Have you ever wondered what it might be like to work in the inner sanctum of a private jet? With only one or two hostesses on a flight, their world is vastly different from their commercial airline counterparts. From sourcing strange and exotic foods to racking up bills on their own credit cards - there's a lot that we just don't know.
Luckily for us, some hostesses have broken their vow of silence and spilled the beans on what life is really like 10,000 feet high with the world's elite. Join us as we take a look at the trade secrets of one of the world's most intriguing industries.
Passengers Can Be Crabby
You know what they say, all that glitters is not gold. In some cases, private clientele can be anything but polite and friendly, even while being filthy rich. Despite what you might think, not everyone who flies private wants to be waited on hand and foot. One hostess served a client who didn't even want her to be in the cabin at all.
"He just wanted to get from Point A to Point B," she says. "He didn't even want me to be in the cabin. The most he’d ever say was to ask if I could make him some canned soup or an espresso."
New Travelers Want More
On the flip side, some travelers that are new to the whole experience will make hostesses work their butts off just for the novelty. Well, wouldn't you want to make the most out of your fancy new private jet? If a new traveler is taking friends on board, then it can be even worse.
"In all walks of life there are clients who will be difficult," says the former hostess. "Asking for magazines that are seemingly impossible to get, and they know it. They may ask for things just because they can they want to feel special. This frequently happened especially if one person paid to take their friends along on a trip with them."
Attendants Have To Sign NDA's
There's nothing that rich people value more than privacy. After all, what's the point in having a private jet if you can't let your hair down? No one wants to be worried their staff will blurt their secrets to the press. That's where NDA agreements come in.
"Depending on the company, social media can be an absolute no-no and photos shared with aircraft tail numbers— as this is essentially the equivalent to a client's home address— are never allowed," says Kara. "It’s a secretive industry. It's kind of funny the way it works. Private aviation is an incredibly small world. Know how to live in it well."
Some Guests Expect "Extras"
When you're crammed into a tight space with difficult passengers for a prolonged period of time, things can get a little uncomfortable. It's a well-known fact that some of the big spenders can be just as seedy as a back alley pimp. When they see a pretty girl wearing a flight attendants uniform, they might try and join the mile high club.
Some hostesses are rumored to take the bait, while others maintain that they keep it strictly professional, no matter what. "I’ve never been in a situation where I felt compromised," says Ellie, a former FA. "Nothing inappropriate ever happened with me."
The Money Is Great
Being a private jet flight attendant might be a demanding job, but it also comes with serious perks. According to Kara, owner of FlightAttendantLife.com, your earnings aren't capped. Factor this in with being around rich people 24/7 and hostesses can make a killing.
"I was never capped on how much I could make and every decision to exceed expectations offered a potential reward. At the airlines, you are boxed in by rules on what your nail color is supposed to be and how you should wear your hair. As a corporate flight attendant, my job is never secure. I also know that a million other girls would kill for this flight, and I am lucky to be here now."
Reality TV Stars Are Surprisingly Good Flyers
When you think of reality TV stars, you probably think of the cast of Jersey Shore or The Bachelor. These aren't the kind of guys and gals that are known for their ability to stay level-headed calm. In fact, it's quite the opposite. You'd be forgiven for thinking that flying the creme de la creme of reality stars might be a nightmare, but apparently, it's not half bad.
"You'd see how shocking their behavior was on TV, and you thought the flight would be terrible. But as soon as the plane’s doors closed, the makeup came off," confesses Eileen. "The hair went down and the track suit replaced whatever they’d been wearing previously. They would be the first to thank you and understand if I didn’t have something that they wanted."
People Aren't Always As They Seem
One of the most fascinating things about private jets is how safe people feel when they're inside one. Celebrities that might put on a certain persona for the rest of the world let that pretense drop when they're safely onboard. In some cases, the contrast can be shocking.
"I worked for a devout Muslim man who wouldn't even look at alcohol when his family was aboard. But when they weren’t there, off he went. One time my client had to be escorted through Jeddah airport by my pilots because he couldn’t walk straight." Needless to say, things aren't always what they seem!
The Requests Can Be Ridiculous
Passengers have the right to ask for anything they want on a private jet. After all, they're shelling out a ton of money for the experience. You can't really blame them - but sometimes, they purposely test the staff to see what they can get away with:
"One wanted foie gras in the middle of summer, which is impossible. It was from Lenotre, a specialist food shop in France. When I apologized for not being able to find it, he said, "Yeah, I didn't think you’d find it." I did find an alternative, however. And in the end, this is what mattered to him — knowing that I cared enough to look for something equally good as an alternative."
Flight Attendants Have To Do Everything
On commercial flights, attendants are there to serve passengers drinks and make sure that they're comfortable. It's much the same on private jets... only, multiply that by one thousand. A hostess needs to be a chef, a maid, an assistant - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. They're basically a one-person army.
"The best corporate flight attendants are in fact, culinary masters and private jets don't come with beds made," says Kara. "It’s part of the flight attendant’s job to set-up the cabin to the exact specifications of the client, while also anticipating what the client might want."
One Client Demanded A 33IB Turkey
As we've already touched upon, strange requests are a standard part of working on a private plane. Similarly to yachts, it's a "they say they want it, you better get it" sort of deal. In some cases, this can be as simple as pointed strawberries to a 33Ib Turkey.
