Saturday, September 7, 2013

Share Your Story: The Life of International Flight Attendant Mary Ann Laverty - "So you want to see the world, eh?"

Welcome to the 24th "Share Your Story" post. Aviators from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved

So…you want to see the world, eh?

I ask myself that as I wipe each tray spotless for the next crew who will work this 747 to Rome.  All worth it, I remind myself. In an hour, I will be landing in Paris. Yes Paris! And I get paid to be there. Every tired muscle suddenly feels relieved. The landing phase of a flight often gives me that second wind, a brand new energy, even. Excitement was all I felt as I heard those plane tires touch down. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

"Welcome aboard!" I say to every customer with my winning smile. I will never forget the day I was told that very thing. “Mary Ann, welcome aboard. Your initial Flight Attendant training starts Sept 25.”

Read the full article by clicking below: (If you're already on the full article, ignore this)

Ok Mary Ann, don’t scream, don’t jump stay poised. You’re not out of the building yet.  I’m going to be a flight attendant. A flight attendant for my country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines. What an honor.

I went through training soon after and studied hard like I did back in college.  Most Asian airlines require a college degree to be a Flight Attendant, by the way. 

For the next 5 years, I flew domestic flights over the Philippine archipelago. Then I went through another rigorous training regimen to become an International Flight Attendant. I also had to go through more aircraft training.  This time, with the wide bodied, bigger planes like the B747, Airbuses 300, 330 340 and even oldies like DC10 and MD 11.  Let’s not even talk about all the inflight service training. From learning each wine and spirits, to dishes and their ingredients. Pronouncing each name correctly. 

Karachi, Pakistan

Everything had its place, guidelines and procedure, right down to handing each passenger their menu cards and laying their linens on their tables. First Class was truly a lot of work. It had to be absolutely exquisite for our very distinct passengers. 

My first international flight—HNL (Honolulu).  Soon, I found myself in many places like Karachi, Brunei Darussalam, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Pusan, Fukuoka, Ho Chi Minh, Dahran, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, Rome and many more other beautiful places.  Learned, ate, loved so many different things. I adapted quickly to climates that I was never used to. Spoke foreign words enough to get by.

Learning the word SALE in many different languages is a must for any International Flight Attendant. 


As I got used to long haul flights and developed favorite destinations, I realized, I enjoyed each flight regardless if it was my least favorite. Often, it was the company of an awesome crew I flew with that made a whole tiring and difficult trip worthwhile. You truly develop a bond and a tight sense of camaraderie.  

It’s far from glamorous. It's hard work.  But we made sure we look poised, pleasant, helpful, and gracious. We consistently looked sharp. We were not just Flight Attendants. We were ambassadors for our country.

Group picture after an invitation for a Special Audience with the Pope

I've had enough experiences to write a book. There was the time I helped a lady give birth in First Class. She named that baby Philip after Philippine Airlines. I had a death onboard incident on our way to Dahran. Knocked and opened the lavatory door to get him out of there for landing. That’s when we found he had expired.

A drunken brawl on a wide bodied plane is never fun. I had to look tough sometimes and pull authority to help keep order inflight. Try doing that with a plane load of British Rugby players. Let’s just say, it took all the energy and wit this 100 lb. flight attendant had to maintain peace and order on a 16 hour flight from Manila to London. And lots of coffee served, too.

My personal life took some changes and turns, and I now find myself flying for another airline. This time, for an American carrier.  Quite a big change, and yet, still very much the same. I realize that we FLIGHT ATTENDANTS have one thing in common. Not just the obvious love for traveling and love for people, but that love for life and the capacity to enjoy every minute of it, however and whatever the conditions. Not one flight is ever the same. If there’s any group of humans who know how to handle change, it’s us FLIGHT ATTENDANTS.

9/11 surely brought a lot of changes. Threats we never imagined.  But as a flight attendant, taking you safely from point A to point B it isn’t only our duty. We also aim to make each experience enjoyable. 

I know one thing I’ll never get tired of seeing. It’s that look of gratitude from a passenger, letting me know how lovely her or his experience was. Somehow, when you’ve truly opened your heart to others, you can make them understand why you love what you're doing. want to see the world, eh?

I’m a Flight Attendant. I can and will get you there.


Thanks so much Mary Ann for writing in and sharing your story. You're the first ever flight attendant to make an appearance on the blog, what a great one to start out with! A pilot can't fly without his crew. Your positive attitude and adventurous spirit seem to have done you very well in your career so far, I can't wait to see where you'll go next!

As it says in the opening, this section is dedicated to showing future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them in aviation. Being a Flight Attendant is one great way to see the world, and get paid for it! 

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog, 

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 


  1. Haha, that's my Bunny!

    Very proud of her story, and glad it worked out for your blog! You have a knack for drawing out the best of our stories, Swayne, good job!

    1. Thanks so much Eric!

      Mary Ann has been really everywhere you could imagine and had some really great adventures, can't wait to see where she'll go next!


  2. Ah yes, good old Philippine Airlines. If being a passenger counts, my first 100 hours were logged between flight PR 102, 103, and 104 service between Manila and Los Angeles (or vise versa). Truth be told my aviation heritage stated with them. My mom worked at PAL as an accountant when their headquarters was literally at the end of the street where she grew up back in the 70's. When I was about 11, I mustered the guts to ask the flight purser if I can see the cockpit. My wish was granted during the stop-over at KHNL. A kind flight engineer gave me a tour of their perch, and I can say I got bIt by something larger than a bug. Now, I wonder if this is part of their way to keep the "UM" entertained during the stop over.

    Sorry to ramble on, but seeing the PAL uniform brought me back to a time of my life that I'm not sure my children will get to experience themselves post 9/11. Do airlines even allow children to fly by themselves internationally anymore?

    1. Haha well it sounds like you've had some great experiences! And they definitely do let kids fly by themselves... probably with a lot more restrictions though!

      Thanks for the comment,

  3. I read your blog continuously and i like your blogs and photos.

  4. Wow..thanks Keith for sharing your comment. I hate to ask what year was that when you had the chance to go up the cockpit. LOL I am certain that I may have been one of your crew if you had flown that much to LAX. You mentioned PR104..which is our MNL-SFO. I fly that a lot because my parents live in the Bay Area. Get to spend time with them at least twice a month. Yes..good old days Keith!!


Thanks for your comment; I really appreciate it! Glad you are here with me on the blog. If your comment does not appear right away, it will after verification.

Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin