Republic’s Communications and Marketing Strategist Aryn Richey chats with IND-based Flight Attendant Lauren Pruitt to discuss her career progression and what opportunity she has found in a flight attendant career that took off at Republic three years ago.
Aryn: Lauren, as you know, you and I went to college together (Go Sycamores!) and happen to be sorority sisters. I remember when you had shared that you were diverting from pursuing a career in criminology to exploring a career in aviation.
I don’t know if you remember this, but in that conversation, you eagerly shared your interest in becoming a flight attendant, and my advice to you was to take the more “corporate” route like myself. Now, I feel like I need to offer some explanation. Being a year older and, at the time, approaching my one-year mark with Republic, I was excited to help another newcomer navigate the industry. I knew that our flight attendants are highly trained, safety-oriented aviation professionals, but at the time, I didn’t see the connection from the path you had previously pursued. I’m so glad I didn’t scare you from deciding to becoming a flight attendant— the role has certainly served you well, and I’ve enjoyed watching your journey from afar. I must admit, there are many days I wish to switch places when I’m hopping from one meeting room to another, and you’re jet-setting across the U.S.!
Lauren: I actually remember that conversation and I am so glad that I had you to guide me in the right direction. You were the first person I knew at Republic and I am thankful for all of the advice you gave me going into my career! It’s also nice to see the corporate side as well and how much you have succeeded at Republic.
Aryn: Well since then, you certainly have proved to excel as a flight attendant and embrace the lifestyle and opportunities that come with it–that the experience is what you make of it. As you know, there truly is no better time than now to join the aviation industry—the demand for travel is only increasing and a flight attendant role is the perfect way to explore our exciting industry. Tell me a bit about how you made the decision to leap into the Flight Attendant role and what life has been like since.
Lauren: I knew I wanted to become a flight attendant a few years before I graduated from college. Once it got closer to the application process, I started doing my research on what airline I wanted to work for. I knew I wanted to be based in Indianapolis and fly for either American, Delta or United. Republic was absolutely the right fit. I submitted my application to Republic’s website (RJet.com) and was invited to an in-person interview (which has since become a virtual interview process) and a few days later finally got the phone call that would change my life.
Once I accepted my conditional job offer, I was given a class date to begin training which was just two weeks after I graduated from Indiana State University! Training took place in Indianapolis, and it was paid throughout the three and a half weeks which was extremely helpful and rare in this industry. Flight Attendant training is rigorous but completely manageable if you study. During the 3.5 weeks, I learned how to perform CPR and first aid, how to evacuate our aircraft in under 90 seconds in various scenarios, how to perform beverage and food service among several other procedures. Just weeks after graduating from college, I earned my wings and moved on to the operating experience portion where I flew on four flights with an instructor where they officially signed off on me becoming a Republic Airways flight attendant!
Aryn: It must have been such a surreal experience earning your wings— what does it mean to you to wear those every day?
Lauren: Earning my wings was one of my biggest accomplishments this far. Finally putting those on my uniform signified making it through rigorous training and finally achieving my dream of becoming a flight attendant. The flight attendant hiring process is competitive, and it’s not lost on me that not everyone gets to work at 30,000 feet every day. It is such a privilege to be a flight attendant, especially at Republic, and wearing my wings everyday still gives me so much joy.
Aryn: It gives me so much joy hearing that. Share with me a bit about your average day on the job— what you like most, what took you most by surprise?
Lauren: My favorite part of my job is interacting with all my passengers. I am definitely a talker, and I love getting to know people and finding out where their trip is taking them. I have met some awesome people on my flights! Something that took me by surprise was how much flight attendants multitask. Boarding is a big one since you are simultaneously greeting people, taking the first-class passengers’ jackets, screening everyone’s bags, and still keeping a smile on your face. You have to be able to multitask well and deal with many types of situations, a lot of which happens in the boarding process.
The flight attendant role is such a unique job. An average day on the job is anywhere between working 2-4 flights and overnighting in a hotel. I start and end all of my trips in Indianapolis which is great since that is where I live. Onboard, we start by greeting our passengers, making sure everyone is comfortable, and ensuring the passenger boarding process is complete for the flight to depart on time. We usually perform beverage service mid-flight depending on various circumstances, and then we oversee the deplaning process once we arrive to our destination. In between flights, we sometimes have time in the airport where we get something to eat or hang out with our crew. Once we’ve completed all trips for the day, we check into the hotel, and depending on how much time we have, we’ll explore the city or get dinner as a crew. Each day and each trip bring something new and exciting.
Aryn: The last year has been quite the test for our Company and industry as a whole. Tell me about what the last year has been like for you and what we’ll take from it as we enter this new normal?
