The following is a complete transcript of Episode 3 of The Extraordinary Friends show You can also watch it on TV, watch it on YouTube, and listen to it on iTunes.
Brian Balestri: Hello and welcome to The Extraordinary Friend Show. I’m Brian Balestri and I’m really excited about tonight’s episode, so let’s just jump right in. First off, my good friend, Eric Swanson, is tonight’s co-host. Eric.
Eric Swanson: Hello Brian.
Balestri: How’re you doing?
Swanson: I’m great. Thanks for having me.
Balestri: I’m glad you’re here. Eric is the oldest friend I have. He is one day older than me.
Swanson: Not the best friend you have. I know, just oldest.
Balestri: He is the best friend I have too. You are one day older than me.
Swanson: I am. Yep. Born in the same town.
Balestri: We grew up in the same church, and so we’ve known each other as long as two people can know each other probably.
Balestri: So, question for you. You travel quite a bit.
Swanson: I do, yeah.
Balestri: And you fly, for it’s part of your job. How often do you fly a month, do you think?
Swanson: Probably twice a month.
Balestri: Okay. So you are familiar with flying and the pros and cons and the ins and outs of being on airplanes.
Swanson: I’ve spent plenty of time in an airplane, yeah. So I’m pretty familiar.
Balestri: Great. So that brings us to our guest tonight. Jason Ostrowski. Jason thanks for coming tonight.
Jason Ostrowski: Thanks for having me.
Balestri: Yeah. So Jason tell us what you do.
Ostrowski: I’m a flight attendant. Been doing that for about almost 24 years now.
Balestri: You look like you started when you were pretty young then if you have been doing it for 24 years. [chuckle]
Ostrowski: I did start pretty young.
Balestri: How old? So you’re a guy, I can ask you.
Ostrowski: I was 19.
Balestri: You were 19?
Ostrowski: Yeah, and I went to a business college, got done, didn’t know what I wanted to do and then someone said, “Hey, they’re hiring at this airline, why don’t you apply.” So I applied, got hired and I thought, “Oh, I’ll give it a year,” And I’m still there.
Balestri: So you love it.
Ostrowski: Yeah. It’s a combination of things. ‘Cause the job… It’s what the job can give you. ‘Cause it’s just the flexibility of the schedule and the time off to be able to do things, travel, it’s kind of a combination of all that, just what I like about the job.
Swanson: It’s like a recruitment video.
Ostrowski: I know.
Swanson: You’re turning this into…
Balestri: So we’re on public access. You can’t sell anything.
Ostrowski: I know.
Balestri: You can’t sell the job, no. So that sounds great. So the flexibility is, how often do you work? What are the hours that you work?
Ostrowski: It depends on the type of schedule you want ’cause I choose to work at night. I fly out at night, come back in the morning, so my days are free.
Ostrowski: So it’s great for me, because I have kids. I can be there for the kids programs and stuff like that, but when you’re new, that isn’t what happens. You get the worst schedule, the worst days, all the holidays, and that lasts for a few years. If you can get through that, then it gets better. If you can’t…
Balestri: The whole system is based on seniority, right?
Balestri: So, is there any performance factor in the seniority? Is it just number of days, number of years work.
Ostrowski: Just seniority.
Swanson: Is that how they decide who the lead person is on the flight?
Ostrowski: They have the choice, unless, it’s different with different airlines. There is a person that’s called the Purser, so they’re in charge and you have to go through a training for that. So they’re the lead of the cabin and then everyone else below that. But I’m not that person, I don’t have to do that, so.
Balestri: Wait, so is that a position that someone’s… Is it a good position to have? Or is it a…
Ostrowski: They get paid more, because they’re in charge of more duties and they’re in charge of money.
Swanson: They have to do the over the mic thing with a…
Ostrowski: No. That gets delegated out, but…
Ostrowski: But really if there’s a complaint, that person will get called to talk to the customer or something. But it depends on what flights they are. Those are on the bigger aircrafts with more flight attendants on. Smaller aircrafts with fewer flight attendants is just you and a type of plane that I’m on has two flight attendants. And so…
Swanson: I think every flight out of this airport has two attendants. There’s no big flights, unless you’re going to Europe.
Balestri: Oh, yeah right. So if you’re taking…
Swanson: No, I mean, they’ve really scaled down the size of the planes in the last couple of years.
Balestri: So what are the types of planes you usually fly?
Ostrowski: We have two aircrafts and it’s the regional carrier. So, it’s a 50-seat plane and a 76-seat plane.
Balestri: That is pretty small. And you like it that way. You like the smaller… Just because you can come back, is that why?
Ostrowski: What’s nice about it is, because it’s a smaller carrier, but yet, you can move up the ranks quicker in seniority and you can be home more often. It has its perks. But flying for a bigger carrier has its perks too, ’cause you get to go farther places and spend more time.
Swanson: More variety.
Ostrowski: And a little bit more exotic places than Des Moines, Iowa.
Balestri: So where do you usually end up? So you say you fly out, stay overnight, you fly back in the morning. Is that how it works?
Ostrowski: What I try to do is, take the shortest route, because that gets the most rest and I’m back the quickest, and it’s kinda like the biggest bang for your buck. Least amount of work, same amount of pay.
Ostrowski: And I could fly further out, it’s just the same pay, so.
Swanson: So flight is paid based on the flight, not on the destination, sort of.
Ostrowski: Kinda both.
Ostrowski: You’re guaranteed a base pay and if you don’t go over that base pay, then everyone’s making the same.
Ostrowski: No matter what you do. But if you’re flying over that base, then you have to work enough to get over that and then it does count the longer flights that you have to build it up quicker.
Balestri: Yeah, so a flight to Japan gets paid more than a flight to Des Moines, Iowa, right?
Swanson: But a flight to Des Moines and a flight to Kansas City are probably pretty similar.
Ostrowski: Well, Des Moines will be about just less than an hour. Kansas City would probably be about an hour and 30. So that’s person just doing a little bit more. And there’s more duties on a little bit longer flights. So it comes down to choice of schedule, what you wanna work. And some people like that one, that it’s a little bit longer. Maybe they like that destination, so they choose that.
Balestri: So can you work more hours? Can you work, say, more flights than other people, meaning you can control how much money you make?
Ostrowski: To a point. You have to have, with the regulations for hours worked, it’s that you have to have so many hours off in a seven day period, and you can’t do so much in a day. And it’s just how it fits in in a monthly schedule. If you can finagle everything, you can work more. It’s just how you put it together.
Swanson: But you don’t go from here to Des Moines and back in one day.
Ostrowski: You can. I mean, I don’t. I choose to do the overnight flight. So, I go to work at 8:30 at night, I come home by 6:00 in the morning or 8:30 in the morning, and because I don’t get a legal rest and it’s supposed to be at least eight hours rest, I get about six, and then I’m supposed to get the rest of that rest during the day. So I choose that type of schedule ’cause it gives me more time off.
Balestri: And so, you have two daughters.
Balestri: And so you’re with them.
Swanson: Works like a normal…
Ostrowski: Yeah. I think, for the first… When I did this type of schedule flying at night, my kids never thought I worked. They just thought I was always home. And I think they think, “Hey, Dad’s just a stay-at-home dad.”
Balestri: Yeah, right. Except for the trips you get to go on.
Swanson: Simply disappears every night, goes out of state, and is back before they wake up.
Ostrowski: Except for they never knew that because we would put them to bed, and then I would leave. And I would get home before they’d wake up, so it’s really like I was just home.
