Ah, the life of a flight attendant – always jet-setting from one destination to the next! But what happens when they finally touch down at their destination — often referred to as “downroute”?
After a long flight, some crew choose to head straight to bed. But I would say they are arguably in the minority. After all, flight attendants joined this job to see the world, socialise and explore new cultures.
So, what do the rest of the crew get up to? if you’re wondering what really goes on at the end of a flight, buckle up, because we’re about to walk you through the 6 of the most common things flight attendants do when they land!
Number 1 — The Hotel Bar Hoppers
Do you come straight home from work and immediately go to bed? I suspect the answer is no, regardless of how tiring your day is, we all need time to unwind and relax from a day at work.
As a result, for some, the end of a flight means only one thing — it’s time to hit the bar!
From catching up with colleagues, or to celebrate a job well done after a stressful flight, cabin crew are social creatures and there are plenty of flight attendants that like to party.
Most longhaul aircraft have a minimum of around 8 flight attendants, plus at least two pilots. With this in mind, there are usually at least 3–4 people willing to quickly drop their stuff off in the hotel room, get changed, and race downstairs to meet at the bar for a post work drink.
Number 2 — See you by the poolside
While there are plenty of downsides to being a flight attendant, there are some pretty major positives.
Everyone’s favourite — despite how miserable and grey the weather is back home — you’ll always be able to go on a trip somewhere with some sunshine!
Of course, not all flight attendant hotels have swimming pools, but for those that do, straight after landing you will find many flight attendants head out to soak up some sun by the pool.
What about flights that land at their destination in the evening? For those not in the industry, you might be surprised to know that the hotel pool is often still the meeting point of choice.
It’s a little known secret, but the pool area of many hotels is one of the few places that is out of the way of guests, has plenty of comfy seats; and crucially — hotels don’t mind you bringing your own food and drink.
While it might be 2 am for regular guests tucked up in their beds, for an international flight attendant it could only be early evening on their body clock, so sleep is the last thing on their mind. Armed with some cheap duty free and some snacks, expect to see crew at airline hotels holed up around the pool, regardless of the time of day!
Number 3 — Straight to Bed
For some flight attendants, the end of a flight means heading straight to bed.
Whether they’re exhausted from the flight, or just need a good night’s sleep, these flight attendants are all about getting some well-deserved rest.
OK, it’s not as sociable or adventurous as you might expect, but one of the main downsides to working as a flight attendant is the unsociable hours and the nights out of bed. The result often means that circadian rhythms are completed messed up, so regardless of what time the plane landed, they’ll be at least one crew member heading straight to bed.
Equally, for flight attendants with families and busy home lives, escaping for a night away in a hotel might be the only decent night’s sleep they get in the week! I’ve personally flown with plenty of new mums, who are planning a bath and an early night even before the plane has landed!
Number 4 — Car Renters and Explorers
For the more adventurous flight attendants, the end of a flight is the perfect opportunity to hit the road and explore their new surroundings.
Whether they’re hiring a car from the airport car park, or ditching their uniform in the hotel and launching straight into a tour, some flight attendants are seemingly always on the go.
While it’s fair to see most flight attendants like getting out and about and exploring their surroundings, some crew take it to extremes. I’ve been on trips with flight attendants that don’t even check in to the hotel, opting to stay at the airport and jump on a flight to a different part of the country immediately after landing!
Every cabin crew member will have been on a trip with a crew member like this, as the dedicated “chief explorer”. Usually, you’ll get a heads-up beforehand, as colleagues typically message each other to see if anyone has plans for their upcoming trips.
They will often have done plenty of research into the destination you are flying to, and tagging along on their preplanned adventures can be a great way of seeing more of the world!
Number 5 — Hideaway in the hotel room
For some airline crew, the end of a flight means staying in their room and enjoying a little ‘me’ time.
Whether they’re catching up on TV shows, taking a bubble bath, or just relaxing with a good book, these flight attendants know how to unwind.
Typically, these crew will have been flying for decades, and have seen all the sights and taken all the tours they will ever want to see. While it is a job that is regularly talked about with a bit of mystery or glamour, it’s important to remember that being a flight attendant is… well, just a job.
And, like every job, there are plenty of crew who continue to work solely to collect a paycheque or for the travel perks. It’s also expensive to eat out at hotels regularly, so flight attendants typically save money by bringing their own food and cooking it in their hotel room.
Sometimes referred to by other cabin crew as ghosts — because they are never seen — upon landing, these flight attendants will head straight to their hotel room and not reappear until it’s time for pickup!
Number 6 — 24/7 Gym-Goers
Here are two things are not great for your waistline, being cooped up on an aircraft for several hours, and aeroplane food!
For the fitness fanatics among us, working as a flight attendant can be a difficult balancing act, so the first thing they’ll typically do at the end of a flight is hit the hotel gym.
Fortunately, most modern hotels have 24/7 gyms, so regardless of the time of day there will always be at least one crew member heading to the gym to get their 10,000 steps in!
Additionally, many airlines offer their staff discounted sports and fitness activities at their most frequent destinations. Known as staff recreation clubs, flight attendants and pilots can sign up for a cheap monthly fee, and have access to everything from yoga classes to tennis courts.
So, there you have it, a behind-the-scenes look at six of the most common things flight attendants get up to at the end of a flight. Once crew have landed, the time off at their destination is each crew member’s own, so while flight attendants will often meet in a group, there is plenty of variety and many simply choose to do their own thing.
Equally, travelling to many destinations around the world means that there is no typical activity each time you head to work. Some trips will be more “routine” trips with time spent resting or in the gym, while other destinations are known for their excitement and might involve a considerable adventure!
It usually varies depending on the destination they arrive at, and the time off downroute. On some trips, flight attendants might have more than 48 hours off, but on others they will need to keep an eye on the time, spending less than 24 hours in the country before flying straight back home again. So next time you find yourself wondering what they do after landing, remember, it’s a bit of everything!