Globetrotter Ramsey Qubein has been traveling around the world asking flight attendants all the questions you've always wanted to ask. Here's his latest installment.
What is your favorite layover and why?
"We love the layovers with fancy hotels. Our hotels in Kiev and Budapest are the nicest in town so we are truly pampered. The hotels we use in Milan and Amsterdam are pitiful because they are so far out of the city. On a couple of our layovers in Africa, we are not allowed to leave the premises for safety. Some crews love it because they can lounge by the pool all day. Others hate it because they like to shop and party. We often have a five day layover at one of those African hotels, it’s like torture!"
"If we are staying somewhere for less than 12 hours, we stay by the airport. On longer layovers, we get better hotels in the city. We used to have a horrible hotel by the airport in Las Vegas, but I didn’t care because there was so much to do on the strip a cheap taxi ride away. In Rio de Janeiro, our hotel is right on the beach, which I love."
"It depends on the hotel. Some hotels treat crews really well. In Paris, there are so many flight crews staying there, they have a special lounge where we can check email, have a bite to eat, or just hang out. The manager knows that airlines are a big part of their business, and they take care of us. In Dakar, the captain gets upgraded to a suite!"
"We sometimes feel like travel agents because we know hotels in a city so well. Sometimes, our company keeps switching them based on contracts. We have so many crewmembers that layover in London that we use multiple hotels. Passengers should ask us for advice on where to stay!"
What do you think about screaming babies in first class?
"Well, we dislike them just as much as you do. But, we also feel for the parents, and try to help them with warm bottles or calm a screaming baby down. It is very irritating for us though because it is poor manners to bring a small child into a premium cabin. These are the people who are either paying the highest fares or are the airline’s most loyal customers. Putting a small child in first class or in the bulkhead just behind first class should be against the rules."
"I don’t mind it, but carrying their dirty diapers is not part of my job. Parents should dispose of it in the lavatory themselves or give it to me wrapped in an air sickness bag or some other type of wrapping. Why should I have to touch their child’s dirty diaper?"
Why do you pick certain routes over others?
"Even though I am pretty senior, I like to pick the really short hops because I have to do less work. We do not do beverage services on flights under 150 miles. Those are my favorite! I pretty much stay in the jump seat the whole time!"
"Shorter domestic hops are tough because we are often doing 3-4 flights per day, sometimes with a 5am pickup. People wonder why we look so haggard, but you would too with five hours sleep and nonstop work days on your feet!"
"I can hardly ever get an exotic international destination because there are so many senior mamas at my base, but when I can trade it with a flight attendant who does not want it for some reason, I go for it. Plus, on holidays, a lot of the fun places are easy to get because the older flight attendants want to stay home with their families."
"It depends. I will fly anything, but I really like the Caribbean routes. Even though we are hardly on the ground for more than an hour, I can run into the airport and stock up on cheap liquor or cigarettes at duty-free prices. It is like someone is paying me to work on my way to a discount outlet store, I love it!"
You work for a "legacy carrier." What do you and your colleagues think of low-fare airlines?
"Whether it is true or not, we have an impression of them like they are less experienced or sometimes even less sophisticated. It is like shopping at Wal-Mart or shopping at Macy’s. People love Wal-Mart and are so loyal. Others love Macy’s and are very loyal even when service may not be what it used to be. That attitude is especially prominent in our hub city where a major legacy and a major budget airline compete with each other. We are cordial with each other, but we think we are more experienced and professional. It may not be true, but it is the perception. They probably think we are snobs too!"
"Low-fare airlines have revolutionized flying, which allows everyone to travel. That is a great thing. Unfortunately, they have done a terrible job of educating passengers on the proper manners involved with flying. It used to be that people got dressed up to fly and were very courteous. They have made it so common and casual to fly, that passenger behavior has changed. These new airlines have partly forced the legacies to lower fares, which leads to more people flying. Don’t get me wrong, we are happy more people are flying. But, the business has changed a lot over the past few decades. I do not think we will ever see those golden days again."