Updated: Nov 14, 2018
“What Do You Get A Flight Attendant For The Holidays?”
For the past four years I've been moonlighting as a flight attendant. What started out as a weekend warrior side hustle and a way to travel on someone else's dime has turned into a pretty epic adventure. It's my part time secret life; The Clark Kent to my Superman. Or is that the other way around? Nevertheless, this is me stripping in a phone booth, ditching my glasses, and letting my cape out to fly. EXPOSED. When people from my “other life” find out, I get a thousand questions ranging from “have you ever busted anyone having sex on a plane?” to “what do I get my friend who’s a flight attendant for Christmas, I mean he’s never around?” GREAT QUESTIONS! I thought, why not share some of my insight and personal experiences. I’m happy to help, so considering the season let’s tackle that second question, shall we?...and don’t worry I will totally address sex on a plane in a future post. I call myself “The Accidental Flight Attendant.” How the hell did I get up here? Seriously?! That’s a story for another day... I’m writing this post in my hotel room in Seattle, sipping my coffee, and channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw (minus the cigarette), but totally pantless and rocking some serious morning hair.
In the words of Carrie Bradshaw... I had to wonder: what do you get the flight attendant in your life who only truly wants your presence as a present? You can call it corny or even lame but it's true.
I would give anything to not cancel your Christmas party invite for the third year in a row. It makes me sick to think of my entire family waiting to start Thanksgiving dinner because I'm delayed in Albuquerque with a broken airplane. In the airline industry unless you’ve been working for a legacy carrier during Nixon’s presidency you most likely work one or more of the major holidays. ( And to the asshole reading this who just said “NOT ME, I get every holiday off and great trips!” BLA BLA BLA. SHUT IT KAREN, OKAY. NOBODY CARES AND EVERYONE DROPS YOUR TRIPS BECAUSE YOU’RE A NIGHTMARE TO WORK WITH & WE’RE SICK OF HEARING ABOUT YOUR GLUTEN ALLERGY! )
Growing up with a mother who was a registered nurse, I became used to a chaotic schedule. We would adjust holidays all of the time. We often celebrated Christmas on the 23rd and I can recount numerous New Year’s Eves when my mother would rush through the door, still in her work scrubs seconds before Dick Clark would say, “3, 2, 1, HAPPY NEW YEAR,” while the crystal ball dropped on the television. Seriously, she perfected the dramatic entrance. Then, about four minutes later my dad would kiss us both goodnight and head to bed. My mother and I would continue to dance and sing in the living room with our party hats and noisemakers drinking Martinelli's and eating frozen pizza. Honestly, I wouldn't trade those memories for a thousand fancy parties.
More than material things, I want memories. I want to get dressed up with the guy I'm totally falling in love with but haven’t had the balls to tell him yet and watch the tree lighting with his friends and family instead of FaceTiming him from my hotel room. Celebrate Hanukkah dinner with the Gellman crew and eat all the Challah bread my body can handle, fall into a catatonic carb coma while everyone prays and lights “Baby's First Menorah”. Laugh while my niece stuffs her face with a plate full of mashed potatoes and tries to whistle like I did when I was her age. I want invites to your social gatherings, even if we both know I'll only be able to drop by for twenty minutes. Trust me, I want to say yes to that gin and tonic but because I’ll be in uniform and racing to the airport it will be a giant disappointing “No thanks, I have to work tonight”. I want to know that I'm still a part of your life when I'm out in the sky. That in truth is all I really want.
However, in the spirit of commercializing a season built on love, family and charity. Let’s talk about getting your gifting game on, that’s what you really came here for. So if you feel the need for brown paper packages tied up in string, and if tinsel and twinkle lights are illuminating your soul and you just can't contain your inner Buddy the Elf instincts, then here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Starbucks gift card:
Yes, it's completely unoriginal but here's the thing. Starbucks are in 99% of airports and usually within walking distance from most hotels. Flight Attendants, Pilots, Gate Agents and Group Ops run on coffee and if we are all caffeined up for the day there is always a snack pack, sandwich or salad available. Eating on the road suck and Starbucks gets a thumbs up in my book.
2. Reading materials:
Barnes and Noble gift cards, a Kindle, or a subscription to Audible are all great choices to help us keep up on our jump seat reads. Even a magazine subscription or two would be a great choice. I'm personally partial to Entertainment Weekly and any sort of comedy biography.
3. Travel clothing/gear:
REI, Patagonia, UniQlo, and Columbia are all great places to start. Layers and items that are easily compatible and space saving are great gifts and just smart travel gear in general. I've had my UniQlo Ultra lightweight down jacket for four years now and it's a staple in my suitcase on all of my travels. Hands down one of the best investments and I'm sure I’ll pick up another one on of my next Portland layover. Got to love tax free shopping!
4. Lunch box stuff:
Nine times out of ten I'm dying for a hot meal, especially after living on four days worth of salads in my lunch box. HotLogic makes a mini portable hot plate that won't kick you over the weight limit and lets you heat up your grandma’s leftovers while on the road. I'm also a big fan of Tupperware with built in ice packs and Alkaline water bottles with built in purifiers.
5. Tech gadgets:
Selfie sticks with built-in remote controls, phone charging cords that light up when your device is fully charged, phone cases with built-in backup batteries, and Tiles to help us find our keys ....or cars for that matter. Our phones and tablets are our lifeline and keep us connected to the people we love and miss the most. Aka: YOU.
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING COMPACT!
As one of my fellow flight attendant friends says, “We live a 3oz life” and it’s true. We travel constantly and on our days off most of the time we are traveling to see friends, family and lovers because we want to take advantage of the benefits we works so hard and sacrifice so much to have. So when we are grounded it’s a lot of rinse, refill and repeat. Anything that's a compact size is a jackpot gift to us.
1. HAND AND FEET WARMERS. (Seriously lifesavers for winter red eyes)
2. Hand sanitizer, wet wipes. (Because everything is gross....EVERYTHING)
3. Room spray and travel sized perfume. NON AEROSOL...because we don't want the smoke alarm going off in the Lav. Apparently, everyone got together and decided the perfect time to take a dump is right when you get on a plane.
4. Zipper travel bags or even zip lock bags. (Perfect for toiletries, dirty laundry, shower shoes etc.)
5. Compression stockings, copper socks. Circulation is super important and protecting our sexy stems starts with the right leg wear.
Hope this gives you a little insight on what your flight attendant friends really want this holiday season. The support and understanding of a crazy lifestyle and three days worth of thanksgiving leftovers in awesome new insulated Tupperware. Love, attention, patience and a portable power supply. Cheers to stocking up on travel size shampoos and stealing a few extra mini tubes of toothpaste at your next dentist appointment. Most importantly, while we are up in the air it’s nice to know someone on the ground is always thinking of us. Till next time. Fly safe birds.
Love, LJ, The Accidental Flight Attendant