24 Hours in the Maldives and Other Hazy Memories

Sadly, I don’t know which island this is, but it’s definitely in the Maldives! (And yes, I took this photo myself)

24 hours in the Maldives

Why would someone go to the Maldives for just one day? One of my previous travel jobs was working as a flight attendant, which I only did for a couple of years, a while back.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to advertise this on my blog, since I don’t want to be forever labeled as a flight attendant in your minds: I’ve done so many other things and so many other travels. I have a university degree and I did lots of solo traveling before I met my hubby. I’ve done office jobs in tourism and also in completely unrelated fields. I’m adventurous, a daydreamer, I love photography, art, and chocolate. I’m also a horrible cook and I can’t sing at all. So please don’t only think of me as one of those tired, rude ex-flight attendants you’ve met somewhere on your travels and that you still have nightmares about. (Think of me as someone who can’t sing! Just kidding.)

I always feel bad for my ex-colleagues being slammed in social media because most flights attendants I’ve met, here in Northern Europe, were always very friendly and genuinely tried to give their best customer service in every situation, despite the circumstances.

So, what was it like being a flight attendant? It was hectic, tiring, fun, annoying, amazing, a dream job, a lifestyle you chose and a huge jet-lagged blur. One day I’d be in a desert town in the UAE eating delicious shawarmas at the mall, the next day watching movies in my hotel room in a Scandinavian capital, then a quick visit home to do laundry and the next week I’d be sunbathing by the pool at a nice hotel in Thailand.

It was all so much, you didn’t know how to handle it at first. You appreciated it and at the same time took it for granted. I saw so much in such short stretches of time, it was almost like a loophole in time where one week seemed to last an eternity. At one point I was so jet-lagged that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. (Guess it depends on the perspective, too!) I’d look at my watch and I honestly couldn’t tell if it was 4:30 am or 4:30 pm and in which time zone.

Flight attendant jobs can probably be very different depending on your country and the airline, so I’m only speaking from my own experience. Some people say that the job isn’t as glamorous anymore, but I have to say it was pretty awesome in my opinion. It depends on what you compare it to. An ex-colleague put it well when she told me that she doesn’t mind at all smiling and pouring passengers as many drinks as they like for a couple of hours, since afterwards she gets to spend a whole week by the pool while it was mid-winter back home. To her mind, we were the ones who had the winning deal – after all, some weeks we only worked a couple of shifts. That’s less hours than in an office job and much more adventure. You felt alive, like you were doing something.

Obviously there’s the downside: always working holidays and night shifts and sleeping irregularly. I remember spending one Xmas by myself at an airport hotel, just waiting. They had sent me there in advance on one of the last flights before it slowed down for Xmas day so that I would be there, ready and positioned, for the connecting flight I was to work on after Xmas. They stacked me there like a bag of flour on a bakery shelf, to wait until I was needed. It was at times lonely, but that’s what you signed up for, so no complaining!

As a flight attendant, you do your grocery shopping abroad, and you get to know all the best hotel brekkies (my favorite was Sofitel Krabi, Thailand – back in those days, they made fresh fruit juice for you from whatever you hand-picked from a huge tropical fruit banquet, plus there was lots of everything else imaginable). You meet flight attendants with PhD’s in marine biology and who only dream of flying for a living, and your 12 h work shifts feel like 15 minutes but in your body you also feel like you’ve just run a marathon. Or been run over by a truck. Your pick.

I did both long haul and short haul but I preferred working in smaller planes doing short haul flights with a small crew. On those flights, I had more responsibility and I also got to do announcements in different languages, which I loved.

Flowers in the sand, in the Maldives

Some memorable flight attending moments from long haul trips

In the largest aircraft I worked in, we had a huge crew and a rotating mandatory rest period. When it was your turn, you’d go up to a crew rest area, so tiny you couldn’t stand straight. There were several little bunks, kind of like in a train but smaller. You’d choose a bed and strap yourself to it with a seatbelt and try to sleep, but not too well since you knew you had to wake up pretty soon anyway. For some reason, my rest period always coincided with the plane flying over mountains causing turbulence, the feeling of which was pronounced when you’re trying to lie down for a rest. I shook like an earthworm being held to the bunk by a thin seatbelt. Very strange. And no, I never fell asleep.

