Being on reserve or standby as a flight attendant

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Being on reserve (some call it standby) is probably one of the most annoying things for a flight attendant. Every once per two months I have reserve on my roster. Being on reserve means that you’re on standby between certain hours. If somebody calls in sick or in case of delays, crew control will call you for work. When they call, you have to be at the airport in an hour. Which is very tight even when you live in Amsterdam.

Everybody handles reserve different. But I haven’t met anyone who actually enjoys being on reserve. The reason why being on reserve is so stressful and annoying is because you don’t know what is going to happen. Even when you’re at home, you’re still not free to do whatever you like. You can of course, but you always have to keep in mind that they could call you any moment and that you have to be at the airport in an hour.

Reserve for me is usually rostered for 5 days in a row, 12 hours a day. Which is a long long day. Sometimes they call you 5 minutes before your reserve ends. The first time I was on reserve I was so stressed. That day my iPhone was glued to my hand. I even took it with me to the bathroom😑  I usually don’t get anything done when I’m on reserve. I don’t live close enough to the airport, so I stay at my parents.

I have my stuff packed and ready to go. The best thing for me is to have everything ready the evening before as I always do. I also pack for a 5-day trip even though I could get called out for a 2-day trip. You’ll never know.

As I was telling before. Even when you live in Amsterdam, being at the airport in an hour is difficult. Especially during rush hour, it’s almost impossible. When I’m on reserve I have 15 minutes to get into my uniform, have my makeup and hair done and get into my car.

If I have the early shift I usually get up 15 minutes before my reserve starts. I was my face, brush my teeth, put on my makeup, brush my hair and turn on the volume of my iPhone. If they call me immediately, I am already up and ready to go. If not, I go back to bed and sleep until they call me. Sounds absolutely crazy right? 😉

Well, if you think that’s crazy. I have met colleagues or heard stories about flight attendants who live too far away from the airport to be there in an hour. So they pay for a ‘standby room’. A standby room is a room usually rented by a couple of flight attendants. They stay there while they’re on reserve. Others just go to the airport and hang around all day until they get called. If they don’t call you, you get to go home and do it all again the next day.

Sounds fun right? 😉


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