Flying with Celebrities – A Hidden Perk
There are many rewarding aspects to being a flight attendant, including discount travel benefits, scheduling flexibility, and the ability to see the world. But one of the most intriguing aspects of the job for me has been the chance to serve celebrities.
Celebrities need to travel, just like everyone else. Although some have their own private jets, the majority resort to transportation via regularly scheduled flights. A popular misconception is that celebrities, especially sports teams, will often charter an entire airplane for purposes of maintaining their privacy. Although this is sometimes the case, it is the exception rather than the rule. Sports teams and rock bands generally fly with the traveling public, and many times they can be found sitting in coach class!
With over 30 years of flying experience, I have had the opportunity to meet countless celebrities traveling on my flights. Some have been good experiences, some bad, and some downright ugly. Just a few of the celebrities I have met include: the Boston Celtics basketball team, the Boston Bruins hockey team, the New England Patriots football team, the Texas Rangers baseball team, Jimmy Fallon, Jerry Seinfeld, Alec Baldwin, Barack Obama (before he was President), Taylor Swift, Mike Tyson, Richard Simmons, Billy Ray Cyrus, Chris Matthews (Hardball), Leonardo DiCaprio, Hillary Clinton and the list goes on and on.
I have memories of many celebrities who were very polite and understanding of my job as a crewmember. If the celebrity is assigned a seat in first class, we usually know ahead of time, either from the passenger list or we get a warning from the passenger service agent. Not all celebrities are recognizable either. Oftentimes they look very different in person than they do on the silver screen or on your television. They usually are dressed down so as not to attract attention, and they very often want to be left alone after they board.
Part of my job is to ensure that celebrities onboard are not harassed by autograph hounds or people who just want to talk because they feel a certain celebrity is their best friend.
My Achy Breaky Heart
I’m not a real country music fan, but I will listen to it occasionally. But the day that Billy Ray Cyrus came onboard, I was converted. It seemed that Mr. Cyrus (of “Achy, Breaky Heart” fame and long before he was known as “the father of Miley Cyrus”) was traveling with his entourage to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. He boarded our flight in Nashville, sat in first class, and was extremely courteous.
During boarding, Mr. Cyrus asked if he could visit the cockpit. I ushered him up to see the pilots for a few minutes and he then returned to his seat. During the first-class service, I asked him where he was heading, and he said, “We’re doing a concert at the biggest Casino in the world.” Since I was based in Boston, I was quite familiar with Foxwoods, having been there several times. I responded, “That’s Foxwoods. I don’t live too far from there.” Mr. Cyrus then asked me if I would like to go to the concert. Of course, I took him up on it and he took my name and asked how many tickets I would need. The next day I received a Fedex overnight letter from Nashville with tickets to the show. The next night, I ended up taking my parents, brother and husband (5 of us) to the Billy Ray Cyrus concert. The complimentary seats he had reserved for us were at the “will-call” booth and were located in the front row. It was a great night!
My Celebrity Wall
Meeting celebrities is a very rewarding experience. In the days before smart phones, I always carried a camera with me. More recently, I take pictures with my iPhone camera and I now have a special wall in my home, which I call my “celebrity wall.” There are many photographs of me at work alongside many celebrities, most of whom I never would have had a chance to meet if I weren’t for this job. Those of you who elect to pursue a flight attendant career will also get to enjoy this seldom discussed aspect of the profession–and build your own celebrity wall.
Dee Dee Shaw is a flight attendant with over 30 years experience with a major airline.