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Redefining In-Flight Catering

Autumn Nichols – Chicago Corporate Flight Attendant

Autumn Nichols Corporate Flight Attendant

Today we have the pleasure of bringing you and one-on-one interview with a globetrotting corporate flight attendant based out of Chicago. Read on to learn more about Autumn, her travel (especially in Africa) and her tips for aspiring corporate flight attendants.

Which aircraft have you flown on during your career?

I have flown on the Challenger 600, 605, Gulfstream 4, 5, 550, a Falcon 7X, and a BBJ 737-500.

Where did you receive flight attendant training?

I received my training from Beyond and Above and Aircare FACTS.

When was your last recurrent?

My last recurrent training was this past March with FACTS in Long Beach, and I am looking forward to going back next year. Patty and Matt were simply the best!

What is your base location?

I live in Chicago, Illinois.

How long have you been a flight attendant?

I have been a corporate flight attendant for almost 2 years.

Have you received any awards / industry scholarships?

I’ve received an athletic scholarship from Georgetown College to run track and field at the collegiate level. I’ve received awards in high school for setting school records in sprints and hurdles and for placing 3rd in the 2011 OHSAA indoor state meet 60 meter hurdles and 5th in the state of Ohio in the 300 meter hurdles.

Aside from your corporate flight attendant training, what other education do you have?

I have had 3 years of college with an Associate’s Degree in Communications from Georgetown College.

Which languages are you fluent in?

I am fluent in English and currently using the app on my phone Duolingo to learn French, which I am getting better at each day!

Which business aviation conventions and trade shows do you attend?

I attended last year, for the first time, in Las Vegas the NBAA and made so many great connections with aviators all across the country and had a lot of fun visiting Vegas for the first time. I definitely plan to make this convention a priority every year.

What has been your most memorable flight?

My most memorable flight was flying a famous musician and his family on Christmas. The mom of the family was taking photos of her kids and husband and I offered to take their photo. She then asked to take a photo of her husband and I together like I was the celebrity! It definitely made me giggle and caught me off guard to have a photo with me in it! (I hopefully made a good impression!) Since, of course, it is sort of frowned upon to take photos with whom we fly in this profession. After the flight, it turned out my pilot was a huge fan and he was nice enough to take a photo with him. That was such a fun flight and family to fly for, and definitely one for the books!

What types of cuisine to you prefer?

I always enjoy trying new and local places wherever my travels may take me, depending on the time of year and season. The foods I eat the most of are almond butter and avocados. A friend once told me her favorite food to travel with was an avocado (which is so true) and that seems to be a staple in my diet these days!

What are your favorite destinations, and why?

My favorite destination from my travels was visiting Dakar, Senegal; I felt like I wasn’t even in Africa! The language spoken was French and I had no idea what to expect but it was filled with so much beauty and culture. I really enjoyed being in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian food looks so unappealing, but tastes so delicious, (kind of similar to Indian) and the music was so entertaining. But, after an extended amount of traveling and hotel stays, it’s always nice to be cuddled up with my two furbabies in my own bed!

What are your favorite restaurant you have found during your travels?

That is one of my favorite things about travel: trying the local food! One of my favorite restaurants from traveling was the traditional fish and chips I ate while in London at The Barrowboy and Banker.

What are some things to do that you would suggest for a corporate flight attendant visiting a destination for the first time?

I would suggest any flight attendant traveling to Africa in the future to speak with the locals when you visit. It may be hard with the language barrier and accents. I was so inspired and honored to have them share their background and life stories with me. It’s what inspired me to start my very own travel blog.  It is so unique to hear their upbringing compared to mine as a U.S. citizen. It makes you truly appreciate what you have and realize materialistic things are only just things. I believe the people we meet throughout where our travels take us are what I take away the most in this life.

Any cultural tips for a corporate flight attendant visiting a new destination for the first time?

The best cultural advice I can address when visiting a foreign country is to never let your guard down or tell someone you are a tourist. It is important to always let someone know where you are going if venturing off by yourself. I had a small scare when walking the streets in Ethiopia and a small girl attempted to grab my phone from my back pocket, luckily I had quick reflexes and got it back with the help from my pilot and a local who just so happened to be walking down the street!

What are some in-flight catering challenges you have experienced?

Catering in the corporate world can a lot of times be the most stressful aspect of our job! Overseas, catering is completely different, and the same goes for FBOs and how they work. I’ve learned to always be very specific in the time they need to deliver the catering and have them repeat every item back to you that you’ve ordered. One of my flights, which was super important in Nigeria, the caterer forgot all three of the juices I specifically ordered and there was no time to get it before the passengers showed up. Luckily, the passengers didn’t ask for any that flight…phew!

What made you decide to become a corporate flight attendant?

It was sort of magical how it all started! I was working for Disney and was approached by a private family who told me I looked the part of a flight attendant.

What do you feel are essential skills for a successful corporate flight attendant?

To be successful in this profession, you need to be good at multi-tasking and being able to handle anything that is thrown at you in the blink of an eye. Anything can happen on a flight, such as a medical incident, catering or dietary issue, or even an in-flight emergency that you are liable for handling in a calm and collective way. To me, a corporate flight attendant is not only looking after the safety of the passengers while traveling 40,000 feet in the air, but has taken the role as a private chef serving exquisite food and a trained nurse all in one!

What advice would you give someone looking to become a corporate flight attendant?

My advice to any new jetsetter who is looking to become a corporate flight attendant is to really ask yourself if this lifestyle really is for you. It isn’t like your typical job. It takes a lot out of you mentally, physically and emotionally, working with different pilots and passengers. At times, it can be tiring adapting to the jetlagged. This lifestyle isn’t all that easy and glamorous as people (even my close friends) imagine!

What email address should be used to contact you?

Anichols2012@gmail.com

This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with corporate cabin crew members. If you would like to be considered for an interview, which is posted on our blog and all of our social media accounts, please contact socialmedia@airculinaire.com.

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