Balestri: So question that a friend asked that wanted to know the answer to this, and I have to admit, I like it too, which is, what’s the oldest a flight attendant can be? And does it differ by airline?
Ostrowski: There is no age. There is no…
Balestri: I thought so.
Ostrowski: Age limit. And it’s really just ability. So if you’re still able to do it and pass the training, you can keep doing it. If you can’t pass it, and there’s been people that… You just, physical ability, you have to lift so many pounds because that’s the doors, the emergency doors we have to open up and stuff… If you can’t do those physical things anymore, then that’s the time to retire. But if you could still…
Balestri: How often do they check?
Ostrowski: Every year, we have to go through a training.
Balestri: And you have to lift something? Like prove you can still lift something?
Ostrowski: Yes. So the training that we do is for our two aircrafts. And it’s two different type of doors you have to open. And you have to go through the module, to physically do it. And you have an instructor there watching you. If you can’t do it, you fail. And then you only can fail so many times, and then you’re done.
Balestri: You’re done. You’re out.
Ostrowski: That doesn’t happen very often, but that’s the course of action.
Balestri: Well, on a recent trip, I swear the flight attendant, she was a woman, had to be like 85. Now, she must have been stronger than she looked, but…
Swanson: She’s scrappy. She’s real scrappy.
Balestri: Scrappy young lady, old lady.
Ostrowski: During training, if you can just do it that once, that’s all you need.
Balestri: That’s all it takes. So she just rested up.
Swanson: Vitamins like crazy.
Ostrowski: Lift with your legs. [chuckle]
Balestri: So I don’t wanna know how much you make, but what is the range? So the purser has a little bit more responsibility, probably makes a little bit more money.
Ostrowski: Yes. And I don’t know the amounts of that because it’s not my airline. But in each airline, if they have a union or not a union, things are negotiated. But starting out as a flight attendant, you don’t start out very much, and it’s a very low base pay. And over the years, you get to a certain point, it gradually gets more. And then how you can work your schedule, you can make more. And really, it’s about 10 years into your career. Then it’s better. The first 10 years, it’s…
Swanson: It’s true of a lot of careers, right?
Balestri: Yeah, it is.
Ostrowski: You get to that turning point. So starting out, it’s a little struggle. Then you get to the decent wage, and then life can be comfortable.
Swanson: But there’s also the perks that you get to hop on and go…
Balestri: Flexibility and the perks are a big part of doing the job.
Ostrowski: That’s a huge… It’s funny. I’ve heard this from stories. I haven’t talked to the people, but when they’re new, and they don’t have a lot of money and all the bills are tight and groceries are tight, they’ll take a flight that serves meals and they’ll go to Europe. And they’ll sit in business class and get all this stuff and then fly back. [laughter]
Balestri: So they’re not working. They’re just taking the flight for…
Balestri: Okay. Fantastic.
Swanson: Just to eat.
Ostrowski: Well, I think they do ’cause it’s like, you can sleep on the flight. So it’s like, “Hey, I just slept, ate, free drinks, and now I’m coming back home.” [laughter]
Balestri: A way to make ends meet. That’s classic. Speaking of sleeping, on a long flight, going to Japan is one of the longest… It’s the longest flight I’ve been on, and that was a really long flight. I think it was 14 hours. Can flight attendants sleep on the plane, when they’re on shift?
Ostrowski: It’s with the regulations, and it’s kinda weird because flight attendants can be extended longer if there’s another crew member added. It’s different with the regulations, how it’s worded and how you can get by things. There are sleeping rooms, not really a room, but a place that they can go if they have and each person is supposed to take shifts.
Swanson: They rotate.
Ostrowski: But then also…
Balestri: Wait, where is that room?
Ostrowski: It’s not really a room. I was just on a flight, and there was this curtained off area of the seats that are behind and all the curtains went around. And I’ve never seen it before. And I was kinda like…
Balestri: So it’s just like a regular seat, just the last row, type thing?
Ostrowski: No, it was in the business class, and it was off to the side and this curtain went around. And so, that must be the little room you go in. And it was on the beds, and so they just probably slept in there. And it said something about, “Crew members only,” On the outside of it. And I’m assuming other airlines, different aircrafts’ set ups have similar but something like that. But also, too, if I’m gonna make up the number. You have to have 10 people on that flight. If you add another person, then it means they can actually fly longer. No one actually gets…
Balestri: ‘Cause you’re spreading the work out across more people.
Ostrowski: Well, that’s what it’s supposed to be but everyone else is just as tired. You just have one more person. It’s the reality of it. [chuckle]
Balestri: So, what is the best part about your job? Is it the flexibility? Do you like the work itself, the people?
Ostrowski: Well, what’s funny is ’cause the work… Everyone thinks it’s just a sky waitress. The work is we’re there for the…
Swanson: I didn’t say that. Did you say that?
Balestri: Yeah. I don’t know everybody that you’re talking about.
Ostrowski: Okay, not every… So, a lot of people have said that but…
Balestri: Sky waitress?
Ostrowski: Because they just feel like you guys serve drinks. But the customer service of dealing with people and it’s like you’re a counselor ’cause you have to deal with people’s problems or you do wear a lot of different hats, even amongst crew members. We’re there for the safety aspect of it and that’s what, primarily, we’re trained on. How often we use that? Not so often because you don’t want to use that.
Balestri: Right. Hopefully never.
Ostrowski: But that’s what you’re trained for. Because flights are long and you want people to be occupied, otherwise they’re bored and stuff, that’s where the service comes in and that’s what everyone recognizes it’s just flight attendants doing the service. But what I like about it is, again, the combination of things. It’s like just even if I was going to a small city and I’ll use Dubuque. I would never have chosen to go there just on my own, but we went there, had an overnight. It was a neat little city, see stuff that places I wouldn’t choose and flying home, I’m just like, “It’s kinda neat.” I just get to go somewhere. People that fly for business, they might have their meetings from 8:00 to 5:00 and they fly in the morning and leave in the evening. They don’t really get to explore and see stuff. And I think as a crew member with an airline, you get to explore more and check stuff out. And that with the flexibility and just the lifestyle, I think that’s what the job is. It’s a different lifestyle than other people’s jobs.
Swanson: Okay. How tired are you of showing people how a seatbelt buckle works? [laughter]
Ostrowski: The funny thing about that, so often, they’ll grab the same two ends and I get people like, “I don’t know how it works.”
Swanson: Like the two… You’re kidding me? You’re kidding me?
Balestri: Two female ends and just trying to slam altogether.
Ostrowski: Probably, at least, once a month.
Balestri: Do you just escort ’em off the plane? Just go, “You’re not smart enough to fly.”
Swanson: “I’m sorry. You failed.”
Ostrowski: Well, it’s the same person that can’t open their bag of peanuts. But… [laughter]
Ostrowski: ‘Cause I get asked that all the time. They’re like, “Can you open this?” And I’m like [makes tearing sound]. There’s a little tear tab on it.
Balestri: Do you just stare them down maybe be a little bit?
Swanson: So, if somebody’s trying to put two of ’em together that are the same, that means the guy next to him is trying to put…
Balestri: He’s just watching like, “Am I seriously sitting next to this moron?”
Ostrowski: I always think like, “Well, that’s probably the person I’m not saving.” I don’t know. [laughter]
Swanson: You’re gonna die, sir.
Balestri: Opening his oxygen. Just using both.
