This week we bring you an exciting interview with Kara Shryock, a corporate flight attendant based in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. Kara has a lot of beneficial insights into the life of a corporate flight attendant, and her favorite destination – Germany. Read along to learn more about this dynamic member of the business aviation community.
Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. First, would you please tell us which ICAOs you are based out of?
I mainly fly out of Fort Worth Meacham Airport (KFTW / FTW) which is the location of the FBO that I work at as well. I also frequently do contracts out of Dallas Love Field (KDAL / DAL) and Addison Airport (KADS / ADS).
Which aircraft have you flown on during your career?
- Dornier 328, 767, 747
- G550, G450, G300
- Falcon 2000EX
- Falcon 900B
- Citation X
- Citation 650
- Legacy 600
Where did you receive flight attendant training?
I am trained as a corporate flight attendant through FlightSafety International in Savannah, Georgia.
How long have you been a flight attendant?
I have a total of five years’ experience as a flight attendant – three years with charter and two years with corporate.
In addition to your corporate flight attendant training, what other education do you have?
My first two years of college, I attended Tyler Junior College where I was a part of the internationally famous Apache Belles. With the Belles, I traveled to Germany and Austria which fed my desire for my dream of a travel-related career. I finished my degree at Texas State University in San Marcos, in Communication Studies with a minor in Psychology. San Marcos was good to me; not only did I get my degree there, but I also obtained my first flight attendant job.
Which conventions and trade shows have you attended?
NBAA S&D 2015 in San Jose, California and the NBAA Flight Attendants / Flight Technicians Convention in Tucson, Arizona. This was my first year there; I learned a lot and made great contacts.
Do you have any memorable flights you would like to share?
Yes, my very first flight as a flight attendant on the Dornier. After an intense week of training, and a quick IOE trip, it was time for me to be on my own. I had a script for the safety briefing that I read at the front of the cabin in front of all 30 pax. About halfway through my safety briefing my nerves caught up to me, and my voice started to shake a little. Once I finished, the college sports team that were my pax cheered, and the captain made a PA saying I did a great job. It was a great kick off to my career!
I also vividly remember the first time I was a flight attendant on the 747, coming from a 30 pax turboprop that just hopped into the air with little runway. The first takeoff in the 747; I felt like we were going to run out of runway. I remember thinking “are we ever going to get in the air?”
Another memorable flight was my IOE with Atlas Air on the 747. The IOE is to Luanda, Angola. Depending on the season, it is about a 14 hour flight. Atlas has everyone going through their IOE work one way and act as a passenger on the return. This was the first time I had been a passenger for this amount of time. I am an excellent flight attendant, but as far as being a pax, I fail. It is extremely difficult for me to sit in one spot for minutes, much less hours. I really gained some extra sensitivity for passengers with that IOE.
What are your favorite restaurants and types of cuisine?
Being from Texas, I love Tex-Mex! It is truly my comfort food. In the past, when I was out on the road for weeks at a time, I would crave Tex-Mex, but that is something that can only be done right in Texas.
Probably one of my favorite restaurants is Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. They only have two items on the menu, but that’s all they need. Also, it has to be said that their margaritas are awesome! They have one of the best patios as well. Every time that I go to Joe T’s, the line is well out into the street. Honestly, I probably base my opinion of the restaurant by how good the chips and salsa are, and how good the margarita is.
Another place I have grown to love is Frijoles in North Richland Hills. This restaurant is a hidden gem. Everything I have ordered has been great! Also, they have three sizes of margaritas – small, medium and large. I only dare to get the large on special occasions!
So far in your travels, which destination have been your favorite?
I’m happy anywhere with a body of water and a warm climate. I hate being cold. If it wasn’t so bad for my skin, I would soak up the sun in the water all day, every day. My favorite pastime on layovers, whether it is warm or cold, is to go on hikes. It’s nice to get familiar with nature, and the local culture. Specifically though, since Germany was one of the first places I visited internationally, it will always remain at the top of my list.
What is your favorite food to eat in Germany?
You can’t go wrong with schnitzel. It is a great, hearty meal to have before or after a beautiful hike. It is best from a hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop style restaurant, which is the main type of restaurant you will find in Germany.
What are some activities you would suggest for a corporate flight attendant visiting Germany for the first time?
Something that I really enjoyed about Germany is the beautiful scenery. It is the greenest of green during springtime and has a peaceful, glittery snow-covered countryside in the winter. Going on a hike or a bike ride is my favorite activity there. A couple of the hotels I have stayed at actually had bikes that you could borrow, like a FBO has a crew car. Also, if you have time, take a train ride to another city. This way you can enjoy miles of scenery while relaxing on the ride, possibly enjoying a German meal as well.
What are some tips you have for a corporate flight attendant visiting Germany for the first time?
It is a good idea to use the FBO that you fly into as a resource. They see which catering company is used frequently. Also, they have special rates with hotels and rental car companies.
What are some in-flight catering challenges you have experienced?
One of the first things I mastered as a corporate flight attendant is cooking using a microwave only. I have worked on a number of aircraft where the ovens were disabled, so the only way I could heat up food was by microwave.
How did you overcome this challenge?
Most of the time, it works best to heat everything up in short increments of time, and, if it’s a sauce, stirring constantly. Sometimes, putting a bowl of water or a wet cloth in will prevent the food from drying out while heating up.
Also, of course, space is always an issue. Using baggies instead of plastic storage containers helps a lot. Having food items that are versatile is key.
What made you decide to become a corporate flight attendant?
I thrive on the one-on-one interaction with the passenger. Also, I really enjoy the attention to detail that corporate flying requires.
With being a corporate flight attendant, I am guaranteed to never live the same day twice, which is something I desired in my career. I wanted variety, and with corporate being unscheduled, I certainly achieve that. It forces me to grow and learn with every trip.
What do you feel are important skills for a successful corporate flight attendant?
Intuition! A pax can ask a flight attendant for what they need or want, but if the flight attendant makes it happen before the pax asks – that is what really wows them.
Also, a successful corporate flight attendant should appear to always be in a great mood. If you’re not; fake it! You should never seem put out, tired or annoyed at any time. So, I guess having a sense of humor, and allowing things to roll off your back is key.
What advice would you give someone looking to become a corporate flight attendant?
Be persistent, delay is not denial.
I would recommend you to go to as many networking events as possible. As a contract corporate flight attendant myself, I feel it is necessary to continually update all the flight departments I work with. I let them know my current status or availability, further training and education I have taken, and any events I have attended.
Also, don’t forget: It is just as important to make the pilots happy as it is to make the passengers.
Thank you for a fantastic interview, Kara. For those who wish to connect, what email address should be used to contact you?
This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with corporate 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.