages. Her true stories in this colume are testimony to all manner of bad behavior at 35,000 feet and most importantly, reminder that flight attendants are also human and they deserve respect no less than anyone else.
. . . being a flight attendant isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. No matter how many times we try to explain it, most people have a hard time really grasping that the only thing consistent about our lifestyle is just how inconsistent it truly is. (Ch.6, p.97)
As much as we laugh at these stories and as often as we complain about airline’s poor customer service, or the lack thereof, Heather Poole reminds us that flight attendants are trained professionals who play an important role in ensuing passengers’ safety. Unfortunately in the event of delays and other contingency they often take the brunt. Delays affect flight attendants as much as they do passengers, because time on the ground does not count toward a FA’s pay. So next time when your flight is delayed, don’t take it out on the flight crew.
FO-FOs (first on, first off) are easy to spot. Like gate lice, they’ll line up against the wall in front of the boarding door in the airport terminal, impatiently waiting to get on a flight before the flight attendants have even had a chance to do so themselves. They’re also the ones that stand up before the seat belt sign is turned off in order to grab their bags out of the bin, crushing anyone who dares to get in their way as they sprint to the deplaning door. (Ch.12, p.179)
Cruising Attitude is at once hilarious and revealing. Apart from the outward stereotypical impression usually associated to FAs, Poole reveals what goes on behind the scenes, things the passengers would never dream. The book is as much a memoir of her career as a tribute to flight attendants. Upon finishing the book (a big part of which I read on two flights between Los Angeles, Tokyo and Bangkok) I’m more mindful of not taking the flight attendants for granted, because they do have a plate full between balancing their schedule catering to all the needs on board. Beside crazy passengers and crew drama, the book is fairly informative about FA’s job and FAA requirement, rules, and regulations. Many of her stories are especially savory, leaving a deep impression: the preparation of carts for all three cabins in the DC-10’s one and only galley located in the lower level; keeping passengers calm during turbulence; dealing with overhead bin problems. Never to be missed is the obnoxious passengers on the most undesirable route who are in the mind set that whoever yells the loudest wins. Frequent flyer or not, you will find something in this book that resonates with your experience. It covers every aspect of becoming and being a FA.
262 pp. Harper Collins. Paper. [Read/
Skim/ Toss] [Buy/ Borrow]