Ostrowski: And I’m saying, “Come this way.” They’re going the opposite way. [chuckle]
Balestri: Yeah. I assume you’re just sitting there watching this person like, “How long are they gonna keep slamming these two… ”
Swanson: You’re gonna tie them? What are you gonna do?
Ostrowski: You can get angry for those things, people asking you dumb questions or you think that they’re dumb. And I just think it’s funny. ‘Cause, just even with bags, you get used to what size fits on your aircraft and I know what size doesn’t. So, when people are coming on, it’s like “That’s not gonna fit.” And they’re like “I take it on every flight.” So, I go, “Every flight’s not the same,” and I’m pretty easy going. I just say, “Okay, go try it.” And then if not, I say, “You have to bring it back up here.” I could come get it but I’m thinking, “You’re the one that wants to bring it on, bring it back to me.”
Balestri: You fight your way back to the front and give it to me.
Ostrowski: So, this guy is like, “It fits on all these flights.” And I saw him try, try, try all different directions. Then he walks up, he’s like, “I guess you’re right.” And I’m thinking “Mm-hmm.” [chuckle] But…
Balestri: But you did the mature thing. You said, “Oh, okay.”
Ostrowski: Yeah, and I was like, “Okay, I’ll check that for you.” He goes, “Well, where are you guys staying?” He goes, “I’ll buy you a beer.” And I’m like, “No, no.” He joked about it, but that’s nice, and most people are pretty good.
Swanson: I ask the flight attendants where they’re staying and they don’t tell me.
Balestri: I don’t think that’s a good thing to do.
Ostrowski: We’re not supposed to.
Balestri: No, that’s crossing the line.
Swanson: Well, of course not. Right.
Balestri: So, that goes to a line of question I have. So you’ve been doing it for 24 years which is fantastic because you’ve seen a lot of changes I would imagine, right?
Balestri: In the beginning of your career, for instance, what would you say was the make up between male and female flight attendants? Was it more heavily-weighted towards women back then, or was it pretty evenly split? I guess I’m…
Ostrowski: When I first started, again, at the Regional Carrier, I think… At a Minneapolis base, we had 38 flight attendants, four of them were guys.
Balestri: Geez. Okay.
Ostrowski: And I think actually, that was probably a generous number for just being…
Ostrowski: That amount. And then we had a big hiring spree and throughout the years, it’s fluctuated from 200 to 300. And so now, we probably have… If it’s 300, maybe 50, 55 guys out of that number.
Balestri: Alright. Do the math. [chuckle]
Ostrowski: I’m a flight attendant. I don’t do math. [laughter]
Balestri: So, a higher percentage but still…
Ostrowski: And I think to…
Swanson: It’s 60.
Ostrowski: It was more scoffed at back then being a male flight attendant and it’s becoming more mainstream, guy flight attendants. But the ironic thing, if you travel on foreign carriers, a male flight attendant is predominant instead of the female.
Ostrowski: Yeah. So, like…
Balestri: Is Nippon Air, is one, the Japanese airline?
Ostrowski: I don’t know about that one, but I just know some Mexico airlines. It’s more of a male privilege to be a flight attendant than females on that.
Ostrowski: And I noticed… I was just on a flight out of Italy on an Italian airline, and there was more male flight attendants on that plane than female flight attendants. And I don’t know if that goes across their whole airline, or if it was just that flight.
Balestri: Sure. Small sample size is what you’re saying.
Balestri: Yeah, that’s interesting. So you…What is the hardest part of your job that no one realizes like a huge pain?
Ostrowski: I think the hardest part is the lack of sleep.
Balestri: Oh really?
Ostrowski: Because you’re on a different schedule and I’ll take a variety of people not just myself. Because you could have a seven hour a day, 10 hour a day, 14 hour a day, could be 16 and if you’re delayed it gets longer. You have up and down times, if you’re flying on the New York, you have a lot of sit time on the aircraft where you’re just taxing and it just, it wears on your body and the physical thing of just having those long days you’re beat at the end of it, when you’re done working, you’re done. And besides that physical thing, once you get well rested, then it’s a new day and it’s good and that’s why there is so many regulations on staff is because of the sleep and just the lack of be able to do your best ability for your job.
Balestri: According to the little research I’ve done, it’s safer to fly now than it has ever been before, so it’s probably not related to accidents or flight mishaps. What’s the worst part of your job? Is it just stupid passengers or is it?
Ostrowski: It’s funny ’cause… The worst part of my job is probably not the passengers and maybe not the sleep, I think it’d be dealing back and forth with the company because you might think rules are this way but the company think it’s this way and it’s so… You get people that are new and don’t know and so everyone has their own opinion how this rule is supposed to be, and looking at it different. So that is probably one of the hardest parts.
Balestri: That’s worse than drunks and people propositioning you?
Ostrowski: The funny thing about that is I think a female would probably say a different answer.
Balestri: Oh really?
Ostrowski: And as being a male in this job, I noticed that I get talked to different than a female flight attendant does. I think a male passenger that’s trying to get away with something, talks different to a female flight attendant. And with me it’s more of a short answer and they don’t try as hard to try to do something ’cause they think, “I’m gonna get nowhere.” Or maybe it’s just me, I’m not sure.
Balestri: Sure. Well, what kind of stuff are they trying to get away with? Getting a bag on that’s not supposed to be on? Or…
Ostrowski: Getting stuff for free or sitting where they’re not supposed to or… ‘Cause typically a guy tries to flirt with the female flight attendant, it’s harder to flirt with the male flight attendant, I think. It just depends.
Swanson: No it’s not.
Balestri: I’m assuming, well, I shouldn’t assume this. Do you get propositions? ‘Cause…
Ostrowski: No, but I wouldn’t say it’s really a proposition, a couple of weird stories. So flying to a destination I guess I had these passengers that had me on the flight out now they had me on the flight going back.
Balestri: So they feel like they know you?
Ostrowski: And so it’s like, “Oh yeah, it’s that flight attendant we know.” And we were overnighting and it was in South Dakota, and the lady on the way out handed me, she was married with her husband, their number on a Snickers wrapper. [laughter]
Balestri: Very classy.
Ostrowski: I know. And they said, “While you’re in town if you need anything, feel free to give us a call.” And I was like, “Okay.”
Balestri: Like the rest of the Snickers.
Swanson: With the picture of a swing…
Ostrowski: And so I was just all like… And it was funny I turned that in to my supervisor and I said, “I don’t know if this is a good letter or not.” [laughter]
Swanson: But the Snickers was delicious.
Ostrowski: No, they didn’t give me the snickers. It was just the wrapper.
Balestri: Right, just the wrapper.
Ostrowski: Yeah. So that was the weirdest one. And then there’s been, I can tell, a male passenger, that because I’m a male flight attendant they don’t know if I’m straight or gay and so I could just tell by their reaction they’re like, “I kinda think they’re hitting on me,” but I’m just like, “Whatever.”
Balestri: Good attention is good attention, right? So again if we were interviewing a female flight attendant, do they get hit-on a lot?
Ostrowski: Yes, they get hit-on a lot more.
Balestri: Probably at an annoying level I would imagine.
Ostrowski: And some of them, like it more than others. They’ll flirt with it and they’ll just kinda… And it probably depends if you’re single or not single. But I did training, and in training, someone said to the flight attendant I was training her, she was a female, a very rude comment about being a flight attendant that, “I bet you all the guys wanna be with her now.” And she came and told me that and I was like, “Do you want me to say something?” And when I looked at him, he was just staring at me like, “Oh my God.” And then she goes “No.” With the funny thing about it is I went to high school with this girl, and so we had a good rapport and stuff. She’s like, “I’m totally fine,” she’s like, “I just wanted to let you know, because I was there.” And he never said anything more and then he just sat there like… ‘Cause I didn’t think he knew I was on the flight until I was standing there and staring at him. And I was way up in the cabin but now he just didn’t say anything he looked out of the window.
