I’ve discovered the best jobs for life’s second act.
I have been doing a lot of traveling the past few months. Since June, I have been to Phoenix, Denver, San Diego, Seattle (twice), Salt Lake City, and New York. On my trip to New York, I flew my favorite airline, Jet Blue. I love their comfy seats with personal TV’s, their direct flights, their one free bag and their unlimited supply of healthy snacks.
In addition to all those great perks on my flight, I also loved their flight attendants. They impressed me with their great service – and the fact that all three ladies were over 50 years old. Being a flight attendant was all of their second career jobs.
In the middle of the 5 hour flight, I got up to stretch my legs and made my way back to the rear galley where all three attendants were taking a break. I asked each one what was their path to being a flight attendant for a major airline and what they thought about their jobs.
Sheila is 73 years old!! She has been with Jet Blue for the past 6 years, but her flight attendant experience actually spreads over decades. Sheila flew in the early 1960’s for United Airlines. In those days, United required their flight attendants to wear red lipstick and red nail polish and they had to be single women. If they got married, they had to resign their jobs. When Sheila married, she quit her position, began raising her family, and became a nurse. In the late 1990’s, Sheila returned to flying for a regional airline based near her hometown of Buffalo, New York. Looking for wider skies, Sheila joined Jet Blue when it started in 2002. After a couple of years, she returned to nursing until in 2009 when she decided to go back to Jet Blue. She likes the opportunity being a flight attendant affords her to able to visit her grand kids on free flights.
Margie is 58 years old and has been with Jet Blue for 7 years. Before joining Jet Blue, Margie and her husband had jobs as walnut farmers in Northern California. Margie told me that whenever she feared something in her life, she would pick an adventure to help her conquer that fear. For instance, she was once afraid of the ocean so she got certified as a scuba diver and now she loves the ocean. You guessed it…another one of Margie’s fears was flying. So she decided to become a flight attendant. After her second trip, she was cured.
Kimberleigh, age 53, was not only was the youngest of the three, but also had the least seniority. Prior to joining Jet Blue 1-1/2 years ago, Kimberleigh and her husband owned a business creating aviation artwork. She wanted to break the monotony from 20 years of painting airplanes and so applied for a job as a flight attendant. Currently, Kimberleigh is on reserve status. That means instead of being assigned flights, for now, she can only pick up cancellations from other attendants.
They all agreed that being a flight attendant afforded them the opportunity to meet unusual people that they wouldn’t have met otherwise. They appreciated Jet Blue’s flexible scheduling and diverse hiring. Jet Blue has no age or weight limits for their attendants. Also, their flight attendants can come from all over the world. The ladies were telling me about one co-worker who lives in Russia and flies to Long Beach, California to pick up her routes.
It was fun to learn from them what they called the “flight personalities” of their customers. For instance, they have noticed that customers from Seattle really like their coffee and can be grumpy. Customers from Alaska usually smell horrible because they have come straight from spending a long period of time in the wilderness. Los Angeles flyers tend to be needy and customers from Boston tend to be the most polite.
Jobs as a flight attendant gives midlifers the opportunity to meet new people, travel all over the world, and provides an inexpensive way to visit family – particularly grandkids – in far away places. And the best part is: no day is ever the same!!
Would being a flight attendant be something you’d be interested in? It sure sounds like a great job to me.