When most people drive to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Hannah Watson flies.The 24-year-old Delta Air Lines flight attendant lives in Nashville, but is based out of Atlanta. So on the mornings of her trips she flies to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to begin her scheduled flights.
Graduating from training in November of 2014, Hannah has been on the line for almost a year.
“It’s definitely been a lifestyle change for me because I’m on the road constantly, but it’s nice too because it’s pretty flexible, and I can be home,” she said.
Originally from a small town in East Tennessee called Smithville, Hannah moved to Milan in West Tennessee halfway through high school.
She graduated from Milan High School in 2009 then attended Bethel University for three years until she took a job as an intern with The Life Church in Memphis.
“There, I was a part of the creative team,” she said. “We went out and did a lot of different interviews like testimonies and things as well as did stuff at the church like the lighting and sound for services and events.”
While there Hannah was involved in a lot of different ministries including the youth, worship and volunteering.
“Every Friday we went to the schools in the inner city and we would help feed a large amount of the students there. One of the highest infant mortality rates is in Memphis so that was such an awesome ministry we did,” she said.
NASHVILLE CALLED, HANNAH ANSWERED
After a year commitment as in intern in Memphis, Hannah felt a beckoning call to Nashville.
When she first arrived, she worked at an elementary school before her aunt approached her about becoming a flight attendant.
“My aunt referred me to the company and I was like, ‘you know what, I don’t have anything else going on, I might as well take an adventure,’” she said.
Hannah said she grew up with her aunt being a flight attendant and would look forward to seeing her on holidays because she would bring her presents and stories of where she’d been.
“It’s always kind of been in the back of my mind as something that seemed fun and something I could do,” she said. “Traveling is always nice and especially at my age because I don’t have a-whole-bunch of responsibilities.”
TRAINING and TRAVELING
Hannah said the training to become a flight attendant is not as easy as people would think. Six days a week for seven and a half weeks, she was in a classroom for about 12 hours a day with a 45 minutes break for lunch.
There were about 80 people in her training school at Delta Training Center in Atlanta.
“We had test every other day,” she said. “Customer service was maybe a few days, but most of it was how to save people’s lives, emergency and medical steps, as well as knowledge on the aircrafts, and that was insane. There are so many different aircrafts you have to know.”
Now, almost a year out of training, Hannah loves it.
She receives her schedule for flights at the end of the current month for the month ahead.
“In the summer, it’s pretty crazy,” she said. “We’re flying around seven trips a month, each of them three days longs, so it’s a lot of time for us junior people. When you’re more senior you take less of those trips,” she said.
Hannah said Delta offers bonuses for flight attendants who put in overtime, which gives some the chance to earn extra and gives others the opportunity to take time off that they need. She said attendants try to help each other out by covering trips for each other.
“When we get our schedule we can manipulate it how we want it. We have set days if we want but depending on how many flight attendants are needed we can move a trip up a day or back a day,” she said.
Hannah said when attendants come out of training they usually don’t have a choice of where they are based because of certain needs at certain airports, but she got lucky and had the opportunity to pick.
“I decided to be a commuter because I love Nashville, and I didn’t want to leave,” she said. “It’s only a 35 minute flight to Atlanta so I usually request my trips to be late sign-ins in the afternoons so I can leave that morning and go up the night before and make all that hassle. It’s very flexible if you want to live somewhere else and fly into work.”
Hannah flies for free, of course, but has to book jump seats, or seats used by crewmembers and government officials, before they’re all taken.
She said as a junior level flight attendant she isn’t scheduled for any international flights because they’re in high demand for the more senior level attendants.
Six days out of the month, Hannah is on-call so she has to be in Atlanta. During that time, she can maneuver trips around to make room for an international flight if they don’t need her anywhere else.
“They’ll send you whenever they need you. I’ve had friends who have gone to Honolulu, and Rio de Janeiro at the last minute. I’ve been to Jamaica, Cancun, Sao Paulo, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Canada. I haven’t gone to Europe yet but I really want to,” she said.
Hannah likes her off days so she doesn’t like to pick up trips unless she has an extensive amount of time where she can.
For her, the best part about the job is having a great crew. She said it could make all the difference in a flight if the crew is able to have fun as well as coordinate well together. On the other hand, she said being lonely is a downside to the job.
“Being alone on Christmas and away from family is hard,” she said. “But thank God for FaceTime and Skype.”
She said through Delta she’s offered one companion pass, which allows a family member, significant other, or friend to fly at a highly discounted price.
“That’s awesome, because you don’t always have to travel alone,” she said.
BETTER THAN EXPECTING
“I don’t think I would ever chose to go to Philadelphia or Pittsburg, but since I get to go, I’m going to go out and explore the city and it’s amazing because I find myself liking it more than I thought I would,” she said.
“It’s nice to just travel all over the country and all over the world for free, and getting paid doing it, and then getting a few hours or a few days in a city that you’ve never been to,” she said.
Hannah said she’s been pleasantly surprise by what she’s found in small cities in the U.S. like Birmingham and others because she might find the make up she likes or a new coffee shop she enjoys.
“I love the Northeast. I’ve been to Rhode Island and Portland, Maine and they are just really quaint places. One time, I went sailing in Portland, and it was so beautiful. I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as a layover it ended up turning out to be,” she said. “It’s cool when you’ve never heard about a town and then you end up there and it turns out being one of your favorite layovers.”
COMMUNITIY is HUGE
“The communities I surround myself with are the people I admire and want to do life with every day. It’s that close-knit community that I truly cherish,” she said. Hannah said she also loves meeting people and making new friends. She often times meets up with friends from Instagram in the places she visits.
“Taylor, one of my best friends now, and I met on Instagram , but now she’s one of those close-knit people in my community and we make it intentional to hangout, talk or Snapchat each other every day,” she said.
Hannah said she’s a huge advocate for community and having her roots planted. She said that’s something she values because she’s gone all the time.
“Being able to have a community and have my roots planted, not only in people but in an area to call home is huge for me.”
Hannah loves Nashville and calls the community here amazing.
“It’s small enough to get around, but there’s always something to do. It’s good to be in a place you recognize. I always tell people about Nashville when I’m on the road or in the air,” she said.
“It’s so creative too, in every way, and it’s awesome because I’m a pretty creative person and just to be around people like that is really cool. So many people move to Nashville because of their creativity, whether it’s photography, music or graphic design, and it’s cool to hear people’s stories of why they’re here.”
Hannah said she’s been the most intentional when it comes to building relationships with her crewmembers. She said she’s found a few flight attendants that she adores and hangs out with during layovers in the same cities.
“I love growing in relationships with those people that I work with because they understand how I feel. It’s cool to build a community like that even though we’re always on the go, but we share the same lifestyle so that connects us.”
Hannah said what matters to her in life right now are her relationships. Her and her boyfriend, Will, are hoping to get engaged soon.
“[Being a flight attendant] is not what I want to do for the rest of my life, but it’s a great job to have right now with no house payments or kids running around,” she said.
She said right now her job is helping her become financially stable so that one day her soon to be fiancé and herself can live their dream of raising cattle and owning an organic market garden.
Hannah said she hopes to impact people’s lives along the way. She said her faith has a lot to do with it because she is a Christian.
“There are a ton of flight attendants who are not Christians, and I work for a very liberal company so a lot of the views I have are very opposite of theirs. I’m focused on just loving people as a Christian and showing them that Christians aren’t so judgmental and having them respect my views as I’m respecting theirs.”
To keep up with Hannah and her travels, follow her on Instagram: @hansintheairr.
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