Balestri: Busted, totally busted.
Ostrowski: So I would assume comments like those, probably are more frequent to female flight attendants.
Swanson: One of the annoyances, it’s rare that I have anybody famous when I’m flying, but every once in a while there’s somebody that’s famous and it drives me nuts when other passengers go up and start… It would drive me nuts if…
Balestri: Doing the fan thing?
Swanson: Yeah, doing the fun thing and it’s like, “There’s not a lot of room here.” I imagine you have to push people back to their seats every once in a while.
Ostrowski: I haven’t had anyone that famous for people to come up…
Swanson: Nobody’s going to Dubuque.
Ostrowski: Actually no, but this actor I didn’t know until I asked someone else and they told me about his name, Shemar Moore. He was going to La Crosse Wisconsin. He was on a soap opera, he is on the tv show, he was in the Catwoman movie with Halle Berry. I don’t…
Shemar Moore (via Famous Hookups)
Balestri: Was he acting like he was big stuff?
Ostrowski: No. Not at all. He was just sitting in the front, and he was going to some opening of a mall to do, sign autograph promotion and some people behind him said, “Hey, you’re Shemar Moore. Can I get your autograph?” And so, he pulled out a picture and signed it and gave it to them. And I thought, “Should I ask for one for my wife? Or… ” But I said, asked her about it, and she didn’t know who he was, until I said to another flight attendant, Fran, “This guy was on my flight.” She goes, “Did you get an autograph for me?” I’m like, “I didn’t know who he was, so no, I didn’t.”
Balestri: You’re just supposed to automatically get an autograph.
Swanson: So wait, not only do I have to be annoyed by the passengers, now I have to be annoyed by the crew that are going to try and get his autograph.
Ostrowski: Except for I haven’t had a ton of people, but just my short list. From the Monkees.
Balestri: Davy Jones.
Swanson: Peter York. Tork.
Balestri: York I think it is.
Swanson: York, I’m getting it wrong.
Ostrowski: No. Is it Micky?
Swanson: Micky Rourke.
Balestri: No, that’s the actor. Micky Dolenz?
Ostrowski: Yeah. Micky Dolenz.
Mickey Dolenz of The Monkeys
Balestri: How long ago?
Ostrowski: No. Probably in the last four years.
Balestri: Oh okay.
Swanson: So he’s not…
Ostrowski: And then Bo and Luke Duke, the dark-haired one.
John Schneider (via Famous Hookups)
Swanson: I don’t know. From Dukes of Hazard. [laughter]
Ostrowski: I know. I’m going way back. See that’s why mine are all way back.
Balestri: These are throwback names.
Ostrowski: So that’s why no one recognizes them.
Swanson: I’ll do the star stuff. You can stop.
Ostrowski: See I’m terrible with it. That’s why I don’t get an autograph. I always say, “Do you know who I am?”
Balestri: So one of the things you’ve lived through, or worked through, I should say, is the 9/11. How has things changed from the time you were flying before 9/11 til… Obviously, a lot of new regulations and things like that, but has it made your job a lot tougher?
Ostrowski: After, for the next five, seven years, I’d say it was tougher because just with the regulations and so strict on what you can bring in, passengers. And then, it started to loosen up a little bit. And not that it loosened up, but it’s… You narrow down really what you’re looking for, what they’re doing to streamline it. And flying people are doing it more and more every day. You couldn’t keep the same restrictions and have the same amount of traffic because no one’s gonna make their flight. So you have to combine everything. And with new technology and the machines that they have for detecting stuff, that makes things easier, so things are gonna just always keep changing. And for a crew member, it made it difficult for a while. But then also, it gets easier too because you have background checks for yourself, with the company and everything, so you get to bypass the normal line where passengers are. And it used to be everyone was in the same line.
Balestri: Right. So I imagine the first few years, especially, people were pointing out things that they thought were suspicious or people who they thought were suspicious. Was that good, bad, horrible? What would you do if somebody said, “I think this gentleman is… ”
Ostrowski: It’s a lot of profiling that people do, and when you’re just a normal passenger…
Balestri: Right. Amateur profiling of terrorists.
Ostrowski: That’s probably the bad thing. ‘Cause they just get nervous for whoever’s on their flight that they think is this. And excuse me. It could be a gamut of stuff. And so, they’re not trained on it. So, you just take what they say with a grain of salt, unless they actually did say something or they’re pointing something out because people are gonna have those feelings. Even though we have business people that fly all the time, they get used to it, and they’re probably the easier person to handle. It’s the person that doesn’t travel that often that are more worried and…
Balestri: In terms of being worried about other passengers.
Ostrowski: Yes. And that’s probably where you hear the complaints, where they don’t have the experience of a frequent traveler to just be in the atmosphere of that, to make observations on that. [laughter] Everything to them is a threat.
Balestri: Do you get trained on how to spot things that are irregular? Or…
Ostrowski: Yes. And so, there are certain things I can’t talk about.
Balestri: Sure. I guess the question would be…
Swanson: How do we sneak past security?
Balestri: No. I’m glad that they are training you on that. But what happens when… I guess it depends on what it is that you see or hear or experience…
Ostrowski: Yes, and there’s a chain of command. And there’s procedures we have to do. And that yearly training I was talking about, so that’s something that we do in that yearly training. So every year, it’s new things come up, things are taken away, and we kinda get whatever’s new out there. And the new things to look for that people are doing to try to hide stuff.
Balestri: Have you had to kick somebody off the plane or is that usually up the chain, the captain or the pilot has to do that?
Ostrowski: No. I cannot technically kick someone off as a flight attendant. You have to… There’s always a pilot in command, which is the captain. And so, you bring it to his attention. It’s his call. But usually, it’s… If a flight attendant is uncomfortable with whatever situation is going on, they abide by that and say, “Hey, you’re the one back there. We’re gonna… ” You have to call the agents, and you have these procedures you have to follow to do it, but someone can be kicked off.
Balestri: Have you had someone kicked off?
Ostrowski: I haven’t had anyone kicked off myself. Again, I think it’s different being a guy flight attendant. It all comes back to the same. I think people that, I’ll say an intoxicated person, are more obnoxious, maybe, with a female flight attendant that they can get away more with. But we can’t have intoxicated passengers on the aircraft, so if it’s noticed before, it’s cut off right there and then they don’t get on the flight. So I’ve had that, where they haven’t even stepped foot on the plane.
Balestri: They’re just in the waiting area, totally bombed.
Ostrowski: The agent said, “This person seems intoxicated. Do you want him on?” And it’s like, we can’t take him on, especially once you’ve said that. And we can see him in the window. And they’re standing there, just all woBalestriling, and it’s like, “Yeah, they’re not coming on.” And then it’s taken care of.
Balestri: So somebody else had to answer for that.
Ostrowski: So then they call security, and the security comes. And they help deal with the agents.
Swanson: Gate agents don’t eventually become flight attendants. There’s no…
Ostrowski: Not, not… That’s only if they want to. They have to interview, get hired…
Balestri: It’s a completely different… Yeah, okay.
Swanson: It’s a different career path is basically what you’re saying. Okay.
