Flight Attendants on the Ground: What We Do Between Flights

Sep 24, 2017

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TPG’s favorite Flight Attendant Insider Carrie A. Trey is back, this time with some insight as to what goes on between flights.

The stress of being an airborne beverage engineer/therapist/nurse/cleaner/caregiver can be a lot to handle and there are any number of things we crew members do between flights. On quick turns when we’re flying within the US, intra-Europe or intra-Asia, we’ll try to grab a quick coffee or a bite to eat — and if we’re lucky, a cat nap — while the ground staff clean the aircraft. But how about during longer stops? Here’s a look at some of the things we usually do.

Enjoy Special Perks Just for Crew Members

Many airlines have started opening up crew-only facilities at hub airports. While crew lounges have been a fixture at airports for years, many now also offer gyms and even spas! Who wouldn’t love getting a mani/pedi between flights or running off some of that stress on the treadmill? Almost every airport I’ve flown through offers crew discounts, so of course we love to do a bit of shopping as well. Brussels Airport (BRU) takes the cake here though, with a crew-only duty free shop that can only be accessed from the tarmac — the crew smoking lounge is right next door and is quite the social hub. The KLM Crew Centre in Amsterdam (AMS) has gorgeous high-ceilings and a light, airy feeling about it, perfect for enjoying a coffee between flights, while the Emirates Crew Centre in Dubai (DXB) has a Duty-Free shop with steeply discounted prices (AMS has one, too).

Many crew-only lounges also have sleeping rooms with big, cozy recliners in case you fancy a nap before your next hop, and will have bathrooms fully stocked with toiletries, irons and everything else you’d need to spruce up before you get back in the air. Crew lounges also have special rooms where FAs can be briefed before they begin a trip — usually in a large room with conference tables or a screen on the wall displaying pertinent information about the crew and flight ahead.

Treat Ourselves to a Great Meal

We love to eat, and airline food can only be so good, as I’m sure you know by now. Here are some of my favorite airports to grab a bite.

  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS): Home to great cafés, cold beer — when we’re not on duty, of course — amazing fresh juices and delicious sushi at the Albert Heijn Market.
  • Athens International Airport (ATH): I absolutely love the moussaka and kebabs served in the food court here — get even them put in a to-go box to enjoy on the plane and make everyone around you jealous.
  • Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK): There are so many spots scattered throughout the airport if you wan to get that last Pad Thai or curry, and all of them are just so delish! Silom Village on the departures level is a personal favorite — get the wicked mango and sticky rice to go.
  • Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup (CPH): Another great food court, including iconic Danish bakery chain Lagkagehuset, a great spot to grab a delicious sandwich on the go. There’s also YO! Sushi, perfect if you have a slightly longer layover and are craving something fishy.
  • Los Angeles International (LAX): If you’re lucky enough to be puttering about Terminal 5, stop by the Lemonade outlet, which serves up delicious fresh salads, main dishes and of course, lemonade.
  • Mexico City International (MEX): Visit the fabulous food court in Terminal 2 before security, where you can get fresh tamales and delicious chilaquiles before you go.
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (JFK): Terminal 4 has recently undergone a massive renovation and now includes not one but two Shake Shack outlets. A burger and a shake instead of chicken or beef? Yes, please!

Do the Old Slam-Click

A ubiquitous term within the airline industry, slam-clicking refers to the practice of slamming your hotel door, clicking the lock behind you and not making an appearance again until it’s time to go back to work. Sometimes you just need a little me time between flights and when you do, SLAM CLICK! What happens behind said hotel door, you’ll never know…

Slam-click = do not disturb. Image by Bruno Levesque/IP3/Getty Images.
Translation: do not disturb. Image by Bruno Levesque/IP3/Getty Images.

Keep Up With Training

As you know all too well, the only constant in the airline industry seems to be change. For us, keeping up with all the changes in the way we do service requires a lot of work, what with all the new products being offered and the old products being discontinued. To keep us all up-to-date, in addition to our annual visits to the training center, flight attendants are required to do computer based training modules — or CBTs as they’re referred to at most airlines — throughout the year. They can often only be completed on a computer located in a crew lounge, so a few hours between flights is the perfect time to bang out a few.

Clean Up Shop

Depending on what carrier we fly for, some of us are tasked with cleaning the cabin. In that case, as soon as you’re off the plane, it’s into the aisle we go to try to get things tidied up and ready for the next group of passengers. This is a task we try to do as quickly and efficiently as possible, with the end goal of having time for a little snooze before our next guests board.

Do you have a question for Carrie A. Trey? Let us know in the comments, below.

Featured image by Sergei BobylevTASS/Getty Images.

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