Home Lifestyle Travel A day in the life of a United Airlines flight attendant

A day in the life of a United Airlines flight attendant

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“You could give me a million dollars, and it wouldn’t be better than one day here,” our flight attendant says.
Rachel Gillett/Business Insider

It’s 3 a.m., and I’m jolted awake by the ring of the hotel phone.

The bright red numbers on the clock next to me are the only thing illuminating my pitch-black hotel room, and I groan as I roll over and steal another five minutes of sleep.

When I checked in to the hotel at 10:30 the night before and asked for my wake-up call, the front-desk clerk was horrified to hear how little sleep I’d be getting.

“At least I’m getting the ‘true’ experience,” I tell myself. “Flight attendants probably do this all the time.”

As it turns out, Robert “Bingo” Bingochea, a 63-year-old who has worked with United Airlines as a flight attendant for seven years, went to bed early that night, and he has already been awake for more than an hour by the time I finally bolt out of bed. He’s had his morning coffee, watched some TV news, and checked the weather from his hotel room before I even clicked the lights on in my room.

Like me, Bingochea has also flown in the day before the 5:24 a.m. flight from Denver to Houston.

He’s what you call a “commuter” in the airline industry. He’s a flight attendant based out of Denver, but he lives in Phoenix with his wife and commutes to Denver for each trip he works.

Bingochea got the first flight into Denver the day before our flight, which isn’t uncommon for commuters, since flying standby means you aren’t guaranteed a seat on the flight you want, and it can sometimes take a full day to get a flight on standby.

I’m shadowing him for the day, and we’re to meet at Denver International Airport to begin our journey together.

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