Ostrowski: Yeah. And sometimes, people…
Balestri: Because gate agents have a tough life. Man, you couldn’t pay me enough to be a gate agent.
Ostrowski: If there’s no weather and no mechanical, your day is great. But one of those things happen, then… Just the other day, I won’t wanna be there.
Swanson: Oh, for the Delta outage? Right.
Balestri: But it could be mechanical somewhere else. It’s not even… Or the weather somewhere else, and the plane’s late coming in…
Swanson: And they have to deal with it. Yep.
Balestri: They have to deal with the constantly irate passengers.
Ostrowski: That’s the funny thing that you mention that, because a passenger complaining, the flight’s delayed because of weather. The guy looks outside and it’s sunny and he goes, “Well, it’s sunny here! Why aren’t we taking off?” [laughter]
Ostrowski: It’s because the plane’s coming from somewhere else that has weather. He didn’t realize that, so…
Swanson: Did he have trouble buckling his belt, too? [laughter]
Ostrowski: He probably was one of those guys. I don’t know, so…
Swanson: What is it? All State double check? “Can’t make it fit!”
Balestri: So as a passenger, I have pet peeves, but I’m curious to know if you have any pet peeves that the passengers do?
Ostrowski: It’s that when they walk onboard and they’re like, “I’ll have my steak rare.” You get that all the time. So it’s like, “Ha.”
Balestri: Oh, jokingly.
Balestri: Ah, gotcha. ‘Cause you’ve heard that a billion times.
Ostrowski: Yeah. So that’s probably… And it’s not a big deal, but it’s just the one that you hear all the time. It’s like, “You’re really not a funny person, aren’t you?” [laughter]
Balestri: Back to the… I’ll tell you a quick story. I work in manufacturing in IT, so I worked with a guy and he was having to do some conversion of data, but he was on a flight ’cause he’s a consultant, and he’s talking on his phone. Now, he’s Middle Eastern to begin with. He’s a US citizen, he’s lived here his whole life, but he looks Middle Eastern ’cause he is middle eastern. Anyway, he’s on it, and he’s talking about the converting of the routings, which is a manufacturing document, and the bill of materials. And the short name for Bill Of Materials is BOM [pronounced ‘bomb’]. And when you expand the Bill Of Materials, it’s called an Exploded BOM [bomb]. So he’s on the phone, he’s talking about converting the routings, he’s having problems, and he’s talking about the BOMs. Did the BOMs load? Did the exploded BOMs load? It makes no sense, but he’s saying this. Well, needless to say, several people were like, [motions pressing the flight attendant button] ding, ding!
Ostrowski: And he got taken off?
Balestri: He got taken off.
Ostrowski: I was gonna say, that’s one of the words. If that’s ever mentioned and someone’s talking about it, it always has to be brought up and it’s up to the captain, again, about being brought off or not. And they’ll have someone come down to the plane and whatever the situation is. But most likely, someone will be taken off. [chuckle]
Balestri: Yeah. And he was a professional, he totally understood. He’s like, “Yeah, I can’t believe I was saying it, but I was just in the moment,” but he got interviewed for like four hours.
Ostrowski: He was that guy. [laughter]
Balestri: Well, yeah. He was that guy. So what other kind of stuff are you seeing on there, for example?
Ostrowski: For people being taken off? Or…
Balestri: No. Sorry. Have you ever seen any kind of UFO or unexplained phenomena? I mean…
Ostrowski: I haven’t seen it, but what I’ve heard is… And I wouldn’t say UFO, but when it’s lightning and stuff, where people say it’s just a ball of light went through the cabin, because the plane got struck by lightning. And I was flying with these people, I didn’t see this out my door, but the girl working in the back, she said she could see light coming in, around the door, the exit in the back, and it was from the lightning, ’cause the air gets so electrified and we’re flying so close. And I went up to the cockpit and you could see on the windshield that… They call it, I think it’s St. Elmo’s fire, but it’s the little electrical lines just going “Zzz, zzz”. And they’re kinda like a purplish blue, and it looked really cool. I’m like “Hey, that’s neat.” Some people might freak out. I didn’t. [laughter]
Balestri: Yes. So this must be a while ago if you were up in the cockpit, ’cause you’re not allowed in the cockpit now, are you?
Ostrowski: I can go in the cockpit. There’s a procedure.
Balestri: Oh, okay.
Ostrowski: So you call, and then they have to make sure…
Balestri: Secret handshake, or how do you… You can’t tell us I suppose.
Ostrowski: It’s just like, the door has to be locked once I go up there. The other flight attendant comes up, lock the galley. It’s just kind of a lot of work, and that’s if someone comes out to use the bathroom, it’s just the whole procedure. And then one of the guys has to have his oxygen on if the other pilot leaves.
Balestri: What’s the idea there? Oh, it for decompressions.
Ostrowski: It can happen.
Balestri: In the cockpit?
Balestri: So even if he’s going to go to the bathroom, stick on the oxygen.
Balestri: So have you had any close calls? Anything that you…
Ostrowski: I haven’t had anything that was really bad except for bad turbulence.
Ostrowski: And I would say, in 24 years, just one that scared me. And it wasn’t… I don’t know what that day was, but it was just like, we just dropped. And so when you get that drop, I was in my seat, but you kinda think, “Is today the day?” [chuckle]
Ostrowski: And I mean, I could joke about it, and everyone else… It’s funny, in those situations, everyone listens to you, which is kinda nice, because they’re just staring at you and I’m like, “I’m on!” [laughter]
Balestri: And you have to just pretend like nothing… “Hey, it’s just a 10,000 foot drop. It happens.”
Ostrowski: Yeah. And for me, I guess I try to have that kinda calm way about myself, so people don’t get alarmed. There’s some people who are like, “Oh my gosh!”
Balestri: You mean flight attendants who do that?
Ostrowski: Yeah. And it’s like, “You’re freaking everyone else out. Knock that off.” [laughter]
Balestri: Do they train you for that too? Do they say, no matter what happens, you’ve gotta pretend it’s not a deal?
Ostrowski: As much as you can. You talk about it, but until you actually go through it, you don’t know how you’re gonna react.
Swanson: Yeah. A family friend is a male flight attendant, it doesn’t matter that he was male or female, but broke his back because of the turbulence. He was up moving a cart or something and it was a little choppy, and then all of the sudden, “wham!” They got slammed.
Balestri: He hit the ceiling?
Swanson: He hit the ceiling and then came screaming back down onto the floor, broke his back.
Swanson: Yeah. I mean…
Balestri: He’s done now.
Swanson: He’s done.
Ostrowski: We had a lady that broke both her ankles in the same situation, so she went up, came down, both ankles broken. I don’t believe she ever came back.
Swanson: Yeah, it’d be hard to. I mean… You start thinking…
Ostrowski: The fear and just I don’t know how her body is healed now. That’s another thing sometimes it’s just not worth it if you feel like that, if you got your body broke.
Balestri: What about… Generally your flights are how long?
Ostrowski: I try to do ones under one hour.
Balestri: Oh, so the chances of a lot of stuff happening are probably minimized then?
Ostrowski: Yeah. I mean… You can still have bad turbulence but you won’t get the big drops the same. We’re flying at a lower altitude and less likely of things happening. We’ll have a lot more moderate chop because we’re just low and it’s going through the clouds and it’s, people that are higher up, you’ll get your bigger drop when you go through different atmospheres.
Balestri: Haven’t they gotten… I’m not expecting you to be an aviation expert, but haven’t they gotten better at predicting the wind shears that cause those kind of things? Or is it still fairly common? I mean, I should ask you, [to Erik] you fly a lot, do you…
Swanson: But I fly…
Balestri: Short distances too?
