After decades as a flight attendant on private jets, Lori has encountered it all. There was a pot-bellied pig who got on the plane on his own, a celebrity’s watchdog who bit a crew member and a British footballer who asked if he could change his panties. “He got his ass naked right in front of me,” said Lori, who asked to be identified only by his first name.
It was not his only meeting with the footballer. On another trip, he boarded his plane in New York City after spending the night partying with his wife. As Lori made her way to the athlete’s cabin, her assistant asked her to stop. “They kiss on the back,” said the assistant. She shrugged and stayed away.
“I don’t think it’s inappropriate personally, because it’s literally their coming home,” she told the Daily Beast. “They pay millions and millions of dollars. If I was them, and I paid that amount of money, and I wanted to fuck my husband, I would.
Such is the life of a flight attendant for the ultra-rich, where customers pay anywhere from thousands of dollars for a single charter to millions for a full-time share of a plane. Equally important is the gap in passenger behavior.
The attendants have divulged us a host of wild tales, from wacky advice to lascivious escapades. Most spoke on condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements and feared jeopardizing their relationships with clients and employers.
Together, they offered a rare look at some closely watched lifestyles. “It’s like you tap into the world of these people,” said one industry veteran. Some customers, she said, travel with a nanny for each child, while others use private jets as a shipping service for their pets.
“These planes are just a means of transport for these people,” she said.
The stories of hijinks from miles high have long attracted the attention of the general public. In 2019, a California congressman pleaded guilty to abusing campaign funds, including buying plane tickets for his pet rabbits, Eggburt and Cadbury. (The rabbits would have flown commercially.)
Meanwhile, fallen WeWork founder Adam Neumann is said to have smoked weed with his friends on a private flight to Israel that same year, leaving behind a large amount of weed for their return home. the House. The panicked airline, worried about the so-called “cross-border transport of marijuana”, allegedly abandoned him in the Holy Land.
Flight attendants who spoke to the Daily Beast said they had rarely encountered problems with drugs; alcohol is of greater concern. “This is certainly, in my opinion, probably the most sensitive subject,” said an employee based in the Northeast. “In advertising there’s a lot of saving if people get rowdy or whatever. But in private it’s really hard to cut a billionaire out their airplane.”
For the most part, business people tend to behave well, staff members said, as they often just move from one conference room to another. Celebrities, professional athletes, and wealthy kids are more prone to debauchery, as are aspiring billionaires. “They’re all crazy about wealth, but the less wealthy … were the most demanding,” said a southern-based contractor.
Some lucky ones have yet to accumulate war stories. “I have been blessed. I’ve never had a big problem with any of my guests, ”says an attendant.
One of his peers has a different record: “You would get a [customer] and … after the trip you were like, “I hope I never have that person again.” “
“On the commercial side, there’s a lot of saving if people get rowdy or whatever. But in private, it’s really hard to cut a billionaire off his plane.“
Several private jet staff have said they entered the business after exhausting themselves as agents for commercial airlines, where starting salaries can be brutally low. In many airlines, workers are paid on the basis of ‘block time’ – the time between when the plane’s doors close before take-off and when they open after landing – said a former commercial agent at the Daily Beast. As a result, staff are often unpaid for the time they spend traveling, waiting at airports or helping passengers load their luggage.
An employee who previously worked at a traditional airline said she made just $ 21,000 in her first 12 months with the company, about five years ago.
“I lived in what we call a crash pad,” she said. “We had 14 people in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. The unit was intended as short-term accommodation for itinerant flight attendants, “but I lived there because I couldn’t afford to live elsewhere,” she said.
After two years, she followed a friend into the private jet business. “Of course, when someone offers me double the pay by working with famous people, it looks very attractive,” she said. His first full-time concert paid him an annual salary of $ 65,000.
Large private companies, like NetJets, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, are incredibly competitive to penetrate, flight attendants say. Once hired, employees are rigorously trained on how to interact with customers. The company keeps records on its customers, so flight attendants know their preferences before boarding the plane.
Most private jet employees say they don’t expect tips, but a tip of $ 100 per person at the end of a flight is always appreciated. In rare cases, customers are known to hand out extravagant bonuses, with these stories quickly making their way through the whispered network of flight attendants.
A VIP attendant said a customer offered him a free Super Bowl ticket after dropping him off at the game; she refused, choosing to stay with the rest of the crew. Another worker who spent time in the Middle East said customers were known to hand out Rolexes, even “suitcases full of cash.” That kind of madness.
The attendants said they quickly got used to unusual assignments. Once, recalls a contractor, two private jet customers died in an accident while on vacation abroad.
“I had to pick up the body bags,” she said.
In some cases, no human passenger boards the aircraft. Instead, designer dog breeders use the jets to ship puppies to their new homes, or distant spouses move pets between mansions.
“I noticed this particular case with these two beautiful dogs,” said a current flight attendant. “The wife would have it that week, then the husband would come in and pick up the animals. You are really stepping into personal life.
“He kind of casually threw the sheets away, and he was just laying there all pale and frail in his little pantyhose.“
For high-end aviation workers, celebrity transportation is part of the job, although each star has their own particularities. A flight attendant described a famous actress who suffered from anorexia. The crew members were ordered to hide all visible traces of food. Otherwise, “she would go through the food and purge herself on the plane,” the worker said.
Another attendant recently took on an international flight with a famous singer. After the paparazzi attempted to storm the plane, an armed guard escorted the passenger and crew to their hotel, and they had to guard the plane overnight to prevent break-ins.
In a third, more troubling case, a flight attendant said she took a tech billionaire to her resort across the country. He asked her for a wake-up call towards the end of the trip. Just before landing, she walked over to her bed.
“He kind of casually threw the sheets away,” she said, “and he was just laying there all pale and frail in his little pantyhose.”
She added that private jet staff frequently see things that could make a tabloid big money, but they diligently protect confidentiality.
Eventually, some salaried flight attendants choose to quit their jobs with private jet companies, opting for contractual contracts that typically pay between $ 500 and $ 800 per mission day, even when the plane is on the ground.
“If you take a family to Hawaii for two weeks [and] you sit there in your hotel room, you still get that paycheck, ”says an industry veteran. “And they prepare your food and they pay for your hotel. It’s a great concert.
“It’s really easy to get used to this contract money,” said another longtime employee. There are downsides, however, including an unpredictable schedule and tasks that come and go. “You have to say yes to travel because you don’t know when the next one is going to arrive… The work-life balance is not always there.
All of the flight attendants who spoke to the Daily Beast said they wanted to stay with the company. “In aviation, we are our own little kind of people,” said an attendant. “In our DNA, we give to people, we are nurturers.” And after all, the super-rich need to be fed too.