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Why it's so hard for flight attendants to date

Cosmopolitan logo Cosmopolitan 3/05/2017 The Editors

© Courtesy of Megan Kojima I

’ve been a flight attendant for the past two years. The intrigue that surrounds us stems from the glamour of the Pan-Am flying era, but many 1950s stereotypes still linger. She’s the breezy beauty going to Athens tonight, constantly meeting celebrities on the JFK-LAX flight, or running a marathon in Hawaii just because the weather in New York is gray. All this and more, glossed up in perfect red lipstick and heels, strutting down the runway with a smile.

Yes, the “sexy waitress in the sky” image prevails, but we are also a breath away from being straight-up superheroes. We are responsible for several hundred lives above the clouds and on the ground on every flight. We balance a tray of five glasses filled with cocktails while someone squeezes past us to reach the lavatory, and we don’t spill a drop. We maintain composure while consoling an irate passenger whose life is over because he didn’t get the window seat. We become a therapist to a nervous flier. We can do all this, but it’s still so hard finding men who can handle our superhero jobs.

My friend Analisa tells this story, which begins like a romantic comedy: She’s walking down the concourse to catch a commuting flight home and catches a glimpse of a total fox heading the other direction. They lock eyes. He’s in a rush but still stops and smiles. “Are you married?” he asks. Analisa shows him a naked hand and he gives her his phone number, apologizing that he needs to hop on his next flight. “Text me, I live in L.A.,” he insists, and she does. What man would go out of his way to give a girl his phone number in the middle of the airport and risk showing up late to his gate, yet fall short of making an actual connection? Apparently this guy. To this day, it’s been radio silence for Analisa.

And her story isn’t unique. “I met a guy through a friend,” another flight attendant, Kia, tells me. “We made it work for a few months. I would bid for Dallas layovers and try to fly down as much as I could on my off days. Things seemed great, considering, but the last time I flew to Dallas, it was the last time I ever heard from him. Ghosted.” Kia is gorgeous and funny and sweet. You’d be shocked to know she has any dating troubles. But even so, she’s not getting too bent out of shape about it. She added, “Any time I get sad about a guy not being able to handle our lifestyle, I open my eyes in Paris and eat my macaron and say, ‘Screw you. I’m amazing.’”

The reality is that guys are usually ill-equipped to handle the unpredictability of our lives.

Our lives are full of choice and opportunity, but that freedom seems to apply everywhere except our dating life. Last summer, I traveled on a whim to Paris to visit a friend, Iceland because the Blue Lagoon seemed nice to visit on my birthday, and Chicago for a concert (you don’t say no to Beyoncé tickets, that’s a mortal sin). With a chaotic schedule, naturally what most flight attendants crave is stability. It would be nice to have someone ready to catch us when we fall from the clouds. But it’s the one thing that’s hardest to find.

Our dating pool of planet Earth is decidedly larger than most, but the reality is that guys are usually ill-equipped to handle the unpredictability of our lives. A small affair, sure, but suggesting a repeat performance with someone who lives in a different city across the country or ocean often proves “too much to handle.” Jillian, a flight attendant in Los Angeles, told me as much, citing an Australian guy who was scared by the idea that she wanted to visit him. “It’s like they don’t get it, I’m not flying to you and spending thousands of dollars to do it, I’m spending less than $70 and I have two weeks free to travel.” He felt pressure to make things serious when all she wanted to do was hang out in one of her favorite countries.

Guys almost always either ghost or crack under the pressure. Perhaps they’re immediately intrigued and fascinated by our lives but then sober up quickly once the realities of the job emerge. Distance and uncertainty interfere with their own plans of having a girlfriend with nights, weekends, and holidays free. Or maybe the fantasy of dating a flight attendant is more exciting than a normal relationship with real life wants and needs.

© Courtesy of Megan Kojima

Brittany explains how this has been a problem for her. An old friend who had crushed on her since they were 12 years old finally expressed his affection, saying she was his “end game,” with marriage on the horizon. After telling him her schedule of flying 15 days out of the month, however, he decided that it wouldn’t work out. And it wasn’t even the first rejection because of the job: another guy said her schedule seemed too “hectic,” and yet another told her, “with your job I don’t know if I could trust you.”

What exactly are they so afraid of? It’s not as though we’re greeted by a fan club as soon as we step off the plane at every layover. A more likely scenario: our crew descends the plane wearing flats because it’s 10 p.m. and nobody is at the airport. We wipe off our lipstick, hoping that there’s a refrigerator in the hotel room so we can store our packed lunches, and pray the gym doesn’t suck at this hotel. Sometimes I will check out the scenery on Tinder but it’s mainly just a way for me to window shop. Most female flight attendants I work with are the same, with a few exceptions. Infidelity can be an issue in any profession, but it seems those in the airline industry are especially branded by the public, whether there is reason for it or not.

But not everything is totally bleak. My friend Eloise once recognized a passenger on her flight that she went to college with. They chatted and flirted during the flight, and as soon as Eloise was leaving the plane, her phone lit up with his text. They’ve been dating ever since. They travel together and work to make their schedules coordinate, and she is absolutely head over heels in love.

If some guy is limiting you ... then he's not part of your flight plan.

The Real Reason Why It’s So Hard for Flight Attendants to Date © Courtesy of Megan Kojima The Real Reason Why It’s So Hard for Flight Attendants to Date My coworker Stacy has helped me get some perspective on all this. For her, our jobs are the best way to weed out the guys who aren’t ready for what we have to bring a relationship. After all, if someone is ready, they will not be threatened by our freedom; they will embrace and cherish it. “We are the luckiest women in the world, because we own the world,” she once told me. “If some guy is limiting you, if he doesn’t help you get to where you need to go, then he’s not the one for you. He’s not part of your flight plan.”


Hey, who else would be able to sweep you off your feet and whisk you away to Barcelona just because you felt like having tapas on a Tuesday? Marry me, fly for free.

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