Swanson: Yeah, I mean, three hours is about as far as I fly, but…
Ostrowski: And it changes because they’ll call the city and it’s the operations there. Have they had any reports of other aircrafts coming in, what it was. And then someone might have landed and say it’s only moderate. So they’re like, “Alright, it’s moderate, we’ll just keep going.” And then when you go through then it gets severe for you so then it’s just worst, it’s just…
Swanson: I will say often the pilots come on and say, “Folks I’m gonna ask you to buckle in because we’re gonna, we might experience some.” And I think it’s that situation. Somebody in front of them has run into it and they’ve gotten very good at communicating. Because they say it before we ever get to the chop then…
Balestri: They know it. They know it’s coming.
Ostrowski: Yeah. And then two minutes later you kinda get to the chop.
Balestri: It’s a good point. I wonder if it’s almost like Waze where people are reporting, “Hey, I just went through this area, it was really bad.”
Ostrowski: They do see it on the radar. On their radar that they have, they can see stuff coming, and they give a warning. But what’s funny a lot of times they’re like, “Well, it might be kind of rough, so why don’t you sit down and buckle up.” Nothing. It’s just a smooth flight. And then everyone’s staring at you like, “Well why are you sitting down?”
Balestri: You know what, yeah. I don’t have a problem with that. I’d rather know that I should buckle in and cinch up tight.
Ostrowski: Except for I do tell the pilots like, “Say something so they know, why we’re doing nothing.”
Balestri: That’s a good question. So you fly with all different types of pilots, right? It’s different pilots all the time. Or maybe it’s not. How many pilots do you work with?
Ostrowski: Again, it depends on… Everyone bids their schedule for what their life is. And so you’ll see some people frequently… ‘Cause I have almost like a permanent schedule, missing a few cities here and there, and some other people will do that. But you get a variety of new people coming in, or if someone calls in sick, and people on vacation, so everyone gets kinda swapped around. And you can go for three, six months without seeing that same person. Or you could work with that same person for a whole month.
Swanson: Are you talking pilots or other crew members?
Ostrowski: Well, both.
Balestri: If you were to think of the three most annoying people you work with, are any of them pilots or they are all flight attendants?
Ostrowski: Well, I guess working with them it would have to be a pilot or flight attendant. But it’s because everyone has a different personality, it’s the gamut. ‘Cause you get…
Swanson: He’s not gonna say it folks. [laughter]
Balestri: Flight attendants and pilots… [overlapping conversation]
Swanson: “It’s Bob Jones.”
Ostrowski: But it’s just their personalities and how they operate. Some people… It’s just like at work, you like to deal with them or you just say ‘hi’ and keep going. But when you’re caught in a cabin, the hard thing with our pilots, they have a door.
Balestri: They’ll just close it. “I’m done with you guys.”
Ostrowski: Yeah, and it’s like you don’t see them. But the flight attendant, you’re stuck in the cabin with them. And for me, again I think it’s different. I mostly work with women when I work with somebody. And I think guys and girls get along easier than if it’s two girls. They have more problems with each other than a guy and a girl or two guys. Just throughout the years, it’s just that’s where you see more of the attitudes or people can’t let go of things. [laughter]
Swanson: If you’re doing those short flights, I’m constantly amazed at how fast… Because they serve you drinks no matter what. You’re getting a Coke and cookies.
Balestri: Oh really?
Ostrowski: Well, ’cause for…
Swanson: You fly to Chicago, it’s a 55 minute flight, and you’re getting a Coke and cookies or whatever you want.
Ostrowski: For us it’s based on mileage. Chicago is a service flight. But I had flights to La Crosse, Wisconsin, that’s not a service flight.
Balestri: You can take a flight from Minneapolis to La Crosse? What is it like 15 minutes?
Ostrowski: That’s about 25. The one that’s 15 minutes is Rochester, Minnesota.
Balestri: People fly to Rochester? I did not know that.
Ostrowski: But you think of, you’re coming from Florida, Minneapolis, Rochester. So you’re not getting on in Minneapolis going to Rochester. They’re coming from distance doing that.
Ostrowski: And a lot of people are going there for medical reasons. And so on those flights, they’re the ones I always think of, “Hopefully not on my flight.” [laughter]
Balestri: Well, have you had any of that? Where a person passes out or has baby on the flight?
Ostrowski: I haven’t had anything drastic, but this is early in the career.
Balestri: ‘Cause your flights were probably longer early in the career, right?
Ostrowski: No. I was flying to Fargo. And so, going to Fargo I was training someone in, and this is when we could just have free access.
Swanson: Nobody wants to go there, so the rookie has to go to Fargo.
Ostrowski: But at that time, I had a key to the flight deck door. I could open the flight deck anytime I go up there and talk to them before 9/11. And I was training someone in, she was going through doing the service. I said, “Hey I’m gonna see if the guys want anything to drink up front.” So I go up there and I’m just chatting away ’cause it’s someone I haven’t seen in a while, and she calls up there and the captain answered and he’s like, “Is Jason there?” And he said, “No.”
Balestri: “No, he’s gone.”
Ostrowski: But he said, he goes, “We left him in Minneapolis.” And there was dead silence on the phone. And I’m like, “Ha ha ha, I’ll just go back there.” And so I go back there and this lady’s like “We have this lady having chest pains.” And I’m like, “The time you’re joking around… ”
Swanson: Right, the one time.
Ostrowski: So it wasn’t major but I had her put everything away and I’m the seasoned flight attendant so I said, “Okay, I’ll take it from here. You just say an announcement.” I switched the person sitting next to her, I gave her oxygen, and we made an emergency landing. So we get clearance to go in, nothing happened to her on the flight, I was monitoring her, we made an announcement that everyone stay seated ’cause medical personnel is gonna come on. They came on and got her off, and took her away. So, to me nothing major but I was just calm and just kinda dealt the situation, and I wasn’t gonna leave it to the new person ’cause that’s her first flight. [chuckle]
Balestri: Right, right. So you’ve probably heard of other stuff.
Ostrowski: Yes. A close friend I work with, she had someone die on her flight.
Balestri: Oh. Early in the flight, was it a long flight?
Ostrowski: It was in the taxi, and no one knew but…
Swanson: The taxi going out?
Ostrowski: Yeah. So no knew it besides…
Swanson: We’re going back.
Ostrowski: Passenger in front or behind rang the flight attendant call, and she came back, and she goes, “I think there’s something wrong with that person.” And they were already dead.
Balestri: Oh my Gosh.
Ostrowski: And so they went back to the gate obviously, and that flight got cancelled. [laughter]
Balestri: The whole flight got canceled?
Swanson: Which is funny, I mean it makes sense, ’cause you gotta probably do an investigation and…
Ostrowski: Well, ’cause you get everyone off and they probably found some other routing, or by that time you could book them on another flight…
Balestri: Oh okay.
Ostrowski: And that person’s still on there till they take ’em off and… [laughter]
Balestri: ‘Cause and you’re like they’re just gonna sit there.
Swanson: The guy in the window seat, has to climb over the dead guy. It isn’t funny, sorry…
Ostrowski: And then because of that situation you don’t use that same crew, ’cause that crew will probably get interviewed by the company, and have to fill out forms, and so they’re pulled off, and you have to call another crew in, so that’s why they probably got re-booked on another flight.
Swanson: Makes sense.
