Patricia Reid is the author of, Flying with the Rich and Famous: True Stories from the Flight Attendant who flew with them; here is a link to the Amazon page:
Q: What made you interested in becoming a stewardess?
A: I became interested in becoming a “flight attendant” or stewardess as we were known then when I flew “right seat” in my fathers plane, a 4 seat Bonanza. On Saturdays, we would go flying. I was only four years old but I have the distinct memory of thinking to myself “this is what I want to do.” I wanted to become a stewardess.
Q: Why a stewardess and not a pilot?
A: That is an excellent question. I wish now that I would have become a pilot. But in that era, there were very few female pilots and none that I knew about. It just wasn’t a woman’s world. But the novelty of becoming a flight attendant, again in that era, was huge and very exciting.
Q: You did not work for a major airline, but rather a private company that dealt with luxury jets. How did your compensation and benefits compare to stewardesses who worked for major airlines?
A: Well I did actually work for an airline, I began as a ticket agent. Then was hired out of there for a non-traditional air carrier that was scheduled service from Los Angeles to New York, but it was only first class. But it was much more than first class, it was a whole new world of luxury flying. That’s when I first began to serve Rock stars, movie stars, television stars, politicians, singers, songwriters and very wealthy individuals. From there I went to private jets, where I lived out my adult career.
The benefits of flying for private jets is first and foremost the pay. The pay can be as much as ten times what the commercial gals make. You do work for it though, although not always. You do not really have a schedule, you go when they call you. Unless you work full time for a corporation (which I’ve done), they usually have a somewhat adhered to schedule. The airline flight attendants travel around the world on other airlines for almost free. Private jet or corporate flight attendants do not have that option. But we get paid to travel around the world. And we stay in much better hotels and resorts.
Q: What was your most awkward celebrity encounter?
A: The most awkward celebrity encounter was flying Johnny Carson. He never said a word to me (or anyone), he just stared off into space. He was with his wife who did all the talking for him. But it was definitely odd behavior. I have no explanation for it, whatsoever.
Q: Are the regulations any different for private jets then they are for commercial jets?
A: Yes, regulations are VERY different for private vs. commercial flight attendants. There are “Federal Aviation Regulations” or FAR’s that we must follow. Part 121 is airlines. Part 91 is owner operated private jets – this is when I fly for someone who owns his own jet, I am not a flight attendant per say, but maybe a cabin attendant or just a passenger. It is up to the owner if I need emergency training or not. Part 135 is a private jet that is offered for hire – a charter corporation. If someone “hires” a private jet to take them some place then we as flight attendants have to be emergency trained and follow much more detailed rules than an owner operator. Because if you’re for hire, then the charter outfit is responsible not the owner.
Q: What has been the most effective thing you have done to promote your book?
A: The original Amazon advertisement worked the best. Now, I would say social media, word of mouth and interviews like this. But social media has kept it selling in between radio interviews. I’m hoping to get on television as well – to main stream it.
Q: Why do you think people are so fascinated by wealth and fame?
A: I think it’s because it takes them “away” from where they are. It’s like a movie, a People magazine or anything of that nature. It turns off their own minds and lets them be entertained by another avenue. The rich and famous have always been the avenue people want to hear about. That’s what the general public believes makes the best life. Plus the media of the world we live in promotes it nonstop, so even if we aren’t interested, it’s hard to be kept in the dark. Unless you don’t have a television or a computer! But then you still have a library!!
Q: What are some of the best e books you have read recently and what made them enjoyable?
A: I really enjoy spiritual genre’s and autobiographies. I like true, honest real life stories like Steven Tyler’s autobiography, which was hilarious! I I also really love The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, it is my bible and I adore The Secret, etc. I enjoy books that I can learn something through. That makes me feel wiser and more knowledgeable. Esepecially knowledge about a world a know nothing about – like most people don’t know what it is like to fly on a private jet for a living!
Q: What were some of the more challenging elements of your job?
A: Challenging elements would be time. Time is sometimes your friend and often not. The time changes around the world can get you to the point where you don’t know if you should eat breakfast or dinner! Also, waiting for passengers. Some of them have kept us as a flight crew waiting for hours and we still have to fly for across the country or farther. Sometimes sleep is out of the question. And a short flight with a full meal service is extremely challenging. It’s very difficult to feed ten people on a one hour flight and clean it all up before you land. You must be pre-prepared.
Q: I have known many people who work for the rich and famous and they were all were touting around a bottle of anti-depressants, wearing an angry look and an, “Eat the Rich” tee shirt. Why do you think some people have such a hard time dealing with the wealthy?
A: I’m guessing they are very demanding. I only had a few passengers like this, but yes, they were awful! If one has to work for a high stress demanding type that would definitely be tough. I had one passenger who was like this but worse and I refused to fly him again. So if you work for one of these types, you might need an anti-depressant! I’m sure they get highly paid (like me) but is it worth it? I think not! My favorite owner treated me like family and I still adore him. We had so much fun traveling around the world together.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.