Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hip + Urban Girl of the Week: Shannon-Leigh Jones

Being a flight attendant is one of those dream jobs that I have always wanted.  Free flights, interesting destinations, the parties, the people and just the life you get to lead as someone who travels for a living.  We catch up with Ms. Shannon-Leigh Jones, an In-flight Service Director at Air Canada to tell us what the high life is like.
So what made you want to become a Flight Attendant?  Some things are just meant to be.  I needed a summer job to make some cash for school. I ended up staying on for good.

What type of training did you have to do to become qualified for the job?  Every airline puts you through an intensive 6-8 week training program specific to the airline in accordance with Transport Canada Regulation.  Annual recurrent training is required to maintain your qualification. 
Everyone wants to know about the perks!  
The BEST perk are the travel benefits!  We get serious discounts throughout the industry with airlines and hotels across the globe for personal travel.  When I go to work everyday - it's a new destination, new language, new food...so it's easy to mix up work and fun.  It's also amazing for meeting people. I've been lucky enough to meet tons of ‘personalities’, which is always a fun novelty to spice up my day. 
What is a typical schedule of a Flight Attendant?
I would say this is an extension of the 'perks' question.  Typically...well our schedule is not typical!  Some weeks I work 5 days and some weeks I have 5 days off.  Fortunately as you get more senior there is a lot of freedom to dictate where and how you work. So it becomes very individual.  I usually work a ton so I can have a bunch of days off at once to go away and totally relax. It's about 50/50 on off per month.

What are some of the disadvantages of your job, that maybe we don't think about?
Disadvantages, hmmm.... It's tough to have a life in the real world! You don't have the stability that comes with being in the same place at the same time every Thursday night or Saturday afternoon. So life is more like a series of little adventures strung together, kind of like a catch me if you can. So it can be hard to develop a life routine. You're all over the place all the time. 
Do all the Flight Attendants hang out together?  Or are you all so exhausted talking to people that everyone just crashes on down time?  Well we work with new people everyday so it’s like continuous speed dating. Sometimes there's a connection and you keep the day going on solid ground, it's especially tempting overseas.  My very best friend and I have only worked one day together.  Sometimes meeting 400 people in one day is just too much and you have to hibernate or hide behind a closed door to recharge for the next day.  
Favourite destinations of all time?
Italy.... or Israel.  I've been trying to choose for a decade and just can't. They both offer amazing food, beautiful diverse landscapes, history that is larger than life.
Best place to travel to on a budget?
Thailand. It’s the only place that I haveve been where $500.00 can last you for two weeks comfortably.
Best splurge destination to travel to?
Oooh, New York City!  It's so worth it because there are so many options!  You can shop till you drop, get the best expensive dinners or sample every bit of pizza in Manhattan.  New York has theatre, boat cruises and gorgeous accommodation that ensure the lap of luxury. You can get dolled up and feel like the toast of the town at a hot nightspot. New York is great because it's surprisingly close to home.  Big points for accessibility too - which is how i like to do it.  
Longest flight time?
15:30 from Toronto - Hong Kong
What did you study in University/College?  Would you have done anything differently?
What didn't I study!  I never really figured out what I wanted to do. Contrary to popular belief a post-secondary flight attendant course doesn't add to your application.  Every airline has its own specific training and even prefers to train from scratch.  I have to say this job has been the best education and I could be in marketing with this experience. You learn so much about people and the world, how different cultures and countries do things and how different their realities are.  There's something about the smell when you get to the airport in Hawaii that a book just can't explain.  I feel very fortunate with the way things have turned out.
Where are your favourite places to hang out in Toronto? 
Crush Wine Bar in King West. 
Tell us about your neighbourhood and what you like best about it.
My neighbourhood is the Entertainment district near King & John.  I love the area for its 'lights, camera, action' appeal. The Princess of Wales and Royal Alex Theatres and  The Bell Lightbox are all nearby.  The lights give life to just walking outside.  Now that we've got the Film Festival headquarters down here the city is always abuzz during TIFF too.  The King St. strip of restaurants is always fun for a night out. 
What do you wish someone told you when you were younger and just starting out?
Trust yourself every time, you know more than you think.  Your gut always makes the right decision.  SEIZE every magnificent opportunity because no matter what they say it IS your last. Lightning doesn’t strike twice. You don't want to look back on your life and see a book of 'could have beens'.  Even if you think there's a reason you can't, no one ever expects you to be perfect except you. Make an effort to surround yourself with greatness, osmosis is inevitable. 
What life advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure out what they want to do?
Just try it (whatever your IT is).  It's all out there waiting for someone to make it happen.  Don't limit yourself with your imagination. Go farther than you had planned, do more than you had planned. It's a big world full of wonders out there waiting for you to add your bit and the clock is ticking.

What else do you do when you're not flying around the world?  My years of globetrotting have led me to managing a holiday rental here in the city.  It's my way of unequivocally encouraging all the benefits I've found in travel.  I am an avid promoter of the STAYcation - Where locals who feel like they might not be able to get physically far away can still indulge and recreate that feeling and travel experience by treating themselves to a vacation in town!  Reserving a suite for a few nights is a great way to get to know our city and honestly have a holiday in a new and exciting atmosphere.  It does really put a spark in what can seem like a drab winter especially!  

HUG Readers can get a deal for their own staycation or for friends & family coming from out-of-town @  $99.00/night for their  Feb/Mar Stay-cation. Mention promo code: HUG.

Learn more about Shannon-Leigh:

Facebook: Zinniaproperties


  1. I admire you as I am scared to death of flying.

    Suggestions for dealing with turbulence (as I have a trip scheduled for next Monday and don't want to have an anxiety attack like I did on my last flight?)??

  2. Hi Meredith,

    Another time the cliche fits. Knowledge is Power! Turbulence is a change in air temperature or direction (a new air mass), not something to do with the actual machine itself! and planes are built to withstand MUCH MUCH more than anything you'd find an airliner flying through - the pilots and ATC make SURE of that. So next time just know that it means you're getting closer to your destination the world outside is changing around you, warmer, new wind currents, new altitude, different terrain below. Looking at your flight attendants is always a good measure, when in doubt nothing dreaming of that celebratory pina colada won't fix. Happy Landings :)

    [JUST FOR YOU: out of the mouth of one of our pilots I asked for you today "we change altitude more for passenger comfort than for the airplane"]

  3. Awesome work! Loved the article and the insight.

  4. Hi Hip and Urban Shannon
    No one else could have written this any better.Your writing skills and style is superb. I really enjoyed reading your HUG masterpiece. You do have an untapped talent you havent explored as yet. Good luck.


  5. Shannon....

    Thanks for the reply! I am actually going through a 'Fearful Flyers' program. I do not want to repeat what happened on my flight home from Asia in 2008-the airline actually requested (via letter) that I see a doctor before returning. Embarassing!