(CNN) – For many, the idea of flying is far from luxurious: spending countless hours queuing for security, resting with other passengers while facing a long-haul flight full of savings.
But elsewhere in the sky aboard a private jet, senior thieves meet all their needs while enjoying their own cinema, bedroom and living room.
Mary Kalymnou has worked as a flight attendant for 13 years.
Although the life of a VIP flight attendant comes with the advantage of traveling the world, their work can be demanding and stressful.
They can meet all the needs of their passengers, but the skills required for flight attendants are much more than that of a waitress – they are mixologists, cleaners, personal assistants, caterers and even dog keepers.
Flight attendant Kimberley Benton has worked in the industry for nine years. She says it was her love for travel that drew her to the world, which allowed her to embark on 14 world tours. During her lifetime, she has traveled to over 130 countries and traveled on 27 different types of business aircraft.
For her, being a VIP flight attendant is more than providing the best possible service to her customers, but rather “creating an experience”.
“They expect you to be much more personal,” said 32-year-old CNN Travel. “They expect you to know exactly what they want, when they want it and it could be something as little as as soon as they get on the plane, they want a picture of a Nespresso , the footrest and their Sunday Times [newspaper] waiting for them. “
She organized birthday parties in the sky, after-parties for the pop stars with whom she flew for their concert tours, and even organized full banquets for her guests. It is a job that requires her to be constantly adaptable to the situation in which she finds herself.
“Pop groups, royalty, millionaires, billionaires, heiresses”, lists Benton among the people with whom she flew. “I have [flown] a lot of people you see on TV and you can get a little nervous, but when you fly these people, you understand that they are like everyone else. “
As for the parties, it said that it was necessary to ensure that they “did not get out of hand”.
“You have to sort of be on the ball – don’t let them drink too much, but don’t spoil the fun and kind of having a balance,” says Benton.
“I have already organized a few evenings in the sky when I know that they are going to have guests on board and they want all the champagne and ice to be ready,” she adds. “You want to make sure they have everything they want – their favorite whiskeys and scotch,” she adds.
Exotic parrots, guns and corpses
Mary Kalymnou has also worked as a flight attendant for 13 years, working for high-profile international clients such as royal families, heads of state, CEOs and celebrities.
She says she has worked on a variety of jets, including the long-range Gulfstream G550 and the Embraer Legacy which allows up to 14 passengers on board.
Kalymnou says that she flew for royal families, heads of state, CEOs and celebrities.
On board, she invited exotic parrots, jewelry, over 20 shopping bags and even guns. She says she also had corpses.
“Three times in my career, I had a deceased person on board – a coffin in the cargo, made of expensive gold and wood,” she recalls.
“They were three very well-known men, [who] obviously traveled in luxury for the last time in their lives. “
She says the job of a VIP flight attendant is demanding and “requires a lot of sacrifice”.
“It takes a lot of patience, flexibility and, of course, a high level of self-esteem,” says Kalymnou. “Customers expect the best, operators demand the highest, so you have to be willing and of course be able to offer the best in yourself.”
Otherwise, she says, you could be easily replaced.
“Every girl could learn this trade … but only a few will eventually stand out. Being professional is not enough – you have to be unique,” she says.
“You can easily be replaced by someone new, someone younger, someone prettier, someone smarter, someone more flexible. So from day one I knew that I had to be like a sponge to survive in the industry. “
Kalymnou’s career has led her to run the luxury travel and lifestyle blog, Maryhop.
Kalymnou says that to be successful, a flight attendant must have “high-end catering skills, creative thinking, good manners and an elegant and hospitable attitude”.
Travel the world for $ 119,000
Benton now works as an independent flight attendant for TAG Aviation and various other operators who provide private and business aviation services.
Interior of the Four Seasons private jet.
Courtesy Four Seasons
“It’s a private jet experience because the guests are on this plane for their full tour, it could last four to five weeks and it’s their plane, no one else is going up ‘plane,’ says Benton.
Each trip includes air travel, tailor-made excursions, meals, drinks and accommodation, she said.
“Many of these guests are repeat customers and sometimes request the same crew on their next trip,” said Benton, adding that eight attendants generally worked on board.
However, unlike Four Seasons flights, when Benton operates smaller and more exclusive aircraft, it often works alone.
Before each flight, Kalymnou and Benton must organize the restoration of the flight – which can sometimes be difficult.
“You could have a very low maintenance owner who doesn’t want a lot, maybe just beans on toast and some might want a full banquet, a family dinner and five star service,” said Benton.
While Kalymnou once received a last minute order from his client who requested shark fin soup on a flight from London. The rare dish, which must generally be ordered 48 hours in advance, led Kalymnou to scramble.
“It was a difficult challenge as it was mainly prohibited in the UK and only certified suppliers and restaurants could actually deliver the order,” she said.
“Having excellent connections in the UK, I managed to get demand on board just minutes before the passengers arrived,” said Kalymnou. But after all the stress she went through to get it on board, once she offered the menu to her guests, they decided they wanted to continue eating the burgers they had bought on the way of the airport.
“This is a typical example of our daily lives as VIP flight attendants. We strive for the best, even if it is not necessary,” she said.
Kalymnou has to organize the restoration of the flight, which can sometimes be difficult due to customer requests.
Fendi silk toilet seats and rugs
Once, says Benton, she worked on an airplane decorated with silk rugs throughout and toilet seats made by Italian luxury fashion house Fendi.
“It was a 100% pure silk carpet, so you should be aware of all the engineers who get into their big boots. You’d be like ‘oh my god, please take off your shoes … don’t touch nothing! ‘, “she laughs.
Benton has worked in the industry for over nine years.
There was also a Formula 1 driver whose private jet had most of the carbon fiber stuff.
“It was really expensive and he had it all and black leather,” she recalls.
Benton says that while some large commercial airlines provide customers with private rooms if they want a more luxurious experience, it still cannot compete with the exclusivity of a private jet.
“You still don’t have the ability to change the schedule and that’s what makes the private sector so much more tailored and personalized than the commercial.”
While there is no defined universal uniform for VIP flight attendants, Benton says she knows of some who have been required to wear platform high heels purchased from the jet owner. .
“I know people who have to wear Louboutins inside and outside the cabin,” says Benton. But usually, she says, owners just love them for being presentable – with simple hair and makeup.
Living life on “permanent watch”
Life as a flight attendant is a job that can put Benton on “constant watch,” where you may not know where you will end up in 48 hours or even two weeks.
“Sometimes you don’t always have the option of taking a full day off,” adds Benton.
She says that as a freelancer, flight attendants can earn from £ 150 ($ 195) to £ 450 ($ 587) per day, depending on your experience and what you can negotiate with the operator.
“There is no fixed salary,” she adds. “Everyone has their own business.”
Benton says the biggest advantage of his job is being able to meet new people and see new places.
Benton says that although they generally do not receive tips, she has received gifts such as expensive handbags from those for whom she has stolen. And even if she admits it’s an advantage, she says the best part of her job is having the opportunity to meet new people and visit new places – such as the Maldives, Japan, the island Easter and Bali.
“One of the huge benefits is part of the job. It goes into all these different places and can be said to be your job,” she said. “You travel for a living and you do what you love.”