As abruptly as an F-16 takes off, people question my career at social gatherings. Despite wanting to pretend I’m a heli pilot in Switzerland or diving instructor in Australia, I admit I work for an airline. Once the truth settles like dust upon the tarmac, I slide into fuzzy slippers and grab a first class cocktail. I am in for an earful of precious travel
nightmares, memories from Zambia to Newark. These hounds spew unprovoked airline stories on me, like de-icing fluid sprayed upon bubble shaped windows. Why do we assume this process seamless? Handsome Harry’s, pretty Penelope’s, we are flying! These metal cans, as my friend describes them stay in the air most often, which I think frankly magical.
While vacationing the job inquiry depletes my holiday spirits, like a siphon from an Embraer fuel tank. To avoid appearing on the news by going “airline” and embarrassing my mom, I smile politely and listen as passengers jab at the industry. My job does not define my heart or character, it provides the opportunity to pursue my passion to travel.
The next time you fly, please take care to remember the bodies resembling people behind the ticket counter and gate podiums are real live humans. Some even have hearts attached to their procedural hands, tied to enforced rules. We are the face of the carrier who provide our benefits and your ticket out of dodge. After 5 years and 343 days in the industry, I still don’t have the jet power to control the weather, WiFi speed or ATC.
People enjoy sharing fiascos. When passing Foie Gras at high end functions, I have overheard sagas of flights from dancers in Nantucket brights, elevating above decibels from the band. When ski instructing, travel tales of woe trickle down my ear canal, slowly like a Joey snow plowing on green terrain. We all complain at times how the industry operates, but it is amazing what these tubes do, allowing us to see the world.
Irregular travel adventures make it real, memorable, fun. Seamless trips are like middle seats. I think if we all, myself included embraced the irregular operations in this lifetime, we would be better equipped for life’s unexpected turbulence.