Why Flight Attendants Love (And Hate) Summer Flying
Summer is finally upon us! In some places it is still Spring, but I tell you in Rhode Island, where I live, we skipped spring altogether. From coats to tank tops and heat to AC in a matter of two weeks.
With this change in season, comes changes to flying. The routes are different, the crowds are different, and, though it goes without saying, the weather is different. The summer is a special time of year for flight attendants, in both good and bad ways. And today I’m counting down the best and worst things about summer travel, according to flight attendants.
Best Things About Summer Flying,
According to Flight Attendants
Bring it on, Summer!
1. That suitcase is light.
You can finally lift your suitcase without struggle, yay!
Summer is here and that means we can ditch those sweaters, packable coats, and worst of all the boots. Packing for trips in the winter is such a chore and it feels like sweet, lightweight relief to be able to throw a pair of sandals and some tee shirts in your bag and call it a day. Three cheers for a light bag!
2. Better Trips
Who wants to work in the summer? Not me! There are WAY better things to do than be stuck on a plane. When I do have to work, though, I just might get lucky and find myself with better trips than normal.
The thing is, everyone feels the way I do. The summer is the best time to take long weekends boating, hiking, trips to Europe, cookouts with friends, family reunions, lake weekends, beach getaways. The list goes on and on. There is just no time like summertime. Most people want time off in the Summer, but the people who get time off in aviation are senior people.
We’ve talked about seniority plenty here on this blog, but in case you’re new, seniority refers to how long you’ve been working as a flight attendant at your airline. We “bid for”, or request, our schedules and then they are “awarded” or doled out to us in seniority order. In the summertime, when all those senior mamas bid for weeks off to take vacation (or to not deal with summer travelers, which we’ll get to later) that means there are more “senior mama trips” available for the rest of us to work. These are the great work trips, either very productive or with awesome layovers, that everyone wants but only very senior people can hold.
The next level of seniority gets hold of those top tier trips, and the trips they normally work might end up going to someone more junior in turn. And so on and so on. In this way, it is kind of like everyone gets a little seniority boost, and it’s possible to get better trips than you might otherwise be able to get.
3. The sun
This big bonus is most felt by those among us who work turns, and especially those who work long turns. (Remember, a “turn” is when you fly somewhere then turn around and fly right back. There are day turns that happen in the course of a day and red eye turns which are not even legal at all airlines. But at mine they are!) In the wintertime, these turn-n-burn stews basically never see the sun until they have days off. Except from a tiny window at 30,000 feet, of course.
In the summer, though, flight attendants working long 12, 13, 14-hour days can still catch the last glimpse of pink-orange sunset or the early morning rays on their way into work.
I don’t need to tell you guys about seasonal depression or the benefits of the sun on physical and mental health. Let’s just say seeing the sun is a welcome change, and one of the best parts of flying in the summer.
Worst Things About Summer Flying
According To Flight Attendants
Sometimes Summer flying feels like this
1. Summer Travelers
As I mentioned above, it seems like everyone and their mama wants to travel during the summer. For many Americans, travel is too costly in money or time away from work to be able to do it frequently. Between this and kids in school, many individuals and families are only able to travel once a year, in the summer.
I’m in no way dissing once-a-year travelers. I think you should travel when you can, whether it’s a lot or a little, on an airplane or just a road trip to a different city. (You can read more of my thoughts on this in the post Flight Attendants Need to Stop Dissing Low Fares.) With that being said, because people are not used to flying all the time, things are just a little…extra.
We have to explain things more. Where the outlets are. How the TVs work. What’s free and what’s not. The order of service. What drinks and snacks we have. When people are unsure of how things work, flights can feel chaotic, crowds can seem needy, and it can leave flight attendants feeling exhausted.
It isn’t the end of the world and it doesn’t mean we don’t like these amateur travelers. It just makes the whole thing more work. And who likes that?
Again, if you are a once-in-a-while traveler, please don’t take this the wrong way. Keep coming back and flying with us! But read the menu card and the instructions posted on the bathroom door. You’ll be all set.
I will be trying my very best to have patience this summer as the infrequent flyers board more frequently.
I love watching a lightning storm from the comfort of a dry room as much as the next guy, but if you’re traveling (or working as a flight attendant) thunderstorms are absolute hell. Thunder and lightning cause delays for obvious safety reasons. The problem with these storms is they pop up out of nowhere, and sometimes they stick around for a long time. Thunderstorms are more common in the summer because of all the humidity, and if you are trying to fly into or out of somewhere tropical—like Puerto Rico or Florida—fahgettaboutit. Sometimes it happens before boarding, when you’re still in the airport. At least then you have restaurants, shops, and ample bathrooms to use. Sometimes a thunderstorm pops up when you’re fully boarded and ready to go. Then everyone has to sit there on the plane and wait out the storm.
Remember in the Pay Me For Boarding post how I talked about flight attendants not being paid for delays?
Well, thunderstorms are one of the worst delays you can have. There is nothing you can do about it, but you’re stuck there, not being paid. This sucks of course when we have to sit in the airport for free. But when we have to stay on a fully-boarded plane and deal with customers asking questions, or demanding answers, complaining that it’s too hot, requesting beverages, and doing all the other things we SHOULD be getting paid to handle, it is intolerable.
T-storms might just be worse than summer travelers, come to think of it.
3. Broken APUs
Our planes get a lot of use over our busy summer flying season. And due to wear and tear and not enough resting time for maintenance, sometimes things break. This includes the APU—or our Air conditioning system.
You ever work a flight out of Orlando in July with no AC? Unpleasant. 1/5. Do NOT recommend.
And there you have it, folks. The best and worst parts of summer flying. (According to flight attendants.) What is your favorite thing about summer travel? Or your least favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Although there are some struggles, from humidity, to long t-storm delays, to inexperienced summer travelers, this is still my favorite time of year, and I am absolutely PUMPED. Bring it on summer 2022!
As always, thanks for stopping by. Have a safe, happy, & summer-ready weekend!
Hey you. Yes, you!
Welcome and thanks for reading. I’m Toni and I run the show here at AWheelintheSky.com. Here we talk all things travel, flight attendant life, and personal development (woof.) If you liked this post, consider checking out some of the other flight attendant content on the site. You can start with these:
Into travel tips? Try these:
Personal development & oozing vulnerability? I know, right, why? But, if so, check out one of these posts:
If you enjoy any or all of the above, please consider subscribing to keep up with the latest travel tips & juicy insider stories. (And to get some extra, more personalized messages from me!)
I’d be thrilled to have you.