Intimate liaisons in the cockpit, playing passenger 'hot or not' and dealing with demanding (often drunk) travellers – international cabin crew find there is very little downtime on a long-haul flight. Flight attendants are a close knit bunch according to former crew turned author Heather Poole. It is no surprise that – as she reveals in her book Cruising Attitude: Tales Of Crashpads, Crew Drama And Crazy Passengers At 35,000 Feet - some flight teams have developed secret signals and methods of communicating that fly over most passengers' heads. Which is probably for the best.
If we could understand half the things that go on behind the plane bulkhead, we'd likely be scandalized.
While the skies have changed beyond all recognition for flight staff this year, however air hosts are determined to continue their high-flying work hard and play hard lifestyles and share a few salacious stories along the way.
When at the end of last year carriers British Airways and EasyJet revealed that they were investigating cabin crew members for soliciting sex on their planes, many professionals were not surprised.
"Times are hard and if this is something she's happy doing it's hard to argue," one anonymous flight crew told The Sun. Airlines, however, were less laissez faire.
British Airways released a statement in December that it was investigating a social media account under the handle Airhostess 71 which was soliciting sex out of crew bases and sharing saucy posts implicating pilots and flight staff. This included a racy photo from an Edinburgh hotel room, she was allegedly sharing with colleagues, saying she was "getting drunk with my pilot so he can do whatever he wants to me."
However amorous liaisons between airline colleagues are nothing new, however they rarely remain on the ground.
In 2016 the husband of a Transavia hostess was shocked to discover his wife's "video diary" of amorous exploits with pilots and crew members. The 46-year-old mother of four, and employee of the Dutch airline had left records on the family computer, documenting her exploits in airport hotels and even aircraft cockpits. The ugly case resulted in a lawsuit after the injured husband shared the tapes with Dutch Media and airline authorities, according to the NL Times.
While love – or more likely lust – is in the air, it is not only flight staff who are getting busy in the skies. Many air hosts have horror stories of dealing with frisky passengers mid-flight.
Ex-Virgin Atlantic crew member Natalie Smith recounted one memorable episode from her during her three-years with the airline's first-class service, in an interview with Compare Travel Insurance UK.
Well before physical distancing on planes, it could often be difficult to control lusty travellers.
Smith recalled trying to pry two premium-class passengers apart who were determined to 'get it on' in their seats.
"We played good cop, good cop – trying to reason with them," she said
". . . eventually the crew resorted to sitting between them for the rest of the flight."
In Cruising Attitude retired hoastie Heather Pool details the subtle, often non-verbal messages she and other airline workers would use.
Pool wrote how female flight staff were allowed to shorten the hem of their skirts after passing probation. The hemline was used to signal pilots and fellow crew if they were open to getting to know other crew members on a more intimate level.
The secret signals and shared languages of these flying sororities are nothing new. They have a long heritage, as the 1967 tell-all book Coffee, Tea, or Me? recalls.
Ghostwritten with the help Eastern Airlines stewardesses, the book documents the so-called 'golden era' when US airlines could dictate their female employees be single, weigh no more than 57kg and retire before the age of 32.
While recording some very dated HR practices – it was one of the earliest invitations for the public to peer into crew mess and a little of the inflight culture, such as the secret code words and behaviours that would see passengers "denied boarding rights".
Although writer Donald Bain later revealed a lot of the anecdotes were merely flights of fancy, many air hostesses of that era say it landed close to the mark. If a little tame by today's flight crew's standards.
In particular the code name "Bob" is something many flight staff will recognise. It's a game that airline staff often play among themselves to pass the time, as Owen Beddall shared in his book Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant.
If you get called Bob, do not take offence, take pride. You've been awarded "best on board", in an interview for Brisbane Magazine.
However, if you ever overhear attendants on trolley service referring to a "Lactose intolerant Vegan", that is bad news. It means they are a "pain in the neck," says Beddall.
Although the language of Cabincrewese is mostly incomprehensible to passengers, that might actually be a good thing. Often what's being discussed is neither saucy nor amusing, but downright terrifying.
In a Reddit thread "What Passengers Don't Know When We Fly" one flight attendant shared a piece of insight to shatter the blissful ignorance.
"When people ask for the reason for a delay, we usually give a bulls**t response because the real answer would spook passengers.
"We say, 'We have a minor technical problem and engineers are on their way.' But in reality? The cabin pressure isn't working."
It is often better not knowing.