Balestri: A lot of logistics going into someone dying. So what about, short flights less likely that people are gonna get into monkey business. Is that the official term for it?
Swanson: You’re going there?
Ostrowski: So what do you mean by monkey business? [laughter]
Balestri: Well, the term, The Mile High Club. [overlapping conversation]
Swanson: I’ve never heard of this term.
Ostrowski: I would say it depends on who you are, if the short flight’s enough time for you.
Balestri: That’s a good point, good point.
Ostrowski: I haven’t had that happen but I’ve had flight attendants have that happen to. And it’s probably when, we have flights that are two-and-a-half, three hours. So we have longer ones and that would be your typical. And a story again, wasn’t mine. She was walking by, it was a dark cabin, and they were doing something and she goes, “I just threw a blanket over them and kept going.”
Balestri: That’s very…accommodating.
Ostrowski: Yes, and…
Balestri: Is that procedure? Is that what she should have done? [laughter]
Ostrowski: No. We don’t really have procedure on that.
Balestri: You don’t?
Ostrowski: It’s funny ’cause no one really talks about that, they’re probably like… It would probably be report that and you could have authorities come to the plane, it’s like, “I’m not gonna do that, I’m just like… ”
Swanson: It’s kinda like discharging your weapon if you’re an officer, you don’t wanna do the paperwork.
Balestri: Well, I would think there would be like, “Hey, we’re gonna bring the cabin lights up for five minutes… ” I don’t know, it seems like there would be something to…
Ostrowski: Bluelight special.
Swanson: And yell, “Shame, shame, shame.” [chuckle]
Balestri: There’s a time and place for… It’s your workplace, this is your workplace.
Ostrowski: And it’s funny ’cause I do night flights so you think it would be mine, but I haven’t had that. And our planes are smaller, and it’s a smaller bathroom, you probably only can get one person in it. That’s the other thing.
Ostrowski: So, no, I guess I’m boring on that, other people are the one’s with the stories not me. And again, I wonder too if it’s the guy flight attendant aspect. I don’t know.
Balestri: That could be, that could be.
Swanson: Maybe next time you could bring some of your friends that have these stories.
Ostrowski: Except for a good… Well, and again not my story. We used to have really small planes, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been on the ones without flight attendants. When I first started my career…
Balestri: How small of a plane is that?
Ostrowski: It was a 13 seat, it was called a Metro, and they would fly…
Swanson: I’ve been in them, but there’s was always at least one person that, at least the ones we went in.
Ostrowski: Not the place I was in. So this was 1992, ’93, they would fly, like to St. Cloud, they fly to the same places but little bit shorter distance. But Mitchell, South Dakota has a gentleman’s club, so they would fly a lot of ladies out there. And the pilot said there was only one guy and one lady on the flight, and when they were flying, it just kind of got bumpy and stuff, and all they have is a curtain, they look back and they’re just laying right in the middle of the floor.
Balestri: Oh my God.
Balestri: Alright. I have a small, it’s not even close to that story. [laughter]
Swanson: Where are you going because this is being recorded.
Balestri: I got nothing related to that. What I was gonna say, I’ve been on a flight where it’s just the pilot, and I think it was maybe eight passengers, four on each side. And it is very weird when the pilot just opens the curtains and goes “Okay folks, we’re gonna… ” You know what I mean? You don’t ever want that interaction, you kinda want to know that some guy’s up there taking care of everything.
Ostrowski: Some people like the fantasy of, they have their image of what the pilot should look like and doing their job. ‘Cause if a young guy comes out, everyone’s always freaked out by the young guy, ’cause they’re like, “Oh is he old enough? Does he have enough experience?” And what’s funny is you can get your license at any time, you just have to retire at a certain age. So there’s some guys that they’ve had a career and then now they’ve been having their private license, but they got their commercial license and stuff, and they got enough hours, and they have white hair. So just because they have white hair, they look older like they have experience. The guy has been there less than a year.
Balestri: It’s all perception.
Ostrowski: And the guy that’s younger has way more experience, and so it is a big perception thing.
Balestri: So, the company you work for, how many of the pilots are female? Is it probably the reverse then that you have…
Ostrowski: No, I would say there’s less female pilots. And then, also, any job where it’s the opposite… If you think flight attendant’s mostly female, pilot’s mostly male, you always need the diversity in there. And so, when someone gets hired for a job sometimes, they have to have some of the mix. So you have a little bit. And if they start with our smaller airline, they can get hired onto bigger airlines quicker than probably a lot of the guys can, just because there’s not as many.
Balestri: Sure. Sure.
Ostrowski: And so, you’ll see them. And they come and go.
Ostrowski: Yeah. And then also to…
Balestri: Because they’re moving up into bigger planes? Or…
Ostrowski: Yeah. So for a pilot, that is a drastic thing with money, moving from a smaller carrier to a big one. Flight attendants, it’s not as drastic. And so, and it takes you longer to get where I am with seniority at a major carrier. What I have, would probably be 50 years at some carrier. And it’s like, people will never see the schedule I get at a major carrier getting hired. And it’s just because there’s so many people, and you don’t have to retire as a flight attendant. And they work ’til they’re 85, 90.
Balestri: Alright. So two other questions. The first one is, we’re moving towards driverless cars, and there’s been talk about pilot-less airplanes. Do you think we’ll ever have airplanes take off and land, with passengers, without pilots?
Ostrowski: I can see it. I think it’s a long ways off because a lot of planes are automated. A lot of the stuff is automated, but I think they would always need somebody there. So you might need less people ’cause there’s always malfunctions. So, you always have to have a back-up. So what’s the… So I would see, what’s the back-up? So you have the one person that’s trained with everything there, even though they’re probably sleeping most of the time. But I guess I wouldn’t see just automated with nobody.
Balestri: I don’t think I could feel comfortable flying on a plane, knowing that no one is up beyond that door.
Swanson: I’m still uncomfortable with the concept of a car.
Balestri: True. True.
Swanson: So it would really be hard to believe you could…
Balestri: Alright. And then the last question, the last question was…
Swanson: Your last question.
Swanson: I’ve got more.
Balestri: Go ahead. What do you got?
Swanson: No, I’m kidding. I don’t.
Balestri: I know that you recently took a trip. One of the big perks is that you get to take very cheap flights. So how does that work? You pay just the taxes, is that what it is?
Ostrowski: It’s funny when you travel more, you find out more about it. On the carrier that I work with, when we travel in the United States, it’s free. And when we travel out of the United States, it’s a tax. But it’s only a tax when you come back to the country, not going out. So, we just went to Italy, and going to Italy…
Balestri: You and the family.
Ostrowski: Yes. So there’s four of us, two girls, my wife and myself. And whatever seats are open is what you get, and usually, if the nicer seats are open, you get bumped up to that. So we got business class, going out to… All four of us. And I’ve never been in business class before. And it was so nice. Because we had the beds that would lay down, and we got our little free TUMI kit and it had a down pillow, almost like a down comforter. It had these imitation Bose headphones, and it was… I was like, I could fly there and back home and I’d be happy. It was so nice.
Balestri: A couple of things, real quick. So, that comforter, are they taking that off? Is it a one-time use? Or the guy, the big…
Ostrowski: No, so… [overlapping conversation]
Ostrowski: It’s in plastic, so the next flight, it’ll…
Balestri: It’ll be a new one.
Swanson: Right. But they’re not stuffing it back in plastic and sealing it up.
Balestri: Fold it up.
