Ten Tips for New Hire Flight Attendants

Last week, my base welcomed our first round of New Hires in almost two years. 
Those of us at the bottom of the seniority ladder are SO EXCITED they're here. 
These new kids improve our chances of holding weekends off, getting trips we want, and they bump us up closer to the mythical "line holder" seniority level we've been dreaming of for two years. 

Ten Tips for New Hire Flight Attendants:

1. Get a distinctive ringtone for Crew Scheduling.

I went with the theme from "Archer" because it always feels like they're sending me on missions. The downside is that I now can't watch Archer without having a mini panic attack when the theme plays. Chose a ringtone or song that you don't mind ruining as an anxiety trigger for the rest of your life.

2. Be physically active.

The thing that surprised me the most when I started this job was just how physical it is. Walking miles dragging bags in high heels, lifting bags, hauling 300lb carts, getting down on the ground to fix things, and more. That activity plus the sheer physical task of traveling all. the. time. makes this job a very physically tasking one.
When you factor in the physical requirements of an emergency situation on top of the day to day haul, you need to be physically fit to do this job well.
Get some cardio in at the hotel gym, eat fruits and vegetables (that have not been fried), and get as much walking in as possible during your layovers.

3. Explore new things during your layovers and in your base.

You need to make sleep a priority, but when you're in a new city you should get out and EXPLORE! My go-to move is getting to the hotel, changing into a weather appropriate outfit, and using Yelp to find a place to get some good food within a mile or two of my hotel. I'll then map walking directions to that food place. Depending on the area, I'll check with the front desk of the hotel to see if the route is safe and walkable, and then I venture out! 
Tip: to look like a local instead of a tourist, pop some headphones in, but keep the volume low enough that you can still clearly hear everything going on around you. 

In your new base, ask co-workers where you should live/eat/play and don't be afraid to use modern technology to help! I picked up a nice young man on my second night in Philly thanks to a popular dating app, and now we've been dating for two years. There are multiple apps to help you make new friends in cities too!

One of my goals for 2017 is to eat Ramen in every city possible.

4. Try to save a little money for the slower months.

During the summer we fly more and therefore make more money. During the winter months there are fewer flights and less money. Plan accordingly.

5. Download your monthly schedules at the end of the month.

For tax purposes, you need to know every single layover you had all year. The simplest way is to just keep track every single month.

6. Always screenshot your pairing/sequence at the start of a trip.

Sometimes Crew Scheduling likes to pull some shady stuff. Make sure you have a record of what you were actually assigned so that you can pay claim/ sort things out.

7. Learn your computer system and your contract inside and out.

Crew Schedulers are human. They make mistakes just like we all do. They'll try to give you trips you're illegal for. They'll try to assign things out of order, simply because they don't know any better.
Be ready to question things respectfully by asking what page of your contract allows what's happening. If something seems incorrect, ask about it! Know how to use your computer system to bid

8. Create a packing system that works for you. 

You will lose your mind and all your stuff if you don't have a place for everything so that you can make sure everything is in it's place before you check out of your hotel room.
I have some suggestions for how to make that happen as a Flight Attendant.

9. Rely on your co-workers and ASK QUESTIONS if you aren't sure about something.

We all remember our first working flight. We all remember what it was like to feel unsure. Ask other flight attendants for help or to explain things to you if you're confused. Whether that's on the aircraft, in the galley, in the crew room, in a briefing, or at home when scheduling assigns you something that doesn't feel right. Use your resources! Reach out to your coworkers on Facebook if you can't find one nearby in person- there are so many people who will help you get this right. Just please don't bring your notes from training on your first flight. You'll look like a dork.

10. You are not alone, this is an overwhelming life change.

Becoming a Flight Attendant isn't just starting a new job. It's starting a new job in a new city, away from your support system at home, in a high pressure environment, where people's lives are in your hands. To top it off, you're never sure where you'll be when and you're constantly in motion. 
Everything feels strange and new and exciting, but it can also produce a lot of anxiety and sadness.

This is a big deal. It can be really hard, but you aren't alone. Every single FA flying has been through what you're going through.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your friends or to senior flight attendants to ask for advice or help.
We want you to succeed and we want you to flourish- we're a family connected by wings. 

A Weekend in Ireland

Two years ago, when I first started my job as a Flight Attendant, the very first trip I was assigned to work was Dublin. 
When Scheduling called me, I was asleep. When I heard the word "Dublin" I asked "Like....Dublin, Ohio?" confused, because as far as I knew Dublin, Ohio doesn't have an airport and I also couldn't fathom getting sent to IRELAND for my first work trip. 

