How to Tell if You’ve Been a Cabin Crew Too Long

When your job is your life…

If you’ve been a cabin crew member or steward (or know one!), you might be able to recognize these telltale signs that you, or they, have been flying too long. This is just for humor purposes, but some are really true!

Tricks of the trade

For anyone who’s been cabin crew for more than a little while, these will probably ring out in an eye-rolling way…

  • You never unpack your suitcase – just wash the clothes and put them back in the suitcase – repeat.
  • All of your pens are named after a hotel.
  • You are still using the 24 hour clock.
  • Ask the cabin crew for directions, and they’ll point you in the direction with both hands. It’s not just for going out.
  • You care about the news in a city thousands of miles away.
  • When you spell something, you use the aviation alphabet.
  • You regularly find groceries from different countries in your suitcase, a visit to the supermarket is a must!
  • You always set your alarm clock ten minutes earlier in case the hotel forgets your alarm clock. (at home, you set two alarms!)


The security demonstration is also useful when asked for directions. Photo: Miguel Discart via Creative Commons.

Airplane life

  • You can eat a three-course meal standing up in less than three minutes.
  • You are excited to see a different shape of ice cube.
  • From 10 meters away, you know that suitcase won’t fit in the luggage compartment.
  • You can’t believe passengers enter the restroom barefoot or in socks.
  • Your hips are covered in bruises from elbows and armrests.
  • There will be some unopened food from the passenger meal tray in your crew bag.
  • You wait impatiently for passengers to leave the cabin, so you can see what books or magazines they left behind.

There will undoubtedly be snacks and magazines in these crew bags. Photo: Emirates

Jet lag confusion

  • You have to rely on hotel stationery to tell you where you are, when you wake up.
  • If you’re in a supermarket queue, you’re looking for the queue (like at airport security).
  • Anytime you see a fire extinguisher, you want to check that the gauge is “in the green.”
  • At home, you put on your kitchen shoes to prepare dinner.
  • You wish you had a jet engine in the next room, so you could at least sleep at night.

At home or away?

  • You stare at the ceiling when the doorbell rings, thinking it’s a crew call.
  • You are looking for the square button on the left side to flush the toilet.
  • You take the hot dishes out of the oven with your bare hands.
  • Your home is starting to look like a hotel room – have you ever folded the toilet paper into a triangle?
  • There is a selection of miniature hotel toiletries in your bathroom.
  • At home, you slowly open the bathroom door in case someone forgets to lock it.

Cabin crew and flight attendants will fully understand this list and have likely experienced many of these phenomena. Long hours, jet lag, and repeating tasks can sometimes have a lasting effect and be confusing at the best of times, but it can also be fun! If there are any cabin crew or flight attendants reading this, they can probably add at least five more items.