7 Things I Learned Working as a Flight Attendant

I had the incredible experience of working as a Flight Attendant for a brief year and a half. I left the job because I moved down to California from Vancouver and there was no base where I moved to. It was a hard thing to do because even after all of the sleepless nights and sleepless flights, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Lately I’ve been thinking back on flights I had worked on and looking at pictures from layovers. I’ve been thinking a lot about my whole time as an FA (flight attendant) and I decided to write a post on some of the things I’ve learned. Before getting the job, I had an idea about what the job would entail. But from my actual experience, I learned quite a bit from working up in the sky. Here are 7 things I learned while working as a flight attendant:

1. Learned to sleep whenever I had the chance

Nessa Carreira
Before leaving the hotel in Hong Kong

There were plenty of early mornings where I’d wake up with a phone call at 4am for a flight. I’m not a morning person but for work I had to jump out of bed, make coffee and drive over to the airport to start my day. On long haul flights we would sometimes have an opportunity to rest a bit but it usually wasn’t enough. On a layover, we normally had enough time for at least 6 hours of sleep. But from the moment you leave your house to the moment you come back home, sleep is something you desperately hope to have on your trip.

2. Learned that I wouldn’t always get holidays and special dates off

Flight attendants get to pick days out of the month and bid them off. But the days you want are never guaranteed until the schedule comes out. Usually if it’s a regular day of the month, there is not problem getting that day off. But if it’s a holiday and your seniority isn’t very high, it won’t be as easy. If you don’t end up getting a holiday or important day, you do have a lot of time to make it up to your loved ones.

3. Learned I’d have my go to spots on layovers

Nessa Carreira
A layover at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

Once you fly to a city often enough, you begin to have favourite spots which you look forward to going to during your time there. Whether it’s a coffee shop or a favourite restaurant, even the people who work there start recognizing you. For example: In Sydney, I loved getting a smoothie bowl from a cool little place called “Proteini Cafe”. In Delhi, we loved to go to “Hauz Khas Social” for some food and drinks. I’m already missing these places! Also being able to pick up products from other parts of the world was always convenient. I love the Bondi Sands Tanning products from Australia and now my flight attendant friends will have to grab them for me.

4. Learned that FA training is more difficult than expected

I never imagined that the training for a position as a flight attendant would be so strenuous. I also didn’t know how much of safety procedures went into training. I had read that it was difficult but I never imagined how difficult. Our training with Air Canada was seven weeks long and you had to pass every exam with 90%. If you fail an exam you have another chance to pass. It is very stressful at times but you have the greatest support from your teachers and classmates. Everyone pushes each other to make it to the end. The biggest and hardest part of training is the first few weeks of “Safety”. It includes; Firefighting and Emergency Landing Procedures to name a few. Once the intense weeks of safety have gone by, you move onto the final week of “Service”. Once I got to the service training, I was confident it would go well because of my previous job working at a restaurant. Next time you’re on a flight, just appreciate how much these flight attendants have to know and pass in order to be there in that uniform. I can tell you that it is definitely not just serving coffee and snacks! If anything were to ever happen up there, know that you’re in good hands and that they would be your best bet at staying alive! Harsh but true.

5. Learned that my coworkers and I would become close friends

Nessa Carreira
My friend Courtney and I in between flights. You can look through all of her amazing travel photos on her Instagram page! @courtneyyroyerr

I became close to people I had done my training with. We spent pretty much everyday together, we carpooled and we stressed about exams together. You end up becoming so close that you go on trips with them and if you’re lucky you work together on flights. On the flights, working as a team is very important. There needs to be great communication as safety is ultimately why we’re up there. You have a little bit of down time up in the air in between services so you really get to know the people you work with in a short amount of time. If you’ve got the whole week off and you want to go travelling, who of your friends will have the same time off? A flight attendant of course!

6. Learned to be a smart packer

Before this job, I more often than not overpacked. I just needed my options, you know? I’ve done a lot of travelling but I think becoming a flight attendant really helped me become a smart packer. First, my luggage was basically the size of a carry on and I had to have everything in there. Sometimes I knew I had a shorter trip so it made it easier. But on days that I was called for work and had 20 minutes to get myself ready and somewhat pack for possibly 6 days? Not so easy. Basically I had to have a strategy for quick and easy packing and by the end of my year and a half as a flight attendant, I had a pretty good system.

7. Learned that I love my alone time

A layover at South Bank Parklands in Brisbane, Australia

I was never one to be locked up in my room by myself on the weekends. I’ve always been a people person and being surrounded by people gave me double the energy I already had. When you’re on these layovers for work, there are times when you get along really well with your crew and so you plan stuff to do for your layover together. And other times when the crew feels like relaxing or doing their own thing, you end up having a lot of alone time. At first I thought I’d get tired of being on my own. But I completely surprised myself and actually started to look forward to my time alone. If I had a maybe less exciting destination, I’d bring a face mask, a bath bomb and really enjoy my me time with a book or Netflix.


Nessa Carreira
The Great Wall of China on my Beijing layover
Nessa Carreira
The Taj Mahal on my Delhi layover
Nessa Carreira
The Sydney Opera House on one of my Sydney layovers
Nessa Carreira
At the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary on a Brisbane layover

I never thought I’d be able to see the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal, but this job has given me some amazing opportunities. I had always wanted to visit Sydney, Australia and I’m so happy that I got more than one opportunity to go! No matter what I went through with training or having to sometimes miss holidays, birthdays or important dates, it is SO worth it. And I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Who knows If I’ll ever work in the sky again, but I’m glad I decided to go for it. I had no idea I’d love it as much as I did. I made some amazing friends, travelled to the most unreal places and learned so much about myself.

Nessa Carreira
Before my very last operating flight to Hong Kong




“Travelling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – IBN Battuta

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