Lauren: The last year has absolutely been tough for all of us, especially those in aviation. The start of the pandemic was definitely the scariest because of all the unknowns for our industry, not knowing if we’d keep the jobs we love so much. Thankfully with the help of our company and our Union, all active flight attendants and pilots were able to keep their jobs. I think the main takeaway from this past year is just to take care of each other. Make sure to treat everyone with respect. There has been a lot of loss during this time so it is important to be kind. We are all going through this together!
Aryn: Well said— seeing the way everyone has come together to take of one another really has been the silver lining of the last year. Share with me a bit about your work/life balance and how you make time for yourself outside your flight attendant duties?
Lauren: The flight attendant lifestyle definitely takes a little time to get used to. Like any job, it takes effort to balance work, family, friends and other activities, but you eventually find your groove. I am a social person, so I try to fill my days off with hanging out with friends and family. I am so lucky that they all live pretty close. I also try my best to stay active and enjoy running. Thankfully, running is easy to do on layovers since there’s usually a gym or trail close to our hotel.
Aryn: While it takes adjustment, the flight attendant lifestyle really seems like such an adventure. What qualities do you feel make the ideal flight attendant?
Lauren: There are so many qualities that make an ideal flight attendant. I think the top one is being adaptable. As a flight attendant, you are thrown into many different situations— you will be in multiple cities per week, multiple time zones and on call your first few months. You have to be willing to go with the flow. Even having three years of experience, I still have to be flexible because some days don’t go the way you plan. At one moment you think you will end up in Florida for the night, meeting up with a friend, and the next you find out you’re being reassigned to New York City. Aviation is an amazing–but sometimes unpredictable–industry, and you have to be willing to accept that.
Another quality that makes an ideal flight attendant is being empathetic. You are going to interact with large numbers of people daily, some on their way to a funeral, some who missed their flight or some who just got married! It is important to treat everyone with a smile and to listen if they are willing to share their story with you. Sometimes you are all they have in that moment, and they will remember the way you treated them for a very long time. As flight attendants, we have the power to make a difference, even if it is just for one flight.
Aryn: You’ve certainly found ways to expand your career beyond your day-to-day flight attendant responsibilities. Tell me a bit about what professional development opportunities you’ve had in contributing to Republic beyond your crew member role.
Lauren: I have had the best three years working at Republic as a flight attendant, but I have also had some amazing professional development opportunities aside from flying. I have had the opportunity in helping with video projects, social media engagement and community events like our annual Plane Pull! I recently was able to help with training videos that our new hires will see which was so much fun! I think it’s so important to put yourself out there and meet as many people as you can because you never know what opportunities are to come. There is so much room for growth here at Republic.
Aryn: I always enjoy having an opportunity to work with you! What has been your most memorable trip so far—either leisure or work?
Lauren: Hands down the best perks of being a flight attendant are the flight privileges! Having the freedom to fly on all three partners is the greatest thing. My most memorable trip this far was going to Paris, France on a whim. I remember sitting on my couch at home thinking about going to Paris, and then three hours later I was sitting in First Class on my way. I went by myself, and it was the coolest trip ever. It was also my first international trip, so I learned a lot. I spent my time wandering around the city and eating great food. The most memorable working trip that I’ve had was flying to Key West and having my mom meet me there. We had a 23-hour layover, and my mom hopped on the flight I was working! Having her on my flight was the craziest experience, and I embarrassed her by telling everyone she was my mom. She got to hang out with my crew as we laid by the pool and explored downtown Key West, which is always a fun time.
Aryn: I love that your mom was able to see a bit of your world and meet your fellow crew members. Tell me about that working culture—what’s it like working with a new set of colleagues each trip?
Lauren: Working with a new crew every trip is what keeps this job interesting. I love getting to know people and why they chose this job. Usually after just one flight you know their life story. I have made lifelong friends with flight attendants and pilots all because we happened to work a trip together. Most, if not all crew members, are here because they have a passion for it, and that creates an immediate bond. We all have at least one thing in common, and it’s the love for aviation.
Aryn: We all certainly have the “aviation bug”. Last question here, thinking back to beginning your career as a recent grad, what advice would you give those in a similar position who are considering pursuing a flight attendant career?
Lauren: My advice to recent grads who want to pursue a job in aviation is to do as much research as possible. The more prepared you are, the better. There’s a lot to cover in training, so it’s nice to go into it with an idea of what to expect. I went into training with a lot of knowledge from researching online and watching a lot of YouTube videos, and it helped me in preparing for an aviation career. My other piece of advice is to just do what you love. Early on in college I thought I wanted to go into criminal justice and work in law enforcement. It took one conversation with a pilot to change my whole outlook. At first, I was worried because it was pretty unconventional to graduate with a criminal justice degree then immediately pursue a career as a flight attendant. I probably would have enjoyed law enforcement, but I know for a fact I wouldn’t love it as much as I love aviation. Once you get a taste of this industry, you never want to leave. You will work your entire life, so why not love your job?