I also remember sitting in the crew taxi riding to a hotel from Dubai airport once and admiring an enormous orange moon over the dry landscape. It was beautiful. The rest of the crew was asleep or texting and I thought, am I dreaming this? Am I the only one seeing this moon?

I remember the lovely passengers who were always so curious to know about a flight attendant’s job or who told me about their holiday in Barcelona or their summer house in Switzerland. I remember all of those conversations. And I remember a sweet, elderly passenger politely helping his wife with her winter coat, like she were a princess and he had a proud smile on his face. After all those years together, he was still such a gentleman.

I remember the entire crew discreetly dancing and humming along to the airline’s boarding song on an empty airplane just before passengers boarded. I was positioned at the back so I had a great view.

And I remember watching tiny sharks swim in a circle in the shallow beach waters of an island in the Maldives. Which island? Unfortunately, I don’t know. It turned out, the regular crew hotel was overbooked so they had to relocate us onto a totally different island than we normally would have stayed at. They whisked us away on a little motor boat and we drank bottled water which tasted salty and we felt so sweaty in our full outfits, including obligatory silk scarves and sheer tights, even in this 30-40 °C temperature.

We were all so exhausted that we didn’t even ask where we were going. We just wanted to be there already. It all seemed so normal then. Crew arrangements were made by someone else and in between flights we were just responsible for showing up on time. When we arrived at the beautiful little island, we got our little (non-alcoholic) welcome drinks while the reception sorted us out, then we dragged our luggage in our high heels on the fine, white sand over to our bungalows.

We had each been assigned individual two-storey bungalows with private outdoor jacuzzis. Even the shower was outdoors, in the private little backyard you had to yourself. We all went to the beach together, had dinner, then we left in the morning. But before dinner, I went out to the beach by myself just one last time and looked around. I had always wanted to visit the Maldives but never had the money.

Through all my jet-lagged haziness, I still remember that moment clearly. The highlight of my 24 hours in the Maldives. The sky was pink, quickly getting dark. The water was the exact same color. And just as I was about to tip my toes into the water, I saw those little sharks swimming in a circle in front of me. Just like in a cartoon. That was my Maldives moment.

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40 responses to “24 Hours in the Maldives and Other Hazy Memories

  1. I’ve often wondered how flight attendants manage to do their job so well, if they’re suffering from jet lag. I’ve never experienced a rude one.They’ve all been very helpful and pleasant. Love your photo, wherever it is. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot of pros and a lot of cons with this job. I have only had excellent service from flight attendants… I admire them for their hard work, patience and organization. What made you leave in the end?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Organization skills are definitely something I developed in that job, as well as time management and light packing. A lot of flight attendents are also some kind of macgyvers, always inventing ingenious ways of doing things faster, better or easier, utilizing whatever random items were available (I never made it that far). I quit for many reasons, but one of them was that I noticed I was sleeping 17h nights on my days off and decided it was a bit too hectic of a lifestyle for me. But a great experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything!

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  3. I’ve always thought that I would have enjoyed being a flight attendant! It was not something I ever really considered at the proper time, but looking back, I think it would have been a perfect job for me. (Instead, I was/am a banker and a college professor!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never really planned to be a flight attendant either – I just wanted to work in the travel industry in any job. There’s a saying that people who don’t know what exactly they want to be when they grow up end up being flight attendants 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That was a really lovely and heartfelt post. It’s so nice to find out a little about you – and no, I won’t forever label you as a filight attendant, or someone who can’t sing! You’re obviously a much more complex and interesting person. Still, you did have an interesting life as a flight attendant. As for the Maldives… The islands look so beautiful, but they’re so very low.