I had a great crew and had a lovely time. It was a phenomenal first trip, especially as I'd never  been to Ireland before. 

This weekend I returned to the country with my lovely partner in tow, and we had a wonderful time!

We left Philly on Thursday night, landed at Shannon airport on Friday morning, rented a car and drove straight to the Cliffs of Moher. 

After spending a few hours at the Cliffs, we continued on to Galway, where we stayed with a very generous friend of Martin's who also happens to be an Archaeologist there.
(SO COOL, right?!?!?)
Friday night and Saturday we were shown around Galway by an expert tour guide/ archaeologist, and on Sunday we got up bright and early to head back to Shannon for our flight home. 

It was definitely a whirlwind adventure, and I wouldn't recommend it for less experienced travelers, but Martin and I are old pros so it suited us just fine. 

A few observations and a list of things I learned on this visit:

1. Flying in and out of Shannon was SUPER simple. DO IT.
Shannon is a much smaller airport in a much smaller city than Dublin. If you're adventuring on your own rather than with a tour group, that can make your life a LOT easier. Customs lines are shorter when you arrive and when you leave.

2. Renting a car was straightforward, and driving on the "wrong" side of the road was fairly easy.
Let me be clear, Martin did all of the driving because the car had a manual transmission and I can't drive stick shift, no matter which side of the road we're supposed to be on. 
 The hardest part was how NARROW the roads were. 
It was worth it to be able to set our own schedule and not have to rely on busses to get everywhere we needed to go. It was also less expensive than buying bus tickets for two adults everywhere.

3. Americans were EVERYWHERE.
There are SO many cultural connections between the United States and Ireland that this shouldn't be surprising, but WOW. So. Many. Americans.

4. Everyone was SO NICE.
Seriously, from the car rental people to the bar tenders to the random strangers we befriended at pubs, everyone was so friendly and pleasant through the trip. 

5. Ireland is super obsessed with JFK.
There were tributes to President Kennedy everywhere we went. In the airport, in the Claddagh Museum, on street corners, in Galway Cathedral. EVERYWHERE. 
Now, I have a working knowledge of the relevant history here, but I was still surprised by the degree to which Ireland showed the love for "their" US President. As a New Englander and as a Democrat, it kind of felt like running into an old friend every time we'd stumble across a tribute to him.

6. Everyone has a cousin or five on the East Coast, and everyone loves Boston.
Usually when I travel, no one has any idea where Vermont is. In Ireland, most locals we met had a working knowledge of the geography of the East Coast AND they'd visited Boston. 
Everybody we met there just loves Bean Town. 

7. The food was AMAZING. 
Everything I ate was delicious. I had amazing fish chowder and then the best gin flavored ice cream. The end.

Contemplating the delicious Fish Chowder I had just eaten.

8. Ireland is the most castleated country in the world.
Ireland has more castles than anywhere else. Our resident archaeologist pal taught us that this is because land inheritance worked slightly differently in Ireland than in other countries with castles. *coughUKcough*

Ruined castles are so gorgeous.

9. Everything was SO FREAKING SCENIC.
It was beautiful. It was adorable. It was charming. It was majestic. 
We couldn't get over how lovely everything was.

10. Ireland is FUN. 
Altogether, we just had so much FUN in Ireland. Everything combined to make our trip a blast, and we just had the BEST weekend. 
Special shoutout to tour guide extraordinaire Jay Hall for his expertise and hosting! All of his roommates and friends made us feel so welcome. Thanks Jay!

When he's not participating in archaeological digs, Jay has been working in an antique book warehouse. We got to visit that too and I almost lost my mind. 



Sometimes your boyfriend GIFs you walking home from the pub in the rain. 

A Professional Bridesmaid

For the past decade or so, I've worked events. 
My mom has two inns/event venues in Northern Vermont, in college I worked as an event coordinator for a local gallery, and then there's the constant political/non-profit work... plus, all my friends keep getting married. 

I've been a bridesmaid in a Gatsby Theme wedding in Scotland. 
I've been a bridesmaid in my ex-husband's ex-girlfriend's wedding in Arkansas. 
(Yes, that story is as good as you think it is. The short version is that females are strong as hell.)
I've been a pre-ceremony announcer, an impromptu DJ, a flower girl wrangler, a day-of coordinator, a Bride's Enforcer, and I recently booked my first gig as a wedding officiant. 
Oh, and I even got married that one time too. 