"I had to take some very fast taxi rides to a coordinated set of pre-planned freezers in hotels and airline FBOs [fixed-base operators that provide services at airports] just to get the bird to the plane," laughs one anonymous hostess. "Then I had to find dry ice to keep it safely cold during the three-hour flight from Dubai to Jeddah. I don't think anyone got sick, but I’ve definitely wondered."
Kids Come First
Sure, the adults need taking care of, but it's not all high-flying business men. Sometimes, families hop on for the ride, too. Anyone who's ever been stuck in coach knows that flying with kids can be tough. Luckily for the elite, flight attendants on private jets also double-up as babysitters. Eileen says it's all about treating every single guest the same.
"On every flight, I'd look after every person equally — whether they were the principal or the girlfriend. But I’d always treat the principal’s children even better. If you could keep the kids quiet and occupied, they really appreciated it."
Attendants Often Have To Pay Guest Expenses Upfront
Working in an extravagant environment means sometimes having to dive into your own pocket to foot the bill. According to Kara, being a private jet attendant isn't possible for anyone with bad credit.
"I rack up $5000 plus on my credit cards within a few days— ALL by expenses that are not mine. As part of a corporate flight attendant's job, the in-flight professional has to purchase catering, aircraft stock, and cover hotel costs or other on-the-road expenses. All of these expenses are reimbursed later by the company, charter client, or aircraft owner. Sometimes, it can take a few months for operators to refund the trip expenses."
The Flights Are Often Short Notice
If you're planning on becoming a private jet hostess, then be prepared to go to work at a moments notice. Flights often pop up out of nowhere. Schedules of the rich and famous are often changing, so it's no surprise. Kara says that it's a luxury to get five days notice.
"More than two days notice is a gift and detailed passenger preferences or requests makes the job so much more simple. With everything always changing and so many unknowns always occurring, the stress is real. A very experienced corporate flight attendant once told me wisely, 'The stress never goes away, you just become better at managing the stress.'"
Private Jet Attendants Are Like Yacht Stewardesses
If you've ever watched Bravo TV's hit series Below Deck, then you might recall the crew running around like headless chickens, trying to get everything ready for high-rolling guests. Kara first noticed the difference when she moved from yachtie capital Fort Lauderdale in Florida, to Los Angeles to pursue a career in private jetting.
"Yacht stewardesses are probably more prepared than commercial flight attendants to transition to private aviation. Yacht stewardesses and private jet cabin attendants have to shop and make all the meals, keep the cabin immaculate, know the guest's preferences, network to get jobs, and so much more."
Not All Passengers Are Living
For those who are used to living in style, there's always the opportunity to continue that into the afterlife, according to Mary Kalymnou. Mary has been working in the industry for over a decade and has certainly seen some unusual sights in her time. She's accompanied a deceased person not once, but three times over the last 12 years.
"Three times in my career I had a deceased person on board -- a coffin in the cargo, made out of gold and expensive wood," she recalls. "They were three very well-known men, [who] obviously traveled in luxury for the last time in their lives."
There's No Job Security
Not only do private jet attendants have no real guarantee of work, but they also have to excel to keep their positions. It's one of the most sought-after jobs in the world, so you'd better watch your back if you want to keep it.
"Every girl could learn this job... but only a few will eventually stand out. Being professional is not enough -- you must be unique," says Mary. "You can easily be replaced by someone new, someone younger, someone prettier, someone smarter, someone more flexible. So since day one, I knew I had to be like a sponge in order to survive in the industry."
Even The Toilets Are Expensive
The opulence on a private jet isn't just limited to top-tier champagne and expensive dishes. It spreads into the decor, too. In fact, Kimberly Benton, an experienced hostess, once worked on a jet where even the toilet seats were made by Fendi and the carpets were pure silk.
"It was 100% pure silk carpet so you'd have to be aware of all the engineers coming on in their big boots. You'd be like 'oh god, please take your shoes off ... don't touch anything!'" she explains. One race car driver had the interior of the plane made out of carbon fiber with black leather seats.
There's No Set Uniform
Some private charter companies might require their hostesses to wear a specific uniform, but most of the time, there isn't one. Unlike commercial attendants who are bound by rules including what nail polish they wear, most private jet clients simply want their staff to look simple and smart. That's not to say that some individuals don't have their quirks, though, says Kimberly.
"I do know people who have to wear Louboutins in and outside the cabin," Benton reveals. However, the majority of people are much more laid back and don't expect anything but the regular working outfit. Not too short, not too long.
The Best Part Is Traveling
Understandably, one of the best parts about the job is traveling to a ton of different destinations. If the client requires the jet to be on standby, then hostesses may have a little time off to go exploring before they're needed again. It's this that makes it one of the most desired jobs in the world, says Benton.
"One of the massive perks is part of the job. It's going to all these different places and being able to say this is your job," she said. "You travel for a living and you're doing what you love." Isn't that what it's all about?
Clothes Are Optional!
Money really does talk, and in luxury services such as this, passengers are paying out insane amounts of money per flight. Sadly, a lot of the time this means that they feel entitled to do pretty much anything they like, regardless of how the staff feel.
"He'd get more and more drunk from the moment he stepped foot on the plane," says one hostess about a particular gentleman. "On occasions, all his clothes would be off. I'd keep the temperature cold so he’d get uncomfortable, and maybe a little more modest. I developed subtle ways to defuse him over the course of the time I flew him; it became a game I think to make me blush. He often was the one blushing, though."