From Birthday Cakes to 7-Step Teas, How One Charter Jet Attendant Makes Flights More Memorable

M.D. Seaton

Taylor Strickland, who used to work for commercial airlines, is now a cabin attendant for the aircraft-management and charter company Alerion Aviation. Her flights are primarily on a 13-seat Embraer Legacy 600 from New York to Florida and the Caribbean. But is the job all pie in the sky?

How does working commercial compare to working private?

On a typical private flight, the cabin attendant is everything: You’re the chef; you’re the server. You do it all—even catering. I like to order food from restaurants and try it all beforehand to make sure it’s up to my standards.

Related stories

I Flew in Gulfstream's New G500--Here's What Happened

Gulfstream's G500 Business Jet Steps onto the International Scene

5 Aviation Stories That Took Our Readers to New Heights

Do you receive unusual requests?

The strangest request was for how a passenger wanted their tea made. I was given a piece of paper with about seven steps on how to properly make the tea. It was a little nerve racking.

Did you get it right?

I did. I did. It took me a little longer than normal to make a cup of tea, but it did come out right.

What is one of your more memorable moments?

I had a passenger on her 12th birthday and had ordered a small cake and purchased a bracelet with her birthstone on it. She was so excited and wore the bracelet the entire time. In that moment, I realized I had the ability to make each flight a truly unique experience, which is very hard to achieve flying commercial.

What differences do you see between private and commercial fliers?

[Private passengers] are more relaxed. On commercial flights, many would be frustrated when they got on the plane. They had missed their connection, or were running behind so had to rush.

Anything you would advise them not to do or not to expect from you or the rest of the flight crew?

We want to get you where you’re going and make you as comfortable as possible; we want you to have as great an experience as possible, but sometimes there are hiccups, and sometimes they’re out of our control. We’ll do everything in our power to correct whatever hiccup there is, but we can’t control everything.

Like the weather, for instance? Do you find that the passengers, for the most part, recognize that there are certain things that are just beyond your control?

Yes, they do recognize that we can’t control the weather, and they want to be safe. We want to get you to your destination as fast as possible, but we want to be safe, too. If we have safety concerns, we’re not going to take off. Safety comes first. Passengers are often very, very understanding, because they want to go home to their families, too.

Are there safety advantages to flying private?

Both are very safe…[but] having a smaller passenger count can make for a more easily controlled flight should there be any kind of emergency.