This week's featured service industry professional is with Ms. Emily Dayon, a flight attendant on private aircraft. For more than five years, Emily has been jet-setting with celebrities, millionaires, billionaires, super-star athletes and royalty.
Could you tell our audience what a VIP flight attendant on a private aircraft does?
A corporate VIP flight attendant is a trained professional that is employed on multimillion-dollar private aircraft for either a private owner, corporation, or for a charter operation. We are the ones responsible for the comfort and safety of passengers. We also take on the role of personal concierge, shopper, etc.
Our duties also include making sure the plane is properly sanitized for the wellbeing of the clients and crew. Some days we are also acting as inflight sommeliers, others we are a nanny or pet sitter. Each day and client bring something new to the table and we are prepared to handle anything that comes our way, anywhere worldwide.
If someone were thinking about getting into the business, what would you tell them?
It takes a very special kind of mindset to do this job. Being on call 24/7, being prepared for any client, any destination, year-round is not easy. If you love a challenge, can read people like a book, remain calm under pressure, and are great with food prep and serving, then this could be an amazing career path.
How does someone get work in your industry?
Training and networking are vital! Emergency training prepares you for the worst possible scenario, including medical and evacuation procedures. Without training, operations will likely not have you as a cabin attendant. Training is not the cheapest but can be earned back fairly quickly in this industry and only takes about one week. But don’t go quitting your job just yet! It is very competitive and could take several months before someone has you onboard. Find networking platforms like Facebook groups and LinkedIn to make those connections and learn from those with experience. This would also be a great time to learn food safety, as well as formal service.
Of course flying around on private jets to exotic destinations with rock stars, celebrities and billionaires must be exciting; but it must have some downsides also. What are some of the pros and cons of the business?
The biggest downside is usually not being able to have more time in most places, or have as much time to prepare for the next leg. There are always going to be rough days due to maintenance issues, weather, catering not showing up, passenger delays, etc.
You also miss a lot of what is happening back home, especially special occasions and holidays. On the flip side, I have spent Christmas in Turks & Caicos, been to the top of Tokyo Tower & Tower of Pisa, and met some incredible people of all backgrounds. Every day is a challenge and that’s what makes it exciting -- and the hotel points certainly don’t hurt either!
Can you be employed full time by one company, or do you have to contract with a number of different private jet companies to get steady work?
You can absolutely work full time or as a contractor for a variety of operators. Getting started, freelance is the most common or working with a large aircraft and crew with their own training programs.
As a full-time flight attendant, your training and benefits are fully covered, but you will be bound to their schedule. As a contractor you can turn down trips, but still need to be prepared for that last-minute call.
You must have some really amazing stories about things you seen. Any one thing that sticks out in your mind as truly exceptional as a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
Too many to count! I have flown with royals, celebrities, legendary athletes, and dozens of billionaires. One of my craziest stories: I was on a 21-day trip from California to the Middle East and Europe. About 5 days into the trip, we received word the owner needed to get back to the San Francisco area immediately… from Tel Aviv. I sprinted up and down the streets of the city to get food and stock for the long journey back with two stops in between and a pilot pick up in Iceland. I created a 5-star meal from scratch on a Gulfstream with only moments to prepare.
Any final thoughts that you would like to share with us that we haven't asked you about?
During Covid-19 times, the industry is hurting. Thousands have been laid off, operators have shut down, and nations are barring entry to foreigners around the world. We have changed the way we interact on-board, serve, and sanitize. The silver lining is that experts project a strong growth in private air travel as clients seek a cleaner, safer way to fly. Corporate flight attendants are nothing if not resilient, and as the industry slowly comes back, we will be ready to fly again.
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Written for assistants and estate managers working for celebrities, CEOs, UHNW families, billionaires and royalty