Senior Mama Life: Flight Attendant Seniority

In the world of commercial aviation, seniority is everything. 

Simply put, seniority is how long you've been with the company. 
(Generally, as long as you remain an active employee, you accrue seniority.) 
Your seniority increases over time and as the company hires new Flight Attendants, or as people above you retire or leave for greener pastures. 

Your pay is determined by your seniority. Your schedule is determined by your seniority.
  Your cartel status is determined by your seniority.

Since your pay and your schedule pretty much dominate your life, seniority rules all.

At my company, seniority also often determines which position you'll be working on the aircraft. At our international briefings, we select positions in seniority order. 
While on reserve, our days off are (theoretically) assigned in seniority order, and if you want to bid for a specific trip that's open, it's assigned in seniority order. 

And when you get assigned a sweet trip  where all the other Flight Attendants are super senior and know each other, this is what it looks like. 

I've written about Reserve Life before, and I'm finally starting to accrue enough seniority that I can "hold" a few weekends off every month, which is good because I have about a million weddings to attend this summer and fall. 
The more senior you are, the less likely you are to have to sit Reserve, and the more likely you are to have a "line", or a set schedule for the coming month. 
(Some airlines have assigned reserve days each month instead of full reserve months or years.)

Our May schedules came out earlier this week, and a few people I know who are only a couple of years senior to me managed to snag lines. I was thrilled for them!

Someday I will know this feeling. Rotating Reserve, you can't get over to us fast enough.

At my company, to be considered really "senior" you have to have at LEAST 30 years of flying under your belt. 
That's where you can start to hold good trips, maybe get Christmas off (if you're lucky), and you become what we call a "Senior Mama". 

Yes. Thirty. Years. 

They will never retire. Never give up, never surrender. It's a LIFESTYLE, people.

Senior Mamas (and Senior Papas) can be really intimidating to new hire Flight Attendants because they often come with a reputation for being... testy.

In my experience, Senior Mamas aren't scary as long as you treat them with respect. 
They've been doing this longer than I've been alive, so when I was a new hire I'd always make sure to ask them to tell me if they saw me doing something wrong. 
Having a little humility goes a long way. 
It's also important to remember that if they've been doing this job for so long, they really do know a thing or two about how to do it.
True, as in any job there are people who are having a bad day, or who just don't want to be at work, or who are just in a bad mood. Not everyone is going to be nice all the time. That's life.

If you're not even off probation yet, don't act like you know everything about Flight Attending. 
You know the manual and the newest procedures, which is so important, but the Senior Mamas are the ones who are going to have you covered when the emergency bells start dinging. 

If you're a passenger, don't be that jerk who assumes Flight Attendants should be 22 years old, blonde, and a size zero. 
Amazing Crew Members come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.

Some of the coolest coworkers I've flown with have been old enough to be my parent or grandparent, but they're the ones I'm going out to pubs with in Dublin and Brussels. 

They're the ones making sure we don't miss out on cool layover experiences, like renting a car and driving out to the Hoover Dam. 

Senior Mamas know how to work, and they know how to have a good time. 
On a lot of trips, they're the ones leading the charge to the Tiki Bar when I'm just trying to keep my eyes open.

Someday I'll have enough seniority to be cool....and hold Paris. 

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