I was really upset when the TV show Pan Am was cancelled. It reminded me of my flying days and all those former Pan Am ladies I had the pleasure to work with. They were the “real” flight attendants—smart, beautiful, and classy. I was jealous of all the stories they told me—all the het-setting, suitors from different parts of the world, eating and shopping in exotic cities. One ex-Pan Am flight attendant I worked with told me the glory of her flight attendant years, how the service back then was so much more elaborate than during my time, and her most famous quote, “We were called stewardesses back then not flight attendants.” I suppose the word “stewardess” had more of that classy appeal than a “flight attendant.” I wonder why it was even changed when the stewardesses back then preferred to be called stewardess anyway! I’m not sure if the word had any anti- feminist connotation hence the change in the wording.
I actually hated the job in the beginning. I hated all the obnoxious people I met. I hated some of the airhead flight attendants I flew with. Most of all I hated the short layovers and long trips I did. But now, when I look back, it was actually the best job any twenty-something girl could ever have. And why not? I worked two or three days a week, layover in the best hotels, and had free passes (well, almost) to any destination in the world! My first vacation as a flight attendant was to Paris. I brought my mom with me and we stayed at my uncle’s house. It was my first time to Europe and I fell in love with the whole continent!
The job allowed me to experience and see the world. One of the many perks was flying to any city I desired any time. I once packed my bags to visit Tel Aviv, Israel, without any planning. I met Jacob who was from there and knowing I had a place to stay, it became easier to visit. (I met Jacob through my boyfriend who had a business trip to Munich during Octoberfest where I tagged along him and luckily I had a few days off when he went). In one of their business dinners, he brought me with him and there I met Jacob. He invited us to visit him to Tel Aviv but of course my boyfriend, having a “normal” job, couldn’t take off anytime he wished. I had that privilege and I’m glad I took advantage of it. I also vacationed with my parents all over Europe in two occasions and for me, it was pure joy to be able to do that for them. I visited New York many times just to party or hang out with my cousin and her friends. By my third year flying, the job had definitely opened my eyes to the world, learning different cultures, tasting different foods, and meeting so many interesting people. By then, all the benefits of the job had outweighed the bad.
I quit flying when my boyfriend and I got married. But before that, we both flew to Italy for our honeymoon. By the way, one of the many perks was flying First Class anywhere in North America, and Business Class around the world (when space was available and back then they were always available). Then we moved to Tokyo where my husband was sent by his company as the liaison between Japan (and most of Asia) and the Americas. I didn’t regret quitting my job because we were going to live in a different country and just like being a flight attendant, it was also an adventure. Although, now, I do miss flying in a whim!
My life in Tokyo was a whole different story to tell. But that’s another blog post to write.