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Redefining In-Flight Catering

Shelli Stapp – Corporate Flight Attendant

Shelli Stapp in Beijing

Shelli Stapp is a corporate flight attendant in California who began her career 11 years ago. She has amazing insight into the most far-flung locations in the world, not only due to her career in private aviation, but also from her travels as a student. Shelli participated in three study abroad programs: University of London Union, Scuola Leonardo da Vinci, Beijing University of International Business and Economics, and then graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Loyola Marymount University. Her nine months in Beijing helped her pick up the knowledge of how to speak Mandarin.

In addition to her college education, Shelli is a graduate of Aircare FACTS Training and the Corporate School of Etiquette. She is originally from and lives in Southern CA, yet, she also flies out of both Northern and Southern California. This level of flexibility means that she is based out of Van Nuys Airport (KVNY), Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX), San Francisco International Airport (KSFO), San Jose International (KSJC) and Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (KOAK). Throughout her career she has gained experience flying on all models of Gulfstream, Falcon, Global Express, Legacy, Challenger, B757 and BBJ. Out of all of these incredible aircraft, her favorite is the G550.

Shelli is a knowledge seeker and keeps fresh by attending NBAA’s annual convention. “It has always been an invaluable resource for building relationships and keeping my finger on the pulse of the corporate aviation industry. The vast knowledge the workshops offer keep me current on crucial issues and new innovations driving the future of aviation,” she said.

When discussing her career highlights, Shelli shared one that shows her true compassion for her clients. “One of my most memorable accolades was being able to bring great comfort to a client who was a real white-knuckle flyer; absolutely terrified,” she said. “She became so comfortable that she thanked me repeatedly as she left the flight and made sure to request me every time the family put another flight on the calendar.”

Shelli also says that her 11 years in corporate aviation have given her “unique opportunities and unforgettable experiences. Once, while in Auckland, in spite of my fear of heights, I courageously bungee jumped off the Auckland Sky Tower, which measures 1076 feet high and is the tallest building in New Zealand. On more of a historical note, I had the honor of taking care of a former President of the United States, as well as a former United Kingdom Prime Minister.”

Travel is not the only topic Shelli is passionate about; she is also well-versed in the language of food. Her favorite food is “farm-to-table. I appreciate simple, natural ingredients prepared beautifully. The fresh produce that we have available in California allows me to provide fresh fruits and vegetables on my flights easily. That being said; I am a foodie and enjoy dining on innovative cuisine, and I am happy to offer this for my guests, when desired.” For her favorite restaurant she said, “I never tire of dining at Mastro’s Steakhouse. However, I may need a second job to dine there as often as I would like!”

Continuing to explore the topic of food, Shelli told us about her top in-flight catering challenge. “It can be a challenge when passengers do not inform me of a particular dietary restriction. I strive to customize the cuisine to their specific preferences. I have found that passengers often skip this step, so the way I have overcome this is to always have gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options.”

Shelli said she has “always been fascinated with Asian culture. I am fortunate enough and am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to visit China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Although, my favorite city in the world is Hong Kong because it’s the perfect mix of East and West.”

Since she has spent a generous amount of time in Beijing, Shelli is an invaluable asset for any Corporate Flight Attendant looking to learn about the cuisine and culture. “During my time in Beijing I came to both discover and love Chinese hot-pot. Beijing hot-pot is utterly unique, incomparable to anything else and truly an immersive cultural experience all of its own. The beauty lies in its simplicity. It is a fresh, healthy and colorful array of meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles which you cook yourself in a boiling broth at your table.”

Shelli also pointed out her favorite places to visit in Beijing, along with helpful tips on getting the most out of your time on the ground. “Beijing is an old city, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it. It is always under construction. Every time I visit, it looks entirely different. Local shopping and dining streets I used to frequent would no longer be there; it is constantly changing,” she said. “But, one thing that hasn’t changed in over 2000 years is the spectacular Great Wall of China. There are a few sections you can visit; some more touristy than others. I recommend visiting the Jinshanling entrance, as it’s one of the most authentic and breathtaking sections of the wall. Of course, within the city limits my favorite place to spend the day outside relaxing is at the Summer Palace. It is a welcome oasis where one can get away from the never-ending construction and sensory overload that comes with a city like Beijing. On one hand, I love the energy, buzz and constant evolution of Central Beijing, but it’s comforting to know there are places like the Summer Palace that offer a magical and peaceful contrast to the city’s chaos.”

Being a successful Corporate Flight Attendant takes a balance of many critical skills. When we asked Shelli for her insight into the top skills for a successful career, she said, “Being well prepared and knowing how to manage time effectively is vital. Attention to detail, adaptability and being highly-organized are essential. It is important to have the foresight to anticipate passenger’s needs, so you’re always one step ahead.” For newcomers, Shelli recommends gaining “as much knowledge as possible about the industry and connect with as many business aviation professionals as you can.” The next time you are looking for a seasoned Corporate Flight Attendant in California, contact Shelli Stapp at shelli85@gmail.com.

This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with contract cabin crew members; individuals 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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