When thinking about flight attendants it’s easy to imagine that every layover is like a vacation, paid for by the company, at the swankiest hotel possible. And I won’t lie, yes, sometimes that happens, and you feel obliged to post one of those “I’m getting paid for this” pictures of you lying on a beach with a pina colada.
However, more often than not, layovers are too short to go visit the local beach, or the hotel is in an area where there’s not much to walk to. So what is the typical layover really like then? Well, I’m glad you didn’t ask cause I’m going to tell you anyway!
For my company layovers have to be eight hours or longer. But most layovers are around ten to twelve hours long. And that clock starts ticking as soon as the boarding door opens. So if you spy a flight attendant checking their watch as you slowly grab your jacket and stretch before disembarking, it’s because they are counting down the minutes they are losing on their layover. Now, most planes empty fairly quickly, so we typically don’t lose any more than twenty or thirty minutes.
Once the plane is empty, and we’ve collected our belongings, and done our final walk through we head towards the hotel van pick up spot. Depending on how far away the hotel is and how traffic is, it might take us five minutes or thirty minutes to get there. We check in and then, finally, have a bed to flop down on.
If we have time, usually more than fifteen hours, and the crew is cool, we’ll likely make plans to go out and explore somewhere. Ubers are much easier to accept from a budget standpoint when you have three other people to split it with. (Also, shout out to Uber, you are a flight attendants best friend). If it’s a really long layover we get to sleep until we are rested and still go out and explore. Those are by far the most coveted layovers.
If we don’t have time, less than say thirteen hours, likely we’l l eat some dinner, have a drink if that’s your sort of thing, watch some tv, iron our uniforms, and then go to bed. Short layovers can be tricky, as sometimes it takes a while to wind down after a long day, and if delays have shortened the layover to the minimum eight hours, chances are you’ll be getting minimal sleep.
What between getting to the hotel, winding down, falling asleep, waking up, getting ready, and getting to the airport, those eight hour layovers usually result in five to six hours actual sleep. For some people that’s fine, for others (*cough* myself *cough*) that’s about half as much as I need to feel rested.
While that does suck, especially when you just really want to sleep, when it really comes down to it, I just really enjoy being someplace new. And I think that’s important with this job. You need to enjoy simply being somewhere different, not necessarily somewhere exciting and snapchat worthy. Otherwise you’ll be rather disappointed in what this life offers you.
But then, on the flip side of that I did get to spend twenty-five hours in Dublin enjoying the city and the complimentary wine for crew members, so yeah, sometimes layovers are a bit like a vacation. As with anything, this life has its good and bad moments.