Looking to escape the nine to five? Dreaming of traveling to new destinations? A career as a flight attendant may be just the thing for you, but is it as fun as it seems? What’s it really like?

To find out, we spoke with Jennifer Greene, a flight attendant with WestJet Encore.

Workopolis: What’s your career background? Did you work in the travel industry previously?

JG: My background is in customer service; I have worked in banking, fitness, and recruitment but never travel.

Was travel a passion for you? At what point did you think this could be a career for you?

I’ve always loved travelling and thought being a flight attendant would be a cool job, but I actually ended up at this job by fluke. I stumbled on an ad for a flight attendant job and applied, never thinking I would actually even get an interview. But I did and here I am, living the dream.

What sort of training is needed to become a flight attendant?

To become a flight attendant, you generally need to have experience working in some sort of customer service environment. You’re always working with people, so you have to have a pleasant personality and be willing to work hard.

Once you are hired you go through initial training, which is a grueling 5-8 weeks depending on which company hires you. The most important part of training is related to flight safety, and you cover it all, from putting out fires and giving first aid, to evacuating an entire plane in record time. There are regular tests and those who don’t pass are cut immediately, so you really need to be prepared to work and study hard to get through.

What would you say makes a good flight attendant? Are there any skills that you think are particularly important?

A good flight attendant has to have a little bit of everything: you need to be observant, a good communicator and leader, calm under fire, super organized and a stickler for following rules, but you also have to think fast on your feet, and be flexible and ready to roll with the punches – it’s a very unique job.

What is a typical day like for someone in your role? 

A typical day is long – sometimes 12 or more hours. We often do four flights a day, which means boarding, in-flight service, deplaning, cleaning the plane, switching planes, sitting at airports/running in airports, over and over again. Often by the end of the day you don’t know where you are, where you’re going or what day it is, you have to check your schedule to be sure!

What are some of the things you love about your job? What do you dislike?

I love getting to do something different every day, no day is ever the same! Your destinations, the guests you meet, the weather conditions you experience, the crew you’re working with, etc. You never know what’s going to happen and that’s part of the fun.

What I dislike would probably have to be the salary, being a flight attendant will not make you rich – but it’s a very rewarding job regardless.

Are there any misconceptions that travelers have about the industry and your job?

I think a big misconception would be that we don’t care about delays, not true. We only get paid when we’re actually in the air, so if you’re delayed 3 hours at an airport – often so is your crew, and we probably like it even less than you!

About the job specifically I would say people seem to think it’s glamorous or easy – definitely not true! It’s a lot of work and most definitely not glamorous.

What advice would you give job seekers looking to get a career in the airline industry?

Keep applying until you get a call! If working in aviation is your dream don’t give up, be persistent and be willing to work your way up – you’d be surprised how many pilots worked as ground baggage agents or flight attendants before becoming a pilot.

Bonus question: what is your favourite travel destination?

My favourite travel destination is anywhere I haven’t been yet! I love going to new places and rarely go back to the same place twice.

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