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Redefining In-Flight Catering

Karen Louis – Corporate Flight Attendant in Washington, D.C.

Karen Louis

Washington, D.C. (or D.C.) is home to the top politicians in the United States, along with many other influential individuals. With the amount of travel required in the political arena, D.C. is an attractive location for members of the private aviation industry. Learn more about this important location from Karen Louis, a corporate flight attendant based in Washington, D.C.

Karen, a graduate of George Mason University, has been a corporate flight attendant for over nine years. She has received training at FlightSafety International and Corporate Flight Attendant Training. Her last recurrent training was in October 2013. She has gained in-flight experience with several types of aircraft during her career including G4, G5, Falcon 2000, Challenger and Global Express. Karen also has a wide range of clients she has flown, so she is able to tailor their passenger experience appropriately based upon her experience. Her client base has been a mix of “heads of state, CEOs, dignitaries, politicians, actors, musicians and some wonderful families.”

Karen in a NBAA member and enjoys attending their annual conference “to see all the new airplanes and get some great ideas for new things in my industry.” Additionally, she attends local aviation events to network and keep up-to-date on current trends. Since food is an important part of the total in-flight experience, Karen says she loves “eating local, fresh food at whatever destination I happen to be at.” With that in mind, we changed gears to learn more about local cuisine in D.C.

When it comes to some of Karen’s favorite food in D.C., she replied that “D.C. has such diverse restaurants. I love visiting the great museums D.C. has and then finding a new restaurant I’ve never been to. It can be as simple as a kielbasa sandwich from a local food truck to a sushi restaurant I’ve read about and want to try.” Karen’s favorite local restaurant is “Filominas in Georgetown. It’s been there forever and they have the best food!  The atmosphere is really nice, it makes me feel like I’m in Italy. My favorite dinner there is a Caesar salad and Veal Marsala, with a glass of Chianti. Make sure to save room for dessert, because they have the best ‘Tira Mi Su’ I’ve ever had, and they always bring out a bottle of Sambuca with coffee beans in it.” Aside from dining in D.C., Karen also recommends visiting the museums. She says “D.C. has the best museums. You could go to a different one every weekend for the rest of your life!  I just went to the American Indian Museum and it was so interesting.”

Being a corporate flight attendant means a lot of travel to some of the top destinations in the world. Amongst those, Karen says she loves and never tires of France and Italy. She continued, “I recently had a trip to Lyon and fell in love with it!” France and Italy are also home to her two favorite types of cuisine. Specifically, she said, “There’s nothing better than a big bowl of pasta with delicious sauce and some fresh parmesan! Add some good Italian red wine to that for the perfect meal!”

Since Karen is an experienced cabin crew member, we asked her to share some insight into her work life. She has flown on many domestic and international trips and finds that her “favorite and most challenging trips are international destinations. You have to be so organized. From having the right linens and bedding (so that passengers can sleep and be comfortable), to having a perfectly stocked pantry (in case there’s no good grocery stores then you can get by on things you have in the galley), to knowing the right catering companies to call (that can meet and exceed your needs).” When it comes to her biggest in-flight catering challenges, she shared that “finding something unique that isn’t your run-of-the-mill aviation catering” tops the list. She added that “keeping everything cold in the summer” is also a challenge she makes sure to address with utmost importance.

When it comes to advice for being successful as a corporate flight attendant, Karen says it is best “to be extremely flexible and very detail oriented. Times, passenger count, destinations, weather… at least one of those will almost always change. It’s a good idea to make a lot of lists so you can stay on top of every detail. You have to just go with the flow and make it look seamless, professional and perfect – even when you’re sweating the details!” For someone considering making a career in the private aviation niche, she recommends taking “training very seriously. Take the best possible classes. Ask a lot of questions. Talk with different aviation companies, to gather information on every aspect of the passenger experience from catering to wine knowledge, to new activities for children to do on the airplane. Be polished and professional. Do a lot of networking. Always be early.” The next time you need a flight attendant with wide-ranging experience, contact Karen Louis at kglouis@verizon.net.

This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with contract cabin crew members; individuals who are not employed by Air Culinaire Worldwide. 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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