Ostrowski: Well, that’s not my department, so maybe, I don’t know. No, no, I don’t think…
Balestri: Different carrier. [overlapping conversation]
Ostrowski: But I don’t believe so.
Balestri: Alright, but go ahead. You were saying, so then coming back…
Ostrowski: So coming back is when you pay the taxes. So depending on what country you’re coming back from, the taxes are different. So, if we were coming back from Italy, it’s one price. If we would have took a train and went up to Paris and came back, it’s a different price. It fluctuates, and that’s the price you pay. And different countries are more expensive. And I think Heathrow is the most expensive to come back on. So if you’re gonna fly there, or fly into there, then take a train to somewhere else and fly back.
Balestri: So, you dodged my question about, if you noticed that, how much you can make as a flight attendant. See if you’ll dodge this one. How much did it cost for your family to fly to Italy and back?
Ostrowski: I can say this.
Balestri: It’s just the taxes, right?
Ostrowski: It’s kind of a two-part question for me, because I couldn’t make it back on the airline that I’m associated with. So we have agreements with other carriers.
Balestri: Kind of reciprocity, right?
Ostrowski: Yeah. And so, the carrier that I work for, it would cost $263 for the four of us.
Balestri: To fly to Italy and back for four?
Ostrowski: And we got business class on the way there. And then on the way back, we were just hoping for a seat. But because there was a European carrier that was having a strike, flights got all screwed up, and so we took an Italian airline back. And you have to pay a fee plus the taxes. So we flew to Chicago. And that was $562 for the four of us, so a little bit more.
Balestri: Still, for a family of four to take a flight, that’s pretty amazing. Alright, well, we’re quickly running out of time, and I wanna get to one of my favorite things, which is…
Swanson: We’re almost out of time. It’s so much fun. It’s going so fast.
Balestri: I’ll just edit him out completely. Don’t worry.
Swanson: No, I’ve enjoyed this.
Balestri: You’ve been great.
Swanson: I hope you have.
Balestri: I’ve been enjoying this immensely. Lightning Round. We just run through some questions. You’re involved. You both get asked the question. We alternate them. First off, high school nickname. Did you have a high school nickname?
Balestri: At any time in your life, did you have a nickname?
Ostrowski: When I was younger. One kid called me Chuck because he thought my head was round like Charlie Brown.
Balestri: One kid, one name. What about you, nickname?
Balestri: Swanny for Eric Swanson. Okay. Alright, so, let’s say you inherit $10 million, right? What are the first three things you buy for yourself.
Ostrowski: Go with him first.
Swanson: I was liking that you were asking him first. I gotta believe I’d pay off all my bills. That’s the first, I mean that’s…
Balestri: So, hopefully, there’s still nine million more.
Swanson: Yeah, a little more than that. Yeah, I think you buy a house in the mountains, and you buy a house on the beach. So, you’ve got…
Balestri: Okay, two nice houses and no bills. Alright, you bought you some time.
Ostrowski: I would buy a classics sports car, and my favorite is like, the old, I think it’s 1956-62 Porsche Speedster, and then a place in like Italy or France. And then payoff everything.
Balestri: Great. So no bills. Alright. What about? Oh, here’s one for you. What friends do you have, that you see more often than the guy that cuts your hair or female, whoever cuts your hair? So, you go to the barber every once in a while, like every six weeks or whatever. How many friends, if any, do you see more often on that person?
Ostrowski: It sounds bad that I see a lot of friends, way more often.
Balestri: Do you?
Balestri: That’s great! That doesn’t sound bad at all. That’s the right answer.
Ostrowski: Because, I’m a social person, so I always want people over at my house. I always wanna get together. I always wanna go somewhere. I always wanna do something. And, my wife just wants me to stay home and just have us.
Balestri: Well, that’s a different situation, but…
Balestri: So you’re seeing a lot of guys? That’s a lot of friends. That’s fantastic! What about you?
Swanson: All of ’em.
Balestri: You see all of…
Swanson: How often do you think I go to a barber?
Balestri: Oh, good point. [laughter]
Balestri: Alright, so…
Ostrowski: A buff and shine. [laughter]
Balestri: This was a… This, sounds like you have the answer to this one. What celebrity people tell you, you look like? Charlie brown? Is that the only celebrity?
Ostrowski: No. Usually I have a little goatee, and when I play…
Balestri: It’s like a soul patch? Or an actual goatee?
Ostrowski: Yeah, yeah. So, a little soul patch. And, when a play lot of tennis, I wear headband. And they say I look like Apolo Ohno.
Balestri: There you go.
Swanson: Oh, I can see that.
Balestri: I totally see that. That’s good.
Ostrowski: I don’t have that look going today, but that’s the look I have when I play tennis.
Jason Ostrowski and Apolo Ohno
Balestri: What about you?
Swanson: Pat Kessler, from one of the local nine or Channel Nine News.
Balestri: I have to look that up. I don’t know the…
Swanson: And he’s kind of a doughy guy like me. No offense Pat.
Erik Swanson and Pat Kessler
Ostrowski: Doughy! [chuckle] ‘Cause, that’s what you’d go for.
Balestri: I’m sure he’s watching.
Swanson: He might be.
Balestri: What’s the most valuable price you’ve ever won? Money? Value of the thing?
Ostrowski: I haven’t won anything that valuable.
Balestri: Mine is a $5 scratch off thing at Taco Bell.
Ostrowski: That’s it? $5?
Swanson: I won a computer once.
Balestri: And what was the situation?
Swanson: It was a trade show like thing and you, a random drawing…
Balestri: Throw in a card?
Swanson: Yeah, a random drawing.
Balestri: Oh. That’s nice.
Swanson: They announced that there were 700 people in the room, and I walked up and got my Toshiba laptop.
Ostrowski: I think mine are like concert tickets, like when you call in. ‘Cause it’s whatever…
Balestri: Do you call in for concert tickets?
Balestri: Do you have a secret for doing it?
Ostrowski: No. I just randomly called, and I was like, “I made it through!” And, it was the only one time, and…
Balestri: What was the concert?
Ostrowski: It was a KDWB thing, and so it was for Halloween. So, I got four tickets, so, it was just me and my wife, and two friends went to it. And, I can’t think of the band’s name. I know the songs, but I can’t think of the name. So… [laughter]
Balestri: Was it a good concert?
Swanson: Was it The Cure?
Ostrowski: It was okay. It wasn’t The Cure.
Balestri: And, let’s see. One more here. I believe we got time. Here’s a tough one. This is a, “Would you rather.” Yeah, would you rather. Would you rather – if you had to – throw trash in Yellow Stone Park, out your car window, or park in a handicap parking spot on Black Friday?
Ostrowski: I’d park in a handicap parking spot.
Balestri: You would? And why would you do that? Versus throw the trash?
Ostrowski: I’m a recycle type of guy.
Balestri: There you go. Eric?
Swanson: I’d throw the trash.
Balestri: Throw the trash?
Ostrowski: Yeah, I don’t wanna get killed in the parking lot, over a parking spot.
Balestri: When you get out of your car?
Swanson: I’d just make sure I limp, when I walk out of my car. [chuckle] [laughter]
Balestri: Act the part, there you go. Alright, we are out of time, so thank you very much, first of all Jason thanks for…
Ostrowski: Thanks for having me.
Balestri: Showing up. This has been fantastic. You answered all my questions about being a flight attendant and flying. Eric great job as a co-host.
Swanson: My pleasure, thanks. I hope to be asked back.
Balestri: You very well might be. [laughter] And again thanks for tuning in and have a great night.
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