Plane Speaking: Recommended In-flight Reading


Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses

When this book first came out in 1967, it was considered racy, with its tales of on-air shenanigans told in the voices of free-spirited stewardesses Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones. Publisher Penguin now lists it as fiction by Donald Bain but the stories remain hilarious, and you can even see the origins of naughty stereotypes. But more than that, it is a chronicle of the times when flying was glamorous, sexy and a huge occasion.

Flying by the Seat of My Pants: Flight Attendant Adventures on a Wing and a Prayer

This book can make you see flight attendants in a new light. Marsha Marks, a former stewardess, has compiled anecdotes from twenty years in the airline industry, which will leave you empathising even while laughing out loud.

Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant’s Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet

The annoying co-passengers, the cramped space, wailing babies, and other travel horror stories are magnified when told in the voice of Elliott Hester, a flight attendant who has to deal with this on a day-to-day basis. He talks about the hazards of modern air travel: the passenger from hell, a smuggled python, prostitutes working the lavatories, heists, hefty carry-on bags, the Mile High Club and more.

Glamour and Turbulence: I Remember Pan Am, 1966-91

Aimee Bratt’s book looks at the rise and downfall of Pan Am, the first airline that gave birth to the jet set. This is a must read if you are an avid aviation enthusiast.

Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants

Kathleen Barry traces the journey of stewardesses as icons of femininity, from being glamourised ideal women to trade unionists and activists, who encouraged discrimination on basis on age, sex and marital status. This book looks beyond the conventional image of female flight attendants, and looks instead at the progress they have made as a profession.

Around the World in a Bad Mood!: Confessions of a Flight Attendant

A flight attendant for nearly two decades, Rene Foss has looked at the hilarious aspects of the profession, in a revue first performed in 2000. This book is its print version with stories of troublesome passengers and confessions of flight attendants.

Betty In the Sky With a Suitcase: Hilarious Stories of Air Travel by the World’s Favorite Flight Attendant

Betty is the pseudonym of flight attendant featured in the podcast, Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase. The funny posts about pilots, flight crew and controllers, crew, passengers and fellow flight attendants have been turned into this book, an amusing read for flyers who want to know the lives of their attendants more closely.

Working the Skies: The Fast-Paced, Disorienting World of the Flight Attendant

For this book about the life of the modern-day flight attendant, Drew Whitelegg interviewed over sixty flight attendants and also drew upon his own experiences as a flyer. It gives a behind-the-scenes story of the profession, its demands and challenges amidst a dwindling economy in the post-9/11 world.

The Plane Truth!: Shift Happens at 35,000 Feet

This book, also written by Wysong under his pen name, A Frank Steward, comprise 70 short stories that talk about in-flight incidents, the state of the airline industry and also speaks about the crews in flights hijacked on 9/11.

Flying High With A Frank Steward: More Air Travel Tales From the Flight Crew

This is James Wysong’s advice to air travellers, and contains tips on handling the traffic at airports, security clearance, baggage issues and even fellow passengers. It also narrates different touching and amusing stories about the lives of passengers and flight attendants. Most of these come from his own experience as a flight attendant who is married to a pilot.

Bad Flight Attendant

This book is a compilation of the hilarious misadventures Anthony Norris in his maiden year in the airline industry. It shows how lives of flight attendants really are, with tales of quarrels, work grievances, failed romances and juice can races along the airplane aisle.

Ask the Pilot: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel

Patrick Smith, who answers queries of nervous and/or curious flyers in the Salon column ‘Ask the Pilot’, explains the science of flying and if it is still the safest way to travel, amidst other doubts like the likeliness of turbulence resulting in a crash, the cause of the bump during climbouts, the reason behind trays being stowed before landing, and so on.

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