I get a lot of questions from people when they find out I am a flight attendant. The one I get asked the most is "do you have to pay for your own hotel rooms when you are working?"
I had never really thought about that before I started this job since in the movies the flight attendants always look happy and fabulous. I guess I just assumed either their company did pay for them, or they were paid well enough that they didn't have to worry about it.
Well once I started and I found out how much we all really make, it seems silly to me that people would even think that I could afford hotel rooms each night. However, the company only pays for the hotel rooms when we are working...
This means nothing if you happen to be one of the few flight attendants who live where they are based. The rest of us commute and that is a whole different ball game.
This may seem outrageous to those who do not work in the field, but a lot of people choose not to live in the same city or state as their job. Being able to hop on any flight with open seats seems to make flight attendants and pilots think they are superman and can do anything they want to. When I was based in Cincinnati, I flew with a lot of people who wanted to live by their families, stay where they grew up or just hated the Cincinnati area and didn't want to live there. A lot of people here in New York, think it is too expensive and refuse to move or relocate their families here.
Commuting is where you get on a flight and fly to work before you start your trip and fly home after you clock out (like any commute into work only we are on planes instead of driving our cars). Depending on when your trip starts, this could mean getting up extra early to catch a flight (which makes for really long days) or even coming up the night before. Since we are not working when commuting up, where you stay is on you... the crew member. Some of my fellow flight attendants get hotel rooms, others sleep in the crew lounge and some get crash pads. Since I am on reserve and can not guess how many nights I will need to stay in NYC each month, I have gone the crash pad route, again.
I know some of you are thinking... "What is a Crash Pad?" Well, basically it is a place to crash when you need it. During my time as a flight attendant I have had 5 different crash pads around the Queens area. I've been in big 40 people houses in Kew Gardens to an 8 person apartment in Howard Beach and even one in the "ghetto". I had 4 in my room and lived with 10 girls in a top loft, a shower that you couldn't stand up in because the roof sloped and a mechanic that woke my up one morning by slapping me on the butt.
What makes a good crash pad to one person can be the breaking point for another so you basically have to figure out what you can and can not live without.
For me, I have ended up in Howard Beach with a smaller crashpad of 8 flight attendants. I lived in the sorority house in college and prefer a place without the drama or the mess of the dorms. I traded being in Kew Gardens with tons of things to do and places to eat for a smaller place with less choices. I also decided that the bus is not for me when I carry 3 large bags to work... I prefer to drag my bags on and off the airtrain. I can handle a top bunk and sharing my room with the occasional snoring room mate.
However, the most important part is having a friend or two in the same place as you are. My Bff at work and I chose the same crashpad to stay in. So, even though I come up to work on my days off, or have to share a space and spend nights in a place that isn't home... it makes it feel more like a home when you are around people you like. :)
(I thought I should write this post before I give up my crashpad for the last time to move up here to NYC... Hopefully I wont have to get a 6th.)