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    • I was a bit sad I didn’t get a window view flying out of the Maldives (we traveled as passengers so I would have had the time to glue my nose to the window for once, but I had a middle aisle seat and couldn’t see anything). I really would have liked to have seen the atolls from above – you know one of those views you see in travel magazines? Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting, Millie! 🙂

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  5. What glorious memories and no, I shan’t remember you as “one of those” (and yes, I have done enough flights to say just that…), but rather as someone who did a little flight attending in her spare time, lol! 🙂

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  6. That is exactly what I thought when I read the heading:) Why would someone go to the Maldives for just one day? What lovely memories you have. I have always wondered how it is to be a flight attendant. I know it is not for me, I wouldn’t be able to handle ‘human’ part of it. On my flights I have overheard so many rude passages, they would just ruin my day! I am however glad you have happy memories from this time:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most passengers really are nice, lovely even 🙂 I was lucky enough to work for a couple of different airlines so I saw different types of traveling… Business passengers on short flights are the easiest because they travel so much, they know what they’re doing and just want to be left alone, mostly. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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  7. I think being flight attendant is awesome and cool at the same time. I always admire how the flight attendants always maintain their coolness and stay fresh when traveling more than 10 hours – it’s a non-stop job to serve customers. Thank you for sharing your story – 24 hours in a paradise country like Maldives and staying at two-storey bungalows with private outdoor jacuzzi, would be unforgettable experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not flight attedant but I love to sleep in plains and most of the times I fall sleep so fast that I do’n’t even realize when it take off or land. Lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m jealous. I interviewed to be a flight attendant once. I got through the first interview, and they flew me to Minnesota for the second interview. But I did not make it. I was a bit old, maybe, at the time. But I would have made a good attendant. I wanted the job for the traveling that was possible. The irregular sleeping might have become an issue. And the food I would have had to eat all the time (I never eat airline food…I take my own onboard every time I fly). Very nice article, love the photos. Love the layout of your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lots of airlines prefer to hire people with life experience and I for one would much rather fly with…hmmm…”sage” 30-50 year-olds than clueless 20 year-olds! Anyway, I’ve also had office jobs at a couple of airlines and they were fun, too. Lots of traveling during those times, weekend trips to Beijing, Shanghai, Dubai, leaving and returning straight to work to maximise the abroad time. Oh well, I was younger then and didn’t need as much sleep! For now, I’m happy blogging about those memories… The trips I do these days are different; longer and with a more relaxed pace! Thanks for visiting and commenting! PS. I mentioned you in a post. Just telling you this to let you know I’ve been a fan of yours for quite some time! Ciao!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have always admired flight attendants and most of my family and friends as well and till-dat we have never encountered an unpleasant experiences with them 🙂 They always make sure everything is alright with us and though it is part of their job, most of them have an air as to they are tending to their own family 🙂 I have always respected them on that score 🙂 And about Maldives I have had the privilege of spending 5-6 days there and I must say this article was a pleasant reminder of the visit to there 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Travel Bloggers – The Snow Melts Somewhere | Andy's World Journeys·

  12. So lovely to get a glimpse into your flight attendant past! I might have been a flight attendant at some point too if I hadn’t been this darn short 😉 Love your Maldives moment ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So nice to read this beautiful post. I, like many other people, am very curious about the lifestyle of cabin crew, so it was nice to read your experiences. I am glad you have a memory from Maldives. I still regret not choosing a 24 hours stopover in Male when traveling to Sri Lanka in February. The plane anyway had a fuel stop there, and I saw amazing views of the islands while landing and taking off. Need to save a lot of money to go there some day 🙂

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    • Thanks for your nice comment! I hope you get to visit it someday. It is a very expensive destination so I’m very lucky I got to go the for free. Though in all honesty, I do think Hawaii and Australia have just as beautiful beaches. I’m still a bit disappointed I didn’t see the Maldives from above, I bet that would’ve been amazing!

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  14. That Maldives moment. So beautiful, and gone so fast. I enjoyed reading this a lot. thanks for sharing. I miss the Maldives now and then.

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