A flight attendant, blogger and the columnist behind “Galley Gossip” on Gadling.com, Poole recounts the good, the bad, and the turbulent when flying the not-so-friendly skies, in her first book. Just the accounts of Poole’s training, where potential flight attendants are instructed in grooming, emergency evacuations and how to carry a silver tray stocked with Champagne-filled crystal flutes, not to mention the dealings with crazy passengers, create enough empathy to encourage travellers to think twice about not buckling in when the seat belt light flashes.
With 15 years of wearing a flammable polyester uniform for a major U.S. carrier under her belt, Poole has plenty to divulge. There are jerks, like the one in first class who yells at Poole repeatedly to wipe down his crotch after she accidentally spills tomato sauce on it. And there are crazies, like the woman who assumed daycare was included in her fare and tried to hand over her crying baby for the duration of an eight-hour flight, without food or diapers. And, of course, there are perks. Buddy passes, which flight attendants get to distribute to a finite list of family and friends, are great. But having strangers, including a cab driver, a mailman and a priest, hit you up for them sounds terrible.
As does the salary: Poole started off based in New York, sharing a house in Queens with a revolving door of colleagues and a crazy landlord, on $18,000 a year, minus $2,000 for her uniforms. That meagre wage had Poole eagerly accepting dinner dates from strangers, because she was starving. And boy, are there dates. In fact, at times Cruising Attitude comes close to a really bad episode of Sex in the City, where guys are expendable and exasperated women yell, “Men!”
Poole is best when providing etiquette tips (turn off your cellphone, seriously), dishing gossip on passengers, including celebrities, like the time a “comedian who got kicked off one of daytime TV’s hottest talk shows asked the pilot not to make any more announcements because her baby was sleeping.” Rosie? And when delivering an insider’s peek behind the galley curtain, like why flight attendants who date pilots, or “cockpit Connies,” should just say no. It’s like sitting around a kitchen table with a best friend spinning a yarn. You never want to leave.