Our dear friends Mark and Marleigh got married last week, and it seemed like a good time to slap a label on what I've been doing casually for a long time: being A Professional Bridesmaid. 

Essentially, I want to offer more broadly what I've been doing for my friends for years- help with wedding planning, resources, and coordination. 

I just think it's the weirdest thing that our wedding culture tells us that when a ring is put on your finger, it instantly imparts all the knowledge necessary to execute a "perfect" wedding day. 
Oh, and that perfect wedding day had better involve a trendy-but-also-timeless wedding color scheme, an open bar, and six creative uses of burlap. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Brimhall Photography

You know what makes a wedding perfect? 
Two people in love get married. 

But it's never that simple, is it? 
Society and family put so much pressure on what you "should" do, on what you're "supposed" to do, that it can often take the joy right out of marrying your person. 

Having help from someone with experience, knowledge, and a practical perspective will save you so much time, stress, and money. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Brimhall Photography

I am not a wedding planner. 
I don't want to design your event for you. I don't want to craft your center pieces. 
I want to empower you to make the best choices for your wedding, to the best choices for your role in someone else's wedding. 

Then on the day of your wedding, I want you to have all the tools to have a joy-filled and minimally stressful experience. 

Whether that means I'm there in person to answer last minute questions from your vendors and your great Aunt Susan, or that means I've made you a phenomenally detailed wedding day timeline, you deserve to be relaxed on the day you commit your life to another human being. 

The packages I've put together start at $15 for some quick answers, and they go all the way up to me putting on a chiffon dress and being in your wedding photos. Whatever you need, friend. 

If you're planning a wedding, if you're about to be a bridesmaid, or if you've got wedding questions, hit me up: caroline@aprofessionalbridesmaid.com 

Tell your friends. 
This is going to be a good time. 

How to Survive a Bachelorette Party

May is upon us.

The unofficial commencement of Wedding Season has arrived.
Here we go.

Bachelorette (or bashlerette, depending on how far into the festivities you are) parties can be a lot of fun. 
There is also a lot of potential for mayhem and hurt feelings. 

These days, most typical Bachelorette parties involve a few key elements: traveling, alcohol, and raunchy references. 

Maybe you're going to Nashville, like so many women do. Maybe you're going on a local pub crawl. Maybe you're going on a wine tour. Maybe you're throwing a house party. 

No matter where you're going or what you're doing, here are three steps to survive the experience with your friendships and dignity intact.

1. Plan ahead.

Do not wing this.

If you know there will be alcohol consumption, have an ironclad plan for safe transportation. A party bus? Ubers? A designated driver or two? Know exactly who the contact person will be for the party bus. Know exactly who will call the ubers and how many you'll need to call. Make sure everyone has the phone number of your DD and that the non drivers leave their keys wherever you're staying for the night.

If you'll be outside, bring sunscreen. Wear shoes that you can live with.
Personally, because I am someone who wears makeup and likes it, I make sure to put on long lasting everything, especially lipstick like this one in Menace.

Have an emergency kit handy.

Even better, if you're throwing the party, have survival kits ready for your pals.

2. Hydrate.

Whether or not you'll be drinking alcohol at this event, you have GOT to remember to drink water. If you are drinking, it's especially important to hydrate. Alcohol is a diuretic, and it can be so easy to get wrapped up in fun and silliness that you forget that you literally need water to live, not to mention feel like a human being the next morning.  Most bachelorette parties are marathon events- days or hours of non-stop partying. While all of that is going on, make sure you're knocking back a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume, or if you're the sober one, a glass for every couple of hours you're out. 

3. Use Situational Awareness. 

Be aware of what is going on around you AT ALL TIMES.
PAY ATTENTION to the people who are part of your group- do we still have all eight of us together? Did Sarah and Amanda make it back from the bathroom? Is Kate looking a little worse for the wear over there? Everyone is responsible for everyone else. Team Bride, for real.
Also, pay attention to the way your group might be affecting those around you. Are you being inappropriately loud? Are there creepers trying to be skeezy and making lewd comments to the bride?  Be ready to shut down any gross behavior from your friends or from jerks who want to ruin a fun thing. 

Depending on where and when you're partying, you may encounter other bachelorette parties. Remember, this is not a competition. In fact, you're all there to celebrate the same wonderful thing! Someone you love has found the person she loves.
So if they seem cool and it's appropriate, combine forces! Congratulate their bride and wish them all good luck. You're all going through the same rite of passage together.