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Job Descriptions: The Flight Attendant


Snap judgments about a soaring career.


It's hour six of eleven on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The toilet's overflowing, the temperature's rising faster than a July morning in Tempe and you're fresh out of Animal Crackers. You don't need us to tell you: You're not exactly manning the drink cart in the Golden Age of Aviation. I don't care how courteous or professional you are -- or how cool under pressure -- when livid passengers start organizing for a mutiny, you start to rethink signing on to JetBlue's (JBLU) New York to Orlando leg.

Maybe you're in it for the glamour (there's a Chili's Too in most major hubs). Maybe you draw great personal satisfaction from talking down passengers who are petrified because the guy sitting next to them is sporting a tan easily confused with a Middle Eastern complexion. Or maybe it's the perks, like free travel to Europe. Unless you work for American Airlines (AMR) or Southwest Airlines (LUV), and your flight never gets off the ground.

Sure, watching commercial carriers disenfranchise passengers in new and exciting ways has become akin to sport, but the reality is you're the best part of the whole nightmare - the human face of the cold, calculated decision making process that just led U.S. Airways (LCC) to introduce a surcharge on window seats. So keep your powder blue uniform crisp and your head held high. We need you up there.

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